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Logbook kept aboard the schooner Arabia

Identifier: MSS 0097-Item 0164

Scope and Contents

This logbook chronicles the voyage of the fishing schooner Arabia from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to the Western Banks of Newfoundland in September 1908.

The creator of this volume is unknown, but he noted that he traveled from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Gloucester, Massachusetts, aboard the Uinta at the end of August 1908 before embarking aboard the Arabia. The Arabia set out for Newfoundland on September 1 and returned to Gloucester on September 28.

The creator provided detailed descriptions of the ship’s measurements and layout before turning his attention to life on board the ship. He recorded when meals were taken, what work was done aboard, and how profits were shared among the captain, crew, and ship owners. The writer was particularly interested in the work done aboard the dories, the small, shallow draft boats used to catch fish along the banks of Newfoundland. He described catching cod, haddock, and halibut, and how the fish were cleaned and processed aboard the ship. He also detailed several encounters with giant squid, which he found frightening.

In addition to the work of fishing, the creator described the crew’s daily habits and activities. He noted that they did not bathe regularly, only washing and shaving when they were nearing Gloucester at the end of their journey. He frequently recorded snippets of conversation between crew members while at work. He also described the food on board and the table manners of the crew. He observed that the ship cook had a limited knowledge of cooking and that there was no clear system for provisioning the ship, a matter that frustrated him greatly. At the end of the journey, the writer estimated that they had traveled over 3000 miles.

This manuscript logbook consists of 44 loose leaves of wove paper with a back board that has broken into several pieces. The paper features a watermark that reads “Eaton Highland Linen.” One leaf bears the two yacht flags of the Uinta and the watermark “Hurd’s Suede Finish.” The volume contains handwritten text in pencil throughout. On a piece of grey wove paper at the back of the volume, there are several pencil sketches of human figures and fishing gear. The creator first used the rectos to record his entries, numbering them 1-44. When he reached the end of the volume, he used the versos, starting from the back of the volume, and numbering them I-XLIV.


  • Creation: 1908


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical and Historical Note

The creator of this manuscript is unknown, but he appears to have been doctor. He recorded several instances where the captain and crew referred to him as “doctor,” and in the entry for September 16, 1808, he noted that the crew members were healthier “than many who come to our hospital.” It is unclear if he fulfilled the role of ship’s surgeon, since he did not record treating any of the crew. Instead, he focused on describing the rhythms of life on board and the process of catching and processing fish in the North Atlantic. He noted in the entry from September 5 that when he offered to pay for his berth, the skipper declined any payment.

The creator noted at the front of the volume that the captain of the schooner Arabia was William Doyle, and that the ship was owned by the firm of Sylvanus Smith & Company. The firm, headed by former ship captain Sylvanus Smith, was a successful fish producing, curing, and distributing house based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Shipping records from 1919 note that the Arabia was built in Essex, Massachusetts, in 1903 and hailed from Gloucester. It was an iron-framed ship with oak and pine planking.

Cutter, William Richard. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Vol. II. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1908.1919 Record of American and Foreign Shipping. New York: American Bureau of Shipping, 1919.Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 44 leaves ; 26 cm


This logbook chronicles the voyage of the fishing schooner Arabia from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to the Western Banks of Newfoundland in September 1908.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Moyerman family, 1972

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0097 Diaries, Journals, and Ships' Logs collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0164: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, January 2017.


Finding aid for Logbook kept aboard the schooner Arabia
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 January 11
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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Newark DE 19717-5267 USA