Merchant mariners have contributed significantly to the security and prosperity of the nation. In order to record and preserve the stories of merchant mariners, Seamen’s Church Institute has researchers across the US conducting interviews with these mariners for the American Merchant Marine Veterans Oral History Project. The Penobscot Marine Museum is partnering with the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) to host a day of oral history interviews on June 24, 2014, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm at Penobscot Marine Museum’s Stephen Phillips Memorial Library (11 Church St., Searsport, ME).
Merchant mariners are invited to come to the museum to record their stories with SCI researchers and volunteers. Photo archivists at the museum will also be gathering feedback from mariners on their photo collections. The interviews will be archived and made available as a robust online repository of stories of the sea.
“Merchant mariners have a unique perspective,” says SCI researcher and Frankfort resident Michele Christle. “They can come from big cities or provincial towns and travel to some of the most remote parts of the world. While sailing has changed from what it was mid-twentieth century, sailors always have stories—stories we can learn a great deal from.” A daughter of a merchant seaman herself, Christle was raised on sea stories.
Toiling on board ships often months at a time, merchant mariners work out of the public eye, but SCI—since its very beginnings—has endeavored to bring their labors to light. Through its American Merchant Marine Veterans Oral History Project, SCI helps mariners gain recognition and dignity in the historic record through their own words and voices. Johnathan Thayer, SCI archivist and the founder of the project, has interviewed veteran mariners in the port of New York and New Jersey.
The Penobscot Marine Museum will be offering reduced admission for mariners on the day of the interviews ($6).
Mariners interested in participating should RSVP to Maine-based SCI researcher Michele Christle at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 603-781-9848 to schedule a time for an interview. If transportation or health is an issue, mariners are encouraged to contact Michele Christle for alternative participation methods.
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