Table of Contents
Albert Cook Church was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1880, the son of a tugboat captain. His hobby of photography developed into a vocation and as a result of his early exposure to the sea and New Bedford harbor, he concentrated on photographing whalers and whaling, thus documenting the final days of New Bedford's most important industry. Other subjects that Church photographed were fishing operations, fish processing, fishing schooner races, and schooner construction. His ability as a photographer led to his being given special assignments for the New Bedford Standard Times.
In conjunction with his photography, Church also developed skills as a writer. His first article, Whaling, Past And Present, was published in 1908 in New England Magazine. He wrote several more articles for this magazine as well as for Yachting and then published his first book, Whale Ships and Whaling (1938). His other book credit is American Fishermen (1940), which he did not author but which is profusely illustrated with his photographs.
During the first World War, Church left New Bedford for several years, and on his return after the war, he offered illustrated lectures on "Submarines in Their Application to Modern Warfare." He also served as president of the Submarine Writers' Association.
From 1936 until his death in 1965, Church maintained a darkroom and exhibit studio at the Pierce & Kilburn marine yard in Fairhaven. Although his photograph production slowed considerably, he was kept active reproducing prints. At his death, maritime museums engaged in an extensive search for Church's 65,000 negatives, few of which have yet been recovered.
Materials in this collection reflect the literary and photographic activities of Albert Cook Church at New Bedford and Fairhaven, Mass., between 1900-1965. His business and personal correspondence, 1916-1941, includes several letters from former New Bedford residents whose relatives were active in whaling, written in response to Church's book Whale Ships and Whaling, as well as a letter from Howard I. Chapelle concerning line drawings for illustrating one of Church's books. A diary, 1909, reflects Church's experiences on a seining voyage. Typescripts, promotional literature, clippings, drawings, research notes, and similar items, 1901-1960, relate to several of Church's books and articles, including American Fishermen, Whale Ships and Whaling, and Whaling, Past and Present. This material is supplemented by financial records, 1911-1938, including a photograph records book; a list, poem, notebook, and miscellany, ca. 1909-1940; newspaper clippings, 1909-1976; and Smith family papers, 1878-1889, including a "Family Record" and genealogical notes.
A published work which may provide additional information on Albert Cook Church is Old Dartmouth Historical Sketch, No. 76, 1969, by Philip F. Purrington.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to the Collection
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 33 [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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:
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- criticism or commentary
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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.
Removed to Photographs Collection
- Reprint of Albert Cook Church photograph, ca. 1917.
- Photographs of landscape by Ethel Hicks, 1937. 2 items.
- Negatives of landscape by Ethel Hicks, 1937. 2 items.
Removed to Printed Collection
- Outfitting book, ca. 1850.
Removed to Objects Collection
- Watercolors of three types of whales and of whaling equipment, probably painted by Albert Cook Church to illustrate the article Whaling, Past and Presentpublished in New England Magazine, June 1908. 2 items.
- Advertising cards, ca. 1920-1940. 4 items.
A portion of this collection was probably acquired by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society from Albert Cook Church's office in 1965, while the remainder was a gift from Mrs. James T. Hodgson Jr., 15 October 1979.
Processed by: Barbara E. Austen, with assistance from Helen Frasier, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 5 October 2011
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Architects--Mass.--Ipswich--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc.
Authors and publishers--Mass.--New Bedford
Authors, American--Mass.--New Bedford
Chase, Frederick B., b. 1795
Chronometer Club, New Bedford, Mass.
Church, Albert Cook, 1880-1965
Diaries--New Bedford, Mass.--1909
Kelley, James S., 1821-ca. 1895
New Bedford, Mass.--Authors
New Bedford, Mass.--Clubs
New Bedford, Mass.--Societies
Photographers--Mass.--New Bedford--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc.
- A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama
- Performance: To Catch a Whale
- The Local History Guild
- Lecture: Exploring the Indian Mariners Project
- Manhattan Short Film Festival
- Lecture/Book Signing – Spying on Whales
- Echoes of the Panorama
- Lecture & Book Signing: White Fox and Icy Seas
- Great War and Azores Lecture
- Annual Family Activities
- Community Programs
- Annual Events
- Past Programs
- Exhibit Enhancements
- Discovery Center
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum
- Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast