“Crew” of STATE OF MAINE’S Sampan

Joanna Colcord Collection
Gift of Nina Colcord

This photograph, taken in Hong Kong around 1900, showcases a more intimate view of a sampan, focusing on members of the “crew” that served Captain Colcord’s ship, the STATE OF MAINE, while she was in port. Captain Colcord frequently hired Chinese cooks and stewards to work on his vessel. Both Joanna and her brother Linc were fascinated by the many sailors, fishermen, merchants and families whom they met (and sometimes socialized with) during their time in Hong Kong. In an article about her seafaring childhood that she wrote for the Maine Sunday Telegram in 1939 Joanna recalled: “We played with the Chinese youngsters without a word of common language, swapped cake and candy for gaudy paper lanterns, fished and had a generally gorgeous time.” Joanna and Linc both developed a fairly cosmopolitan worldview from these interactions; later evidence of this is apparent in Joanna’s social work, her camera work, and in Linc’s published fiction, prose, and poetry.