“Dearest Minnie: A Sailor’s Story” Tales of the Great White Fleet with Leslie Compton

COST: [Free for SBMM’s Navigator Circle Members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public]
Organizer: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) presents “Dearest Minnie:  A sailor’s Story,” an in-person lecture presentation with Leslie Compton, on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at 7pm PT. This presentation, about Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet as told through historic postcards, will be held at the museum and registration is required. Cost is free for SBMM’s  Navigator Circle Members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public. There will also be a pre-lecture reception for members only from 6:15-6:45pm. Register at: Become a member at

Hoping to enforce treaties and protect overseas holdings, the nation and Congress set out to build American naval power. Beginning in the 1880s with just 90 small and mostly obsolete ships, the navy quickly grew to include new steel fighting vessels and two fleets—the Atlantic and Pacific. By order of President Theodore Roosevelt, 16  battleships  of the Atlantic Fleet and their various escort vessels sailed around the world between December 16, 1907 and February 22, 1909, visiting numerous countries and arriving in Santa Barbara 114 years ago, on April 25, 1908. The hulls of these battleships were painted a stark white, which later earned them the nickname, the Great White Fleet.

Dearest Minnie chronicles not only the cruise itself, but the social and political elements in each port where the ships re-coaled.  The story is told through over 200 picture postcards and letters sent from a sailor on the USS Virginia to his sweetheart, eventually leading to his proposal of marriage. In Leslie Compton’s presentation, the audience will learn about the history and development of picture postcards, the reason for the cruise around the world, the political climate at the time, the animals aboard the ships, and some of the unexpected mishaps, while focusing on their visit to Southern California.

Leslie Compton began writing Dearest Minnie twenty years ago after discovering a large section of her postcard collection originated from a sailor on the USS Virginia while he was sailing with Teddy Roosevelt’s Atlantic Fleet around the world in 1907-1909.  She spent years researching, visiting libraries and museums, and meeting like minds to create a strong narrative-driven historical fiction, bringing to light a typical sailor’s life during this historical event. Most of Leslie’s adult life was spent as a professional musician, teaching elementary school, childbirth education and non-fiction writing.  Leslie moved to Southern Oregon in 2001, where she enjoys writing, teaching, and attending classes in Ashland and Medford through Southern Oregon University. Leslie recently completed her third book, The Forgotten Artist, the inspiring life story of trailblazing female artist Evylena Nunn Miller, and is currently working on a new book, Windows of Deception.  More information about Leslie and her books is available on her website, at:

This event is generously sponsored by Marie L. Morrisroe.

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