Catholic missions to seamen clearly lagged behind the Protestant efforts throughout the 19th century, most Catholic activity as outlined here occurring in the late 19th century and concentrating on the liturgical rather than literary needs of seamen. There was some interest in developing seaman’s institutes, including some reading rooms, but the efforts seem modest at best.
p. 50: an exception was the Catholic Truth Society in the 1890s whose Tablet published a letter on June 18, 1891, from the Hon. Mrs. Fraser which said that the CTS had for some years supplied troop ships and one line of emigrant ships with Catholic literature and hoped to do more “in supplying Catholic sailors and others at sea with reading matter.” Another journal, the Messenger, promoted “any plan which may provide Jack, while at sea, with an occasional good book or devotional magazine…” and in fact in July the Messenger sent out papers and pamphlets to an initial twenty ships.
p. 51: the Messenger “In November, 1891, readers are advised that ‘newspapers are not literature which does the most permanent good’ and are recommended to send, magazines, such as Catholic Missions, or little devotional works and Lives of the Saints.