Samuel Delano Logbook from the brig GRACE (1791)
Some years ago, the Hoyt Family donated a rare and valuable logbook written by Samuel Delano Jr. to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society (DR&HS) in Duxbury, MA. This logbook provided a first-hand account of an American vessel trading successfully with Japan in 1791, but being over 200 years old, it was physically in rough shape. The Society lacked the necessary funds to preserve and digitize the book at the time, so they sent out requests for donations. As of September, 2019, they were still far short of what was needed. Learning about the book and the Society's plans to preserve it, DELANO KINDRED members enthusiastically voted to provide the remaining funds at our 2019 Annual Meeting in Hyde Park, NY. Here is a description (shamelessly copied from the DR&HS website) of this amazing book:
The logbook for the brig Grace is the first-hand account of an American vessel trading successfully with Japan in 1791, long before Admiral Matthew C. Perry commanded the entry of American vessels in 1853. The American brig, Grace, sailed into the harbor of Koshimoto and traded with Japanese villagers on May 1, 1791. Onboard was a 22 year-old Duxbury sailor and shipbuilder named Samuel Delano, Jr. As clerk, Delano kept the log of voyage and it is the only English language version of this momentous first meeting between two cultures.
Historian Scott Ridley (author of Morning of Fire about the sister ship Lady Washington) has described the log as “a rare record of America’s first visit to the closed nation of Japan in 1791. The historic visit is noted in fragments in Japanese archives, but this book, written day-to-day aboard the brig Grace as it lay in the harbor of Koshimoto, is the only American document to emerge from the voyage. It is a remarkable artifact.” The Japan-U.S. Friendship Memorial Museum in Koshimoto is dedicated to this important first contact. Scott Ridley and Hayato Sakurai feature the logbook in their book, “America’s First Visit to JAPAN April 29-May 8, 1791: Voyage of the Lady Washington And the Grace.”
The project was completed November, 2019, much sooner than anticipated. The preserved logbook now resides at the Society’s Drew Archival Library in Duxbury. In addition, the entire logbook is now available online in digital flipbook form on the Society's web page. Check out the logbook and see what other treasures exist in the DR&HS Delano Family Collection by clicking on the link below:
Along with the flipbook, there is a transcription of the events from April 29 to May 10, 1791. Further transcriptions and other site enhancements are ongoing. Congratulations to DR&HS for a job well done! The Delano Kindred is honored to have been a part of this project.
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