Photography Collections

New Bedford has a rich photographic heritage. The medium’s arrival corresponds with the city’s age of prosperity. Subject areas of strength include; historic whaling, the waterfront, waterfront trades, regional watercraft, fishing, yachting, regional architecture, industry, emigration, portraiture, Arctic and ethnographic documentation. The Museum actively collects both historic and contemporary photography. Appointments to see works not on exhibition can be made using

The Museum has approximately 200,000 photographic and digital objects in the Adaline H. Perkins Rand Photographic Archives. Of these approximately 28,000 are accessible through the online catalog

Photographic Collections viewable on Flickr

A New Bedford Whaler in Africa: Frederick Sowle’s photographs of Senegal and Cape Verde
Albert Cook Church
Arctic RegionsWilliam Bradford, 1873
Azores: Dabney Albums
Bradford Recitalslantern slides used by William Bradford
Bourne Building Portraits
Following Fish: Navigate Through the New Bedford Fishery, Phillip Mello
Genius at his Trade
Historic Waterfront
Morse Twist Drill and Machine Co.
New Bedford Cordage Company
Norman Fortier
Pearce Collection
Photographs of Houses and Public Buildings in New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet, Dartmouth and WestportFred Palmer
Prescott Collection
R. Swain Gifford
Standard Times Collection: Newspaper Photography, 1895-1925
Working Waterfront, Phil Mello
Working WaterfrontMichael Cevoli


Finding Aids

Click on the collection name to access the full description.

Aldrich Collection

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Aldrich Collection of photographs consists of 258 images captured by journalist Herbert L. Aldrich (1860-1948) during the 1887 Arctic whaling season. Aldrich spent time on eight New Bedford whaling vessels between March and October of 1887, documenting the whaling industry and the native peoples of the Arctic.

Bodfish Collection

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Bodfish Collection consists of 111 photographs taken by master whaler Hartson H. Bodfish (ca. 1862-1945) during his time aboard the Beluga as captain and later the Mary D. Hume as first mate. During the long stretches of voyaging in the Arctic, Bodfish took many photographs documenting life aboard these ships and on the icy tundra as well as demonstrating the whale craft and hunting that took place.

Comer Collection

The Comer Collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum consists of approximately 200 photographs taken by Captain George Comer (1858-1937) during whaling voyages to the Hudson Bay between 1900 and 1905. The majority of the photographs document Aivilingmiut and Qaernermiut Eskimos and Eskimo culture; other subjects include the whaling schooner Era and her crew, whale processing, and the flora and fauna of the Hudson Bay.

Jarvis Collection

The New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Jarvis Collection consists of 127 photographs related to the life and career of David Henry Jarvis (1852-1911). Jarvis likely took the majority of the photos while serving in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service in Alaska and the Bering Sea. The photos show the Revenue Cutter Bear, on which Jarvis served as a lieutenant and captain, whaleships the Bear encountered while in the Arctic, scenes of native peoples, landscapes, and documentation of the famous 1897-1898 rescue of eight whaleships.

Kennedy Collection

The Kennedy Collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum consists of approximately 150 photographs compiled, and primarily taken, by Charles D. Kennedy in 1886 while serving aboard the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear in the Arctic. Photograph subjects include the Bear and her crew, Alaskan landscapes, Eskimos and Eskimo settlements, and vessels encountered by the Bear.