Sail Away

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Sail Away is a digital exhibit highlighting a mysterious, mid-nineteenth century ship’s journal located in Boatwright Memorial Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections.The origins and provenance of the journal are unknown, but the signature of one Vernon G. Locke is found throughout the book. While we can’t confirm his relationship to this journal, we have compiled information on what little is known about his life, and added it to a dedicated Vernon Locke page.

Vernon Locke Signatures

At least four different vessels are written about in the journal: two brigs, the Gem of Beverly and the Sonora; one bark, the Vernon; and a fourth unknown vessel. It is possible, even likely, that there are more ships included towards the end of the journal, as that is where the handwriting becomes more difficult to decipher. Pages that are known to belong with a certain ship are grouped together on the Browse Ships page, and all others fall under "Unknown Vessel."

In order to discover more information about the book and its history, library staff photographed each page with the goal of asking for the public’s help with transcription. If you would like to transcribe, please Login or Register through the Scripto transcription tool. You can access pages for transcription via the Browse Pages or Browse Ships tabs, depending on your preference. Instructions for transcription are provided on each page, as well as a “Discussion” view for comments or questions.

Providing multiple paths of interaction and engagement with the ship’s journal is important to this project, since transcription is not the only method for further understanding the journal. A digital reproduction of the entire journal, or flipbook, was created from the high-resolution photographs so that the book could be browsed virtually, in a manner of experience similar to that of holding the volume in one’s hands. For those interested in the ships that the book describes, a map has been created to explore their routes, in both interactive and moving-image formats. At this time, there is only a map detailing the movements of the first ship, the Gem of Beverly, but the addition of the other ships is planned. 

Our hope is that with the public’s transcription help, community expertise, and additional exploration of the journal, more information about its origins and story will come to light. 



Questions and comments are welcome and appreciated, and should be directed to