Table of Contents
Members of the Swift family were chiefly involved in mercantile activities and the whaling industry at New Bedford, Massachusetts, from 1859-1904. William Cole Nye Swift (1815-1892) began his career as a live oak contractor in the family business. IN 1849, he became a merchant and was associated with Eben Perry (1822-1897) which developed into the form of Swift & Perry. They served as agents for several whaling vessels out of New Bedford. In 1865, they hired William H. Aiken (1834-ca. 1888) as their bookkeeper and in 1875, Frederick Swift (1852-1915), son of W. C. N. Swift, joined the firm as a clerk. In 1879, the firm was named Aiken & Swift with William Aiken and Frederick Swift as partners acting as whaling agents. By 1881, they had expanded their operations to San Francisco, California, and in 1885, solely operated from there. Frederick Swift remained a whaling agent after Aiken's death until 1893 when he became involved in manufacturing companies.
Materials in this collection reflect the involvement in the whaling industry by Swift & Perry and Aiken & Swift at New Bedford, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, California, from 1859-1904. The majority of the records are ship's papers, 1859-1888, containing lists of whales sighted with locations, crew accounts, letter of instruction to a captain, and a list of correspondence sent and received by a captain. Most of these materials relate to George F. Winslow (1837-1914) as Captain of the barks Commodore Morris, 1873-1884, and Desdemona, 1894. There is also a volume of memoranda, 1880-1904, probably kept by Frederick Swift, which contains lists of vessels which sailed each year with their crew from the ports of New Bedford and San Francisco. Most are annotated especially for Aiken & Swift vessels.
Arrangement of Collection
Access to Collections
Unrestricted. Consult librarian for an appointment.
New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 71, [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.
Materials in this collection were donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by Orville N. Swift on 20 April 1920, Mrs. Walter Wheeler on 28 February 1946, Andrew G. Pierce III on 27 April 1963, and Anna Jarvis on 28 April 1979.
Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 27 February 2012
Funds for processing this collection were provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Account books--New Bedford, Mass.--1887-1888
Aiken & Swift, New Bedford, Mass.
Aiken, William H., 1834-ca. 1888
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford--Salaries, pensions, etc.
New Bedford, Mass.--Commerce
Perry, Eben, 1822-1897
San Francisco, Calif.--Commerce
Swift & Perry, New Bedford, Mass.
Swift, Frederick, 1852-1915
Swift, William Cole Nye, 1815-1892
Winslow, George F., 1837-1914
Commodore Morris (Ship)
Daniel Webster (Bark)
Jacob A. Howland (Bark)
Jireh Perry (Ship)
- 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