USS Constitution called Boston her homeport during her first quarter-century of service. From the building of the massive frigate in Boston’s North End, to manning the ship with sailors through “houses of rendezvous” in the city, to her repairs after battle at the Charlestown Navy Yard, the life of “Old Ironsides” has been inextricably entwined with the life of Boston. This illustrated presentation will examine how U.S. Navy sailors and Marines were recruited for service, how a vessel the size of Constitution was outfitted by the purveyors of naval stores in Boston, and, finally, how this “floating city” sailed forth to battle the Royal Navy, the largest navy in the western world, in the War of 1812.
Margherita M. Desy is a curator and historian of New England maritime and early U.S. Navy histories. Employed by the Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston, Margherita is historian for USS Constitution. She has also worked for a variety of museums and cultural institutions during her career, including Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT for twenty years. As adjunct faculty at Tufts University, Margherita taught in the Museum Studies Program for fourteen years. She has a BA in History & Art History from the College of the Holy Cross and an MA in American Civilization from The George Washington University. She was a fellow at the Preservation Society of Newport County and has studied at Sotheby’s Institute, London and at the Attingham Summer School, England. Margherita has published in both scholarly and popular maritime journals and has served as script advisor and on-camera historian for several PBS television shows, for numerous documentaries broadcast in multiple countries, and for History Channel productions on USS Constitution and Tall Ships.