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Marblehead's First Harbor - The Rich History of a Small Fishing Port

A New England port in its early days

“Marblehead’s First Harbor” is a love letter to a community by lobsterman Hugh Peabody Bishop and his sister, Brenda Bishop Booma — locals with a reverence for the past and the skill to entertainingly document the town that shaped their lives (The History Press, 2011, $23.99 paperback, 304 pages).

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The focus is Little Harbor, originally known as First Harbor, and though far smaller than what is now the yachting mecca of Marblehead, it once boasted more commercial fishermen than Gloucester, up the coast.

As the golden age of fishing faded, First Harbor struggled before a community of boatbuilders and sail designers emerged. Offering context, perspective and respect for the hard-working men and women who built the community, Bishop writes of the “spirited individualism” among the men of First Harbor, who were “slow to accept change but quick to respond.” The book’s black-and-white photographs reveal the summer social scene, workboats and yachts, boatyards, shanties and colorful characters who shaped First Harbor.

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue.