Laura's Journal

Thirty-two days after leaving New Bedford, six-year-old Laura began writing in her journal.

Dec. 1, 1868

It is Sunday and a very pleasant day. I have read two story books. This is my journal. Good Bye For To Day.


For eleven of the next twenty-five days, she wrote her observations of the weather and what her family and the crew were doing. Laura watched from a distance and made notes of what she saw and heard. Although her entries were short, mental images of their journey begin to emerge. Laura also started the practice of ending each journal entry with "Good Bye for Today."

The Jernegan family was part of a complex maritime community, one that for decades had relied up on making a living from hunting whales on the high seas. This occupation was the lifeblood of many 19th century Massachusetts communities. However, it often required that families be separated for 3 or 4 years at a time. For some, the solution was that families began shipping to sea together. Laura’s journal gives a glimpse into her family’s life together aboard a whaling ship.

next page >

image of diary_laura

Martha's Vineyard Museum