The Origins and Early History of the Steamer "Albatross," 1880-1887

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Article describes how the research ship Albatross came into existence and traces the history of its early years. Second Smithsonian Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird, founder and first Commissioner (1871-1887) of the U. S. Fish Commission, recognized that research in the world's little-explored oceans had great scientific value. In 1880, Baird began successful lobbying of the U. S. Congress for funds to build and outfit the Albatross, which was launched on November 11, 1882. The author provides details on how the vessel was designed, built, manned and operated for deep-water ocean research. The Albatross was deployed in Atlantic and Caribbean waters until the end of 1886; following long-needed repairs the ship was relocated in May 1888 to San Francisco, where it began its long career working in Pacific Ocean waters. The article is accompanied by 20 Figures.


  • Goode, G. Brown (George Brown) 1851-1896
  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Verrill, A. E (Addison Emery) 1839-1926
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Fish Commission
  • Albatross (Steamer)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article is one of six from a quarterly journal of the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U. S. Department of Commerce. This issue of the journal is devoted entirely to the U. S. Fish Commission Steamer "Albatross," launched in 1882 as the world's first oceanographic and fisheries research ship; the Introduction features 16 photographs and illustrations. The articles were papers presented at a symposium held on June 30, 1997, at the University of Washington in Seattle; each concerns a phase of the ship's 40-year career as a research vessel.

Contained within

Marine Fisheries Review Vol. 61, No. 4 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Oceanographic research ships
  • Oceans
  • Secretaries
  • Fishes
  • Marine resources
  • Fisheries
  • History
  • Federal Government
  • Oceanography
  • Fisheries--History


  • United States
  • Woods Hole (Mass.)

Physical description

pgs. 1-21

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