“The diary of Captain Thomas Rose Lake is a significant contribution to American maritime history.”

— Dr. Brooks Miles Barnes, co-editor of Seashore Chronicles: Three Centuries of the Virginia Barrier Islands.

Golden Light

The 1878 Diary of Captain Thomas Rose Lake

By James B. Kirk II

It's a book that resuscitates a life — Captain Thomas Rose Lake’s — and a time and place seen through his eyes. History needs its passionate pursuers. Golden Light is alive with such attentiveness”

— Stephen Dunn, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey


ISBN 0-945582-85-4
5" x 7" Hardcover,
324 pages, illustrated

Initially, my interest was simply that of an antiquarian, but as I became engrossed in the young captain's account, it became apparent that this tiny journal was unique. It was most uncommon for any active youth, relatively uneducated and exceedingly unsophisticated, to set down his daily activities so dutifully and thoroughly at sea and on shore. That it was written at all was a simple stroke of good fortune. In September of 1877, twenty-one year old Thomas became captain of the sloop, Golden Light. Undoubtedly excited and proud of his first command, the youth was moved to keep the journal. The result of his labor is a small, but impressive, socioeconomic document, not only of the eastern New Jersey shore, but of coastal communities everywhere and those thousands of people who wrested a marginal living from its land and waters — people whose lives illustrate the American condition with far greater accuracy than those of the educated and genteel inhabitants of the drawing rooms and the seats of governmental power.

— James B. Kirk, II

From the Introduction to

Golden Light: The 1878 Diary of Captain Thomas Rose Lake

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