The New London Maritime Society (NLMS) today announced the winners of the 2012 Reid MacCluggage Black Maritime History Scholarships. East Lyme High School senior Morgan O'Toole took the first prize, a scholarship award of $1,000, for her fictional diary of an African-American seaman in the Union Army, at the time of the Civil War. Aidan James Quinn, a senior at Robert E. Fitch High School in Groton, won the Second-place prize, a $500 savings bond, for a true maritime history of his Cape Veridan ancestors.
The first-place award was presented to Miss O'Toole by NLMS Custom House Maritime Museum director Susan Tamulevich on Monday, June 4, 2012. Miss O'Tool's entry, Diary of Joseph Lathrop, was a fictional account based on an actual New London sailor, who joined the army at age 38, just prior to the start of the Civil War. Miss O'Toole spliced historical facts into the daily account, including elements of the story of New London's Stone Fleet.
Aidan James Quinn's entry was an account of his own Cape Verdian family's long and remarkable relationship with the sea. Entitled, My Personal Connection With African-American Maritime History, it told of his great, great-grandfather Jose Baptiste's time as a schooner boy on the whaler, the Charles W. Morgan, and of his grandfather Arnaldo Mendes's days as Captain of the Ernestina, a revered tall ship still berthed in New Bedford.
Every February, area high-school juniors and seniors may enter an original essay, short story, novella, play, movie script or poem based on the theme: the African-American experience in the maritime world to the NLMS competition. Students are invited to do their research at the New London Maritime Society's Frank L. McGuire Maritime Research Library, which contains books and manuscripts on topics related to the Amistad incident and many aspects of local maritime history. The Reid MacCluggage Black Maritime History Scholarships are awarded annually at the end of the school year.