The Maritime Heritage Project

World Harbors and International Migration from The Maritime Heritage Project.

Dear Maritime Heritage Visitors: This season The Project is asking visitors to help keep the site growing. While publications and prints to aid in your research are included (and bring in a few dollars per sale), the director is now "officially" asking if you will kindly donate. If everyone reading this right now gave $5, it would help provide additional names and stories to the more than 100,000 ship passengers arriving in San Francisco during the 1800s. This 18-year-old Project is free and is accessed from every country around the world. The Maritime Heritage Project (,, is basically a one-person operation developed and managed by the now 70-year-old great-great-grandaughter of Captain James H. Blethen, Master Mariner. Costs include equipment, research materials and time. The Maritime Heritage Project is special: it keeps alive our history of shipping, commerce and migration during an era when more people changed locations than in any other century in the history of the world. It is a resource where all can research ancestry and find heretofore "lost" family members at no charge. If you have visited our site and found it of value, kindly take one minute to keep it growing. Thank you very much. ~~ D. A. Blethen Levy


Ship's Store: Books, Publications, Prints

Ships and Shipping

Agony and Death on a Gold Rush Steamer. Agony and Death on a Gold Rush Steamer: Sinking of the Side-Wheeler Yankee Blade
Donald G. Knight and Eugene D. Wheeler
Pathfinder Publishing of California, Ventura, CA, 1990 This detailed account of the sinking of the Yankee Blade includes surviving passengers, crew, and officers. Well researched. A small book and a wonderful, quick read of life of a ship.

The American Line: (1871-1902)

William H. Flayhart

W.W. Norton & Company

The story of the development of the American Merchant Marine remains one of the most glorious chapters in the early history of the United States. Up until the Civil War the American sailing ships carried the Stars and Stripes around the world with honor to the nation and profit to their owners. The war and the concurrent change from sail to steam brought disaster to American shipping. By 1870 there were no American passenger liners on the North Atlantic, a sad blow to national pride.

The Boating Bible: The Essential Handbook for Every Sailor

Jim Murrant

The book presents all the skills necessary to be able to sail competently, starting with a basic explanation of the structure of a sailing boat and the best way to set up a boat for sailing followed by a detailed discussion of the theory and practice of sailing. The practical side of sailing is emphasized.

Flying Cloud: The Story of America's Most Famous Clipper Ship.

Flying Cloud: The True Story of America's Most Famous Clipper Ship and the Woman Who Guided Her
David W. Shaw.
Much of this book is based on primary source material: diaries, letters, and ship's logs.

On her maiden voyage in 1851, the clipper ship Flying Cloud, carrying valuable cargo and 11 passengers, sailed from New York to San Francisco around the tip of South America. The ship made the 16,000-mile trip in 89 days, 21 hours, a remarkable speed. However, more astonishing was the fact that the ship's navigator was the captain's wife, Eleanor Creesy, an experienced pilot who charted the course using then new theories about wind directions and ocean currents propounded by Matthew Maury, superintendent of the Navy's National Observatory. While Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy dealt with emergencies, his wife plotted the course, managed day-to-day life on board and coped with the sometimes rash decisions made by her husband.
The launch of Flying Cloud in Bostin 1800s.
Launch of Shipbuilder Donald McKay's Clipper Ship Flying Cloud in Boston
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The Clipper Ship "Flying Cloud"
Published by Currier and Ives, 1852
Around Cape Horn.

Around Cape Horn

A Maritime Artist/Historian's Account of His 1892 Voyage

Charles G. Davis

Davis was considered one of the world's leading maritime model builders; his ship models now are rarely found outside of museums.He was also acclaimed as an artist, historian, and author. Around Cape Horn is his recollection of one of the first adventures at sea: sailing out of New York in 1892 at age 13 on a voyage around Cape Horn, aboard the bark James A. Wright.

A Tale of Two Oceans: A New Story by an Old Californian: An Account of a Voyage from Philadelphia to San Francisco, Around Cape Horn, Years 1849-50, Calling at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and at Juan Fernandez, in the South Pacific, Ezekiel Barra, Nabu Press

Quality reprints of Cape Horn available by clicking on an image.
Ships in the Strait of Magellan rounding Cape Horn along the Headlands of Tierra Del Fuego
Rounding Cape Horn.
Slippery Deck of a Ship in Heavy Seas sailing around Cape Horn. 1800s
Clipper Ship Rounding Cape Horn.
Clipper Ship, Red Jacket, Off Cape Horn
Passage from Australia to Liverpool. c 1854

Ferries of San Francisco Bay

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.(Images of America Series)

Paul C. Trimble

Decades before San Francisco Bay was crisscrossed by bridges, an extensive network of ferries plied the waters, moving passengers, vehicles, and freight between San Francisco and surrounding counties. Among others, the Santa Clara, Sacramento, Encinal, Eureka, Oakland, and Tamalpais supported the critical commerce of the region. These vessels have long been an important link in Bay Area transport. Equipped with up to four decks, the ferries’ cargoes included commuters, livestock, automobiles, mail, convicts, and even entire railroad trains.

First Rate: The Greatest Warship of the Age of SailShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Rif Winfield
In this first history of the major ships in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail, virtually every British First Rate from the Prince Royal of 1610 to the end of sail is represented by an array of paintings, drawings, models, or plans. This spectacular collection of illustrations, many in full color, is a celebration of these magnificent ships, combining an authoritative history of their development with reproductions of many of the best images of the ships, chosen for their accuracy and detail.

Gold, Silk, Pioneers & Mail:
The Story of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company

Robert J. Chandler and Stephen J. Potash; Forward by James P. Delgado, Ph.D.
The California Gold Rush of 1849 assured the fortunes of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. Based in San Francisco, its wooden steamers carried gold, passengers, mail and high-value freight, forever changing the city, the Pacific Coast and the nation. Chandler is a graduate of the University of California. Stephen J. Potash is a graduate of Pomona College and a public relations consultant to the international trade and freight transportation sectors. (The beautifully illustrated book is a numbered limited edition.)
Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast.

Great Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast
Robert C. Belyk
Reviews indicate that Belyk's book is well written and sometimes gripping. It reviews ten significant shipwrecks on the Pacific Coast over 80 years, some of which have not been documented and he reviews the real causes behind the tragedies. In depth research. The shipwrecks accounted for include: 1854: the Yankee Blade runs aground off Point Arguello, California taking 28 passengers with her. 1875: The old side-wheeler Pacific rams another passenger ship off the coast of Cape Flattery, Washington with a loss of 277. 1906: The Valencia off the Washington coastline taking 117 passengers and crew with her.

Shipwrecks of Mexico: Shipwrecks of the Mexican Pacific Coast, Hmcs Kootenay, USS Scuffle, Hmcs Restigouche, USS Jubilant, USS Belet, compiled by LLC Books, Books Group (Editor)

American Sailing Ships: Their Plans and History
Charles G. Davis
Photos, construction details of schooners, frigates, clippers, other sailcraft of 18th to early 20th centuries -- discourse on design, rigging, nautical lore, much more. 137 illustrations.

The History of American Sailing Ships: Hardbound
Howard I. Chapelle
This book claims to be the first complete history ever published of the development of the various types of sailing vessels and rigs in America from the earliest Colonial craft down to and including modern racing and cruising yachts.
Includes over 200 illustrations by the author, George C. Wales and Henry Rusk.
W.W. Norton Company, Inc., Bonanza Books, New York.

A History of American Privateers

Edgar Stanton Maclay, Kessinger Publishing
American privateers played a significant role during the American War of Independence and the Anglo-American war of 1812, as the American regular navy was very small. Reinforcement by privateers sailing under the government's jurisdiction carrying Letters of Marque was essential, and in fact both sides made use of privateers, capturing each other's merchant ships as prizes. Many successful sailors began their careers as privateers before taking up commissions in the regular navy. The stories of some of these men are individually explored in this 1899 book by Edgar Stanton Maclay, who two years later was at the centre of a controversy arising from remarks in his History of the United States Navy. Maclay here includes accounts from sailors of all ranks about their experiences during the conflicts and as prisoners of war. The actions of some notorious British privateers are also documented in this fascinating work of maritime history.
History of the American Privateers: the United States and the War of 1812 at Sea
George Coggeshall
An invaluable record of the early days of American sailing ships Coggeshall, the author of this work, is both well known and highly regarded by those interested in chronicles of the great days of sail during the early nineteenth century. Coggeshall's two volume work of his voyages as a crewman and officer of American schooners and his experiences with the navy of the United States are vital reading and are published by Leonaur in hard and soft cover editions.
Quality reprints of the privateer are available by clicking on the image.
An American Two-Masted Privateer, during the war between Britain and America
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Certificate of Shares in the American Privateer
General Putnam, 1814
On Deck on an American privateer during the War of 1812.
Sailors on the Deck of an American Privateer
hunting English shipping during the War of 1812

History of American Steam Navigation

John Harrison Morrison
Indispensable, comprehensive history of the entire American maritime scene, focusing on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound waterways. Stephen Day Press, 1958 (Note: Alibris is reprinting many of these works because many of the original works are scarce or extremely expensive.)
Paasch's Illustrated Marine Dictionary (in English, French, and German, originally published as From Keel to Truck)
Captain H. Paasch
Originally published as "From Keel to Truck" in 1885. With over 35 years of sea faring experience, including commands and a role as a Surveyor to Lloyd's Register, Paasch sets out in English, French and German, an exhaustive explanation of all the principal parts of a ship's structure and equipment, including the main types of steam and sailing vessels; hulls; propulsion machinery; anchors, masts and spars, rigging, as well as sails, tackle, blocks, ropes and knots, bends, hitches and splices.
Illustrated. First published by the author in Antwerp, 1885.
The Lore of Ships.

The Lore Of Ships

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

Tre Tryckare, 1973

A distinguished work developed through international co-operation between maritime specialists in Sweden, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Holland, Norway, and Germany. This magnificent, fully illustrated volume explains the significant components of sailing ships, merchantmen, liners - from primitive dugouts to modern-day warships. More than 1,550 illustrations of diverse nautical details in the form of drawings printed in a total of seventeen different colors, including gold.

The Mammoth Book of Men O' War:
Stories from the Glory Days of Sail
Mike Ashley
Eighteen classic sea-faring tales by the best-loved writers of the genre, including Patrick O'Brian, C. S. Forester, Richard Woodman, Herman Melville and Frederick Marryat. It features favourite heroes such as Captain Jack Aubrey, Adam Hardy, Horatio Hornblower and Nathaniel Drinkwater. These tales vividly re-create the age of the glory days of sail, aboard the great ships that sailed for trade, discovery or warfare. They include storms and shipwrecks, the great sea battles . . .

Pacific Coastal Liners

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

Color and Stark Drama of the Ships that Steamed Offshore from Baja, California to Nome, Alaska.

Gordon Newell and Joe Williamson

Stories of rate wars, rivalries, and races with personal exploits of men like Dynamite Johnny O'Brien who rigged sails on a wrecked steamer and took her off a deadly reef; Capt. Louis Nopander who shared his bridge with a madman; Capt. E.B. Wood who was murdered by pirates. Steamings, stranding, strange voyages, and hundreds of photographs. 1959. 192 pages

Paddle Wheel Steamers and their Giant Engines: The story of a uniquely American type of steamboat, told in 25,000 words and 89 rare and fascinating illustrationsShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Bob Whittier
Whittier describes his book as "The story of a uniquely American type of steamboat, told in 25,000 words and 89 rare and fascinating illustrations." Seamaster, Inc., Duxbury, Mass., 1987

King & Queen of the River: The Legendary Paddle-Wheel Steamboats Delta King and Delta Queen
The paddle-wheel steamers the Delta King and the Delta Queen plied the Sacramento River beginning in the 1920s and took passengers on a round-trip from San Francisco to Sacramento for $1.95 in the 1930s. During the Second World War, the ships were used as Navy hospitals. This history covers the two ships through the 1990s, when the Delta Queen started cruising the Mississippi and the Delta King began being used as a floating hotel in Old Sacramento.

Queens of the Western Ocean

The Story Of American's Mail And Passenger Sailing Lines

Carl C. Cutler

Invaluable and indispensible for anyone seeking information on early shipping. Found at an antiquarian book seller on the Square in the little town of Sonoma. United States Naval Institute, These are extremely difficult to find, but well worth the search and cost if you are a student of maritime history.

Immigrants aboard a Pacific Mail Line steamer.
Chinese Immigrants Aboard the Pacific Mail Steamship Alaska

The Riddle of the Caswell Mutiny
Seamus Breathnach
In December 1875 captain George ''Bully' Best found himself in Buenos Aires without a crew and without a cargo. His men had for the most part deserted him. Before making his way to Antofogasta, where he loaded up with Saltpetre (nitrate), he recruited a' mixed crew' of Greeks and British.The British refused to sail with the Greeks, and rather than allow them onshore to see the British Consul, captain Best beat them and put them in irons.
The Dictionary of Sea Painters of Europe and America
E.H.H. Archibald
With a range stretching from works by Turner to the finely detailed harbour paintings intended for master mariners, this guide to marine painting contains biographical and stylistic information on nearly 1200 artists, with over 1000 illustrations. It also offers detailed drawings of the stems and sterns of important ships and illustrations of maritime flags.
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The Fighting Temeraire Towed to Her Last Berth
William Turner

Shipwrecks of the Pacific Coast

James A. Gibbs, Jr., 1957
Gibbs' wrecks are restricted to the North Pacific Coast, along California, Oregon and Washington, and do not include ships that wrecked along South America and Mexico's shores. The wrecks are organized by date and by location, and include ocean and bay steamers, as well as other ships that wrecked between the years 1500 and 1957. An excellent map of the wrecks is provided.
A Tramp Shipping Dynasty - Burrell & Son of Glasgow, 1850-1939: A History of Ownership, Finance, and Profit
R.A. Cage, Greenwood Press
This history of Burrell & Son of Glasgow describes the way in which ship ownership and operation developed during the final years of the age of sail and the beginning of the era of steamships. Not only does the work contain background material on tramp shipping commerce, it also includes a substantial database on ship building, ownership, and operations during this period. The information will be of interest to the maritime historian since it describes this important era in detail
Under Tow: A History of Tugs and Towing
Donal Baird
Vanwell Publishing, 2003
Under Tow is the remarkable tale of North American and Western European tugboats and salvage tugs. From the early British and Dutch towing companies to the current Canadian and American conglomerates, towing has been a diverse and economically significant part of trade and commerce. Tugs moved great log booms downstream to pulp and paper mills, pushed sailing ships and huge ocean liners to their berths, towed cargo barges, ranged across oceans and as far as the Arctic.

Derek Lundy The Way of A Ship. Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

The Way of a Ship

A Square-Rigger Voyage in the Last Days of Sail
Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

Derek Lundy
Based partly on the experiences of his great great uncle, an Irish sailor, Derek Lundy recreates the voyage of a merchant sailing ship -- the Beara Head -- around Cape Horn in the 1880s. The Way of a Ship is a white-knuckle journey around the notorious "graveyard of ships," and a gorgeous evocation of a bygone era, depicting not only the dangerous day-to-day life aboard a square rigger, but also how the ascendancy of steam ships ultimately rendered commercial sailing vessels obsolete, as The Age of Sail gave way to The Age of Steam.

The "beautiful, widow-making, deep-sea" sailing ships could sail fast and carry substantial cargo, but were vulnerable to weather and the sea's many dangers. Life at sea was often brutal and relentless; seamen were sleep-deprived and malnourished, at times half-starved.

The Western Ocean Packets.

Western Ocean Packets

Basil Lubbock

Mr. Lubbock is an able seaman and widely respected maritime historian who has written dozens of books about clippers, packets, their builders and captains, and the trade routes they followed around the world.

His books are generally beautifully illustrated.

One of his most beautiful books, Best of SailShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports., illustrated by Jack Spurling, originally published in 1933, was reprinted by Grosset & Dunlap in 1972. It can be difficult to locate, but well worth the effort.

The Wonderful Story of the Sea

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

A.C. Hardy, B.Sc., M.I.N.A., F.R.G.S., Advisory Editor
Real life stories from log to luxury liner, stories of fishing fleets, clippers, famous ports and docks, charting Neptune's Kingdom . . . Hundreds of illustrations, in both line and half-tone, of famous old prints of ships of a bygone age. Odhams Press Limited, London. No date of publication. 384 pages, 300 illustrations.

The Way of The Ship.Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

The Way of the Ship

America's Maritime History Reenvisoned, 1600-2000
Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

The history of shipping in America, as traditionally recounted, is based primarily on the fortunes of the American merchant marine. This book offers a global perspective and considers oceanic shipping and domestic shipping along America''s coasts and inland waterways, with explanations of the forces that influenced the way of the ship. The result is an eye-opening look at American maritime history and the ways it helped shaped the nation's history. It features beautiful color images of paintings by today''s premier marine artist, John Stobart.

The prestigious team of writers/historians includes Alex Roland (Durham, NC), Professor of History at Duke University, Jeffrey W. Bolster (Barrington, NH), Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire, and Alexander Keyssar (Cambridge, MA), Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. All have authored acclaimed books.

Dr Roger I. Cartwright is a respected maritime historian and lecturer and has presented a series of maritime-themed talks on a number of international cruise ships. He has written a number of books for The History Press including "P&0 Princess: The Cruise Ships", "Cruise Britannia" and "The Saga Sisters". Peter Rushton joined the legendary Union-Castle Line as a deck cadet in the 1950s which led to a life-long interest in ships and the sea. He is a columnist for "World Cruising" and is a regular speaker on cruise ships, talking on both Maritime and Ocean Liner history as well as destinations being visited.

Cruise America

A History of the American Cruise Ship

Roger Cartwright, Peter Rushton
The North American cruise industry is the largest sector of the trade by a long way. Of the 2007 cruise market, which totalled over 16 million, US cruise vacationers alone represented over 70 per cent of the total. With stunning photographs, many of which are in colour, this general history looks at the companies and ships that are dedicated to this particular market. From the big players, the luxury market and niche cruising, to disasters and predictions, this illustrated book covers the whole industry, past, present and future.

Authors, Roger Cartwright and Peter Rushton, consider why the taking of an ocean voyage for the pleasure of the journey itself, and not simply as a means of travelling from A to B, came to be so popular, and what the arrival of the mega-ships means for the new age in cruising, providing the perfect guide to cruising and its history across America.

China Tea Clippers

Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

China Tea Clippers.
George Frederick Campbell
The history of the China tea clippers is examined in this book, especially their struggle in the 19th century for economic survival in the face of the steamships. It also details the advances made in design, hull construction, rigging, sail plans and deck arrangements.

The Tea Clippers: An account of the China tea trade and of some of the British sailing ships engaged in it from 1849 to 1869Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports., David R. MacGregor

Spunyarn And Spindrift: A Sailor Boy's Log Of A Voyage Out And Home In A China Tea-clipperShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.

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Recommended Reading


Coming to America.
Coming to America:
A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life
First Immigrants to America.
Roger Daniels

Your story begins as far back as you can imagine.