Table of Contents
Inventory of the Edward S. Davoll Papers
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Edward S. Davoll (1822-1863) began his career as a whaleman at the age of 18 on a voyage of Elizabeth (Brig) out of Westport, Massachusetts in 1841. He served on multiple voyages over seven years and at the age of 25 he made his first whaling voyage as captain; that was aboard the whaling ship Cornelia (Bark). He was the captain of the Iris (Ship) when she was shipwrecked on the coast of Australia in 1855. In 1860 he accepted command of the ship Brutus (Ship) that vessel had been under suspicion of illegally operating as a slave ship, and ultimately his involvement with the Brutus (Ship) led to his arrest. His level of involvement in the affairs of the Brutus (Ship) was never fully determined as he passed away in 1863, at the age of 40, before that matter was legally resolved. He served on a total of nine whaling voyages in his lifetime. He and his wife, Elizabeth S. Davoll, raised one child, their daughter Carrie C. Davoll.
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains the papers of Edward S. Davoll, the collection spans the years 1848 to 1884. The majority of the collection consists of the personal correspondence of Edward S. Davoll during his time at sea on numerous whaling voyages. Most of the letters are to his wife, Elizabeth S. Davoll, some of the letters are to other people involved in whaling.
The majority of the collection consists of ship’s papers; these consist of Edward S. Davoll’s correspondence that he wrote during his whaling voyages. This correspondence is organized according to which whaling ship he was working on when he wrote the letters. The whaling ships were the Cornelia (Bark), 1849-1853; Iris (Ship), 1854-1855; Messenger (Ship), July 1853; and Palmyra (Schooner), 1861.
The letters often touch on topics such as; his health, inquiries about the health and well-being of his wife Elizabeth, and his daughter Carrie, instructions for Elizabeth regarding Carrie as well as instructions for handling finances at home. He also wrote about life on board the ships and issues such as; crew relations on board, weather conditions, frequency of whales seen and taken, inventories of oil on board, where he has been with the ship and where he intends to go next, business related communications with ship’s agents, and estimates of when he might return home. One letter that stands out was dated March 25, 1855, he wrote the letter from Western Australia. In this letter he talked at some length about the indigenous inhabitants, he had spent some significant time living near them; he described the people, how they lived, what they ate, and how they hunted for their food. Another of the more atypical letters was a letter to Elizabeth dated August 6, 1855; in this letter he was updating her on some of the work he was undertaking as a result of the wreck of the Iris (Ship).
The remainder of the collection consists of assorted family papers. There are letters written to Edward that did not focus on his whaling voyages. Elizabeth Davoll is present in the collection; there is a “Reference Book” given to her by Edward before he departed on a whaling voyage in 1856, the booklet contains instructions for specific financial matters and instructions for raising their daughter. There are two letters written to Elizabeth from Edward that he penned before they were married, and a financial record pertaining to Elizabeth. Carrie Davoll is present in the collection with a written composition, and a personal letter. The last series in the collection of assorted collected materials contains one letter to “Sister Mary” from James Robertson, and an unsigned poem about the deaths of Edward and Elizabeth Davoll, the poem is torn into three pieces.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library has additional records for Edward S. Davoll. There is a journal kept aboard the R.L. Barstow (Bark) and that journal includes a portion that was kept aboard the Palmyra (Schooner). There is another partial journal that was kept aboard the Palmyra (Schooner). In the Photo Archive there are six photos, some individual and some group, of Edward, and/or Elizabeth, and/or Carrie. Additionally there are four books; a Holy Bible, (1863), presented to Carrie C. Davoll by her mother, a New National Spelling Book, by B.D. Emerson, (Boston 1859),signed by Carrie C. Davoll, a Fourth Book of Lessons for Reading, by Samuel Worcester, (Boston 1845), signed by Elizabeth S. Brownell, and the Franklin Fifth Reader, by G.S. Hillard, (New York 1877).
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 172, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Removed to Photo Archive
Tinted albumen photograph of Captain Edward S. Davoll
Tinted albumen photograph of Elizabeth S. Davoll
Ambrotype of Captain Edward S. Davoll in gutta percha case
Daguerreotype of Captain Edward and Elizabeth S. Davoll and child, in case
George F. Parlow, New Bedford, cabinet card photograph of Carrie C. Davoll
Doane, photographer of New Bedford cabinet card photograph of Carrie C. Davoll
Removed to Printed Collection
Holy Bible, 1863
New National Spelling Book, by B.D. Emerson (Boston,1859)
Fourth Book of Lessons for Reading, by Samuel Worcester (Boston 1845)
Franklin Fifth Reader, by G.S. Hillard (New York 1877)
Removed to Logbook and Journal Collection
R.L. Barstow (Bark), 21 May 1859-5 July 1860; 1251A
Palmyra (Schooner), 9 August 1861-11 November 1861; 1251B
Palmyra (Schooner), 3 November 1859-12 December 1859; 1252A
Palmyra (Schooner), 10 November 1861-undated; 1252B
Materials in this collection were prchased by the New Bedford Whaling Museum in 2005. Accession #2005.63
Processed by: Andrew J. Castrenze, 2018
Encoded by: Andrew J. Castrenze, 27 November 2018
Davoll, Carrie, 1854-1892
Davoll, Edward, 1822-1863
Davoll, Elizabeth, 1829-1864
R.L. Barstow (Bark)