Schooner Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey Archives transferred to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Archives and Special Collections

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Dean of Library Services Terrance Burton,

Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr. and the Schooner Ernestina Commission Vice Chairperson Dr. Laura Pires-Hester are pleased to announce the official transfer of the Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey Archives to the University’s Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections.  The transfer was marked by a celebration on September 15th, 2011 in the archives along with the opening of an exhibition of selections from the Schooner Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey Archives in the William Q. and Mary Jane MacLean Gallery in the University Archives and Special Collections.  The exhibition will be on display through December and the archives may be consulted by appointment with the Archivist, Judy Farrar (508-999-8686 or jfarrar@umassd.edu).

The vessel Effie M. Morrissey, now known as the Schooner Ernestina, was originally built for Captain William E. Morrissey and the John F. Wonson Company of Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1894.  She spent the first 30 years of her life fishing for salt cod off Gloucester, and later, under a series of owners, fishing for herring in the Grand Banks.  The vessel was purchased in 1924 by Captain Robert Bartlett, who had been Admiral Peary’s right hand man for his polar expeditions.  Bartlett had the ship retrofitted for Arctic travel and in 1926 and began a series of Arctic expeditions to collect specimens and scientific data.  One of the most famous of these expeditions was financed by publisher George Palmer Putnam in 1926 during which two polar bears were captured for the New York Zoo.  In the 1930s Bartlett took groups of young college men who paid $1,000 apiece to the Arctic for the life experience, and in the 1940s the ship and Bartlett were hired by the United States military to supply Greenland airbases, and conduct survey work in the Arctic.  After Robert Bartlett died in 1946 the schooner was sold and retrofitted as a luxury yacht, but before it could make another journey, caught fire at the dock.  She was sold to Louisa Mendes for $500 and then to her father-in-law, Henrique Mendes, who used the ship to transport goods and Cape Verdeans back and forth between the United States and Cape Verde.  In 1948 he registered the ship in Cape Verde and changed her name to “Ernestina,” and for the next 25 years sailed her successfully from the ports in Cape Verde to the United States.   Alberto Lopes, a local shipper in the islands purchased it in 1967 as did Alberto Lizardo at a later date, who sailed it until 1974.

The Ernestina/Morrissey movement was a citizen-based effort to repair, restore and return the Ernestina to the United States.  The United Friends of the Ernestina/Morrissey originated in 1976.  The Bartlett Exploration Association was organized in the early 1970s to try to repatriate and resume the expeditions of the schooner.  After the ship was nearly destroyed in the Atlantic  the Friends of the Ernestina/Morrissey was officially launched in New York, whose purpose was to raise funds for the Ernestina’s restoration and return and plan for her future use.   There were many local chapters, and through this groundswell of interest and support, the Schooner Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey was eventually repaired and made a gift to Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the nation of Cape Verde.  She made her transatlantic voyage in 1982.

The records gifted to the Archives and Special Collections document this voyage, as well as the grassroots effort of many organizations and individuals to restore and repatriate the Schooner Ernestina from the 1970s through the 1990s.  It also documents, through personal diaries, scrapbooks, photographs and other files, the ship’s years under Captain Robert Bartlett and her many Arctic expeditions, and the ship’s days in the Cape Verde packet trade under the guidance of several Cape Verdean owners and captains.

For additional information contact Judy Farrar at UMass Dartmouth <jfarrar@umassd.edu> .  For additional information about the Ernestina itself, visit the website of the current friends group, the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey Association, Inc. at <http://www.ernestina.org>.  The archives, and the exhibit, are open Monday  through Friday 9:30-5:00.