Table of Contents
William Lewis was born in Woolwich, Maine in 1834. He began his career in 1857 as a captain in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and served in that capacity for several whaling vessels. He then became involved in real estate speculations on Martha's Vineyard before returning to the whaling industry as an agent in 1872. Lewis introduced the use of steam vessels for whaling, especially in the Arctic. He built six such vessels and expanded his base of operations to San Francisco, California. There he became a partner in Lewis, Andersen, Foard & Company, outfitters and ship chandlers with headquarters in San Francisco and Seattle, Washington. Lewis also formed a company in San Francisco with his son, Edgar R. Lewis (1862-1932), known as William Lewis & Son. Lewis' other son, William J. Lewis (fl. 1865-1932) was also involved in the business and represented his father's interests in Seattle. The sons continued in the whaling industry after their father's death in 1904.
Materials in this collection reflect the activities of William Lewis in the whaling industry at New Bedford, Mass., and San Francisco, Calif., from 1875-1886. These records consist of ship's papers, dating 1875 to 1886, of vessels for which Lewis served as agent. The ship's papers contain outfitting books, bills of sale, crew accounts, and sea letters, namely for the brigs Abbott Lawrence and Alexander, and the barks Attleboro, Hadley, Janet, Laconia, Lancer, Linda Stewart, Lucretia, Mabel, Sappho, and Tropic Bird.
Arrangement of Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 73, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Material in this collection was donated to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society by George F. Bartlett in 1903, Edgar R. Lewis on 19 August 1932, and Anna Jarvis on 28 April 1979.
Processed by: Judith Downey, ca. 1982
Encoded by: Kermit Dewey, 18 July 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.--1877-1881
Business records--Mass.--New Bedford
Merchant seamen--Mass.--New Bedford--Salaries, pensions, etc.
New Bedford, Mass.--Commerce
Abbott Lawrence (Brig)
Linda Stewart (Bark)
Tropic Bird (Bark)
- Discovery Center
- The Grand Panorama
- Herman Melville
- Captain Paul Cuffe
- Joshua Slocum
- Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast