Browse Items (56 total)

1722 defoe plague.jpeg
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was a merchant, a political activist, and a remarkably versatile writer, perhaps best known for his shipwreck novel Robinson Crusoe (1719). Three years later, in 1722, he published A Journal of the Plague Year, a…

1840 currier lexington.jpeg
On his own and later in partnership with James Merritt Ives, Nathaniel Currier published at least 200 lithographs of steamboats, more than one-fourth of which portrayed explosions or collisions, the earliest of which was this print of the Lexington,…

Hydraspis copy.jpg
Personal floatation device invented by the seventeenth-century German polymath Johann Christoph Wagenseil. Equipped with hinges—so that the user could insert himself into the circle and then securely reclose it—Wagenseil’s invention was to be used…

Boston WNL 1737 shipwreck.pdf
The Catherine left Northern Ireland for Boston in early June and wrecked near Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, on 17 July. Most of its 202 passengers were Ulster Scots who were emigrating America. More than half--men, women, and…

Portsmouth fire map.jpg
Fires were common in crowded early American cities, where building with wood was common. This map of the New England port city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, suffered three major fires in rapid succession in the early nineteenth century. The dark gray…

Accident on Camden and Amboy RR.tif
Twenty-four people died and many more were injured in this when four cars derailed near Burlington, N.J. The train was on its way from Philadelphia to New York,which was arguably the most profitable railroad route in the U.S. The Camden and Amboy…

Cork jacket image.jpg
John Wilkinson, an English physician, obtained a patent for the first modern life jacket, made of cork, in 1765. He believed that the English, being such “a commercial and naval people,” should seek to prevent “those very frequent disasters” at sea…

Janeway Tken for Mariners.pdf
A Token for Marinerswas a popular anthology of shipwreck stories that went through six editions (under different titles) in London and Boston between 1674 and 1708. Its author was James Janeway, a nonconformist London clergyman. Janeway presented his…

NYC 1835 fire plate 1.jpeg
These transferware pottery plates depict the "Great Fire" that destroyed 17 city blocks in Lower Manhattan in December 1835. Miraculously, only two people died in the conflagration, which was visible from as far as Philadelphia.Made in Staffordshire,…

Pa Gaz 1772 St Croix relief.pdf
Proclamation of the Danish royal governor of the island of St Croix after the ruinous hurricane of 31 August-1 September 1772. Although hurricanes were common in the West Indies, this one was unusually severe. Governor Von Roepstorff estimated that…
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