The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
Logbook, Whaling Bark Virginia of New Bedford
- This logbook chronicles six months of a whaling voyage to the Pacific whaling grounds by the bark Virginia of New Bedford, Mass. The voyage began in late August 1840.
- Most official ship logbooks record wind, weather, and sail changes, directions and ports reached and cleared. This one was filled with extra details and a few drawings by its keeper, Thomas M. Peakes. On 16 December 1840, two whales were caught and processed. The figures inside the whale stamps for those events show the number of barrels of oil taken from each whale. The last word, “Amanda,” reveals the writer’s homesickness. Her name appears often, as do the words “home sweet home.”
- On 31 January 1841, crewman Henry N. North fell overboard and almost perished before being rescued. Towards the end of March 1841, log keeper Peakes was injured himself and had to go ashore at Talcahuano, Chile. Virginia’s ship’s log ended here, after noting that a kindly local widow took Peakes into her home to help him regain his health. After a three-week recovery, Peakes shipped out for home on the whaler Montano.
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- National Museum of American History