Table of Contents
The Whaling Film Corporation of New Bedford, Massachusetts, was organized in September 1921 for the purpose of "perpetuating in motion picture form historical events in connection with the whaling industry, also the early history of the inhabitants of Dartmouth..." Filming began in 1922 on Down to the Sea in Ships , a silent film produced and directed by Elmer Clifton (1890-1949). The film, combining romance, New Bedford history, and the adventure of a whaling voyage, was shot in New Bedford and on the Atlantic Ocean near the island of San Domingo, where a whaling captain, his crew, and three of the principal actors actually harpooned and killed several whales for the whaling sequences. The world premiere was held at the Olympia Theater in New Bedford on 25 September 1922, with subsequent showings in most major American cities as well as in numerous foreign countries. In 1940, a year before the corporation liquidated its stock, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the film rights to Down to the Sea in Ships, and remade it into a talking picture in 1949.
Materials in this collection reflect the administrative, financial, and production activities of the Whaling Film Corporation of New Bedford, Mass., between 1921-ca. 1950. Administrative records, 1921-1941, consist of articles of incorporation; stockholders records; directors records; administrative contracts, including agreements for production, distribution, and storage of the film Down to the Sea in Ships, as well as for the sale or purchase of the film rights; certificates of condition; and tax returns. Production cost records, balance sheets and profit and loss statements, bills and receipts, pass books, and memoranda comprise the financial records, dating from 1922-1934. Sales and distribution records, 1922-1923, include a sales policy bulletin, and records of foreign and national distribution of the film. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence to and from various officers and directors of the Whaling Film Corporation regarding production, publicity, promotional, and financial aspects of the film, dating from 1921-1938. Also included in this collection are the scripts, musical score, and cue sheet for the film; research notes; publicity and promotional materials; programs for the "World Premiere" and the New York City premiere; press releases; clippings; lists and historical sketches; and related material, ca. 1921-ca. 1950.
Materials in this collection are organized into series by type of document. Correspondence has been arranged chronologically by year, then alphabetically arranged by name of writer. In addition to the records of the corporation, the Old Dartmouth Historical Society also owns one of the few known remaining copies of the original twelve reel film of Down to the Sea in Ships.
Arrangement of Collection
Series E: Script, Musical Score, Research Notes, Publicity Material, Clippings, Lectures, and Miscellany, ca.1921-ca.1950
Access to the Collection
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 39 [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:
- non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, research, or teaching
- criticism or commentary
- as a NBWM archives preservation or security copy for research use
- as a research copy for deposit in another institution
If the researcher later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the researcher is personally liable for copyright. privacy, or publicity infringement and agrees to indemnify the New Bedford Whaling Museum from any legal action as a result of the error. Permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document does not indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from the document without permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.
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
- Photographs of actors and scenes from Down to the Sea in Ships, 1922. 27 items.
Removed to Printed Collection
- Advertisement for Gordon's Olympia Theater, New Bedford, Mass., ca. 1920.
- Advertisement sheets for Down to the Sea in Ships, ca. 1922-1923. 3 items.
- Advertisements for lectures by Chester Scott Howland, ca. 1930. 4 items.
- Announcements of release of Down to the Sea in Ships, 1923. 3 copies.
- "Cast of Characters . . .," reprinted from 1922 program.
- The Convict Ship "Success," ca. 1920.
- The Daily Hotel Reporter, 5 April 1923; 6 April 1923
- The Film Daily, 22 June 1924.
- Hussey, Reverend Alfred Rodman. Life of Charles W. Morgan, (New Bedford, ca. 1940).
- Memorial service programs for Alexander Gustavus Penrod, 1931. 5 copies.
- The Mentor, September 1923.
- Motion Picture News, 28 June 1924.
- "Musical Setting for 'Down to the Sea in Ships,'" ca. 1922. 19 copies.
- Press release sheets for Down to the Sea in Ships, ca. 1922-1923. 2 copies.
- Program of "World Premiere" of Down to the Sea in Ships in New Bedford, Mass., 1922. 5 copies.
- Program of "World Premiere" of Moby Dick in New Bedford, Mass., 1956.
- Promotional booklet for Down to the Sea in Ships, ca. 1922-1923. 6 copies.
- Promotional pamphlet for Down to the Sea in Ships, ca. 1922-1923. 6 copies.
- Promotional pamphlet for Moby Dick, ca. 1956.
Removed to Objects Collection
- Whaling Film Corporation embosser, 1922.
- Souvenir postcards for Down to the Sea in Ships, ca. 1922. 14 items.
- Cardboard impressions for advertisements of Down to the Sea in Ships, ca. 1922-1923. 26 items.
Removed to Broadside Collection
- Advertisements for Down to the Sea in Ships, 1923. 2 items.
The bulk of material in this collection was given to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by the Whaling Film Corporation, probably before 1945. Portions of the material were given by Roger W. Almy, 25 March 1937; the estates of Jeanie and Agnes Snow, 18 January 1948; Mrs. Preston W. Gifford, 22 September 1960; Mrs. T. W. Williamson, 12 November 1965; Martha W. Francis, ca. 1976; and Albion B. Stone, 4 May 1981.
Processed by: Barbara E. Austen, with assistance from Barbara Groves, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 26 March 2012
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Please Consult Research Library for Detailed Description of Collection
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1922
Artists--Mass.--New Bedford--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc.
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Clifton, Elmer, 1890-1949
Down to the Sea in Ships (Moving-picture)
Movies SEE Moving-pictures
Moving-picture authorship--Mass.--New Bedford
Moving-picture criticism--Mass.--New Bedford
Moving-picture industry--Mass.--New Bedford
Moving-picture music--Mass.--New Bedford
Moving-picture music--Mass.--New Bedford--Piano scores
Moving-picture music--Mass.--New Bedford--Scores
Moving-picture producers and directors--Mass.--New Bedford
Moving-picture producers and directors--Mass.--New Bedford-- Correspondence, reminiscences, etc.
Moving-pictures, American--Mass.--New Bedford
Moving-pictures--Mass.--New Bedford--Production and direction
New Bedford, Mass.--Moving-pictures
Whaling Film Corporation Records
- Sailors’ Series Lectures
- Lecture Series: Famine, Friends & Fenians
- Lecture: Curators discuss Artist Albert Pinkham Ryder
- New Bedford Lyceum: Bob Woodward
- Symposia: Inner Light – The World of William Bradford
- Second Half Lectures: Influential Women
- Symposia: Mariners’ Home & Seamen’s Bethel
- 8th Annual Nautical Antiques Show
- 29th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend
- 2017 Members’ Trip
- Annual Family Activities
- Community Programs
- Annual Events
- Past Programs
- Exhibit Enhancements
- Discovery Center
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum