Table of Contents
Inventory of the Edmund Gardner Papers
In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Edmund Gardner (1784-1875) shipped on his first whaling voyage out of Nantucket at the age of 16. After a number of voyages, Gardner assumed command of the ship Union of Nantucket in 1807 at the age of 22, but this whaling voyage was cut short when the Union collided with a whale in the Atlantic and sank. Nine years later as captain of the ship Winslow of New Bedford, Gardner was crushed in the jaws of a sperm whale but survived the ordeal after a Peruvian doctor successfully treated his severe injuries. Captain Gardner went to sea for ten more years and in 1819 while in command of the ship Balaena of New Bedford became the first American whaling captain to stop at Hawaii. His final whaling voyage was as captain of the ship South America of Nantucket in 1823 and retired from the sea in 1826. Gardner later moved to New Bedford and enjoyed a career as a successful merchant until his death in 1875 at the age of 91.
Frederick S. Allen (1812-1896) and his brother-in-law, Jireh Swift (1809-1905) formed the firm Swift & Allen, major suppliers of cordage, iron ware, groceries, and other goods needed to outfit whaling vessels of New Bedford and nearby ports. In addition to ship chandlery, the firm acted as agents for over twenty vessels from about 1844 to 1887, handling the outfits, accounts of crew members and master, and sales of whale-oil, sperm oil, and whale bone for each vessel. The firm's business activity gradually declined in the 1880s, and in 1891 the partnership of Swift & Allen ended.
Scope and Content Note
Materials in this collection reflect the business activities of Captain Edmund Gardner during the years 1828 to 1875. Gardner’s business notebook, dated 1834 to 1875, reflects several different aspects of his professional career after retiring from whaling. This notebook includes accounts of his employees and petty cash statements from 1851 to 1875 in addition to the minutes of the Overseers of the House of Correction in New Bedford from 1834 to 1836. Gardner’s papers also contain a bound volume containing his account receivable from 1828 to 1859 as well as his accounts payable from 1831 to 1861. There also another volume in the collection that includes the receipts for payments Gardner made during the years 1842 to 1875 in addition to a receipt to Charles H. Gifford for work owed in 1862 to 1863.
This collection also contains materials from 1841 to 1888 related to Frederick Slocum Allen, a partner in the whaling agent and ship chandler firm Swift & Allen of New Bedford. Allen served as one of the executors of Captain Gardner’s estate following Gardner’s death in 1875, and Allen’s papers include a book, containing a copy of Gardner’s will, the estate settlements, and guardian’s accounts for the years 1875 to 1883. Materials related to Allen also reflect his Swift & Allen interests. These items include outfitting books for the 1841 and 1858 voyages of the ship Gratitude of New Bedford, the 1868 voyage of the bark George and Susan of New Bedford, the 1876 voyage of the bark Thomas Pope of New Bedford, and the 1888 voyage of the bark Ohio of New Bedford. In addition to these several outfitting books, the collection also includes an account book for the bark Camilla’s 1862 voyage out of New Bedford that contains slop accounts, recruits, crew accounts, and memoranda relating to the discharge of seamen. Allen’s Swift & Allen papers also contain a manuscript notebook illustrated with watercolors complete with signal flags of New Bedford area managing owners and their vessels along with flag dimensions and annotations, dated 1864 to 1876, and an undated memoranda booklet listing New Bedford area managing agents and their vessels. Swift & Allen papers also include an 1868 receipt from Rufus Randall to Swift & Allen for two tons of iron.
Researchers should note that this collection also contains several journals kept by Captain Gardner onboard whaling voyages that have been removed to the Research Library’s Logbook and Journal collection and cataloged discretely. These journals include the ship Union’s 1807 voyage out of Nantucket, the ship Winslow’s 1817 voyage out of New Bedford, the ship Balaena’s 1818 voyage out of New Bedford, the ship Balaena’s 1821 voyage out of New Bedford, the ship South America’s 1823 voyage out of Nantucket, and the ship Phebe Ann’s 1824 voyage out of New Bedford. This collection contains logbooks of Swift & Allen voyages that have also been removed to the Research Library’s Logbook and Journal collection and cataloged discretely. These journals include the bark Bruce’s 1851 voyage out of New Bedford and the bark Elisha Dunbar’s 1854 voyage out of New Bedford.
Arrangement of Collection
Information for Researchers
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 181, [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 on 14 September 1992 by Mrs. James H. Jackson as part of Accession B92-21.
Processed by: Mark Procknik, 2020
Encoded by: Kristi Mukk, 24 October 2020
Administration of estates--Massachusetts--New Bedford
Allen, Frederick S., 1812-1896
Business records--Massachusetts--New Bedford
Decedents' estates--Massachusetts--New Bedford
Gardner, Edmund, 1784-1875
House of Correction (New Bedford, Mass.)
Signals and signaling
Swift & Allen (New Bedford, Mass.)
Whaling ships--Equipment and supplies
Whaling ships--Flags, insignia, etc.--Massachusetts
George and Susan (Bark)
Ohio (Bark : 1833-1889)
Thomas Pope (Bark)