Has it been awhile since your high school history classes? Have you been watching too many historically inaccurate movies or TV shows? Or maybe you’re just looking for some old-fashioned intellectual stimulation? Then look no further than Old North’s Mini Courses! Each month we will offer a new mini-course on a variety of topics for all the couch-based learners out there. What’s not required: registration, a specific digital platform, hours of your time, quizzes, or grades. What is required: a love of reading, an interest in or curiosity about historical topics, and an open mind.
(If you missed our first three mini courses, click over here for your crash course on the American Revolution, here for your in-depth look at preservation work in action, or here for your survey of Old North’s “dirty” work.)
In the heart of the summer, July finds many of us at, near, or on the water (or wishing we were). Even though the ocean or the harbour is a short drive away for many in the state of Massachusetts, we don’t always remember how close we are to the ocean. As a port city, Boston’s existence has depended on its connections to maritime culture and trade throughout history. More specifically to our site, many of Old North’s original pew owners and parishioners were sea captains and merchants, a wealthy subset of society who could actually afford to worship at the premiere Anglican church. Additionally, the steeple, the tallest point in Boston until 1830, beckoned home those in the sea-faring industry and was often the most welcome site to those on board a ship just entering Boston Harbor after months at sea. Today, the Old North steeple still features prominently in the Boston skyline from the harbor.
Below, dive into all things nautical as you lounge on the beach (appropriately socially distanced, of course).
1. Read the short stories of some of our early congregants who were captains, mariners, wharfingers, or seafarers. Not all of them were upstanding citizens (and quite frankly, some of them were morally bereft individuals by today’s standards), but most of them shaped the Old North we know today in widely various ways. [SHORT BLOG POSTS]
- Captain Samuel Nicholson
- The Gentlemen of the Bay of Honduras
- John Hooton, Jr.
- Captain Daniel Malcolm
- Captain Arthur Savage
- Captain Newark Jackson
After you’ve reviewed the articles and resources above, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned. Write in the comments section below, answering any of the following questions:
- What was your favorite article or resource and why?
- What can maritime culture tell us about Old North’s early history?
- How might disparities in social class affect one’s experience of life at sea in previous centuries?