Table of Contents
Horace Clinton Johnson was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1857 as the son of a spar and mast maker. At age sixteen, Johnson went to work at Mt. Washington Glass Works in New Bedford. Around 1875, he went to sea in the company of Henry Libby, former manager of the works, and began a career in the merchant trade between the United States and Europe. In 1886, the New England Steamship Company hired Johnson for the New Bedford line, and he remained in that post until his retirement in 1932. In addition to his activities as a ship pilot and master, Johnson was also an artist of marked ability. He specialized in creating portraits of many of the great sailing vessels of the era, depicting these ships by using velvet, silk embroidery, applique, and oils. He won much acclaim for his artistic creations as he exhibited and sold them, accompanied by histories of each vessel, until his death in 1933.
Material in this collection reflects the activities of Horace Clinton Johnson as both a steamship captain and an artist. His involvement with the steamship line is principally reflected by nautical charts, legal documents, and correspondence. The charts, probably drawn by Johnson, are renderings of Long Island Sound and harbor entrances along his route. His legal documents include testimony regarding a collision between the steamship Pequonnock and an oil barge, 1928-1929. Correspondence in the collection features official communiques from the steamship line, dating from 1898-1932. These materials are supplemented by individual pages from Johnson's diary which chiefly discuss his activities aboard ship between 1930-1931.
Johnson's activities as an artist are delineated by patterns and ship histories, 1927-1932, which he used to create his portraits of vessels, and by notations on pages from his diary of 1930-1931. Documents in the collection describing his career as an artist and ship captain include two typescript biographies of Johnson written by his daughter, Anna R. Johnson, in 1960 and 1969, as well as numerous biographical clippings. In addition to materials relating to Johnson's principal activities, this collection contains a copy of his will, 1923; genealogical notes concerning the Johnson family, ca. 1890; and a variety of miscellaneous items, including certificates, membership cards, schedules, notes on crew members, and menus dating from ca. 1877-1933.
Researchers should note that the Old Dartmouth Historical Society manuscript collection also contains five journals which Johnson compiled during merchant voyages, 1875-1880. These volumes, which have been transferred to the log book collection, are described in the separations list concluding this inventory.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 48, [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 Horace Clinton Johnson, Johnson's family and co-workers. Also included are photographs of Johnson's house and his art work; of ships, and the elder Johnson's spar yard, ca. 1860-1933. 48 items.
Removed to Printed Collection
- Bible. King James Version, (London, England, n.d.).
- The Colgate Clock, March 1925.
- Fall River Line Journal, July 1931 (2 copies); Oct. 1931; Oct. 1932; May 1933.
- Johnson, Anna R. "Sea-Kin" and "Spar-Maker's Son", ca. 1960, ca.1969. Typescript biographies, 2 items.
- The Lookout, June 1947.
- New England Steamship Company. Form letter, ca. 1910.
- New York Sun, 3 Sept. 1833 (1933 reprint)
- Program for "Playland", Rye, N.Y., n.d.
- Ships and Shipping of Old New York, 1915.
- "Taking the Byrd Expedition into the Antarctic," ca. 1931.
- "This Week on Martha's Vineyard," 2 July 1939.
- Tiffany, Donald McKay. Twelve Models of the Famous Ships Built by Donald McKay, (New York, n.d.).
- Town, Salem and Holbrook, Nelson M. The Progressive Fourth Reader. . . (Boston, Mass., 1864).
- Whittemore, Henry. The Past and the Present of Steam Navigation on Long Island Sound, (New York, 1893).
Removed to Objects Collection
- Postcards of various local scenes and steamships, ca. 1900-1930. 48 items.
Removed to Maps Collection
- Printed map of dredging project in Long Island Sound, ca. 1925.
Removed to Log Book Collection
- Detroit (Ship), 1880; ODHS # 646D
- Furness Abby (Ship), 1879; ODHS # 646B
- Syren (Ship), 1879; ODHS # 646C
- Triumphant (Ship), 1875-1877; ODHS # 645
- Triumphant (Ship), 1877-1878; ODHS # 646A
The material in this collection was donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Anna R. Johnson in August 1960 and on 14 March 1969.
Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 04 April 2012; box list appended by Mark Procknik, 08 May 2012
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Diaries--New Bedford, Mass.--1930-1931
Fabric pictures--Mass.--New Bedford
Johnson, Anna Rodic, 1896-
Johnson, Horace Clinton, 1874-1969
Nautical charts--New York--Long Island
Steamboat lines--Mass.--New Bedford
- Discovery Center
- The Grand Panorama
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum
- Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast