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Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey art and artifact collection

Identifier: MC-136

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of 23 art and/or craft items depicting the Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey, by various artists, as well as 43 nautical artifacts removed from the schooner and one artifact purchased.


  • 1894-2011

Language of Materials

Collection in English and in Portuguese

Conditions Governing Access

no known restrictions on artifacts; copyright of art and craft works are retained by the artists, and reproduction is prohibited without the artist’s permission. Obtaining permission to use images of the art in any way is the responsibility of the patron.

Biographical / Historical

The Schooner Effie M. Morrissey (now Ernestina), sailed for many years under Captain Robert Bartlett of Brigus, Newfoundland. It was most famous for its scientific expeditions to the Arctic, and later, as the Schooner Ernestina, for its use as a Cape Verde to U.S. packet ship. First launched on February 1, 1894 at the James & Tarr shipyard in Essex, MA, the ship began as a fishing schooner owned by Captain William E. Morrissey and the John F. Wonson, Co. of Gloucester MA. The ship was named after Captain Morrissey’s daughter. During this period she delivered Gloucester fishermen to the areas of Grand Banks, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland in search of various species of fish, as well as to carry freight. In 1926, the Effie M. Morrissey was purchased by Captain Robert A. ‘Bob’ Bartlett. Under his ownership, the schooner was hired to make 20 scientific voyages to document the North’s flora and fauna, as well as its people, by patrons including the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of the American Indian. The Morrissey came within 578 miles of the North Pole in 1940, and was used during World War II as a supply vessel for the United States’ Greenland military bases. Between 1926 and 1946 Bartlett took groups of young men along to the Arctic as crew members, each paying a thousand dollars for the experience and adventure. They were known as “Bartlett’s Boys.” After Captain Bartlett’s death in 1946, the schooner was sold to two brothers in New York City who intended to sail her to the South Seas. However, a fire on November of 1947 heavily damaged the ship and prevented this.

The schooner was eventually purchased by Captain Henrique Mendes and the name was changed from the Morrissey to the Ernestina, after the Captain’s daughter, Ernestina Randell. Between 1948 and 1965, the vessel was used to transport immigrants and goods between the Cape Verde Islands and the United States, and for inter-island transport until 1974. Captains included Ricardo Lima Barros, Joao Baptista Jr., Arnaldo Mendes, and Valentin Lucas. The Ernestina proved vital to the inter-island transportation and communication system, transporting food and supplies to residents of Cape Verde, and providing Atlantic transportation to those emigrating from Cape Verde to the United States. As the vessel slipped into disuse and disrepair, several grass-roots efforts by various groups and organizations rose to begin the campaign to save the vessel. In 1976, President Aristide Pereira of the newly-independent Cape Verde agreed to send the Ernestina to the United States, but on the way she encountered severe weather, lost her mast and sails, and ultimately returned to Cape Verde. In 1982, the Republic of Cape Verde restored the Ernestina and she was presented to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a gift to the people of the United States. The Schooner Ernestina is now the official vessel of the Commonwealth and is managed by the Division of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) through its Schooner Ernestina Commission (SEC).


67 items (67 items)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Schooner Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey Association, Inc., 2012 as part of the Schooner Ernestina/Effie M. Morrissey Archives; accession #12-16 received 6-5-12.

Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey art and artifact collection
Karen Correia
October 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA