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Archive of the Month: The Diary of Caroline von Aschen

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Archive of the Month: The Diary of Caroline von Aschen

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In the series "Archive of the Month", the German Maritime Museum (DSM) / Leibniz Institute of Maritime History presents a special treasure from the archive every month. In May, it goes on a journey - literally and figuratively. Caroline von Aschen from Bremen describes her crossing to America in her diary. The document is one of the oldest in the DSM archive and takes readers back to 1801.

Caroline von Aschen's journey from Bremen to Baltimore in March 1801 was ill-fated. After the unexpected death of her father, the 31-year-old unmarried woman from Bremen had been forced to go to the USA as a partner of the merchant's wife de Block. Even before her sailing ship BATAVIA had even left the Weser, the voyager experienced violent storms, the sinking of another ship and the death of a sailor by drowning. Von Aschen conscientiously noted down these experiences in her diary, which is now kept in the German Maritime Museum. The letter diary, addressed to her sisters, describes not only the sea voyage but also the year-long stay in Baltimore and the return to Bremen. In addition to the detailed descriptions, von Aschen's travel diary is a valuable testimony if only for this reason, since only a few reports of women traveling by sea exist today - especially before the beginning of the mass emigration.

The diary of Caroline von Aschen is one of the oldest archival documents in the DSM. It dates from the year 1801. Credit: DSM

A testimony of a special kind: there are very few diaries of women traveling before the great waves of emigration. Credit: DSM Annica Müllenberg

Pin sharp writing in Sütterlin. The diary was transcribed for further scientific purposes. Credit: DSM / Annica Müllenberg

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