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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Members of the Hathaway family of New Bedford, Massachusetts, were chiefly involved in the China Trade as importers of tea, hemp, and silk and in various aspects of the whaling industry between 1816-1888. Humphrey Hathaway (1765-1821) was a ship builder who also managed a whale-oil refining factory. His sons Thomas Schuyler (1796-1878), Nathaniel (1798-1836), and Francis S. (1803-1869) became partners of their father and expanded the business to include trade with China and the Philippines with their own fleet of ships. Thomas Hathaway directed the family's mercantile activities from New Bedford, while Francis S. Hathaway spent much of his time in China as a commercial agent.
Nathaniel Hathaway, the only brother to marry, fathered six children, two of whom died in infancy. The four remaining children became wards of Thomas and Francis S. Hathaway in 1836. Nathaniel's two sons, Francis Hathaway (1829-1895) and Horatio Hathaway (1831-1898) eventually entered the family business. Francis managed cargo transfers in New York City, while Horatio remained in New Bedford to handle business correspondence with China and New York.
Records in this collection relate to the business activities of the Hathaways between 1811-1888. Financial records consist of day books, journals, ledgers, accounts current, cash books, and related material dating from 1816-1888. Purchasing and receiving records include invoices, 1811-1879; manifests, 1862-1875; a promissory note, 1850; and various kinds of bills, 1833-1875. A small number of labor records indicate the wages received by crew members serving on Hathaway vessels in the 1850s upon settlement of each voyage. Sales and shipping records contain a sales book, 1816-1862, and ship's papers, 1833-1873. Correspondence in Series E includes copies of letters to business associates in New York, Manila, Canton and in other cities. Also encompassed by this collection are memoranda relating to many aspects of the Hathaways' business, 1830-1888.
Materials in this collection have been organized into Series by type of document and are arranged chronologically except for ship's papers, which are grouped alphabetically by name of vessel. Published works which may serve as a guide to the collection's contents include Hathaways Of America, sponsored by Hathaway Family Association (1970) and A New Bedford Merchant, by Horatio Hathaway (1930). In addition, the Old Dartmouth Historical Society owns a logbook for the Hathaways’ ship Horatio concerning an 1850-1851 merchant voyage.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to the Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 8 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Related Manuscript Collections
Mss 122: Hathaway Family Papers
This collection was donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by the estate of Julia Rodman in 1940.
Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 11 June 2011; box list appended by Mark Procknik, 28 December 2011
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1816-1888
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Commercial agents--Mass.--New Bedford
Commission merchants--Mass.—New Bedford
Hathaway, Francis S., 1803-1869
Hathaway, Francis, 1829-1895
Hathaway, Horatio, 1831-1898
Hathaway, Humphrey, 1765-1821
Hathaway, Nathaniel, 1798-1836
Hathaway, Thomas Schuyler, 1796-1878
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford--Salaries, pensions, etc.
New Bedford, Mass.--Commerce
Opium trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Rope trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Silk manufacture and trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Tea trade--Mass.--New Bedford