Research & Reading Room - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Research and Reading Room


Appointments recommended
Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

(508) 997-0046 x134


(508) 997-0046 x134


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.

Photocopies are $0.25 per sheet. Photocopies will be made only by staff and at their discretion.

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 library documents American and international whaling history, voyages and travels, exploration, natural history, the local history of the Old Dartmouth regions including New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet, Dartmouth and Westport, Massachusetts, and New England regional history.

Included are incunabula, rare books and pamphlets, newspapers dating to the late 18th century, art reference, local history reference, government documents, children’s books and special collections.

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.

The archival collections consist of 2,000 linear feet of manuscript materials documenting a range of New Bedford and regional industries including textile manufacturing, cordage manufacturing, tool manufacturing, banking (1825-1936), business papers, whaling and merchant shipping, modern mechanized whaling, biographical collections (1668-1977), whaling agents’ papers, whaling history, local history (1787-1970), and firefighting. It also includes 2300 individual maritime logbooks and journals, many of which have supporting agents’ business papers. The bulk of the logbook and journal collection documents American whaling (1754-1925) although British, Australian, Norwegian and Azorean voyages are also included. This is the largest and finest collection of whaling logbooks and journals in the world and the largest collection of banking records of any American archive.

In addition, the collection includes logbooks and journals on microfilm compiled through the International Maritime Archive, American newspapers on microfilm and American consular records on microfilm. The Research Library and the Adeline H. Perkins Rand Photography Archive is a world resource for whaling history and an important repository for documents relating to the local and maritime history of Southeastern Massachusetts dating back to the colonial era.

>> Read about our Whaling Museum library in American Libraries magazine. (pdf)