The Journal of Isaak Iselin: First Contact

Frontpage of the third volume of four of Iselin's Journal: «Continuation of a Journal of a Voyage from Newyork [sic] to the Pacific Ocean and Canton and from thence back to the United States of A[merica] on board the Ship Maryland Jon[athan] Perry Jun[ior] master. Sailed from N[ew] York 7 Sept. 1805. No. 3 begins 19 February 1807. finished Canton Sept. 23d.»
Iselin private archive Basel, § 103 (bag), envelope I, Journal No. 3, p. 1.

As part of the expanding global shipping and trading community, the Basel born merchant Isaak Iselin–Roulet (1783–1841) participated in a voyage around the world on board the Maryland from 1805 to 1808. He was assigned as supercargo by the New York–based trading company Le Roy, Bayard & McEvers, and was thus in charge of the cargo as well as sales and purchases. The voyage took the Maryland from New York to Peru, California, Hawaiʻi, Canton and finally back to its port of origin. 

During the voyage, Iselin wrote a four–volume journal of 323 pages. A large section is devoted to Hawaiʻi, where the Maryland stayed for about two months from May to July 1807 for repairs and replenishments. This transcription exercise takes a closer look at two of the passages concerning Hawaiʻi.

Iselin wrote the journal in English, despite being a non–native speaker. His handwriting–style combines English Cursive with French and German influences. Abbreviations, spelling errors and inadequate formulations are common. 

In addition to the original manuscript, Iselin created an edited and shortened, 79–page version of the journal. This was published in 1897 by Iselin's son Adrian Georg (1818–1905). Following the transcription of the original journal, the transcription of the edited version is also part of this exercise. The comparison between the two editions gives clues about what not was meant for publication by Iselin. 

Notes for Transcription:

  • give strikethrough words in brackets: ()
  • give later added words in slashes: //
  • give everything in lowercase, except Names and beginnings of a phrase