59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Hurricanes Collection, 1938-1996, undated

Descriptive Summary

Repository Martha's Vineyard Museum Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call Number RU 265
Title Hurricanes Collection
Date [inclusive] 1938-1996, undated
Extent 1.5 boxes (0.756 cubic feet)
Location For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's staff.
Language The materials are in English.
Abstract The Hurricanes Collection holds many newspaper and magazine articles documenting the aftermath of major hurricanes that affected both Martha’s Vineyard and overall southern New England during the 20th century. Also included in this collection are published “hurricane souvenir” booklets of photographs, personal memories of the storms, and a government report on the Hurricane of 1938.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to the library's staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 265, Hurricanes Collection.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift of William E. Mansinger in 1995 (Accession no. 1995.001).
  • Gift of James R. Richardson in 2002 (Accession no. 2002.039).
  • Gift of Marion J. Meigs in 2002 (Accession no. 2002.071).

Individual folders are labeled with accession numbers when known. The immediate source of acquisition and date of accession for the rest of the material is unknown.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Revision Description

 Addition to the Collection; Addition of Box 1, Folder 6, Newspaper Clippings: 1991, Hurricane Bob [CJ],  August 2015

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Julia Novakovic and Will Joyner in 2009 and machine-encoded by Clint Johnson in August 2015

Related Materials

Related Materials

  • See also, Photograph Archive.

Index Terms


  • Booklets
  • Drawings (visual works)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Essays
  • Logs (records)
  • Memoirs
  • Pamphlets
  • Publications (document genre)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Cape Cod (Mass.)
  • Dukes County (Mass.)
  • Marthas Vineyard (Mass.)
  • New Bedford (Mass.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Berresford, Virginia
  • Knox, Joseph D. (Joseph Dale), 1943-
  • Meigs, Martin , Sr.
  • Saunders, Lawrence


  • Hurricane Bob, 1991
  • Hurricane Carol, 1954
  • Hurricane Donna, 1960
  • Hurricane Edna, 1954
  • Hurricanes--1930-1940.
  • Hurricanes--Massachusetts--Martha's Vineyard

Biography/Historical Note

The deadliest hurricane ever to strike above the North Carolina coast was the New England Hurricane of 1938 [September 20, 1938]. Every record for wind speed, barometric pressure, and tidal surge in Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts was set during this massive storm. With winds of estimated 115-120 m.p.h. at landfall, New England coastal towns had little chance of surviving unscathed. The Red Cross estimated 600-700 dead, with more than 3500 injured and 75,000 buildings damaged.

Six years later, Martha’s Vineyard dealt with its most damaging natural disaster. The 1944 “Great Atlantic Hurricane” [September 14, 1944] killed 390 people—nearly all of them at sea. The “Vineyard Lightship,” serving in the Vineyard Sound, was destroyed and its crew lost. Island homes were pulverized by the 85 m.p.h. winds and the main roads in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven were flooded.

In 1953, the World Meterological Organization [WMO] began “naming” hurricanes in order to differentiate specific storms. The U.S. National Hurricane Center prepared lists of names [using all letters except Q, U, X, Y, and Z], alternating male/female. Soon after, Hurricanes Carol and Edna hit Martha’s Vineyard on August 31 and September 11, 1954 respectively. Names of particularly damaging storms [either financially, of human casualties, or both] are retired by the National Hurricane Center. Both Carol and Edna were retired. Other destructive hurricanes affecting Martha’s Vineyard include Hurricane Donna in 1960 and Hurricane Bob in 1991. Additionally, both of these hurricane names have been retired from circulation.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Hurricanes Collection is an artificial collection that is the result of many donors throughout the 20th century. The majority of this collection is of newspaper articles that documented the hurricanes affecting southeastern Massachusetts from 1938 through 1996. Of interest are the “hurricane souvenir” books that are housed within the second series, Publications. The report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, published in 1938 and listed under Government Publications, gives a thorough and interesting history of major storms that hit Massachusetts from the colonial period up through the Hurricane of 1938. For photographic images of the hurricanes and their resulting damage on Martha’s Vineyard, please consult Photo Files 148, 246, 345, and 545.


  • Series I: Newspaper Clippings
  • Series II: Publications
  • Series III: Personal Memoirs
  • Series IV: Government Publications
  • Series V: Drawings

Contents of Collection

Series I: Newspaper Clippings

Scope and Content

This Series contains printed information on the major hurricanes that hit Martha’s Vineyard throughout the twentieth century. Newspapers included in this section include the Vineyard Gazette, Boston Globe, New Bedford Evening Standard, and the Martha’s Vineyard Times. Storm chronologies, images, and details of damages are in these articles.

Box Folder

Newspaper Clippings: 1938 Hurricane, 1938 

1 1

Newspaper Clippings: 1944 Hurricane, 1944 September 

1 2

Newspaper Clippings: Hurricane Carol, 1954 

1 3

Newspaper Clippings: Hurricane Carol, 1954 September 

1 4

Newspaper Clippings: Hurricane Donna, 1960 October 

1 5

Newspaper Clippings: Hurricane Bob, 1991, 1992, undated 

1 6

Newspaper Clippings: Hurricane Edouard, 1996 September 

1 7

Series II: Publications

Scope and Content

This series contains “souvenir” booklets and other informative pamphlets regarding major storms to hit southern New England. The majority of these booklets contain photographs of the destruction of storms from 1924 until 1954. In addition, an article from 1987 appearing in Cape Cod Life gives an excellent photojournalistic essay of hurricanes that struck the Massachusetts coast throughout the 20th century.

Box Folder

Publications: Pamphlet, Pictures of the Worst Storm in New Bedford History, undated 

1 8

Publications: Booklet, The Great Hurricane and Tidal Wave, Rhode Island, 1938 

1 9

Publications: Booklet, The Complete Historical Records of New England’s Stricken Area, 21 September 1938, 1938 

1 10

Publications: Pamphlet, When the Great Hurricane of 1938 Swept Connecticut, 1938 

1 11

Publications: Booklet, 1938 Hurricane Pictures and supplement, undated 

1 12

Publications: Booklet, September 14, 1944 Hurricane, Southeastern Massachusetts, undated 

2 1

Publications: Essay, Hurricane of 1944, undated 
Author/Creator:  Meigs, Martin , Sr.

2 2

Publications: Article, 1944 Hurricane,” in Life Magazine, undated 

2 3

Publications: Booklet, Martha’s Vineyard Hurricane, 1944, 1944 

2 4

Publications: Booklet, The Great Atlantic Hurricane, September 14, 1944, 1994 

2 5

Publications: Booklet, The North Atlantic Hurricane, September 14, 1944, 1994 

2 6

Publications: Booklet, Hurricane! 1954, undated 

2 7

Publications: Article, Hurricane Tracks from Cape Cod Life, 1987 

2 8

Series III: Personal Memoirs

Scope and Content

This series contains personal memories of experiences during the hurricanes that struck Martha’s Vineyard. Of note is a transcribed copy of the ship Seawolf, which found itself out in the water in the middle of the hurricane of 1954.

Box Folder

Personal Memoirs: Log of Ship Seawolf from 1954 Hurricane., 1986 

2 9

Personal Memoirs: 1938 Hurricane Virginia’s Journal, 1989 
Author/Creator:  Berresford, Virginia

2 10

Personal Memoirs: 1954 Hurricane, Two Hurricanes in Eleven Days, 1954 
Author/Creator:  Saunders, Lawrence

2 11

Series IV: Government Publications

Scope and Content

This series contains a report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health regarding the Hurricane of 1938. The first half of the government report deals with a history of storms that hit New England from the late 17th century up until the Hurricane of 1938. The second half of the paper shows illustrations of the 1938 storm’s path and other logistic diagrams.

Box Folder

Government Publications: Cyclonic Storm of September 21, 1938, 1938 
Author/Creator:  Knox, Joseph C.

2 12

Series V: Drawings

Scope and Content

This series contains printed drawings of the aftermath from the Hurricane of 1944 that affected Martha’s Vineyard. Subjects are mainly from Edgartown, with a few other Island town drawings mixed in. The artist is Mary Drake Cole, whose sketches were later produced en masse as a series of postcards.

Box Folder

Drawings of Hurricane of 1944, undated 

2 13