Table of Contents
Inventory of the Potter Family Papers
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
This collection consists of papers and records related to a Dartmouth, Massachusetts, family active in the whaling and fishing industries. William Potter 2nd (1809-1892) served as an agent for several whaling and fishing vessels out of New Bedford and South Dartmouth. Edward F. Potter (1839-1914) and Charles W. Potter (b. 1848), William's sons, pursued similar business interests as their father, also acting as agent or owner of fishing vessels.
Llewellyn Howland III, former board member of the New Bedford Whaling Museum and chair of the Museum's Scholarship and Publications Committee, states that the "Potter story is important for several reasons: it sheds bright light on the work of a major Dartmouth whaling merchant and agent (of whom there were, of course, far fewer than their New Bedford counterparts); it concerns the construction and voyages of at least one vessel – the Bark Matilda Sears - that was built right in Dartmouth at South Wharf by the famous black shipwright Matthews, Mashow, Co. and, ...[this addition] to the Potter material already in the archives of the Whaling Museum, it offers a far more complete story of a whaling merchant's business activities then has usually survived from whaling days."
Scope and Content Note
Papers in this collection reflect the activities of Potter family members between the years 1838 and 1906. The bulk of this collection documents the activities of William Potter 2nd, agent and owner of several whaling and fishing vessels out of New Bedford and South Dartmouth. Materials relating to William Potter 2nd consist of ship's papers for three vessels: the Cape Horn Pigeon (Bark), 1856-1892, Charles and Edward (Bark), 1860-1864, and Matilda Sears (Bark), 1860-1892. In addition, papers for William Potter 2nd also include financial records from 1838-1860 as well as legal documents that span the years 1841-1880.
Other Potter family members represented in this collection include Edward F. Potter and Charles W. Potter, William's sons. Papers for Edward include his correspondence, dated 1877-1894, his fishing records, 1866-1872, and his financial records, 1860-1880. Papers for his brother Charles span the years 1875 to 1880 and consist of financial records. The remainder of this collection represents the collective financial records of both Edward and Charles. These records date from 1871 to 1876 and contain mostly bills and receipts.
Materials in this collection have been arranged into sub-groups representing business records and personal papers of family members. Sub-groups are listed chronologically in the collection inventory according to the birthdate of each person.
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 102, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 United States Code 552a) governs the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations.
Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:
- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution
If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.
Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead, from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g. employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright is not necessarily the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."
This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy law. This institution also places restrictions on the use of cameras, photocopiers, and scanners in the research room.
Mss 133: Potter/Hindle Family Papers
The New Bedford Whaling Museum acquired materials in this collection through a series of donations and purchases. The majority of items in this collection were received as the result of three gifts to the Museum: the first by Nestor Sylvia on 18 November 1965, the next by Gene B. Reid on 22 June 1967, and the last by Mrs. John F. Tweedie on 7 July 1987. Items in the collection not donated by these three individuals were acquired through a Library purchase in 1985.
Processed by: Judith M. Downey,
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 02 August 2012
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Account books--Dartmouth, Mass.--1864-1888
Merchant seamen--Mass.--Dartmouth--Salaries, pensions, etc.
Potter, Charles W., b. 1848
Potter, Edward Freeman, b. 1839
Potter, William, 2nd, b. 1809
Salt industry and trade--Mass.--Dartmouth
Cape Horn Pigeon (Bark)
Charles and Edward (Bark)
J. W. Nickerson (Schooner)
Matilda Sears (Bark)
Mount Vernon (Schooner)
Samuel Chase (Schooner)