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Peter Strickland papers

Identifier: MSS 0171

Scope and Contents

The Peter Strickland papers consist of thirteen bound volumes and several newspapers, covering the period 1857 to 1912.

Five of the volumes are Strickland’s diaries, from 1857 to 1864, 1876, and then 1904 to 1905. The early diaries, from his sailing career, consist of weather and location data as well as comments on daily events. These vary from how the ship was sailed and crew problems, to Strickland’s religious and literary habits. Despite voyaging between Europe, the West Indies and South America, there are few mentions of the locales as he seemingly never went ashore. Entries also tell of his time in Boston as he looked for a new position between voyages. The 1876 diary dates Strickland’s time as an agent for a Boston business working for a Mr. Barrett and a Captain Skinner. He details life in Bissau and his trading.

The 1904-1905 diary covers a period when Strickland was living in Gorée-Dakar, acting as a commission agent and as U.S. consul.

The letter books cover 1876 to 1887 and 1900 to 1912. Most of these letters are business or personal related; only a few concern consulate-related business. The 1906-1912 book contains business and personal letters written when Strickland was operating out of Dorchester and Boston, Massachusetts. Some of these letters are written in French.

Eleven issues of two French colonial weekly newspapers, Journal Officiel du Sénégat et Dependances and Journal Officiel du L’Afrique Occidental Francaise, are contained in the collection. They summarize the events of the French colony including political events, ship movement, and births and deaths.


  • Creation: 1857-1912


Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English with additional materials in French. Two loose vocabulary sheets for translations for what seems to be the Wolof language of Senegal are included (F6).

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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 Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

Peter Strickland (1837-1922) was a shipmaster, merchant, and U.S. consul in the French colony of Senegal. He was born and grew up in Montville, Connecticut where he lived until age fifteen. He taught school briefly and then went to sea.

In merchant service, Strickland was made second mater before the age of twenty. He earned a chief’s mate position at age twenty and became a ship master a short time later. Most of his journeys were between New England, the West Indies, South America, and Europe.

He became interested in Africa at the end of the American Civil War. He made more than forty voyages to Africa between 1865 and 1878 as a shipmaster and supercargo. Strickland served as an agent in Bissau, Guinea, in West Africa for a Boston-based business, and eventually moved to Gorée-Dakar in Senegal. After the death of the owner, Matthew Bartlett, Strickland began his own business as a commission agent in 1888.

President Chester Arthur asked Strickland to open a U.S. Consulate in Senegal at Gorée-Dakar. Strickland served as consul beginning in 1884. He returned to the United States sometime between May 1905 and May 1906.

Strickland wrote a book, A Voice from the Deep, published in 1873, about the difficulties of the seaman’s life and possible solutions.

In 1861, Strickland married Mary L. Rogers of New London, Connecticut. They had two sons and two daughters. Strickland died in 1922.

National Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: James T. White & Co., 1899. Vol. 9. 502.


1 linear foot (1 box ) : 13 diaries and letter books


Peter Strickland (1837-1922) was a shipmaster, merchant, and U.S. consul in the French colony of Senegal. The diaries and letter books of Peter Strickland date 1857 to 1912. While varying in content, the diaries center around Strickland’s life as a merchant, both on the sea as well as in Senegal. Issues of two French colonial weekly newspapers contextualize the events of the French colony during Strickland’s time there.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 1956.

Separated Materials

A copy of Strickland’s book A Voice from the Deep is in the Special Collection’s print collection.

Shelving Summary

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Processing Information

Processed by Rhonda R. Newton, August 1993. Finding aid encoded by Anna Nuzzolese, September 2018.

Finding aid for Peter Strickland papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2018 September 7
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

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA