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She wrote of oceans and whales and other tales

whale_oil

Samples of different types of whale oil.

The online exhibit also features some interactive components including the ability to flip through the pages of Laura’s journal and explore various parts of the Roman. Cole, who has even shown the journal to a classroom of international students over Skype, emphasizes that the exhibit is being viewed—and Laura’s story is being shared—around the world.

Katy Fuller, the museum’s marketing manager, confirms that traffic to the online exhibit has increased steadily each year since “Girl on a Whaleship” launched in 2010. “Families and educators are learning about the site and using it from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Japan,” Fuller says. “In just a few years, a young Vineyard girl’s diary has become internationally known.” Courtesy of the exhibit, the story of Laura—whom Cole describes as “a normal little girl who had an extraordinary opportunity”—has now traveled even further than she had during her lifetime.

Carringer adds that Laura’s story has significance to those who live and work on Martha’s Vineyard, especially since the culture of the island has been in many ways shaped by its whaling history. “People are pulled into the story in a weird and strange way,” she says. “It’s compelling and it’s a very personal thing for them.”

Describing whaling as “an industry that supported an entire nation,” Carringer is also heading a new whaling exhibit, which is set to open at the museum in April. “Whaling is an important part of the community here,” Carringer says. “It’s perennially interesting.” The new exhibit will complement the “Girl on a Whaleship” project in that it will highlight lesser-known individuals who contributed to the whaling industry.

One such story is that of Captain William A. Martin, an Edgartown native like Laura, who was a key player among Vineyard whalers. A black man who was a part of several whaling expeditions, Martin’s tale has gone widely untold, Carringer says. For the exhibit, Carringer plans to consult with Finley, who in his research has uncovered records of 60 black men who served as ship captains across the whaling industry.



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