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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
The Joseph family has been a member of the New Bedford community for several generations, dating as far back as the 1850’s. Henry E. Joseph joined Vesta Lodge No. 166 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1855. His descendent William F. Joseph captained numerous whaling vessels during the early years of the 20th Century; most notably the bark California and the schooner Valkyria from 1917-1918. Captain Joseph made several Arctic whaling voyages as a master as well as a mate earlier in his career. On one such voyage in the early 1900’s William took temporary charge of the William Baylies when his master was arrested for manslaughter, an event described in one of the newspaper clippings in the collection. Japan, Barbados, and St Eustatius were other frequent destinations during his voyages. John E. Joseph, a later descendent, served as a lieutenant in the New Bedford Fire Department in the 1930’s.
The Joseph Family Papers contain letters, newspaper clippings, receipts, crew lists, and other printed materials spanning over a hundred years concerning the lives and careers of three members of the Joseph family; (in chronological order) Henry E. Joseph, William F. Joseph, and John E. Joseph. The earliest item in the collection is a newspaper from 1853, while the most recent is another newspaper from 1956. The bulk of the collection is on William F. Joseph’s life in the whaling industry, from approximately 1890-1920. The collection is arranged in four series; correspondence, ships papers, bills and receipts, and other collected printed materials.
Correspondence includes a handwritten letter fragment to Captain Joseph dated November 3, 1904, San Francisco, CA. The sender, unknown, thanks Captain Joseph for a mantle drape given to the sender. The sender also offers their sympathy for the bad luck Joseph had encountered that season, and hopes next season’s catch will be better. On July 2, 1932 John E. Joseph received a letter from the New Bedford Fire Department that his pay would be decreased by 10%. Lastly is an undated envelope to John E. Joseph and Mary H. Joseph from the Electric Bond and Share Company of New York, NY of which there is no relatable material included in the collection.
Ships Papers contains two crew papers signed by William Lewis, both regarding William F. Joseph. The first is for his service on the bark California on November 27, 1896. The second is for his service on the bark Horatio on December 12, 1898. In 1900 William F. Joseph received 1/18 lay serving as a Mate on the bark California. On July 13, 1904 the bark California passed was granted permission, in both English and Japanese, to enter the Port of Hakodate, Japan, following quarantine inspection. On August 22, 1918, the schooner Valkyria, with William F. Joseph as master, was granted permission to enter the Port of New Bedford following quarantine inspection. The Valkyria arrived after having sailed for 138 days from St. Eustatius.
Bills and Receipts covers the expenses incurred by Captain William F. Joseph as captain of the schooner Valkyria, mainly for supplies and provisions. From 1916-17 is a four page receipt from Briggs & Beckman of New Bedford to stock the ship. From March 1, 1917 is a two page receipt from Discrol, Church & Hall Incorporated of New Bedford for wholesale groceries. From March 12, 1917 is a two-page receipt from The Whaling Outfitters of New Bedford for clothes and supplies. From October 8 and October 15, 1917 is a receipt from the J.V. Fletcher Co of Faneuil Hall Market of Boston for barrels of pork and beef. From November 10, 1917 is another receipt from The Whaling Outfitters of New Bedford for supplies. From November 12, 1917 is another two page receipt from Discrol, Church, & Hall for groceries.
In 1918 there are further receipts from the Valkyria’s time in the West Indies: From C.F. Harrison & Co., Ltd of Bridgetown, Barbados dated March 20, 1918; Bo. of Da Costa & Co. of Bridgetown, Barbados; a collection of six receipts clipped together from various businesses in Barbados from March 18-23, 1918; a handwritten receipt from a T. Walker for furnishing Flying Fish on March 23, 1918; a receipt for a meal at the Ice House Hotel on March 26, 1918; a receipt from Da Costa & Co. for various services on March 26, 1918; and a receipt covering March 30-April 5, 1918 for groceries purchased from a Henry H. Johnson on St. Eustatius.
Collected Printed Materials has a publication of the constitution, by-laws, and rules of the International Order of Odd Fellows, Vesta Lodge No. 166 of New Bedford, MA, where Henry Joseph was certified as a member on December 20, 1855. There is a guide entitled Concise Directions for Knowing and Treating the Diseases and Accidents Incident to Seamen published in 1877, New Bedford, MA. It was initially paired with a medicine chest for captains to take on their voyage. The guide lists 63 different medicines and 21 potential illnesses common on sea voyages. An updated version of the same title, published in 1893, is also included. It lists 64 medicines and 22 illnesses. Also there is a directory of officers of a whaling fleet out of San Francisco in 1895. 30 ships are listed. There is a handwritten note on the title page from William F. Joseph dated August 24, 1895, per the brig Hidalgo. Wm F. Joseph is not listed on the Hidalgo’s officer list in the publication, but he is listed as the first mate on the bark California. There is a poster detailing the uniforms of the New Bedford Fire Department, in effect September 1, 1917 and signed by Chief Engineer Edward F. Dahill. It lists what comprises the uniforms and insignia for the Chief Engineer, Assistant Engineers, Captains, Lieutenants, and Members.
Lastly in Collected Printed Materials is a collection of newspaper clippings. One undated clipping details an eventful voyage by the bark California, captained by William F. Joseph; one crewman died of heart disease, and 820 barrels of sperm oil were captured. Another undated clipping describes an arctic fleet captained by William F. Joseph deciding to stay in the Arctic as late as possible in the season due to poor whaling. A third undated clipping tells of Captain H.H. Bodfish of the steamer William Baylies arrest on manslaughter charges for the death of crewman Ed Legere. The ship continued her voyage under the command of William F. Joseph, first mate, while Bodfish awaited trial. From The Evening Standard on November 7, 1892 is a story on the bark Helen Mar crushed in the ice of Arctic; there were only five survivors out of 43. They were rescued by the steamer Orca. From The Evening Standard on October 27, 1897, is a story of four vessels stuck in ice; the steamers Belvedere and Orca, the schooner Rosario, and the steamer Jeanette, a tender. From The Standard Times August 12, 1956, is a recounting of a 50 year old story of Charles A. Oman’s 1906 desertion from the bark Roman and eight weeks spent stranded on the same island off the coast of Chile that Alexander Selkirk, the basis of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, had lived on. Also mentioned at around the same time in 1906 are the loss of the schooner Era, and the return of the bark Canton. Filling out the rest of the collection are several issues of the Whalemen’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript, ranging from 1853 to 1914.
Arrangement of Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 129, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Materials in this collection were donated to the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Raymond K. Silviera on July 16, 2013, as part of Accession #2013.23.
Processed by: Edward Knowles, 2014
Encoded by: Edward Knowles, 14 April 2014
Bodfish, Hartson H. (Hartson Hartlett)
Disease Outbreak--Prevention & control--handbooks
Disease managemen--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Disease--Diagnosi--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Disease--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Vesta Lodge No. 166 (New Bedford, Mass.)
Joseph, John E.
Joseph, William F.
New Bedford (Mass.)--1900-1910
New Bedford (Mass.)--Commerce
New Bedford (Mass.)--Fire Department
New Bedford (Mass.)--History--19th century
New Bedford (Mass.)--History--Societies, etc
New Bedford (Mass.)--Newspapers
Occupational diseases--Diagnosis--Equipment and supplies
Occupational diseases--Handbooks, manuals, etc
Occupational diseases--Prevention & control--United States--Catalogs
Occupational diseases--Prevention & control--United States--Handbooks
Occupational diseases--United States--Prevention--Handbooks, manuals, etc
Oman, Charles A.
San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)--Commerce--Directories
Seafaring life--Massachusetts--New Bedford--History--19th century
Seafaring life--New England--19th century
Seafaring life--Pacific Area--History--19th century
Seafaring life--Pacific Ocean--History--20th century
The Evening Standard/The Standard-Times
Whalemen’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript
Whaling masters--United States
Whaling--Economic aspects--Massachusetts--New Bedford--History--19th century
Whaling--Massachusetts--New Bedford--History--19th century
Belvedere (Steam Bark)
Helen Mar (Bark)
Navarch (Steam Bark)
Orca (Steamer Bark)