MSS 56:  Business Records Collection, 1712-1946 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Business Records Collection In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Patricia J. Albright; machine-readable finding aid created by: Mark ProcknikFunds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.Inventory of the Business Records Collection In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Administrative Information


Subject Headings

Inventory of the Business Records Collection

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Business Records Collection
Date Span:
New Bedford Whaling Museum
Mss Number:
Mss 56
28 linear feet
Financial and administrative records, ship's papers, correspondence, legal documents, and related records, chiefly concerning merchants, businessmen, and tradesmen active in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and vicinity, 1712–1946
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of account books and other financial records, administrative records, legal documents, correspondence, insurance policies, patents, and similar business records dating from 1712 to 1946. For the most part, these materials reflect the activities of merchants, businessmen, and tradesmen who resided in southeastern Massachusetts, especially in the towns of Dartmouth, Fairhaven, New Bedford, Rochester, and Westport. Other individuals represented by documents in the collection resided in Providence and Newport, Rhode Island, Biddeford, Maine, New London and Stonington, Connecticut, Somersworth, New Hampshire, and Canandaigua, New York.

A substantial portion of these records concern the American whaling industry from about 1745 to 1925. Whaling-related documents in the collection include correspondence to and from agents, owners, shipmasters, and crew members, usually concerning voyages of particular whalers; letters and journals written by women on board whaling vessels; crew and masters’ disbursements accounts; contracts between seamen and shipping or whaling agents; Seamen’s Protection Papers and other customs records; outfitting books; insurance policies and bills of sale; bills and receipts concerning the sale of whale products; signals and signal books; and patents for and a catalog of whalecraft. Other records reflect the coastwise, West Indian, Western European, and Russian trading ventures of merchants in New Bedford and vicinity, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia between ca. 1787 – 1900. These documents include letters to and from commercial agents, business associates, and shipmasters concerning the sale of tobacco, molasses, fruit, lumber and a wide variety of other goods; account books and bills and receipts; price lists; and lists of vessels at foreign ports. Prominent Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and New Bedford whaling agents and merchants represented by records in this collection are George Howland & Sons, Lothrop & Allen and Swift & Allen, William Phillips and Son, Atkins Adams, Abraham Barker, Thomas Bennett, John Hawes, Gilbert and Isaac Howland, Thomas Nye, and Furman Reade Whitwell Sr. and Jr.

In addition, these materials feature correspondence from a New Bedford artist, Benjamin Russell (1804 – 1885), addressed to a local merchant, Henry F. Thomas, in 1850 – 1851, and a letter from Elihu Root concerning a charge against Captain Benjamin D. Cleveland of New Bedford for violating sealing regulations at the Kerguelen Islands.

This collection also contains correspondence, account books, deeds, and other records of blacksmiths, farmers, physicians, lawyers, stone-masons, carpenters, newspaper publishers, shoemakers, tailors, ship chandlers, surveyors, land agents, ship builders, and persons involved in many other occupations as well. These materials contain information about the business and personal affairs and expenses of individuals active from 1712 to 1946. Complementing these documents are minutes, ledgers, and other administrative and financial records of numerous banks, marine insurance companies, railroad and steamboat lines, bridge and land companies, textile mills, dock and wharf companies, copper, iron, and brass foundries, and other organizations or institutions, principally located in New Bedford and surrounding communities. Particularly notable among these materials are records of the American Carrier Rocket Company, Wamsutta Mills, the New Bedford Board of Trade (now New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce), Taber’s Wharf Company, the New Bedford and Fairhaven Bridge Company, and Westport Cotton Manufacturing Company.

Materials in this collection are arranged in alphabetical series according to the person or corporate body which generated or, in some instances, received the document or documents. Anonymous items are filed under a heading denoting the type or form of record. Inventory entries for the contents of each letter series have been alphabetized in sub-series by surname, corporate name, or record type/form heading. Names are accompanied by a person’s dates and place of residence or the location of a particular organization, if known.

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 56 [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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Most of the records in this collection were given to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by many different individuals between 1905 and 1982. Accession records indicate that some items were purchased or received on exchange from manuscript dealers by the Society during this same period.

Processing Information

Processed by: Patricia J. Albright, ca. 1982

Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 19 March 2012

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

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Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection

Series A: Account - Atlas Tack Company, 1755-1906
Series B: Bailey - Butler & Allen, 1754-1935
Series C: C. E. Beckman Company - Cushing, 1784-1922
Series D: Dallman - Dyre & Richmond, 1772-1929
Series E: Edward - Evans, 1831-1879
Series F: Fairhaven Insurance Company - Fuller, 1798-1897
Series G: Gallant - Groves, 1773-1915
Series H: Hadley - Hussey, 1735-1918
Series I: Incorporated Proprietors - Instructions, ca. 1854-1936
Series J: J. & W. R. Wing - Jones, 1814-1884
Series K: Keinan - Keniston, 1712-1882
Series L: Lane - Luce, 1798-ca. 1921
Series M: McGinley - Mutual Marine Insurance Company, 1743-1916
Series N: N. & W. W. Billings - Nye, 1784-1889
Series O: Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company - Ozier, 1835-1910
Series P: Paddack - Purrington, 1749-1925
Series R: Randall - Russell, 1788-1908
Series S: S. H. Winton - Swift & Allen, ca. 1767-1916
Series T: T & I. Fossitt - Tucker, 1717-1912
Series U: Union Mutual - United States. Custom House, 1812-1859
Series V: Varity - Vieira, 1750, 1794, 1915
Series W: W. A. Robinson & Company - Wyeth, 1754-1936

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Subject Headings

Account books--Dartmouth, Mass.--1712-1886
Account books--Dartmouth, Mass.--1784-1841
Account books--Fairhaven, Mass.--1860-1876
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1772-1918
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1784-1841
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1809-1868
Account books--New York City, N.Y.--1860-1876
Account books--Providence, R.I.--1784-1814
Account books--Rochester, Mass.--1795-1849
Account books--Westport, Mass.--1804-1872
Alabama claims
Alan family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Alean family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Alin family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Allain family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Allan family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Allen family SEE ALSO Allyn family
Alleyne family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Allin family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Allon family SEE Allen family; Allyn family
Allyn family SEE ALSO Allen family
Anthony family
Arnold family
Arnold, Jonathan, 1706-1796
Banks and banking--Mass.--New Bedford
Barker family
Belgium--Commerce--United States
Billings family
Blacksmiths--Mass.--New Bedford
Boards of trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Boston, Mass.--Commerce
Bunker, John, 1784-1854
Business records--Mass.--Dartmouth
Business records--Mass.--Edgartown
Business records--Mass.--Fairhaven
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Business records--Mass.--Rochester
Business records--Mass.--Westport
Business records--N.Y.--New York City
Business records--R.I.--Providence
Businessmen--Mass.--New Bedford
Businessmen--N.Y.--New York City
Cabinet officers--United States
Case, Issac, 1793-1871
Chace family SEE ALSO Chase family
Chase family SEE ALSO Chace family
City planning--Mass.--New Bedford
Clarck family SEE Clark family
Clark family
Clarke family SEE Clark family
Clarkes family SEE Clark family
Clarks family SEE Clark family
Clearks family SEE Clark family
Clerk family SEE Clark family
Clerke family SEE Clark family
Cleveland, Benjamin D., 1844-1925
Clothing trade--Mass.--Dartmouth
Clothing trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Coastwise shipping--Mass.--New Bedford
Commercial agents--Mass.--Fairhaven
Commercial agents--Mass.--New Bedford
Commercial agents--N.Y.--New York City
Commercial associations--Mass.--New Bedford
Commercial correspondence
Commission merchants--Mass.--New Bedford
Consular documents
Contracts--Mass.--New Bedford
Cook family
Cooke family SEE Cook family
Cooks family SEE Cook family
Copper industry and trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Cory family
Cost and standard of living--Mass.--Dartmouth
Cost and standard of living--Mass.--New Bedford
Crapo family
Dabney family
Dartmouth, Mass.--Commerce
Daves family SEE Davis family
Davice family SEE Davis family
Davies family SEE Davis family
Davis family
Deeds--Mass.--New Bedford
Delano family
Desolation Islands SEE Kerguelen Islands
Diplomatic and consular service in Hawaii
Docks--Mass.--New Bedford
Dry goods--Mass.--Edgartown
Durfee family
Edgartown, Mass.--Docks, wharves, etc.
Ellis family
England, Commerce--United States
Fairhaven, Mass.--Commerce
Fall River, Mass.--Industries
Fishery law and legislation--France--Kerguelen Islands
Flags--Mass.--New Bedford
Food prices--Mass.--Dartmouth
Food prices--Mass.--New Bedford
France--Commerce--United States
Gardener family SEE Gardner family
Gardenor family SEE Gardner family
Gardiner family SEE Gardner family
Gardinier family SEE Gardner family
Gardner family
Gardnir family SEE Gardner family
Gardnor family SEE Gardner family
Gartiner family SEE Gardner family
Gartner family SEE Gardner family
Gifford family
Gold miners--Mass.--New Bedford
Gold mines and mining--California
Green family SEE ALSO Greene family
Greene family SEE ALSO Green family
Greene, William Stedman, 1841-1924
Grocery trade--Mass.--Dartmouth
Grocery trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Hatch family
Hathaway family
Hawaii--Diplomatic and consular service
Hilliman family SEE Hillman family
Hillman family
Hillsman family SEE Hillman family
Hilman family SEE Hillman family
Hilsman family SEE Hillman family
Howland family
Hussey family
Insurance companies--Mass.--New Bedford
Insurance, Marine--Mass.--New Bedford
Insurance, Marine--Mass.--New Bedford--Policies
Jenney family
Kempton family
Kerguelen Islands
Land agents--New York (State)
Land companies--Mass.--Edgartown
Land subdivision--Mass.--Edgartown
Lawton family
Lawyers--Mass.--New Bedford
Legislators--United States
Lewis family
Lindsay family SEE ALSO Lindsey family
Lindsey family SEE ALSO Lindsay family
Lingsey family SEE Lindsay family; Lindsey family
Linsay family SEE Lindsay family; Lindsey family
Linsey family SEE Lindsay family; Lindsey family
Lumber trade--Mass.--Dartmouth
Lumber trade--Mass.--Fairhaven
Lumber trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Lyndsay family SEE Lindsay family; Lindsey family
Lyndsey family SEE Lindsay family; Lindsey family
Merchant marine--Mass.--Dartmouth
Merchant marine--Mass.--Fairhaven
Merchant marine--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant marine--Mass.--New Bedford--Signaling
Merchant marine--R.I.--Providence
Merchant seamen--Mass.--Boston
Merchant seamen--Mass.--Fairhaven
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford--Salaries, pensions, etc.
Merchant ships--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant ships--R.I.--Providence
Merchants--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchants--N.Y.--New York City
Mining corporations--Mass.--New Bedford
Mosher family
Moshier family SEE Mosher family
Moshure family SEE Mosher family
Mosier family SEE Mosher family
Mosure family SEE Mosher family
Mosyer family SEE Mosher family
Mozier family SEE Mosher family
Netherlands--Commerce--United States
New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce, New Bedford, Mass.
New Bedford, Mass.--City Planning
New Bedford, Mass.--Commerce
New Bedford, Mass.--Docks, wharves, etc.
New Bedford, Mass.--Industries
New Bedford, Mass.--Surveys
New York (City)--Commerce
Newspaper publishing--Mass.--New Bedford
Nye family
Passenger ships--Mass.--New Bedford
Patent licenses--Mass.--New Bedford
Pharmicists--Mass.--New Bedford
Philip family SEE Phillips family
Philipps family SEE Phillips family
Philipse family SEE Phillips family
Phillip family SEE Phillips family
Phillips family
Potter family
Produce trade--Mass.--Dartmouth
Produce trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Providence, R.I.--Commerce
Real estate development--Mass.--Edgartown
Ricketson family
Robinson family
Rodman family
Rotch family
Russell family
Russell, Seth, 1732-1820
Russia--Commerce--United States
Salt industry and trade--Mass.--New Bedford
Sampson family SEE ALSO Samson family
Samson family SEE ALSO Sampson family
Seabury family
Sealing--Kerguelen Islands
Sealing--Law and legislation--Kerguelen Islands
Ship chandlers--Mass.--Dartmouth
Ship chandlers--Mass.--New Bedford
Ship's papers
Shipmasters--Mass.--New Bedford
Shipping--Mass.--New Bedford
Ships--equipment and supplies
Signals and signaling
Smith family
Soule family SEE ALSO Sowle family
Sowle family SEE ALSO Soule family
Surveyors--Mass.--New Bedford
Taber family
Tailors--Mass.--New Bedford
Tallman family
Textile industry--Mass.--Fall River
Textile industry--Mass.--New Bedford
Thomas family
Tobey family
Tripp family
United States--Claims against Great Britain
United States--Commerce--England
United States--Commerce--France
United States--Commerce--Netherlands
United States--Commerce--Russia
United States--Commerce--West Indies
United States--Diplomatic and consular service
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Claims
West Indies--Commerce--United States
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford--Agents
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford--Flags, insignia, etc.
Wharves--Mass.--New Bedford
White family
Whitwell, Furman Reade, 1793-1861
Wiliams family SEE Williams family
Willams family SEE Williams family
Williams family
Wing family
Winslow family
Women on ships
Wood family
Wood, Thomas, 1790-1872
Woode family SEE Wood family
Woods family SEE Wood family

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Vessel Names

A. R. Tucker (Bark)
Abigail Hopestill Delano (Schooner)
Abraham Barker (Ship)
Acushnet (Ship)
Alaska (Bark)
Alice Mandell (Ship)
Almira (Ship)
Andrews (Bark)
Ann (Ship)
Annawan (Brig)
Arnolda (Bark)
Arthaea (Ship)
Arthur V. S. Woodruff (Schooner)
Atlantic (Bark)
Atlas (Ship)
Barclay (Bark)
Bowditch (Ship)
Bowhead (Bark)
Bradford (Sloop)
Braganza (Ship)
Brandywine (Sloop)
Brooklyn (Ship)
Brothers (Ship)
Cambria (Ship)
Camilla (Bark)
Cape Horn Pigeon (Bark)
Catherwood (Bark)
Charles and Edward (Bark)
Charlotte (Schooner)
Cherokee (Bark)
Cincinnati (Ship)
Clarion (Schooner)
Commerce (Brig)
Commodore Morris (Ship)
Continent (Ship)
Crystal Palace (Ship)
Daniel Webster (Ship)
Danube (Brig)
Dartmouth (Ship)
Defiance (Sloop)
Dr. Franklin (Bark)
Eliza (Bark)
Eliza (Sloop)
Ellen A. Swift (Schooner)
Ellen Rodman (Schooner)
Emeline (Schooner)
Essex (Ship)
Eunice H. Adams (Brig)
Europa (Ship)
Fabius (Ship)
Favorite (Bark)
Flora (Ship)
Franklin (Ship)
Friendship (Ship)
Friendship (Sloop)
George Washington (Bark)
George and Susan (Ship)
Gladiator (Ship)
Goddess (Ship)
Good Intent (Sloop)
Good Return (Ship)
Gottenburg (Brig)
Governor Carver (Bark)
Greyhound (Bark)
Henry Kneeland (Ship)
Henry Taber (Bark)
Hercules (Bark)
Hero (Brig)
Hero (Sloop)
Hillman (Ship)
Houqua (Ship)
Huron (Ship)
Hussar (Ship)
Independence (Ship)
Inga (Brig)
Iris (Ship)
Isabella (Ship)
James Maury (Ship)
Janus (Ship)
John & Edward (Ship)
John Bracewell (Schooner)
John Coggeshall (Ship)
John Howland (Bark)
John Wells (Bark)
Joseph Meigs (Ship)
Julius Caesar (Ship)
Juno (Sloop)
Laetitia (Bark)
Lagoda (Bark)
Lagoda (Ship)
Lancer (Bark)
Legal Tender (Brig)
Linda Stewart (bark)
Lion (Brig)
Lion (Sloop)
Loper (Ship)
Magnolia (Ship)
Marengo (Ship)
Margarett (Schooner)
Maria Theresa (Ship)
Martha (Ship)
Mary (Brig)
Mary (Ship)
Mary Ann (Ship)
Mary Howland (Ship)
Matilda Sears (Bark)
Mattapoisett (Bark)
Mercury (Bark)
Merlin (Bark)
Merlin (Schooner)
Metacom (Ship)
Mexico (Brig)
Milton (Ship)
Molly (Sloop)
Monohansett (Steamer)
Monsoon (Ship)
Montezuma (Brig)
Morning Star (Bark)
Mount Wollaston (Ship)
Nancy (Brig)
Nancy (Sloop)
Nautilus (Ship)
Navigator (Ship)
Nellie M. Slade (Bark)
New York (Ship)
Newton (Brig)
Niger (Brig)
Norfolk (Bark)
Norman (Bark)
Oliver Cromwell (Schooner)
Orator (Schooner)
Palmyra (Schooner)
Pantheon (Ship)
Parthian (Brig)
Penelope (Sloop)
Persia (Ship)
Peru (Ship)
Phenix (Ship)
Phillipe De La Noye (Ship)
Phoenix (Ship) SEE Phenix (Ship)
Polly (Sloop)
Providence (Brig)
Quicktime (Sloop)
Rainbow (Ship)
Rainbow (Sloop)
Ranger (Sloop)
Rebecca (Ship)
Recovery (Sloop)
Rhaby (Sloop)
Robert Pulsford (Ship)
Roena (Sloop)
Roman (Ship)
Royal William (Steam Bark)
Sally (Sloop)
Samuel Robetson (Ship)
Sea Ranger (Schooner)
Silas Richards (Bark)
Smithfield (Sloop)
South America (Ship)
Speedwell (Ship)
St. George (Ship)
Stamboul (Bark)
Stephania (Ship)
Strathmore (Ship)
Superior (Ship)
Tabitha (Schooner)
Tamerlane (Bark)
Theophilus Chase (Bark)
Thomas Dickason (Ship)
Triton (Ship)
Tuscarora (Ship)
Union (Bark)
Valparaiso (Ship)
Viking (Ship)
Virgin (Sloop)
Virginia (Ship)
Waverly (Bark)
Weasle (Sloop)
William (Brig)
William (Schooner)
William (Ship)
William (Sloop)
William R. Huston (Schooner)
William Rotch (Ship)
Young Phenix (Ship)
Young Phoenix (Ship) SEE Young Phenix (Ship)

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