Table of Contents
Charles Walter Agard (1848-1913) was born at Hartford, Connecticut, but grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He later worked for the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Co. in Philadelphia. In 1883, he came to New Bedford as their new branch manager. He became interested in the whaling industry and was apparently acquainted with the whaling captains and sailors. He conducted extensive research in the library about the American Slave Trade, the Confederate Navy, the early history of Pennsylvania, the Quakers in America, The American West and other areas of interest.
Between about 1900-1913 he wrote nearly one hundred unpublished essays about different aspects of whaling, the slave trade, privateering, local religious disputes, and other subjects, as well as numerous biographical sketches. These writings, collectively known as the "Spun Yarn Series," were based on conversations with whaling captains and on his own research.
Photographs from the collection indicate Agard's interest in collecting artifacts from all over the world. The NBWM holds a small portion of these items. The photographs show the New Bedford waterfront and other local scenes at the turn of the century.
Although the "Spun Yarn Series" has been typed and bound with decorative canvas covers, Agard writes in a preface to "A Historical Romance": "The following compilation is the labor of many years on, and for my personal curiosity. Positively neither for publication nor circulation. Neither for profit, nor for notoriety;…" This series appears to have been prepared to be read by others if not published. The manuscript collection contains a group of tracings of paddles and tattoos. He carved wooden covers for his books and made canvas covers for the "Spun Yarn Series" which are artistically decorated with a rope motif.
The Charles Walter Agard Collection is a reflection of Agard's interest in a variety of subjects. The "Spun Yarn Series" is a large collection of essays written by Agard about slavery, the Confederate navy, missionaries in the Pacific Islands, the Quakers, whaling, whaling ships and their skippers, and other topics. Agard derived his information from the "Shipping Lists", local newspapers, the library and the local seamen that he knew personally. This collection represents but a portion of Agard's complete collection of manuscripts and artifacts which have been dispersed to other more appropriate repositories. (Holograph copies of many of Agard's essays are in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society.)
Portions of the KWM papers are in holographic form. The Spun Yarn Series has been typewritten and seems to be in final copy form. The finding aid lists the essays in Agard's numerical order and notes those copies that are missing from Agard's original series. The KWM papers contained envelopes labeled as to the content of the materials. These labels have been used in the finding aid. There are few dates attached to Agard's essays.
There is a small group of correspondence relating to his research in Series VI. Series VII contains Agard's lists of his writings and his logbook collection. Most of the logbooks listed in Series VII, Folder 11 can be found in the ODHS collection, but there is no evidence they came directly from Agard or his heirs. Series X contains three oversized documents of shipping articles and contracts.
In addition to the manuscripts, this collection contains postcards, photographs and artifacts. The photographs and postcards have been removed from the collections and are housed in the photo archives. Agard collected artifacts originating in the South Pacific Islands, Alaska and other parts of the world and a significant portion of this collection is housed at the NBWM.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to the Collection
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 23 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Removed to Photographs Collection
Framed portrait of Charles Walter Agard, 1905
Materials in the ODHS Mss 23 collection were probably given to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Mrs. Walter H. Wheeler between 1946-1961. In addition, this finding aid incorporates the collection of Agard papers previously held by the Kendall Whaling Museum (KWM 1911).
Processed by: Barbara E. Austin, ca. 1982, with a new finding aid processed in 2008 by Jalien Hollister incorporating the collection of Agard papers formerly held by the Kendall Whaling Museum (KWM 1991).
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 22 November 2011
Funds for processing initial ODHS collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Authors, American--Mass.--New Bedford
Blockade--Addresses, essays, lectures
Friends, Society of--Mass.--New Bedford--Addresses, essays, lectures
New Bedford, Mass.--Authors
New Bedford, Mass.--Biography
Privateering--Mass.--New Bedford--Addresses, essays, lectures
Slave trade--Mass.--New Bedford--Addresses, essays, lectures
Stone Fleet--Addresses, essays, lectures
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Blockade--Addresses, essays, lectures
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations--Addresses, essays, lectures
Whalers--Addresses, essays, lectures
Whaling--Mass.--New Bedford--Addresses, essays, lectures
- The Grand Panorama
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum
- Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast