Thank you for your interest in visiting! The Research & Reading Room will be closed December 2023 and January 2024.
Research and Reading Room
Tuesday-Friday, 10am-1pm, 2-4pm (closed for lunch, 1-2pm)
Researchers must pay Museum Admission to access the Research and Reading Room. Admission reflects current Museum ticket pricing.
Access, Research and Fees
Staff are available to assist researchers. We recommend researchers utilize online resources to identify potential materials of interest before they contact Museum staff. The Online collection catalogue is here and Manuscript finding aids are here.
Microfilms of the logbook and journal collection are available through interlibrary loan at a rate of $15.00 per reel, one reel at a time, for a period of 30 days.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a large collection of manuscripts, rare books, and archives related to American and international whaling history, maritime voyages and travels, exploration, natural history, the local history of the Old Dartmouth region (New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet, Dartmouth and Westport, Massachusetts), and New England regional history.
The Museum houses the largest and finest collection of whaling logbooks and journals in the world, and the largest collection of banking records of any US archive. The archival and manuscript collections consist of thousands of linear feet of manuscript materials documenting a range of New Bedford and regional industries including textile manufacturing, cordage manufacturing, tool manufacturing, banking, business papers, whaling and merchant shipping, modern mechanized whaling, biographical collections, whaling agents’ papers, whaling history, local history, and firefighting. It also includes over 2,500 individual maritime logbooks and journals, many of which have supporting agents’ business papers. The bulk of the logbook and journal collection documents American whaling, although British, Australian, Norwegian and Azorean voyages are also included. The cartographic collections number around 800 pieces including sea charts used by whaling masters, bound pilot charts and atlases, decorative maps, maps and charts of key geographical regions significant to whaling at different times in history as well as maps and charts of the local Old Dartmouth region. Finally, the collection includes logbooks and journals on microfilm compiled through the International Maritime Archive, American newspapers on microfilm, and American consular records on microfilm.