On Tuesday, November 18 at 1 PM the Woods Hole Historical Museum will present its first “Conversation” of the winter season. These “Conversations” are one of the longest running programs of the Museum, and continue to be an effective and entertaining way of transferring information about the past.
The speaker will be Helen Hiller Frink, who has just produced a book about her ancestor Nathaniel Ransom who was a whaler sailing out of New Bedford. Ms.
Frink is descended from two Mattapoisett whaling families, but only recently began researching their history, after a career researching other subjects.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago. After three decades teaching German, Women’s Studies, and Holocaust Studies she retired from Keene State College as Professor Emerita of Modern Languages. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles and four books, two of them town histories. She says with a smile “Even after writing “These Acworth Hills”, about my hometown, I’m happy to be living there,” though she adds that “It is too far from the sea.” Her fourth book, “Women After Communism; the East German Experience”, describes the changes in women’s lives during the transition from socialism to capitalism.
Her true passion is using original journals, family letters, newspapers, and documents to create works of social and material history centered in New England.
For her new book, “Oil, Ice and Bone: Arctic Whaler Nathaniel Ransom,” Ms. Frink has turned to her own family’s past studying the ships’ logs and journals written by great-grandfather Nathaniel Ransom as he sailed out of New Bedford to the Arctic and the South Pacific in search of whales. Her research has been based on documents in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, supplemented by family collections. At age fourteen Nathaniel followed his older brothers aboard the whale ships, in the chase after whales, sailing from the Beaufort Sea to the South Pacific. Amid his eyewitness accounts of four voyages, depicting the slaughter and sudden losses, he misses his “Darling Sarah,” left behind in Massachusetts. His story opens a window on the life of the whalemen durng the heyday of Arctic bowhead hunt.
The talk will be held in the lower level meeting room of the Woods Hole Public Library at 581 Woods Hole Road, which is handicapped accessible. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Museum at 508-548-7270 or visit the website www.woodsholemuseum.org.