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

A Finding Aid to the Oscar C. Pease and Catboat Association Collection, 1912-1995, 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 458
Creator Pease, Oscar C., 1912-1995
Title Oscar C. Pease and Catboat Association Collection
Date [inclusive] 1912-1995, undated
Extent cubic feet  boxes
Location For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's staff.
Language The materials are in English.
Abstract The collection, largely created by Oscar C. Pease, pertains to catboats, the Catboat Association and the vessel Vanity, formerly owned by Oscar Pease.

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 458, Oscar C. Pease and Catboat Association Collection.

Acquisition Information

  • Gift by will of Oscar C. Pease, from executor Stephen E. Gentle, November 14, 2000. (Accession no. 2000.097).

Custodial History

Some of the material in this collection related to catboats post-dates the death of Oscar C. Pease in 1995. Stephen Gentle, inheritor of Oscar Pease's house and its contents and executor of his estate, gifted a number of objects to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, predecessor to the Martha's Vineyard Museum, including; a rowing skiff, commercial fishing equipment and gear, and Catboat Association materials. Stephen E. Gentle, a friend and neighbor to Oscar Pease, was also involved with the Catboat Association. It is possible that some of Gentle's catboat material was intermingled with that of Oscar C. Pease before or after the donation in 2000.


  • In Memoriam: Oscar Pease.Catboat Association. Bulletin 108 (Fall 1995): 3-7.

  • Oscar and Vanity: Remembering New England's Last Catboat FishermanGrayson, Stan. Wooden Boat 203 (July/August 2008): 52-59.

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 16, Trespassing note, [CJ], August 2015

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Insley Julier in October 2013 and March 2014 and machine-encoded by Clint Johnson in August 2015

Related Materials

Related Materials

  • See also, RU 457, John M. Leavens and Catboat Association Collection.
  • See also, the catboat Vanity, gifted by Oscar Pease to the museum

Index Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • Catboat Association
  • Mystic Seaport, Inc.


  • Black-and-white photographs
  • Bulletins
  • Correspondence
  • Technical manuals

Geographic Name(s)

  • Edgartown (Mass.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Gentle, Stephen E.


  • Boats and boating
  • Catboats--History
  • Catboats--United States--Periodicals
  • Fishing
  • Sailboats
  • Sailing
  • Vanity (Catboat)

Biography/Historical Note

Oscar Chase Pease was born in 1912 to Freida Prackelt Pease, 1884-1966, and Thomas Walker Pease, 1882-1941. Oscar C. Pease attended the Edgartown High School. When he was 16 years-old his father, a fisherman, commissioned Manuel Swartz Roberts of Edgartown, Massachusetts, to build a catboat. The 20-foot, 8-inch Vanity was built in Edgartown in 1928 and launched in the spring of 1929. At the time, catboats were common workboats on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Like other catboats of the era, the Vanity was fitted with an engine. When Thomas Pease died in 1941, the Vanity passed to Oscar Pease. In 1941, several months after his father's death, Oscar Pease was drafted to serve in World War II. He was assigned to the Army's 82nd General Hospital unit as ward master and stationed in France and England, where he cared for wounded Allied troops. While abroad, he met and married his wife Nellie Bostock in September 1945. They had no children. Nellie Pease, 1906-1988, and Oscar Pease returned to the island after the war. Oscar Pease worked on the waterfront in the spring and fall and went scalloping in the winter. In the summer he used the Vanity for charters. By the 1980s, Pease was said to be the last commercial fisherman in New England working aboard a catboat. He was a fixture in the Edgartown Harbor. Oscar Pease viewed his catboat Vanity as a vessel built for fishing, shell fishing and hauling gear. It was not until John M. Leavens started the Catboat Association in 1962, that Oscar Pease came to appreciate catboats in a context beyond earning a livelihood. Leavens and Pease quickly became friends and Leavens convinced Pease to become a founding member of the newly formed association. Oscar Pease eventually became the Catboat Association's Technical Advisor. He regularly participated in Catboat Association meetings, races and rendezvous. Pease was renowned for his catboat knowledge, his ability to fix, adapt, invent, recycle and restore, and for the immaculate care he took of his boat and his gear. He was a member of the volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadron, both of which were dedicated to ensuring boater safety. Throughout his life, Pease felt a strong sense of patriotism for his country, and honor and respect for his fellow veterans. He was a member of the American Legion and regularly participated in Memorial Day and July 4th celebrations. Oscar C. Pease died in at his home in July 1995 at the age of 83. Nellie Pease predeceased him in 1988.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection, largely created by Oscar C. Pease, pertains to catboats, the Catboat Association and the vessel Vanity, formerly owned by Oscar Pease, dated 1928-2000. Materials include government-published pilot rules, a series of Catboat Association Bulletins, correspondence to Pease from engine companies, as well as diagrams, installation, operation and maintenance instructions, part price lists and bills and receipts for vessel parts for the Vanity. In addition, there are letters, notes and presentations, 1965-2000, pertaining to the Catboat Association, including 1992 materials addressed to Stephen Gentle. The collection also includes six black-and-white photographs from Mystic Seaport depicting Oscar Pease scalloping, the Vanity and Nellie Pease, Marion Leavens and Stephen E. Gentle. These images were published as a group in the Catboat Association Bulletin 52 (March 1977), in an article entitled, "Vanity: A Photo Story," by Peter T. Vermilya. The Oscar C. Pease materials were found intermingled in the same box with a donation of Catboat Association Bulletins gifted by Marion Leavens in 2001. The Leavens gift was carefully traced in the accession records and materials in this collection were not mentioned. As a separate gift of Catboat Association records was received around the same time, from Oscar C. Pease, via Stephen Gentle, it is presumed that these materials were intermingled on a topical basis and they have subsequently been separated into two collections.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Contents of Collection

Box Folder

Pilot rules for certain inland waters of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, by United States Steamboat Inspection Service. Washington: United States Government Printing Office., 1928 April 13 

1 1

Engine and Parts Information, 1939-1976, undated 

1 2-3

Engine and Parts Information, 1965, undated 

OS GEN 7 37

Binder, 1941, 1962-1965 

1 4

Catboat Association Bulletins, 1962-1965 

1 5-8

Correspondence to Pease from John Leavens, 1965-1966 

1 9

Catboat Correspondence and Research, 1975-1977 

1 10

Photographs of Oscar Pease and Vanity (Catboat), approximately 1976 

1 11

Catboat Association Pamphlets and Membership Application Blanks, approximately 1980-1983 

1 12

The Catboat Design Booklet by Charles W. Wittholz, 1988 

1 13

Sail Martha's Vineyard and Catboat Association, 1992 

1 14

E Pluribus Catboat, by Peter Brewer, 2000 


Peter Brewer was involved with the Catboat Association.

1 15

Trespassing note, undated 

1 16