East India Marine Society

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Not to be confused with Salem Marine Society.

The East India Marine Society (est.1799) of Salem, Massachusetts was "composed of persons who have actually navigated the seas beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, as masters or supercargoes of vessels belonging to Salem." It functioned as a charitable and educational organization, and maintained a library and museum.[1] It flourished especially in the 1800s-1830s, a heyday of foreign trade.[2]


The society had rooms in the Stearns Building, 1799-1804; and in the Salem Bank Building, 1804-1825.[2]

Member Jonathan Carnes sailed to Sumatra on a secret voyage for pepper in 1795; nothing was heard from him until eighteen months later he entered with a cargo of pepper in bulk, the first to be so imported into this country, which sold at the extraordinary profit of seven hundred per cent. Member Nathaniel Silsbee, his first mate Charles Derby and second mate Richard J. Cleveland were not yet twenty years old at the beginning of their East India voyage of nineteen months.[3] Member Israel Williams while captaining the Friendship (1797) on a voyage to Batavia, improvised a way to distill water when the ship's supply gave out in latitude 22° 50', and longitude 21° 46' west.[4] (22°50′S 21°46′W / 22.833°S 21.767°W / -22.833; -21.767.)

East India Marine Hall in 2013, now part of the Peabody Essex Museum

As of 1821 the society owned a variety of objects including shells;[5] coins;[6] other ethnological artifacts such as costume, musical instruments, statuary, weaponry;[7] and manuscript journals of sea voyages between Salem and Batavia, Bombay, Calcutta, Canton, Ceylon, Isle de France, Manila, Mocha, Sumatra, Tranquebar, and elsewhere.[8][9] Donors of objects included members, New England locals such as William Bentley, non-member seafarers such as John Derby, and others such as merchant Nusserwanjee Maneckjee of Bombay.[10][11]

In 1825 the society dedicated the newly constructed East India Marine Hall, designed by architect Thomas Waldron Sumner. It shared the building with the Asiatic Bank and Oriental Insurance Company.[12] Visitors to the society's museum included William Bentley,[13] James Silk Buckingham,[2] Nathaniel Hawthorne,[14] Andrew Jackson, Anne Newport Royall,[15] and Martin Van Buren.[12] Museum staff included Seth Bass, Malthus A. Ward, and Henry Wheatland.[2][16]

By the 1860s the society suffered financially and its Marine Hall had become "semi-moribund."[17] Consequently in 1867 the society permanently deposited its collections with the newly established Peabody Academy of Science,[18] which also bought the East India Marine Hall.[19] In 1910 the society reincorporated as "Trustees of the Salem East India Marine Society."[20]



In popular culture[edit]

Nathaniel Hawthorne described a fictionalized version of the society's museum in his 1842 short story A Virtuoso's Collection.[42]


  1. ^ "Salem East India Marine Society". Salem Directory. 1842. 
  2. ^ a b c d Walter Muir Whitehill (1949). East India Marine Society and the Peabody Museum of Salem; a Sesquicentennial History. Salem, Mass.: Peabody Museum. 
  3. ^ Trow, Charles Edward (1905). "Introduction". Old Shipmasters of Salem. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. xx–xxiii. OCLC 4669778. .
  4. ^ Trow, pp. 178ff "Short of Fresh Water Causes Alarm — Captain Williams's Invention to Make Salt Water Fresh — His 'Still' Described by him — Notes on his Voyage — In Shoal Water."
  5. ^ "Catalogue of Shells in the Museum of the East-India Marine Society". East-India Marine Society of Salem. 1821. 
  6. ^ "Catalogue of Ancient and Modern Coins and Medals in the Museum of the East-India Marine Society". East-India Marine Society of Salem. 1821. 
  7. ^ "Catalogue of the Articles in the Museum of the East-India Marine Society". East-India Marine Society of Salem. 1821.  (edited by Seth Bass)
  8. ^ "Catalogue of the Journals of the Voyages, Presented to the Society". East-India Marine Society of Salem. 1821. 
  9. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison (1921). Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783–1860. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 117–118. 
  10. ^ Patricia Johnston (2011), C. Mills, ed., "Global Knowledge in the Early Republic: The East India Marine Society’s 'Curiosities.'", A Long and Tumultuous Relationship: East–West Interchanges in American Art (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Scholars Press), retrieved April 2014 
  11. ^ a b c d Mary Malloy (2000). "Northwest Coast Indian Artifacts in New England Collections: Salem East India Marine Society". Souvenirs of the Fur Trade: Northwest Coast Indian Art and Artifacts Collected by American Mariners, 1788-1844. Harvard University Press. pp. 61–89. ISBN 978-0-87365-833-1. 
  12. ^ a b James M. Lindgren (June 1995). "'That Every Mariner May Possess the History of the World': A Cabinet for the East India Marine Society of Salem". New England Quarterly 68 (2): 179–205. JSTOR 366255. 
  13. ^ William Bentley (1907). Diary of William Bentley. 2: 1793-1802. Salem: Essex Institute. 
  14. ^ Jee Yoon Lee (2006). ""The Rude Contact of Some Actual Circumstance": Hawthorne and Salem's East India Marine Museum". ELH: English Literary History (Johns Hopkins University Press) 73. JSTOR 30030044. 
  15. ^ Anne Newport Royall (1826). "Salem: Museum". Sketches of History, Life, and Manners, in the United States. New Haven. pp. 359–363. 
  16. ^ Phillips Library. "Henry Wheatland Papers". Manuscript Finding Aids. Peabody Essex Museum. Retrieved April 2014. 
  17. ^ Franklin Parker (1994). "Legacy of George Peabody". Peabody Journal of Education 70: 129+. JSTOR 1492611. 
  18. ^ Annual Report of the Trustees of the Peabody Academy of Science, 1869 
  19. ^ Walter Muir Whitehill (1962), Independent historical societies: an enquiry into their research and publication functions and their financial future, Boston Athenæum, OL 5873465M 
  20. ^ Private and Special Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 21, 1912 
  21. ^ Walter Muir Whitehill (1949). "List of Members of the Salem East India Marine Society". East India Marine Society and the Peabody Museum of Salem; a Sesquicentennial History. Salem, Mass.: Peabody Museum. pp. 160–169. 
  22. ^ a b c d Harrison Ellery; Charles Pickering Bowditch (1897). Pickering Genealogy 2. 
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap "Catalog of American Portraits". Collections Search Center. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved April 2014. Peabody Essex Museum 
  24. ^ "Captain John Barton (portrait)". Peabody Essex Museum. Retrieved April 2014. 
  25. ^ Salem Public Library. "History of the Building". North of Boston Library Exchange. Retrieved April 2014. 
  26. ^ a b c Essex Institute (1921), Annual Report 
  27. ^ "Rajah". Ship Registers of the District of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts, 1789-1900. Essex Institute. 1906. 
  28. ^ David Shavit (1990). United States in Asia: A Historical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-26788-8. 
  29. ^ Phillips Library. "Benjamin Crowninshield Family Papers". Manuscript Finding Aids. Peabody Essex Museum. Retrieved April 2014. 
  30. ^ a b c d Edward B. Hungerford (1933). "Hawthorne Gossips about Salem". New England Quarterly 6. JSTOR 359552. 
  31. ^ a b c George Granville Putnam (1922). Salem Vessels and their Voyages: a History of the Pepper Trade with the Island of Sumatra. Essex institute. 
  32. ^ a b ""To the Farthest Ports of the Rich East": Salem and the Sumatra Pepper Trade". Object of the Month. Massachusetts Historical Society. 2012. Retrieved April 2014. 
  33. ^ Bulletin of the Essex Institute 20, 1888 
  34. ^ Luther S. Luedtke (1989). Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Romance of the Orient. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-33613-9. 
  35. ^ Bulletin of the Salem Public Library, 1898 
  36. ^ George Nichols (1921). Martha Nichols, ed. A Salem Shipmaster and Merchant: The Autobiography of George Nichols. Boston: Four Seas Company. 
  37. ^ Harvard Graduates' Magazine 21, 1912–1913 
  38. ^ "Chinese and Western Merchants of the Canton Trade". Visualizing Cultures. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 2014. 
  39. ^ "White, Stephen 1787-1841". WorldCat. 
  40. ^ Robert Booth (2011). Death of an Empire: The Rise and Murderous Fall of Salem, America's Richest City. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1-4299-9026-4. 
  41. ^ Peabody Essex Museum, Phillips Library. "East India Marine Society Records, 1799-1972". Retrieved April 2014 – via ArchiveGrid. 
  42. ^ Charles E. Goodspeed (1946), Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Museum of the Salem East India Marine Society, Salem, Mass.: Peabody Museum  (fulltext via HathiTrust)

Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
  • By-Laws and Regulations of the East India Marine Society, Salem: Cushing, 1800 
  • "Salem East India Marine Society". North American Review 6. January 1818. 
  • East-India Marine Society of Salem (1831). Catalogues of the library and museum.  (edited by Mathus A. Ward)
    • Supplement to the catalogue of the articles in the museum, journals, & c of the East India Marine Society of Salem. 1837. OCLC 7579150.  (edited by Henry Wheatland)
  • Duane Hamilton Hurd (1887). "East India Marine Society". History of Essex County, Massachusetts 1 (Part 1). J. W. Lewis & Co. 
Published in the 20th century
  • History of the Salem East India Marine Society: its original act of incorporation, its final incorporation as the Trustees of the Salem East India Marine Society, by-laws and a list of members. 1916. OCLC 18179834. 
  • John Robinson (1921), "Relics of the Salem East India Marine Society", Marine Room of the Peabody Museum of Salem, Peabody Museum, OCLC 1147254 
  • "Portraits in the Museum". Guide to the Peabody Museum. Salem, MA. 1937.  (fulltext via Hathi Trust) - includes many members of the society
  • Ernest S. Dodge (1945). "Captain Collectors". Essex Institute Historical Collections 81. 
  • Ernest S. Dodge, "The Contributions to Exploration of the Salem East India Marine Society," American Neptune 25 (1965)
  • Norman R. Bennett and George E. Brooks, Jr., ed. (1965), "Log and East India Marine Society Journal of the Brig Ann of Salem, 1827", New England Merchants in Africa, Boston University Press  (fulltext via OpenLibrary)
  • East India Marine Society, founded in 1799: the East India Marine Associates, founded 1981, Peabody Museum of Salem, 1983 
Published in the 21st century

External links[edit]