Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Nimitz Library
Nimitz Library

A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane During a cruise on the Western Coast of Africa, and other parts of the Atlantic Ocean; in the year 1820, 1820: Finding Aid

Published in September 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 526
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane During a cruise on the Western Coast of Africa, and other parts of the Atlantic Ocean; in the year 1820
  • Dates: 1820
  • Size: 0.02 linear feet (1 volume)
  • Creator: Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 1794-1858
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Matthew Calbraith Perry, brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, was a Commodore in the U.S. Navy who was known for his advocacy of technological innovation, educational reform, and his leadership of the United States Naval Expedition to Japan. "A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane During a cruise on the Western Coast of Africa, and other parts of the Atlantic Ocean; in the year 1820," was compiled between February and March 1820. The volume consists primarily of air and water temperature readings beginning at Sandy Hook and continuing to the waters off West Africa between Sierra Leone, the Cape Verde Islands, and the Azores.

Biography of Matthew Calbraith Perry

Matthew Calbraith Perry, younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry, was born on April 10, 1794 in Newport, Rhode Island to Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace Alexander. In 1809, at the age of fourteen, Perry entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman, first serving under the command of his older brother aboard the schooner U.S.S. Revenge. During the War of 1812, he served aboard the frigates U.S.S. President and U.S.S. United States.

Perry spent the first few years after the war mostly on duty in African waters, serving first in Stephen Decatur's squadron during its action against Algiers in 1815. In 1820, he was second in command aboard a transport vessel that conveyed African-Americans to Liberia under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. Six years later, Perry received his first diplomatic experience under Commodore John Rodgers during treaty negotiations with the Ottoman Empire.

In 1833, Perry was named second in command of the New York Navy Yard, where he became an advocate of naval educational reform and steam power. Perry proposed a naval apprenticeship system, helped found the U.S. Naval Lyceum at the Navy Yard, and organized the Navy's first gunnery school. In regards to the adoption of steam power, Perry oversaw the construction of the prototype steamship U.S.S. Fulton, and served as her first commander. While at the New York Navy Yard, Perry also issued his report on the navies of Europe.

In 1843, Perry returned to sea service and African waters as the commander of the Africa Squadron. While under his command, the Squadron conducted anti-slaving operations and provided support for African-American colonists in Liberia. In 1846, Perry transferred to the Gulf of Mexico for combat service during the Mexican War, where he relieved Commodore David Connor as commander of U.S. Navy forces in the Gulf. While in command, Perry's forces combined with those of General Winfield Scott to capture of Veracruz.

Four years after the conclusion of the Mexican War, in January 1852, Perry received command of the East Asia Squadron for the purpose of negotiating a treaty with Japan. On July 2, 1853, he led a squadron of four vessels into Edo (Tokyo) Bay, bearing a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the Emperor of Japan requesting that American vessels be allowed access to Japanese ports. After delivering the letter to representatives of high rank, Perry departed. Seven months later, Perry returned to Japan, and on March 31, 1854, the Treaty of Kanagawa was signed, allowing American access to the ports of Hakodate and Shimoda. Upon his return, Perry authored the three-volume account of his expedition to Japan, entitled Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. On March 4, 1858, Matthew Calbraith Perry died at his home in New York City.

Back to Top

Description of Contents

"A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane During a cruise on the Western Coast of Africa, and other parts of the Atlantic Ocean; in the year 1820," comprising 0.02 linear feet of documentation in a single volume, was compiled between February and March 1820. The volume consists primarily of air and water temperature readings beginning at Sandy Hook and continuing to the waters off West Africa between Sierra Leone, the Cape Verde Islands, and the Azores.

Perry's Thermometrical Journal consists of eleven monthly tables of temperature data. Each table consists mainly of air and water temperature readings beginning at 1 pm and concluding at noon, as well as the ship's latitude, longitude, wind direction readings, weather conditions, and any remarks. Breaks in the readings occur while the Cyane was at anchor in the Sierra Leone River, Port Praya, Port Oratana Roads, and Funchal Roads.

Back to Top

Arrangement

A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane comprises a single volume.

Back to Top

Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

Back to Top

Acquisition and Appraisal

Custodial History

Originally donated to the United States Naval Lyceum by Matthew Calbraith Perry in 1841. After ceasing operations, the Lyceum's collections were transferred to the United States Naval Academy where they became the core of the Naval Academy Museum's collection.

Provenance and Acquisition

Transferred prior to March 3, 1944. Accession No. 102559.

Back to Top

Related Materials

Related Archival Material

The United States Naval Academy holds several other collections of materials by or regarding Matthew Calbraith Perry. Special Collections & Archives at Nimitz Library holds Matthew C. Perry's "Report on the Navies of Europe," MS 224, as well as two manuscript volumes that hail from ships under Perry's command, including Watch-, Quarter-, and Station-Bill of the U.S.S. Concord, 1830-1832, MS 55 and Journal of a Cruise on Board the U S Steam Frigate Susquehanna, 1852-1853, MS 18, the latter of which dates from Perry's expedition to Japan. The department's Perry related holdings also include copies of Perry's Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan and The Japan Expedition, 1852-1854; the personal journal of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, as well as a copy of Sebastiano Erizzo's Discorso di M. Sebastiano Erizzo Sopre le Medaglie de Gli Antichi, which was donated by Perry to the U.S. Naval Lyceum.

Additional manuscript material at the Naval Academy pertaining to Perry can be found among the holdings of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. The museum's Perry collections, which mostly pertain to Perry's expedition to Japan, include several letters from Perry to the Chief of the Bureau of Provision and Clothing, letters from Perry to Captain William J. McCluney, a letter concerning the description of specimens collected by Perry, a letter from John Adams to Perry, and a set of Perry's hydrographic notes.

Official U.S. Navy documentation regarding Perry, such as Journals of the Japan Expedition, Reports on Ordnance Experiments, and additional official correspondence can be found in the Records of the Department of the Navy at the National Archives.

Selected letters and writings of Perry can also be found at Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, including letters to Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft and John L. Cunningham; and a paper read before the American Geographical and Statistical Society.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

Back to Top

Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane, MS 526

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

Anderson, David L. "Perry, Matthew Calbraith (10 Apr. 1794-4 Mar. 1858)." American National Biography, Volume 17, edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, 367-369. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

"Perry, Matthew Calbraith." Concise Dictionary of American Biography, 3rd ed. New York: Scribner, 1980.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in September 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in September 2019 (Scope and Content Note) and December 2010 (Biographical Sketch).

Back to Top

Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Cyane (Frigate)
  • Earth temperature -- Observations
  • Ocean temperature -- Atlantic Ocean -- Observations
  • Perry, Matthew Calbraith, 1794-1858
  • Thermometers and thermometry

Genre Terms

  • Journals (accounts)
  • Manuscripts
  • Weather diaries
Back to Top

Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

A Thermometrical Journal Kept by Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry on Board the United States Ship Cyane, 1820

Back to Top