Sweethearts at Sea: Love and Marriage in the New England Whaling Industry

September 25, 2017

The Sailor's Adieu-1

Currier and Ives print from c.1847, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

At the Essex Library, Tuesday, September 26th, at 7 p.m. This program is FREE and open to the public.
During the nineteenth century, when Yankee whale oil lit the world, men from more than thirty New England communities sailed the seven seas in the pursuit of whales, leaving their families behind for up to five years at a time. Meanwhile, new philosophies encouraging companionate marriages became popular in New England society. The combination of these historical phenomena meant men and women in nineteenth century New England whaling communities faced the daunting prospect of spending most of their married lives apart. That is until the 1840s, when a small group of married couples defied social and industrial tradition by going to sea together aboard whaleships. This illustrated lecture will focus on one of these remarkable couples— Captain John and Elizabeth Marble of Fall River, Massachusetts— using the letters and journals they left behind to tell a story of love, life, and loss at sea.

Amanda Goodheart Parks has been studying gender and marriage in the New England whaling industry for more than a decade. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and an extensive career in museum education, Parks is currently pursuing her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst while serving as the Director of Education at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT.

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