Making Waves in American History

UNH Professor wins the National DAR American History Award Medal

by Debbi Collar

" I can't ride horses and I can't play the guitar," so he says, as he jokes with his audience at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Public Library, " but I can write books and produce history."

Ranger Chapter DAR member, Deb Collar, State Regent Phyllis Gagnon,
Chapter Regent Andrea Abbott and UNH Professor,Dr. W. Jeffrey Bolster

University of New Hampshire, Dr. W. Jeffrey Bolster  was a recent guest of
honor at a meeting of the Portsmouth ,New Hampshiire Ranger Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution. The group nominated Bolster for
consideration of the award for his work on two of his published works,
Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail and The
Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail
in the hope of his
attaining the National American History Award, which he did.  Both of
Bolster's books have now earned a place on the shelves of the DAR Library in
Washington D.C. as Bolster has been named as the recipient of the
2014National American History Award Medal.

Professor Bolster's Award Winning books on either side of a ship

Evidence of his being able to "produce history," was organized by the author
as a table display just before in advance preparation of speaking to his
audience.  Among his other publications are, The Way of the Ship:
America's Maritime HIstory Reenvisioned,
which he co-authored with
Alex Roland and Alexander Keysaar and Cross-Grained & Wily Waters: A
Guide to the Piscataqua

Table display of the author's publications

In attendance to congratulate Bolster is the DAR State Regent Phyllis Gagnon,
Ranger Chapter Regent Andrea Abbot who presented him with the certificate
at a September meeting of the Ranger Chapter.  Bolster's interest in the sea
began with a Christmas gift from his parents. " It was an 8 foot plastic
dinghy." At the age of 12, he began to explore the islands in Connecticut,
"the islands struck me as very cool places." Not only did that present bring
him to places of interest, it also led to his first published work, which began
as a 10th grade project that still remains in the local library.
Interested readers can find this publication in the South Norwalk Connecticut
Public Library. Bolster states, " it is the story of the Norwalk, Connecticut

Growing up in the area, the UNH veteran History Professor attended the Brian
MacMahon High School when the project was assigned. " I had been sailing
and boating around the Norwalk islands since I was a little kid, so I knew the
area pretty well. Nevertheless the history I wrote was researched from old
newspaper articles and other written sources in the local library."  Bolster
furthered his education in history to include receiving his Ph.D. in History
from The Johns Hopkins University in 1992, M.A. in History from Brown
University, Summer graduate courses in history: The Munson Institute at
Mystic Seaport in 1978 and earned his B.A. in History from Trinity College in
Hartford, Connecticut in 1976.

Surprisingly, his mother, although she took part in presenting him with his
first boat, he admits, "she did not share the same interest in boating." His
father, however, was"an avid boater," and," a WWII Veteran from the U.S.
Navy."  My mother was never really smitten with boats but since her husband
and sons were, she gamely acquiesced and did a fair amount of  cruising
with dad on  their motorboats on Long Island sound and elsewhere."

Following the Professor's talk in Portsmouth, one member of the
organization, Carol Moore, said " I loved him and he has done some very
interesting books. He had a good sense of humor." Moor enjoys reading
history and believes,"History is the best Psychology course because you learn
how people act. They (the people) do some really bizarre things."  Another
DAR member, as well as a 2007 graduate of the University of New
Hampshire, Megan Miller said, although she was a student of Ancient
History, and not a student of Dr. Bolster's, that his talk about his books and
his research, "definitely got me way more interested in reading his books."

Carol Moore and Megan Miller

The DAR American History Award  Medal itself was accepted by the UNH
Professor at a DAR October Conference at Lake Opechee Inn and Spa in
Laconia, New Hampshire in October, where the professor once again
addressed the audience.  

Dr. W. Jeffrey Bolster proudly wears the American History Award
Medal.  The medal presented by State Regent Phyllis Gagnon (L) and Ranger
Chapter Regent Andrea Abbott (R)
 photo submitted by DAR member
Kim Chandler

What's next on the agenda for the professor? " He says," I am thinking about
writing some other books though I have not really started any yet. I am still
teaching at the UNH and I am writing magazine articles for sailing
magazines." Dr. Bolster's articles appear in "Points East: The Boating
Magazine for Coastal New England
and has has had a few articles
published in the ideas section of The Boston Globe

That is not all, Bolster has also set his sights on planning "to spend part of
the winter t on my boat, a Valiant 40, in the Caribbean--another open
season sailing passage to get there., followed by some island hopping in the
sun.  I might go to some archives there. I have always been fascinated by
Caribbean History."  His traveling time will include his wife, Holly.  The pair,
he says, have visited such destinations as, "the Caribbean, we traveled to
West Africa, Australia and British Columbia." When asked if there is a
favorite place for the couple, he maintains that "we are still enchanted by
Maine" and that they find it, "the most dazzling, most stunning place in the

Once again, Professor Bolster proving that he can, and will, in the future,
write more books and produce more history.

Editor's note - current enrollment of Melrose, Ma students accepted to
and attending the University of New Hampshire is 21.

November 7, 2014

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