After the success of my wildly popular [with a certain alum — ed.] Photo ID series, I shall now embark upon a photo series with a different goal. I will be posting pictures of the Williams-Mystic program, with the intention of educating the wider Williams community about what goes on there.

You’ll notice that this series is not a “Photo ID” series, per se, because I don’t expect that very many EphBlog readers would be able to identify the pictures I post. However, I was surprised to find out that a number of Williams-Mystic alums do read EphBlog and EphPlanet, and they are welcome to add information, clarifications, and memories in the comments, just like a regular Photo ID post.

Ready? Okay.


I didn’t actually take this picture, but it’s better than any that I took, and I think it’s important to start off with the Charles W. Morgan. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Mystic Seaport Museum existed, but it was not doing well. Right before the Great Depression, Mystic received the Charles W. Morgan, which was the last remaining wooden whaleship in existence. Suddenly, Mystic Seaport started flourishing. Whereas it had had 2000 visitors per year, suddenly it had 20,000 visitors, and soon 200,000 visitors per year. (These numbers are approximate. Glenn could give you the exact figures.) So the Morgan saved the seaport, and the seaport gave birth to the Williams-Mystic program.

Williams-Mystic students become relative Morgan experts. Every history class begins somewhere interesting on the Seaport grounds, and one history class begins on the Morgan, with all the students crowding into the fo’c’s’le (FOKE-sull), the inside of the bow (front) of the boat where the crew lived. Thus begins an eight-minute talk on the importance of the focsle to those living on a whaleship — it was the only place where the higher-ranked crew was customarily not allowed to be, and the dismal conditions occasionally encouraged mutiny.

Those that choose “squad skills” for their maritime skill climb the rigging, climbing up the masts and standing inside the hoops that whalemen used to stand in for hours at a time, scanning the horizon for a puff of steam from a blowhole. Additionally, in the spring semester on Herman Melville’s birthday, there is an event called “Moby on the Morgan,” where Moby-Dick is read aloud in its entirety over a 24-hour period.

By the way, Williams-Mystic has rolled out a new, and much improved, version of the Williams-Mystic site. It has some great pictures and good background information, if you’re interested. Also, the Charles W. Morgan recently made it to the AP wire when trees blown down by Hurricane Katrina were donated to Mystic Seaport to be used in the major overhaul of the Morgan that is scheduled for 2007.

Note: I inadvertently published this post when it was still in draft form. My apologies! I will post Williams-Mystic pictures on Fridays.

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