The Naval Lyceum at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Aileen Chumard 3 years, 7 months ago
Thomas Stowell Phelps. Reminiscences of Seattle, Washington Territory, and the U.S. Sloop-of-War “Decatur” During the Indian War of 1855-1856.  Seattle: Alice Harriman Company, 1908. Thomas Stowell Phelps. Reminiscences of Seattle, Washington Territory, and the U.S. Sloop-of-War “Decatur” During the Indian War of 1855-1856. Seattle: Alice Harriman Company, 1908.

Hi, everyone, I'm Lorraine McConaghy, public historian at Seattle's Museum of History & Industry. I've been researching the antebellum Pacific Squadron for a few years, especially the 1854-1859 Pacific cruise of the sloop-of-war DECATUR, and published Warship Under Sail:  The USS DECATUR in the Pacific West, University of Washington Press, 2009.  DECATUR was launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1839 to great fanfare, but my story really begins with the ship's assignment to the Pacific Squadron, in December 1853. 

While researching the ship's cruise, I learned that many of the officers were - as the assistant surgeon put it - "swept by a passion for collecting" when the DECATUR traveled slowly through the Strait of Magellan, from the Atlantic into the Pacific, in 1854. They gathered stones and bones, feathers and fur - specimens - but they also gathered weapons and costumes - artifacts. They were working as amateur scientists, using this rare opportunity in the Strait to carefully gather, arrange, organize and prepare their collection to be crated when the sloop-of-war called at Valparaiso, the base for the Pacific Squadron. The collection was to be shipped to the Naval Lyceum at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, by the next ship ...

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Now at BLDG 92

Seasonal Photography Tours: our first annual Photography Contest

Aileen Chumard 3 years, 8 months ago

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a photographer’s dream. Spread out over 300 acres, the Yard boasts architectural evidences of the site’s rich history amid towering examples of its modern industrial rebirth, all set against a backdrop of natural landscapes and waterfront vistas. It is no wonder that many professional photographers have studios in the Yard and that many other amateur photographers, Yard enthusiasts and Instagram geeks have been clamoring to get “behind the fence.”

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