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PIETER H.G. VERHOOG PAPERS

The collection is oriented around Commodore Verhoog's special interest in Christopher Columbus, specifically, the latter's first landfall in the Caribbean Islands in 1492. Of interest, regarding the subject, is correspondence between Comm. Verhoog and Columbus scholars and naval historians such as K.W.L. Bezemer, Ludovic Kennedy, Carlos Sanz, E.M. Shilstone, P.V.H. Weems, and geologist Clifford Kaye. Also included are offprints of papers written by the foregoing about the Columbus landfall. In addition, there are 7 printed maps and 1 hand-drawn map by Comm. Verhoog, charting Columbus' historic route through the Caribbean islands.

Comm. Verhoog's papers include many of his own works, both printed and in manuscript form.

Biographical Details

Commodore Pieter H.G. Verhoog was born in Amsterdam, January 11, 1893. On graduation from the Kweekschool voor de Zeevaart (naval training academy) in Amsterdam, Comm. Verhoog entered the service of the Holland-America Line as a cadet in 1910. After decades of distinguished service, he retired in 1953 as commodore-captain of the S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam. Comm. Verhoog was also a member of the Dutch Order of the Orange-Nassau.

Comm. Verhoog's combination of experience and skill as an author, translator, expert navigator, as well as an avid student of Spanish literature contributed to his authoritative research on early voyages of discovery. He once explained his particular interest in Christopher Columbus' landfall in the New World: "I first became interested in the question of San Salvador (the island of landfall) when I was navigating for the Holland-America Line in Caribbean and adjacent waters. Having an interest in historical problems, in the Spanish language, and in any problem pertaining to navigation, I began my research in what I deemed a logical manner. Instead of selecting any particular island in the Bahama group and then backtracking to gather "proof" (which was obviously the method most frequently employed by other students of this problem), I decided to gather the evidence, analyze my findings, and let the proof rest where it would. I, therefore, first collected in the original Spanish sources every scrap of information which could possibly be called a "sailing direction..." (from "Columbus Landed on Caicos," in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol.80, No.10, October 1954).

Indeed, the many "problems" that the Commodore set himself to solve included the length of the Columbus "mile," magnetic variations in the late fifteenth century Bahamas region, the factor of currents, and the height of eyesight. He also confronted the problem of poor translations of many of the historical studies of the subject. From the evidence that he compiled, Comm. Verhoog concluded that the Columbus landfall was not at Watling's Island, as many had thought, but rather at Caicos. He published his findings in a book entitled, "Guanahani Again" (Amsterdam: C. de Boer, Jr., Publishers, 1947).

In addition, Comm. Verhoog wrote many other books in Dutch (several of which are catalogued in the Special Collections at Georgetown University Library). The collection also includes many of the articles that he wrote as a special correspondent for the Dutch newspaper, "Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant" (1929-1939).

Comm. Verhoog died in his ninety-first year in May 1984.

ACCESSION DATA: Provenance: Gift of Mrs. Robert M. Weidenhammer, December 1995. Processed by Lisette C. Matano, February 1996.

BULK DATES: 1950 - 1953
SPAN DATES: 1543 - 1992

EXTENT: 2 boxes

SERIES


SERIES: 1. Individuals


SERIES DESCRIPTION: Consists of correspondence and miscellaneous material relating to individual acquaintances of Commodore Verhoog. Arranged alphabetically.

SERIES: 2. Manuscripts


SERIES DESCRIPTION: Consists of manuscripts by Pieter Verhoog.

SERIES: 3. Printed Works by Verhoog


SERIES DESCRIPTION: Consists of printed works by Pieter Verhoog including article reprints and newspaper clippings.

SERIES: 4. Printed Matter


SERIES DESCRIPTION: Contains miscellaneous printed materials including reprints of articles collected and annotated by Pieter Verhoog, many concerning the explorations in South America of Christopher Columbus.

SERIES: 5. Miscellaneous


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