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Transcriptions from the Elizabeth Hayes letters

Posted for Summer 2012 Digital Library Intern Gail Betz:

Over the summer, I transcribed a portion of Elizabeth Hayes’s personal letters. Elizabeth was Patrick Barry Hayes’ wife, and she devoted a great deal of her time to corresponding with her seafaring husband and traveling sons. While only a few of the letters that Elizabeth herself wrote are included in the collection, she kept letters from her sons and her husband, which now provide a glimpse into their everyday lives. As a history lover, I greatly enjoyed reading these primary source documents, trying to figure out what the different words could be, and deciphering the context of the letter. I discovered that it was much easier to read the younger sons’ letters, because they had much neater cursive than their father did. It’s possible that Patrick Barry Hayes spent much of his time writing to Elizabeth while at sea, which could account for some of the jarring script that made much of his letters illegible. In contrast, his sons’ handwriting was easy to read, and they used more modern vocabulary than their father did.

Having the opportunity to read personal letters from the early 19th century was fascinating for me. It was like reading a diary, but with multiple perspectives and a great deal of guessing about missing information between dates and locations. I enjoyed learning that one son had reunited with his love, and had written to her father to ask for her hand in marriage. I was worried for the son who was away at school for the first time, was ill, and clearly homesick for his mother. While these letters were written almost 200 years ago, the thoughts and feelings they related were contemporary and relatable.

Thank you to Michael Foight and Laura Bang for sharing their knowledge and advice, and providing me with the opportunity to learn about and work with digital libraries. I enjoyed seeing the “other side” of the digital library process, and look forward to using this experience in future digital projects!

Editorial Note: These transcriptions are in the process of being attached to the digital images and will be available for the public in the near future.


Dear Diary…

Posted for: Jennifer Pilling, Digital Library Intern, Spring 2010

Using the Barry-Hayes collection, I have recently completed a teachers’ guide for language arts, English, and history high school teachers. The guide focuses primarily on a journal that Patrick Hayes kept while journeying with John Barry to China on a merchant trade mission. Patrick kept meticulous notes on the weather, the various stops they took along the way, and customs that he experienced during the voyage. Other resources are also noted, including related primary documents held at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Patrick Hays His Book

As is the case with all primary source materials, Patrick’s journal gives us a window into the past, untarnished by interpretation. The goal of this guide is to highlight a primary source from history, to set it into historical context, and to use it for examination and comparison to better understand the history of written language. Teachers will first walk their students through information about written language in the 18th Century as it compares to writing conventions of today. They will then help the students understand the historical context in which Patrick Hayes wrote the journal, and lastly, the students will have the opportunity to read and interpret the journal for themselves.

There are several activities that teachers can assign to help bring the content of the guide to life. Students will be asked to learn how to transcribe excerpts from the journal, so they can see firsthand the differences that exist in grammar, punctuation and writing style at this time. They can also write their own journals and compare the types of adventures teenagers might experience today. Students can even learn how to make their own quill and ink.

This project has taught me the value of primary resources, and my experience transcribing the 78-page journal has increased my proficiency in reading 18th-century handwriting. I also learned quite a bit myself about writing conventions of the time, and the laborious process of preparing the paper, ink and quill before sitting down to write. The history that this single item holds is priceless, and worth exploring, with or without the guide. Enjoy!

Teacher’s Guide: Journey Back in Time: 18th Century Writing Practices & Modern Comparisons
Patrick Hayes’s Diary: “tho a bad Sailor…”


Becoming a U.S. Citizen, 1822-style

Posted for: Audrey Hamelers, Digital Library Intern, Spring 2010.

The Barry-Hayes collection, housed at the Independence Seaport Museum, includes the naturalization certificate of Patrick Hayes, the adopted son of John Barry. This certificate, issued on April 8, 1822, provides an interesting example of the naturalization requirements in Pennsylvania and the United States at that time.

Part of the certificate
Part of the certificate.

According to his naturalization certificate, Patrick Hayes applied for United States citizenship at the Supreme Court in the City of Philadelphia “having on his solemn oath declared, and also made proof thereof by competent testimony, that he had resided within the United States upwards of two years, and within the State of Pennsylvania upwards of one years immediately preceding his application.” This was on September 2, 1794, meaning that the naturalization process underwent by Patrick Hayes was that decreed by the Naturalization Act of 1790, which lists a residency of two years in the United States among its requirements.

However, Patrick Hayes was not issued this certificate of naturalization until 1822, thirty years after the listed date of application. One reason for this may have been that the 1790s saw naturalization law change not once, but three times. This certificate of naturalization may give us an idea of the experience of gaining citizenship in a young country, whose laws were still being developed.

Witnessed by William Atlee in 1822.

Just a few months after Patrick Hayes applied for United States Citizenship, the Naturalization Act of 1795 was passed in January of that year. This act, which replaced the 1790 law, states that a person seeking naturalization must “declare an oath or affirmation, before some one of the courts aforesaid, that he has resided within the United States, five years at least, and within the state or territory, where such court is at the time held, one year at least.” In addition, this act adds a required waiting period of three years between an application for naturalization and receiving citizenship.

Three years later, the Naturalization Act of 1798 increased the residency requirement from five to fourteen years, and increased the waiting period from three to five. This act, which was one of the controversial and short-lived Alien and Sedition Acts passed by a Federalist Congress, attempted to disenfranchise potential immigrants who might support their rival Democratic-Republicans. This act was repealed in 1802, at which time the law reverted back to the Naturalization Act of 1795, which is still used as the law of naturalization in the United States today.

It’s not clear whether Patrick Hayes’s status as a naturalized citizen of the United States was affected by these changes in the law, or whether there is some other reason for the date discrepancy. More complete information might be discovered through further perusal of the Barry-Hayes collection.

A star-shaped seal that appears on the certificate
A star-shaped seal that appears on the certificate.


A Maritime Voyage to China

Posted for Jennifer Pilling, Spring 2010 Digital Library Intern:

Situated between two major rivers, Philadelphia finds its rich history formed by a bustling merchant trade shipping industry. The document collection of Barry-Hayes offers a first-hand account of trade practices in the 18th and 19th centuries. Commodore John Barry, founder of the United States Navy, began and ended his career as a merchant ship captain, sailing the globe. Toward the end of his service to the industry, Barry brought his adopted son Patrick Hayes on a journey to China, which marked the beginning of Patrick’s maritime career. Quite fortunately, Patrick Hayes kept an extensive journal of his journey, giving us a glimpse into the adventurous life of a sailor.

Journal Introduction

Hayes practices his seafaring skills by tracking his latitudinal and longitudinal location upon The Asia, while en route to each port for trading, making note of the wind directions:

“Longitude 17° W then we met the SE trade wind which blew mostly betweene SSW and SSE from the account nav-igation gives of them we expected to meet fresh breeze at SE if those accounts are true then winds have shifted Considerably within those few years the weather betweene the Equator and the tropick of Capricorn is very ples ant”

Journal Clip

Many of Hayes’s entries also note his experience on board, not all of which were as pleasant as the weather. Early on in the voyage, Hayes learned a tough lesson about the darker side of seafaring when one of the sailors took his life with a shot of his pistol through his heart. The man left no note behind to explain his suicide, and he was committed to the sea, a sailor’s funeral. Later, Hayes notes after an abundantly successful fishing endeavor that “in a few Days fresh fish became nauseous to us all” and “in a day several of our people was poison-d by eating some of those fish that lay in the sun moon all night which was attended with no foul Consequences”.

As instructed, no doubt, by Barry, Hayes also kept notes while in port. The ship’s first stop was Cape Town, a Dutch settlement at the time. Hayes describes his observations:

“the people are general-ly well dressed [agod] complexionce the Town is well fortifyed the dutch always keep a large body of troopes in the Town the small Sword and Cockade complats the dress of every Man who wishes to appear like gentleman they take a great deal of pains to kepp their Houses Clean and el-egantly furnished and well painted”

Hayes’s journal is an excellent resource for understanding a worldly view from the early American perspective. It is a glimpse into the life of a sea merchant, and is well worth a closer look. This journal represents only a small portion of resources available about American trade in the 18th Century. The Independence Seaport Museum hosts artifacts and documents that remind us of this nation’s independent embark into international trade. One document, a letter from congress introducing an American captain to the Chinese government, depicts an abundant display of respect in an attempt to show their dedication to international trade. Another series of documents from Captain John Green documents tips on how to trade in Asia, and with whom.



Last Modified: April 6, 2010

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