MSS 17:  Hartson Hartlett Bodfish Papers, 1857-1942 - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Inventory of the Hartson Hartlett Bodfish Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Judith Downey; machine-readable finding aid created by: Kermit DeweyFunds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Inventory of the Hartson Hartlett Bodfish Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Separations List

Administrative Information


Subject Headings

Inventory of the Hartson Hartlett Bodfish Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Hartson Hartlett Bodfish Papers
Date Span:
Hartson Hartlett Bodfish, ca. 1862-1945
Mss Number:
Mss 17
8 inches
Principally financial records of a whaling captain and trader active in the Arctic region, 1857-1942.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Biographical Note

Hartson Hartlett Bodfish was born in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, in about 1862. First going to sea in 1880 on the steam whaling bark Belvedere, he made a career of whaling in the Arctic region and eventually became captain of several vessels, notably the steam barks Beluga and Herman. Bodfish also acted as a trader who supplied Arctic whalemen and natives in the area with food, clothing, and other goods, often in return for pelts. He retired from whaling and trading by 1920 and in 1936 published a biographical account of his exploits entitled Chasing the Bowhead. Bodfish died in 1945.

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Scope and Content Note

Papers in this collection chiefly reflect the activities of Hartson Hartlett Bodfish in San Francisco, California, and the Arctic region from 1892-1911. Most notable among these materials are nineteen log books including those of the Beluga, Mary D. Hume, and Newport in which Bodfish describes winters spent in the Arctic, principally at Herschel Island. These volumes, in addition to approximately seventy-five photographs taken in the Arctic between ca. 1890-1914, have been transferred to other sections of the Society's holdings and are described in the separations list which concludes this inventory. Materials described by the inventory itself primarily consist of financial records, including trade accounts, ca. 1894-1911; masters' accounts, 1892-1900; an outfitting book for the steam bark Beluga, ca. 1900; and bills and receipts, mostly for the Herman, 1892-1911. Bodfish's papers also include a deposition and newspaper article concerning his trial for manslaughter in 1906 and a copy of a letter written to his mother in 1891. In addition, this collection contains master's accounts for the Nimrod (Ship), out of New Bedford, Mass., under Capt. Willis Howes; genealogical notes relating to the Bodfish family between 1635-1847, compiled 1893-ca. 1920; and a variety of certificates, invitations, clippings, and miscellaneous documents, 1896-1942. Published works which may supplement or clarify papers in this collection are Bodfish's 1936 biography and Steam Whaling in the Western Arctic by John Bockstoce (1977).

Arrangement of Collection

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Access to the Collection

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 17 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]

Copyright Notice

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.

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Removed to Photographs Collection

- 77 photographs taken primarily in the Arctic -- 28 of Bodfish, traders, and natives; one of the steam whaler Alexander and one of the Herman, 1914; and 34 of buildings, animals and scenes from Herschel Island, Alaska and region, ca. 1890-1914.

Removed to Maps Collection

- Pacific Steam Whaling Company map of Alaska with whaling stations and canneries, ca. 1900.

Removed to Log Book Collection

- Beluga (Steam bark), 1897-1898; ODHS # 951A
- Beluga (Steam bark), 1898-1899; ODHS # 951B
- Beluga (Steam bark), April - Dec. 1900; ODHS # 952A
- Beluga (Steam bark), Jan. - Nov. 1901; ODHS # 952B
- Beluga (Steam bark), April – Nov. 1902; ODHS # 953
- Beluga (Steam bark), March – Nov. 1903; ODHS # 954
- Governor Morton (Ship), 1868-1872; ODHS # 947B
- Grampus (Steam bark), Feb. - Nov. 1888; ODHS # 948A
- Grampus (Steam bark), Feb. - Nov. 1889; ODHS # 948B
- Herman (Steam bark), April - Nov. 1909; ODHS # 957
- Herman (Steam bark), May - Oct. 1910; ODHS # 958
- Herman (Steam bark), March - Nov. 1911; ODHS # 959
- Mary D. Hume (Steam bark), 1890-1892; ODHS # 949
- Newport (Steam bark), 1893-1896; ODHS # 950
- Nimrod (Ship), 1858-1861; ODHS # 946
- USS Vanderbilt (Steam paddlewheel), 1865-1866; ODHS # 947A
- William Baylies (Steam bark), March-Oct. 1905; ODHS # 955
- William Baylies (Steam bark), March-Nov. 1906; ODHS # 956A
- William Baylies (Steam bark), April-Oct. 1907; ODHS # 956B

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Papers in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by George Bodfish on 1 December 1978.

Processing Information

Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982

Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 1 July 2011; box list appended by Mark Procknik, 03 January 2012

Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Series A: Financial Records, 1857-1911 [7 inches]
Series A consists of trades accounts, masters' accounts, outfitting book, bills, and receipts.
Sub-series 1: Trade Accounts, ca. 1894, 1909-1911
Box 1
Volume 1
Herman (Steam bark), 1909
Volume 2
Herman (Steam bark), 1910
Volume 3
Herman (Steam bark), 1911
Folder 1
Herman (Steam bark), 1911
Folder 2
Newport (Steam bark), ca. 1894
Folder 3
Trade requisitions, 1910
Sub-series 2: Masters' Accounts, 1857-1861, 1892-1893, 1900
Folder 1
Beluga (Steam bark), 1900
Folder 2
Mary D. Hume (Steam bark), 1892-1893
Volume 1
Nimrod (Ship), 1909
Sub-series 3: Outfitting Books, ca. 1900
Volume 1
Beluga (Steam bark), ca. 1900
Sub-series 4: Bills and Receipts, 1896, 1900, 1909-1911
Folder 1
Volume 1
Folder 2
Folder 3-12
Box 2
Folder 13-16
Folder 17-31
Series B: Legal Documents, 1906 [2 items]
Series B contains a manslaughter trial deposition and clipping.
Folder 1
Manslaughter trial deposition and related newspaper clipping, 1906
Series C: Correspondence, 1891 [1 item]
Series C consists of a letter to his mother.
Folder 1
Series D: Genealogical Notes, 1635-1847, 1893-ca. 1920 [2 items]
Folder 1
1635-1847, 1893-ca. 1920
Series E: Certificates, Invitations, Clippings and Miscellany, 1857-1911, 1942 [18 items]
Folder 1
Certificate, 1942
Folder 2
Invitations, 1896, 1901
Folder 3
Clippings, prescription, and miscellaneous documents, 1857-1911

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Subject Headings

Account books--Alaska--1851-1911
Account books--Arctic coast (Canada)--1857-1911
Account books--San Francisco, Calif.--1892-1911
Arctic coast (Canada)
Bodfish family
Bodfish, Hartson Hartlett, ca.1862-1945
Business records--Calif.--San Francisco
Fur trade--Alaska
Grocery trade--Calif.--San Francisco
Herschel Island, Yukon
Merchants--Calif.--San Francisco
Merchants--Yukon--Herschel Island
Russia--Commerce--United States
San Francisco, Calif.--Commerce
Ship's papers
Shipmasters--Calif.--San Francisco
Ships--Equipment and supplies
United States--Commerce--Russia
Whaling--Arctic Ocean

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Vessel Names

Beluga (Steam bark)
Herman (Steam bark)
Mary D. Hume (Bark)
Newport (Bark)
Nimrod (Ship)

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