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A Sailor's Life, Live!

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A Sailor’s Life, Live! is an education series designed for students that explores life at sea as a historic sailor on USS Constitution. Each episode is co-hosted by a current Constitution crew member live from the ship.

A Sailor’s Life, Live! is supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America Grant and National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act Grant. Thanks also to Fitchburg Access Television for their technical support for syndication for the following programs: Communication at Sea, Parts 1 and 2; and Sailor Chores, Parts 1 and 2.

Symbols & Superstitions

Do you have a good luck charm? USS Constitution sailors had their superstitions too. In this episode, find out what brought them good luck and bad luck at sea.

Play Rats in the Hold game

View the letter to Lewis Bush



Ship Design

Where is the iron in “Old Ironsides”? In this episode, learn all about the design and construction of USS Constitution.

Watch the Animated Launch Video 



Back to School with Midshipmen

Yup, even sailors had to go back to school too. In this episode, we focus on USS Constitution‘s midshipmen, the teenagers on board learning how to be an officer.

View Pardon Mawney Whipple’s objects

View navigation objects


Day in the Life of a Boy

Be prepared to scrub the deck, grab powder, and pass some messages! It’s all in a typical day for the youngest and least experienced members of the crew: the Ship’s boys.

Play Scrub the Decks mini-game

Play Powder Run mini-game

Sailor Health & Medicine

From a bone saw to “biting the bullet,” this episodes describes medical practices on USS Constitution.

View the List of Ship Medicines and Instruments

Read the “Consigned to a Seaman’s Grave” Blog Post

Sailor Uniforms

We’re unpacking our seabag to learn about 1812 sailor uniforms! In this episode, see and compare different uniforms- from the enlisted men to the captain.

View John Lord’s Object Collection

View Isaac Hull’s Dress Sword

Make a Marine Stock


USS Constitution‘s Firepower

In honor of USS Constitution‘s 21-gun salute for Independence Day, learn all about the ship’s mighty firepower. Do you have what it takes to join the gun crew?

Play Ready, Aim, Fire! Mini Game

Make and Fire Your Own Cannon

Animals on USS Constitution

Animals–both real, and used in ship terminology–always lived among the sailors on USS Constitution. From dragons to jaguars to raging eagles, this episode explores the animal kingdom on board.

Listen to ‘Guerriere the Terrier’

Play Rats in the Hold Mini Game

Sailor Hobbies and Games

Life on a Navy warship might seem like all work and no play. But 1812 sailors did have a chance to relax! This episode shows how they spent their free time.

Play a Dice Game

View Purser Thomas Chew’s Object Collection

Make your own Scrimshaw

Music on USS Constitution

Whistle, drum, sing and trumpet in this episode. In this episode, we look at the ways music and instruments were important to daily life on a wooden warship.

View the Boatswain’s Pipe

View the Speaking Trumpet

Sailor Food and Meals

Hungry for ship’s biscuit and dandyfunk? Get ready to chow down as you learn about what sailors ate on board.

Cook a Ship’s biscuit

Cook Dandyfunk

Cook Switchel and Hot Chocolate

Sailor Chores, Part I

Like many of us, sailors had to do chores regularly to keep their ship clean. On this episode, you’ll stow your hammock, scrub the decks and clean the head.

Play Scrub the Decks mini-game

Play Don’t Spill mini-game

Sailor Chores, Part II

There are always more chores to be done if you’re a sailor on USS Constitution! On this episode, learn about washing dishes and clothes on board ship.

View the HMS Guerriere dinner plate

View the wardroom decanter

Communication at Sea, Part I

Without radios or cell phones, how did sailors communicate with fellow crew members or other ships? Objects like a speaking trumpet and signal flags are featured in this episode.

View the speaking trumpet

Signal Flag activity

Communication at Sea, Part II

Learn about two more ways sailors communicated on board USS Constitution: with a Boatswain’s pipe or invisible ink messages!

View the Boatswain’s pipe