Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Missionary Malvina Rowell asks, "Can it be that I am so far from my home & native shores?"

    Hawaii: Malvina Rowell's Missionary Travel Journal, 1842, signed, "Your affectionate sister/ Malvina J. Rowell", [24pp], 8" x 10", narrating half of Rowell's missionary journey, along with her husband missionary George B. Rowell, from Boston to Hawaii. The New Hampshire couple, newly married, left Boston Harbor on April 28, 1842, aboard the Sarah Abigail to live in Hawaii as Christian missionaries. Malvina's journal begins on July 14, 1842, as the ship approaches Cape Horn from the northeast. (After the date of most entries, Malvina helpfully includes the geographical coordinates of their location; for example, the July 14 entry also records "Lat. 51 S. Longi. 63 W.", making it simple to follow their progress through the Pacific Ocean from Cape Horn to Hawaii.) The journal ends a few days after arriving at Hawaii in October 1842. Throughout, Malvina describes the sights she sees: white-capped South American mountains, beautiful (and dangerous) weather, constellations viewed at nighttime along the equator. Of particular interest to the young missionary were the strange birds and water creatures: "We have seen many different kinds of birds since we crossed the equator. The café pigeon is the most abundant now. . . . We were all aroused by the cry of 'a whale alongside', it was a dark, cloudy evening, but we could see it spout and distinguish enough of its outlines to see that it was a huge fish perhaps 40 or 50 feet long. It followed the vessel about 15 minutes and then sailed off." On another day, the ship's crew attempted to catch a shark, which eventually escaped. Malvina also describes harbor towns visited, including descriptions of the architecture; she also records accounts of Catholic and Protestant Church services in South America ("There were no seats but the worshippers were sitting or kneeling on small mats on the naked floor, which I believe was stone. . . . They prayed for Queen Victoria and the other members of the royal family.")

    As they arrived at the equator in the Pacific Ocean southeast of Hawaii in September 1842, Malvina asked, "Can it be that I am so far from my home & native shores? O I know that it must be so when I look back on the long time that has elapsed since we were launched upon the mighty deep. It is eighteen weeks today since Boston faded from our view." Finally, she recorded her first sightings of the "land of Hawaii . . . by moonlight." When they went ashore at Honolulu on the island of Oahu, "most of the brethren and sisters at the station were assembled", but the congregation they found at the Wai'oli mission was unorganized and met in an older, crumbling building. The couple spent over two decades at the mission, rebuilding the mission and converting the inhabitants, who referred to Malvina as Mother Rowell. She died in California 1901.

    Also included is the December 1844 issue of the Dayspring, a monthly missionary newspaper published by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. The journal, which is bound by string, was at one time stitched inside the Dayspring, as can be seen from the newspaper's stitch-holes along its center horizontal fold. The newspaper is foxed. The journal, on lined paper, is toned and lightly soiled on the front and back covers. Near fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 948

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 February 22 - 23 Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    I don’t often do testimonials but in this case I felt truly obligated to thank Heritage Auctions for the extremely professional job your organization did for me.
    Charlie K.,
    Pittsburgh, PA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential &  Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 September 21 - 22 The David and Janice Frent Collection Presidential & Political Americana, Part VI Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $648,838