New Haven Museum
10:00 AM - 05:00 PM, every day through May 06, 2023.
On View Wed. - Fri., 10 am - 5 pm; Sat, 12 - 5 pm.
Get a glimpse of Elm City 200 years ago—as it was when a group of missionaries sailed from New Haven to the Sandwich Islands—in a new exhibition at the New Haven Museum, “Point of Departure: New Haven 1822.”
Using maritime documents, newspaper articles, journals, engravings, drawings (including several never before exhibited or reproduced), paintings, and books, “Point of Departure” guest curator Sandra Markham captures a portrait of the city as it would have been seen by the voyagers prior to their treacherous journey around the far end of South America to reach the North Pacific.
The 14 travelers—the Second Company of Protestant missionaries assembled by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions—had planned to sail from Boston but the voyage was delayed. A member of the company heard that the whaling ship Thames was set to sail from New Haven, and quickly made arrangements with her owners to take the company to the islands now known as Hawai‘i.
New Haven was an active port in 1822. One image on view—“A S.E. View of the City of New-Haven” from the masthead of the New-Haven Chronicle of July 4, 1786—shows warehouses, businesses, and homes clustered on the harbor. East Rock and the steeples of churches on the green stood out as local landmarks. Engravings from the 1820s by local artists John Warner Barber and Amos Doolittle reinforce what visitors and residents would have experienced, as does an 1824 city plan by Doolittle. The Google Street View of its time, Doolittle’s map features elevations of each building that show what the missionaries would have seen along the unpaved streets of New Haven.
The exhibition features five views of New Haven never before exhibited or reproduced. Drawn by Anthony St. John Baker, a British diplomat who visited in 1821 and 1825, the works from Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library are extraordinary documentation of the city as seen through the eyes of a tourist.
It took 158 days—nearly six months—for the Thames to reach the Sandwich Islands. Four of the missionaries remained in the islands for the rest of their lives; the others returned to the states after a few years of service. The only member of the Second Company to live in New Haven was Clarissa Richards, who settled in a house at the northeast corner of George and Howe streets in 1853. Her marble monument in Evergreen Cemetery also records the lives of four of her eight children, all born in Hawai‘i.
For information on what took place after the Second Company of New England Protestant Missionaries left New Haven in 1822, visit https://www.missionhouses.org.