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Maritime Journals
and Ships' Logs
from the
Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs
Digital Collection

Introduction | List of Journals and Logs | Vessel Types | Sources

The maritime journals and ships' logs found in the Diaries, Journal, Ships' Logs Collection in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library include log books and journals written by passengers and crew members from sixteen American and three British ships. The original manuscript journals and logs are housed in Special Collections with digitized versions available on the Library's institutional repository.

All of the journals were written in the nineteenth century and, as such, provide a general survey Flagsof maritime activity over that century. The contents of the collection are widely varied, ranging from official deck logs of the U.S. Navy to a personal account of an ocean voyage around Cape Horn on the continent of South America. The types of ships used to travel the world varied from sloops to steam ships to clipper ships. The ships and their journeys have been tracked in a variety of sources. These include the Record of American and Foreign Shipping, published at the direction of the American Shipmaster's Association, and the American Lloyd's Register of American and Foreign Shipping, accessed through the G. W. Blunt White Library at the Mystic Seaport website (

Each journey documented in the journals and logs was undertaken for a different reason. The majority of the logs describe shipping journeys; the vessels transported loads of timber, Peruvian guano, or copper ore. Other ships sailed around the world hunting whales and refining their valuable oil, to sell upon their return to port. Another journal describes the journey through the eyes of a "second-cabin passenger" traveling west to San Francisco to seek his fortune during the Gold Rush. The remaining logs were created by United States Navy or Royal Navy personnel on official journeys.

(Map of Madeira)

The ships represented in this collection often left from the same ports, but traveled all over the world. The Northeast was a center of American whaling and shipping during the nineteenth century, and many of the ships described in this collection left from prominent North Atlantic Coast harbors like Boston or New Bedford, Massachusetts, and New York. The ships sailed and steamed through the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans, and several spent time on the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Black Seas. The Panama Canal was not finished until 1914, so many of the ships made the treacherous journey around Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.

Most of the creators of the logs and journals in this collection were professional merchant mariners who worked on ships that carried goods from market to market for profit. Some were sailors who worked for governments in a military capacity on the sea. Others include clerks looking after the commercial concerns of the vessels and a carpenter traveling as a passenger.

Rope and Anchor

One of the appealing features of these volumes is how many of the authors personalized their journals, often expressing themselves through drawings and small sketches. One of the most elaborate items in the collection is a United States Navy deck log kept by Frederick A. Hodge. This log adheres to the regulations set forth by the U.S. Navy by only discussing official business, weather, and navigational data. However, the author embellished his record-keeping duties with watercolor paintings and ink drawings of islands or notable sights, anchors in the margins of the log when (Sketch of a whale) the ship was anchored in port, mechanical drawings of ship components, and artistic, yet accurate, charts of the ship's journey across the ocean. Several of the men who recorded whaling voyages coded their logs with images. They often drew a small whale, sometimes shown spouting red-colored blood or with a harpoon in its side, next to the entry for a day when the crew caught and killed a whale.

Maritime Journals and Ships' Logs

Passenger logs (1) | Shipping logs (7) | Whaling logs (4) | U.S. Navy logs (2) | Royal Navy logs (3)

Passenger logs (1 item)


MSS 097, Item 13

John Clarke, b. 1817.

On board the ship Governor Morton, 1852 March 10 - 1852 December 20.

1 volume, (circa 200 pages); 15 cm.

Journal kept by the passenger John Clarke aboard the ship Governor Morton documenting the trip from New York to San Francisco between March 12, 1852 and December 20, 1852.

Shipping logs (7 items)


MSS 097, Item 22

George Dodds.

Ship's log for the snow Susana, 1799 December 21 - 1800 March 20.

1 volume, (circa 40 pages); 36 cm.

Ship's log kept by George Dodds [Dods] aboard the snow Susana documenting the voyage from Newport, Connecticut, to Havana, Cuba, from December 21, 1799 to March 20, 1800.


MSS 097, Item 23

James S. Doran.

Private journal of James S. Doran, 1866 May 17 - 1872 April 25.

1 volume, (circa 120 pages); 20 cm.

The journal is a personal narrative of James S. Doran who served in the capacity of engineer on several steamships, including the Merrimack, the Thomas Kelso, the San Pelago, and the City of Mexico from May 17, 1866 through April 25, 1872.


MSS 097, Item 33

Henry A. Harding.

Ship's log of the Otago, 1879 April 18th - 1882 December 11.

1 volume, (circa 320 pages); 31 cm.

Journal kept by Henry A. Harding aboard the ship Otago documenting voyages from Port Blakely, Washington Territory, to Noumea, New Caledonia, among other destinations such as Newcastle, Australia, and Honolulu, Hawaii, between April 18th, 1879 and December 11, 1882.


MSS 097, Item 45

Hiram Hall.

Ship's log for thebark Jenny Pitts, 1862 April 16 - 1862 November 10.

1 volume, (circa 150 pages); 21 cm.

Partial ship's log kept by a crew member aboard the bark Jenny Pitts describing the voyage from Galway, Ireland, to Chincha Island, Peru, between April 16, 1862 and November 10, 1862.


MSS 097, Item 64

Robert Passac Rogers, (1824-1907?).

Journal of a voyage from Boston to Rio de Janeiro on board ship Franklin, 1842 October 5 - 1842 November 26.

6 volumes, (144 pages); 25 cm.

Journal kept by Robert Possac Rogers aboard the ship Franklin documenting the voyage from Boston to Rio de Janeiro between October 5, 1842 and November 26, 1842.


MSS 097, Item 71

Frederick G. Strong.

Journal of a voyage from Boston to Newfoundland, 1865 November 12 - 1866 June 9.

1 volume, (circa 68 pages); 34 cm.

Ship's log kept by Frederick G. Strong aboard the schooner Lena documenting the shipping voyage from Boston, Massachusetts, to The Bay of Islands, Newfoundland, from November 12, 1865 to June 9, 1866.


MSS 097, Item 85

Archibald Wilson, fl. 1843.

Forecastle journals, 1842-1843.

1 v. ( 94 p.) ; 20 cm.

This journal, named after the forecastle or upper forward deck of a sailing ship, was kept by American sailor Archibald Wilson during the period 18421843 and documents five trips taken while serving aboard the ships James Edwards, Pioneer of Alexandria, and James Perkins. The journal entries document meteorological conditions, events of the day, duties performed aboard the ship, Wilson's thoughts and mood, and his interest in literature. Clippings from an 1883 issue of the magazine Harper's Weekly are also pasted into the volume.


MSS 097, Item 88

John W. Allen.

Journal of a voyage from Boston to Calcutta, 1833 July 15 - 1835 February 6.

1 volume, (circa 120 pages); 32 cm.

Logbook kept by John W. Allen aboard the ship Aubree documenting two voyages out of Boston between July 15, 1833 and February 6, 1835.

Whaling logs (4 items)


MSS 097, Item 10

Chappell, Daniel A.

Remarks on board the ship Rambler, 1852 October 5-1855 April 23.

1 volume, (212 pages)

This bound volume is a typed transcript of a log for the bark Rambler kept by Daniel A. Chappell, the ship's cooper. It documents a Pacific-bound whaling voyage out of New Bedford, Massachusetts, for the period 1852-1855.


MSS 097, Item 36

Herald (Ship), Ship Herald Stonington, 1841 September 12 - 1845 August 10.

1 volume, (circa 220 pages); 53 cm.

Ship's log for the ship Herald documenting two whaling voyages out of Stonington, Connecticut, between September 12, 1843 and August 10, 1845.


MSS 097, Item 40

Charles Howell.

Charles Howell's journey at sea on board the ship Marcus of Sag Harbor, B. Green Master, 1830 August 24 - 1833 March 12.

1 volume, (circa 170 pages); 20 cm.

Ship's log kept by the whaler Charles Howell on the ship Marcus documenting three whaling voyages out of Sag Harbor, Maine, between August 24, 1830 and March 12, 1833.


MSS 097, Item 44

George S. Johnson.

Journal of a whaling voiage [sic] in the Atlantic ocean on Board Schr Antarctic, 1881 November 10 - 1884 July 11.

1 volume, (circa 152 pages); 34 cm.

Ship's log kept by Georg [George] S. Johnson aboard the schooner Antarctic documenting two whaling voyages out of Provincetown, Massachusetts, between November 10, 1881 and July 11, 1884.

U.S. Navy logs (2 items)


MSS 097, Item 41

Duncan N. Ingraham.

Journal of a cruise in the U.S. Steam Sloop Richmond, 1860 September 27 - 1861 June 28.

1 volume, (circa 200 pages); 27 cm.

Official United States Navy deck log of the United States Steam Sloop Richmond describing the journey of the Mediterranean Squadron from Norfolk, Virginia, to patrol on the Mediterranean from September 27, 1860 to June 28, 1861.


MSS 097, Item 70

George Sparhawk.

Journal of the U.S.S. Enterprise, 1878 November 1 - 1880 May 10.

3 volumes and 1 folder; Volume 1: (64 pages), 33 cm.; Volume 2: (132 pages), 31 cm.; Volume 3: (188 pages), 24 cm.

Deck log describing the journey of the United States steam sloop Enterprise from New York to European Station duty from November 1, 1878 through May 10, 1880.

Royal Navy logs (3 items)


MSS 097, Item 76

William John Cavendish Clifford.

Log of H.M. Undaunted, 1830 November 3 - 1834 February 10.

1 volume, (circa 210 pages); 34 cm.

Official log book kept by William John Cavendish Clifford of the British Royal Navy aboard the HMS Undaunted describing the ship's travels through ports in St. Helena and Sierra Leone from November 3, 1830 to February 10, 1834.


MSS 097, Item 18

Arthur Darley.

Personal journal of Captain Arthur Darley, R.N., 1842 January 1 - 1843 February 3.

1 volume, (circa 120 pages); 19 cm.

Personal journal kept by Captain Arthur Darley of the British Royal Navy aboard the HMS Electra describing his travels throughout Bermuda, the West Indies, Jamaica, Honduras, Colombia, Havana, Belize, and Galveston, Texas, from January 1, 1842 through February 3, 1843.


MSS 097, Item 38

Frederick A. Hodge.

Log of the HMS Minotaur, kept by F. A. Hodge, 1881 February 14 - 1885 November 20.

2 volumes; Volume 1: (circa 290 pages), 33 cm.; Volume 2: (circa 200 pages), 34 cm.

Logbook kept by Frederick A. Hodge aboard the HMS ships Minotaur, Achilles, and Swiftsure documenting regular military voyages between February 14, 1881 and November 20, 1885 in a variety of places, including Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Callao, Peru; the Galapagos Islands; the Sandwich Islands; Portsmouth, England; and Plymouth, England.

Vessel Types

Barkentines (also Barks or Barques) are three-masted vessels with square sails on the foremast and gaff sails on the main mast and the mizzen mast. The foremast sails usually consisted of a square foresail, topsail, topgallant sail, and one royal.

Clipper Ships are fast-sailing vessels, especially with sharp, forward-raking bows and masts raking aft.

Schooners were initially two-masted vessels that had one or two square sails on the foremast and a gaff topsail on the main mast. Later schooners had three and even four masts. They could use a longer and narrower hull than a sloop and were thus faster yet had a good cargo capacity.

Sloops are vessels with single masts containing a gaff mainsail and headsails. They were some of the earliest vessels on the Great Lakes, but were not used extensively for commercial purposes (also Steam Sloops).

Snows are a type of merchant vessel with a mast, a foremast and a trysail mast behind the main mast.


  • Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, (accessed April 2007).
  • Find My Surnames: Surnames Site, (accessed April 2007).
  • Minnesota Historical Society, (accessed April 2007).
  • Mystic Seaport, (accessed April 2007).
  • Naval Historical Center, (accessed April 2007).
  • New Bedford Free Public Library Whaling Collection Archives, (accessed April 2007).
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum, (accessed April 2007).

Introduction | List of Journals and Logs | Vessel Types | Sources | Return to Subject Guides

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