Table of Contents
Inventory of the New Bedford Yacht Club Records
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Founded in 1877, the New Bedford Yacht Club was incorporated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the purpose of encouraging athletic exercises, yachting and especially by maintaining a Club house. The first Clubhouse was on Fish Island, but in 1879 the Club moved to larger quarters on Pope’s Island. Charter members were from New Bedford and Fairhaven and were enthusiastic oarsmen, yachtsmen, or pleasure sailors who had enjoyed the lively competition and ideal sailing conditions in New Bedford Harbor and Buzzards Bay. The Club grew quickly and by 1881 membership had increased to 311 and the fleet included 57 boats.
By the end of the 19th century, the New Bedford Yacht Club members were beginning to keep their boats in non-industrial Padanaram Harbor (Dartmouth, Mass.), so the Club built a second station there in 1901. The Club continued to schedule frequent cruises and to participate in regattas with other clubs. During World War I, the Club curtailed its activities and many of the boat owners enrolled in the Coast Guard to patrol local waters. In the aftermath of the War, the Club’s focus shifted towards racing and away from cruising, and the New Bedford Yacht Club Race week was inaugurated in 1922. Saturday afternoon races were also added and organized at the Club by Rear Commodore Gardiner Akin, and the program was later expanded in 1929 to include Wednesday afternoon races.
The fleet continued to grow through the early 1940s, but with the onset of World War II, Club activities were cut back. During the war, members of the yacht club again served as auxiliary Coast Guard members, patrolling the familiar local coastline, but by 1947, the Club had returned to a full schedule of yachting activities. The Pope’s Island station was sold in 1941, concentrating the Club’s activities at the Padanaram Station. In 1953, the Junior Sailing Group was organized with the guidance and generous support of Walter N. Rothschild, and the Club continued to develop a varied boating program to accommodate the wide range of nautical interests represented in the Club.
The New Bedford Yacht Club squadron currently includes sail, motor boats, and a racing shell. The Club also maintains a full schedule of racing, cruising, and social events. As the second oldest yacht club in continuous operation on Buzzards Bay and the tenth oldest New England, the Club continues to fulfill its original statement of purpose.
Scope and Content Note
Materials in this collection consist primarily of minutes recorded for the meetings of the Directors for the New Bedford Yacht club during the years 1883 to 2004. Directors meetings were generally held once a month in a given year with a few exceptions, and the Directors discussed, planned, and voted on several actions during the meetings that affected the governance of the Club. The minutes document not only the content of the meetings, but capture the decision making process of the Directors over the course of the Club’s existence. Discussion points of note in the minutes include budget estimates, membership nominations, financial statements, membership resignations, events planned for a given year (most notably regattas), amendments to the constitution and by-laws whenever necessary, and the minutes for any special board meetings whenever the Club held such meetings. Additionally, the collection contains secretary reports and annual reports presented to Club members at the New Bedford Yacht Club’s Annual Meeting each year.
Items in the collection are arranged chronologically by date of the meeting. Researchers should note that minutes recorded for the years 1883 – 1941 were handwritten and compiled in a total of five bound volumes. In 1942, however, the Club began typing their minutes. As a result, all minutes kept from 1942 – 2004 were compiled on in form of typescript pages.
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 179, [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 the New Bedford Yacht Club on September 1, 2014 (2014.61) and on May 10, 2018 (2018.28). Materials dated 1883-1945 consist of the 2014.61 accession, while materials dated 1946-2004 consist of the 2018.28 accession.
Processed by: Mark Procknik, 2020
Encoded by: Kristi Mukk, 21 October 2020
New Bedford Yacht Club (New Bedford, Mass.)
Yacht clubs--Massachusetts--New Bedford