Robert Weir Papers

Manuscripts Collection 245

Overview of the Collection

Repository: G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport
Creator: Weir, Robert (1836-1905)
Title: Robert Weir Papers
Dates: 1864-ca.1890
Extent: ca. 100 items
Abstract: Rough drafts of recollections and short stories. Includes “Some War Remembrances Aboard U.S. Sloop Richmond” (1863 Mar.); personal recollections of the Battle of the Mobile Bay, relating to Weir’s experiences as assistant engineer; recollections of an incident with dynamite at Cairo, Ill. (ca. 1864); “Buttons”, a fictional maritime tale (ca. 1890); “Jessica Snow”, fragment of a fictional love story (ca. 1890); pencil sketches of sharks, gentoos, flying fish, etc.; and miscellaneous and unidentifiable notes.
Identification: Coll. 245

Biography of Robert Weir

Robert Weir, Jr. (1836-1905) earned his living in the various careers of seaman, naval officer, engineer and freelance artist. The Robert Weir Papers, along with Weir’s log of the Clarabell, reflect another of Weir’s endeavors: writing.

Born at West Point, New York in 1836 to Robert W. Weir, an accomplished professional painter and a professor of drawing at West Point, Robert Jr. spent little time at home. At the age of fifteen, Weir ran away to sea. He continued sailing for the next fourteen years. Assuming the pseudonym Robert Wallace, Weir sailed aboard the Bark Clarabell in 1855. Upon the death of William C. Johnson, Weir was promoted to his position as boatsteerer. Recording daily events aboard ship Robert Weir’s journal vividly related the whale man’s life, both in prose and in illustrations (This log, now preserved at the Mystic Seaport Museum , is cataloged as Log 164. Several of Weir’s drawings illustrate the novel: “Whale Hunt: The Narrative of a Voyage by Nelson Cole Haley, Harpooner in the Ship Charles W. Morgan.” ) After completing the Clarabell voyage Weir joined a whaling cruise already in progress, that of the bark Helen Mar, and eventually returned to New England in 1861. Weir’s last whaling cruise aboard the schooner Palmyra ended in 1862 whereupon Weir enlisted in the Union Navy.

Weir’s naval experiences as Third Assistant Engineer aboard the USS Richmond, provide the background for two of the “Remembrances” included in this collection.

After the Civil War, Weir continued to supply illustrations to Harper’s Weekly, a practice he began in the service. He also illustrated an edition of the novel “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates” and at least once exhibited at the National Academy of Design. A small sample of his drawing talent is found in Folder 6 of this collection

Employed as a construction engineer in New Jersey for the later part of life, Weir apparently continued his interest in writing. As is evident in the collection, he composed at least three stories, rough drafts of which are also included in these papers.

Robert Weir Jr. died at Montclair, New Jersey in 1905

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Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division.

Restrictions on Use

Various copying restriction apply. Guidelines are available from the Manuscripts Division.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the G. W. Blunt White Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Corporate Entities:

Richmond (Steam sloop of war)
United States–Navy–Officers


Cairo (Ill.)–History
United States–History–Civil War, 1861-1865–Naval operations
United States–History–Civil War, 1861-1865–Personal narratives


Marine art, American–19th century Mobile Bay (Ala.), Battle of, 1864

Document Types:

Short stories


Sailors–United States

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Coll. 245, Manuscripts Collection, G. W. Blunt White Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.


Papers; 1863-1890
Box Folder
1 1 “Some War Rememberances aboard U.S. Sloop Richmond”; 1863 Mar
2 Personal recollections at Mobile Bay; 1864
3 “An incident with dynamite at Cairo, Illinois”; ca. 1864
4 “Buttons,” a fictional maritime tale; ca. 1890
5 “Jessica Snow,” a fragment of a fictional love story; ca. 1890
6 Pencil sketches of sharks, gentoos, flying fish, etc.; undated
7 Miscellaneous and unidentifiable notes; undated

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