MSS 89:  Robert R. Newell Papers, ca. 1960-1977 - New Bedford Whaling Museum
Inventory of the Robert R. Newell Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research LibraryProcessed by: Judith M. Downey, 21 October 1988; machine-readable finding aid created by: Mark ProcknikInventory of the Robert R. Newell Papers In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Scope and Content Note

Information for Researchers

Administrative Information


Subject Headings

Inventory of the Robert R. Newell Papers

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library

Robert R. Newell Papers
Date Span:
ca. 1960-1977
Robert R. Newell, b. 1906
Mss Number:
Mss 89
8 inches
Primarily research materials and publication drafts of a work on signal flags of New England whalers and their owners, ca. 1906-1977
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Phone: (508) 997-0046

Biographical Note

Robert R. Newell (b. 1906) was an advertising executive and continued to serve as chairman of the board of the firm Cunningham & Walsh of New York after his retirement in 1961. He became interested in whaling in the 1940s and began to collect artifacts and to research this subject. Newell established a museum in his home in Norwalk, Connecticut to display his collection of paintings, prints, rare books, scrimshaw, etc. He also established his own art work and to publish works of maritime interest. After his retirement, he began to paint vessels and whaling scenes in the style of the noted marine artist Benjamin Russell. Newell had several of Russell's paintings in his collection which he studied to perfect his own painting technique. Also prior to painting a vessel, Newell would research the vessel to insure accuracy in his depiction of it and a noted feature in his works were the correct owner's private signal flags and ship's name pennants flying from the masthead. His paintings are represented in several collections both public and private.

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Scope and Content Note

Papers for Robert R. Newell consist primarily of research materials and publication drafts on signal flags of whalers and their owners, predominantly for the New Bedford customs district.

His research material, ca. 1960-1977, includes lists of vessels with their ports and agents which he was researching. It also contains notes from publications on signal flags as well as copies from these works. There are rough sketches of the flags and notes for their proper colors and identification.

Newell wanted to properly record each of the signal flags that he had identified. As he was an artist, he drew accurate representations of each of them and compiled them in scrapbooks. He also compiled a complete list of the flags he had identified; this list acted as an index to the scrapbook.

Newell's first scrapbook deals solely with the owners' signal flags. This volume is arranged by port and then by shape design and color of the flag. Pots included in this volume are New Bedford, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Westport, Marion, Falmouth, Wareham, Edgartown, Tisbury, Holmes Hole, Provincetown, Boston, and Salem.

The second volume is primarily ship's signal flags with the exception of a few owner's flags for Nantucket, New London, and New York ports. These are arranged by port and then by shape, design, and color of the flags. Ports included in his volume are Nantucket, New Bedford, New London, Sag Harbor, Greenport, and San Francisco. there is also a page of New Bedford harbor signals at the end of the volume.

The third volume combines all the ship's and owners' signal flags which Newell had identified to 1972. It is arranged in two parts: the first is the house or owners' flags and the second is the ships' flags. Each part is arranged by port and then by shape, design, and color of the flags. The flags are shaped as squares, with or without a tab, swallowtails or pennants. Ports included in this work are Nantucket, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Westport, Marion, Wareham, Falmouth, Provincetown, Edgartown, Boston, Salem, New London, Sag Harbor, New York, and San Francisco.

Arrangement of Collection

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Access to Collections

Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.

Preferred Citation

New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 89, [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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Materials in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Mrs. Robert R. Newell on 21 March 1983

Processing Information

Processed by: Judith M. Downey, 21 October 1988

Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 10 January 2012

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Series A: Research Material, ca. 1960-1977 [3 inches]
Series A consists of notes, lists of vessels, ports, and agents, along with rough sketches of flags.
Box 1
Folder 1-2
Notes, photocopies of other works, ca. 1960-1977
Folder 3-4
List of vessels, ports, and agents, ca. 1960-1977
Folder 5-7
Rough sketches of flags done during research, ca. 1960-1977
Series B: Signal Flags, ca. 1968-1977 [5 inches]
Series B contains preliminary sketches, drawings, lists, scrapbooks, and a mock-up of publications
Sub-series 1: Preliminary Sketches, Drawings, and Lists, ca. 1968-1972
Folder 1-3
Sketches and drawings, ca. 1968-1972
Folder 4-7
Lists and indices to flags, ca. 1968-1972
Sub-series 2: Publication Drafts, ca. 1970-1977
Volume 1
Scrapbook of Whaling Signal Flags - New Bedford District - Owner Signals, ca. 1970
Volume 2
Scrapbook of The Private Signal Flags of the United States Whaling Fleet - Nantucket, New Bedford Ship Signals, ca. 1971
Volume 3
Mock-up of The Private Signals of United States Whaleships and Agents, 1790-1928, 1972
With corrections to 1977

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Subject Headings

Flags--Calif.--San Francisco
Flags--Conn.--New London
Flags--Mass.--Holmes Hole
Flags--Mass.--New Bedford
Flags--N.Y.--Sag Harbor
Newell, Robert R., b. 1906
Signals and signaling
Whaling--Calif.--San Francisco--Agents
Whaling--Conn.--New London--Agents
Whaling--Mass.--Holmes Hole--Agents
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford--Agents
Whaling--Mass.--Sag Harbor--Agents

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