The History of Woods Hole

Coming June 16. In Gallery One: The History of Woods Hole. The stories of whaling, science, hurricanes, ferries, railroads, tourism, local industries and much more that created our interesting village. The core of this exhibit will be a timeline describing key people and significant events in the settlement and development of Woods Hole, covering the early 1600s to the present.

Man and Mollusk: A History of Shellfishing on Cape Cod

Continuing in Gallery 2: This is an exhibit about all things shellfish! Man and Mollusk: A History of Shellfishing on Cape Cod takes you from the early uses of quahog shells by the Wampanoag Indians to present-day oyster farming by local fishermen.

In this exhibit you will see examples of many kinds of shellfish found in our waters and the vintage tools that were used to gather them.
You’ll learn how the uses of shellfish, like clams, evolved from being food for pigs and bait for fishing to the delicacies that we enjoy today. Thanks to Tom Chilton and Bob Grosch for curating this exhibit.

From the Archives

Below is a list of articles that have been published in the Museum’s newsletter Mainsheet. The articles look at interesting aspects of Woods Hole history and feature research by Museum Archivist Susan F. Witzell and by several other guest writers. To see an article, click on a link.

Date, Title and Author
2017 Fall, The Cap’n Kidd — Salted Kiss Sundaes and “A Real Bar” by Susan F. Witzell
2017 Spring, The Pie in the Sky by Deborah Griffin Scanlon
2016 Fall, Blacksmiths in Quissett and Woods Hole by Susan F. Witzell
2016 Spring, ‘Fishmonger Restaurant and Other Restaurants at the Bridge by Susan F. Witzell
2015 Fall, ‘The Old Stone House Rejoins The Old Candle House – or Why I Love Archivists by Mark Foster
2015 Spring, ‘Train Stations and Ferry Terminals in Woods Hole by Susan F. Witzell
2014 Fall, ‘The Younger Joseph Story Fay by Susan F. Witzell (new photos of Fay from the 1860s).
2014 Spring, ‘A History Mystery by Susan F. Witzell (Vedeler-Fish photo album).
2013 Fall, ‘Quissett Oral History and the Fay Farmhouse by Susan F. Witzell (Molly Willett oral history collection and results from The Moors research).
2013 Spring, ‘The Hurricane of 1938 by P.K. Simonds.
,‘The story of some bicentennial cannon balls and a tale of cooperation by Susan F. Witzell.
2012 Fall, ‘New Accessions – Summer 2012 by Susan F. Witzell (Sarah Bryant Fay’s bread and milk mug; a sugar bowl from the City of Columbus; and the tale of the shipwreck).
2012 Spring, ‘The Loose Untailored Fabric of History – the Treasure Trove in the Archives by P.K. Simonds.
2011 Fall, ‘Prosperity from whaling created new-style houses in the 1840s by Susan F. Witzell (Captain Thomas Davis house and Eldridge house).
2010 Fall, ‘The Log Books of Captain Anthony Howes by Nancy Bundy.
2010 Spring, ‘A Town Called Nobska — a Cautionary Tale? by Les Garrick. (Secession of the Summer People).
2009, none
2008 Fall, ‘Part 2. Reminiscences of a Summer at the Breakwater Hotel 1960 by Allan W. Swank.
2008 Spring, ‘Part 1. Reminiscences of a Summer at the Breakwater Hotel 1960 by Allan W. Swank.
,‘A Bill Eaton Sea Tale 1964 by John Howard McClellan
2007 Spring, ‘Woods Hole’s First Yachtsman by John Valois (Alfred Harrison).
2006, ‘Eaton photos and new accessions by Susan F. Witzell


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from the editors


30 2 Summer 2016 From the Editors Editors
30 2 Summer 2016 <a href="sprtsl/v30n2-lastone.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Last One to Go</a> Mary Steinbach Ulbrich
30 2 Summer 2016 <a href="sprtsl/v30n2-atsea.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A Life of Science at Sea</a> Tom Stetson
30 2 Summer 2016 <a href="sprtsl/v30n2-grace.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Poem: Mixed Grace</a> Oliviann Hobbie
30 2 Summer 2016 <a href="sprtsl/v30n2-missed.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Two Exhibitions Not to be Missed</a>
30 2 Summer 2016 Editors///
From the editors

Online Exhibits


A two-pound cannonball fired by the British during an attack on Falmouth during the War of 1812.

In addition to the exhibits presented in our galleries and in our shops each year, the museum website presents several online exhibits. Some of these (like the exhibit about ice houses) are online versions of exhibits that were mounted in the museum galleries at some point in the past. Others (like the exhibit about the guano works) were never mounted and have existed only online.

At present there are 11  exhibits available for viewing online:

Science Connection: Woods Hole and Japan
Businesses of Old Woods Hole
The Winter of 2015
Historic Ice Houses
Woods Hole Women of a Certain Age
Historical Photos from the Museum Archive
Walsh Roses on the Fay Estate
Historical Paintings of Woods Hole by Franklin Gifford
A History of the Guano Works on Great Harbor
An Audio Tour of the Village
The MBL at 125

To read more about these exhibits scroll down or click here.

Science Connection: Woods Hole and Japan

Ume Tsuda (far left) and Sutematsu Yamakawa (far right) both came to Woods Hole and the MBL to study in the late 1800’s.

For almost 150 years there has been a science connection between Japan and Woods Hole. Many of these connections have been on the very personal level, one-to-one. Many accomplished scientists have mentored younger students and assistants, challenging them to discover new facets of the scientific world.

Increasingly through the years there has been more formal cooperation at the institutional level. Yet the bonds of friendship and the ties between individual scientists have only grown and become stronger. These people work together, seeking and sharing knowledge of the ocean and its life.

There was an exhibit describing some of the connections between Woods Hole and Japan on display in the Museum galleries during the summer of 2016. To see an online version of that exhibit, click here

Coming Events, 2018

July 14Biennial Auction, 10 AM to 2 PM. Antiques, maritime items, artwork, collectibles and boats. Major fundraiser for museum.
Aug 8Annual meeting, 7 to 9 PM, (members only)
Aug 11Woods Hole Science Stroll, 10 AM to 3 PM
Aug 24Oyster talk and tasting, 5 to 7 PM, Museum grounds
Mid-OctoberGalleries close

Walking tours of Woods Hole history, Tuesdays, 10 AM and 3:30 PM

TBD: “Spiritual Gardening,” Museum Conversation by Cynthia Rose. Woods Hole Library lower level meeting room: Postponed due to snowstorms on January 30 and March 13. Will be rescheduled in the fall

Sixth Annual Oyster Talk and Tasting 2017

The Woods Hole Historical Museum held its annual Oyster Talk and Tasting on Friday, August 25. This combination of education, support for local food growers, and gustatory delight took place on the Museum grounds at 579 Woods Hole Road.

The first part of the evening was a talk by local oyster growers Pete Chase, Eric Matzen and Mary Murphy explaining how oysters are grown in this area and the results in the past year’s conditions. Pete could be considered one of the pioneers of modern oyster aquaculture in Falmouth, as he established his oyster growing operation in Gansett Cove, the first to wend the way through regulations and opinions. Now there are a host of people growing oysters in Falmouth, stretching from Waquoit to Megansett. Pete, Mary and Eric are part of a co-operative of growers known as “Sippewissett Oysters”. The cooperative sells its oysters through the Coonamessett Farm.


Conversation: Fundamentals of Navigation. Thursday, July 20, 2017

Captain Virginia Land McGuire, Associate Professor of Nautical Science, Sea Education Association, will lead a talk about navigating using charts, compasses, quadrants, sextants, taffrail logs, lead lines and chip lines and other tools in the era of celestial navigation, dead reckoning and coastal piloting. The program will be held at the Woods Hole Public Library, lower level meeting room.

Thursday, July 20, 2017
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Docents’ Training, June 2017

Docents’ training was held June 13 at the museum with informative presentations by our exhibit curators. Tom Chilton has once again used his design expertise on our shellfishing exhibit. Our navigation exhibit had several guest curators, including Steve Wagner, former Fisheries captain; Virginia Land, associate professor and captain at SEA; and Jennifer and Arthur Gaines, with Bob Grosch using his skills to mount and hang charts and naviational tools.