“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
— The Water Rat, in The Wind in the Willows
The following is a guest post by Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist, Prints and Photographs Division. It is part of the Pictures to Go series of posts about transportation images.
Oh, what joy to be in a small boat. Perhaps, like me, you were lucky enough to have spent time near the water as a child. Or maybe you enjoy a sport that involves being in a small boat, such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, or fishing. My childhood vacations on the Eastern Shore and Tidewater Virginia included going crabbing and exploring the mud flats in a Boston Whaler. Later, I learned to sail, navigating through mangrove swamps and bays in Florida.
Being in a boat on the water appeals to many people. A boat can provide recreational challenges, but it also connects you with nature. It can provide transport as well as a delightful escape. It can offer adventure, freedom, and sometimes quiet contemplation. It’s also a small space that can be shared with a companion, away from other people–which may be why scenes of courtship are so frequently set in boats.
In addition to its many photographs of boats and boating, the Prints and Photographs Division has plenty of historic non-photographic images of boating, from posters to photochrom prints, and from cartoons to popular prints.
Illustrations of boats are as varied as boating’s attractions. Associated themes can include the idea of a journey or provide a humorous or sentimental exploration of courtship and love. Whatever floats your boat!