Library & Reading Room - New Bedford Whaling Museum

Library & Reading Room

Grimshaw-Gudewicz Reading Room and Archives

Library and Reading Room

Library Hours

Open by appointment only
Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Please contact Mark Procknik to schedule an appointment.


Mark Procknik
(508) 717-6834

Michael P. Dyer
Curator of Maritime History
(508) 717-6837

About the Research Library and Archival Collections

The library holdings consist of 18,000 published titles in ten languages documenting American and international whaling history, voyages and travels, exploration, natural history, the local history of the Old Dartmouth regions including New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet, Dartmouth and Westport, Massachusetts and New England regional history.

Image of book with marine life illustrations

Included are incunabula, rare books and pamphlets, newspapers dating to the late 18th century, art reference, local history reference, government documents, children’s books and special collections. The cartographic collections number around 700 pieces including sea charts used by whaling masters, bound pilot charts and atlases, decorative maps, maps and charts of key geographical regions significant to whaling at different times in history as well as maps and charts of the local Old Dartmouth region.

The archival collections consist of 1700 linear feet of manuscript materials documenting a range of New Bedford and regional industries including textile manufacturing, cordage manufacturing, tool manufacturing, banking (1825-1936), business papers, whaling and merchant shipping, modern mechanized whaling, biographical collections (1668-1977), whaling agents’ papers, whaling history, local history (1787-1970), and firefighting. It also includes 2300 individual maritime logbooks and journals, many of which have supporting agents’ business papers. The bulk of the logbook and journal collection documents American whaling (1754-1925) although British, Australian, Norwegian and Azorean voyages are also included. This is the largest and finest collection of whaling logbooks and journals in the world and the largest collection of banking records of any American archive.

In addition to hard-copy books, pamphlets and documents, the collection includes logbooks and journals on microfilm compiled through the International Maritime Archive, American newspapers on microfilm and American consular records on microfilm. The Research Library and the Adeline H. Perkins Rand Photography Archive is a world resource for whaling history and an important repository for documents relating to the local and maritime history of Southeastern Massachusetts dating back to the colonial era.

Read about our library in American Libraries magazine. (pdf)


All research fees must be paid at the Museum’s admission desk prior to entering the Library.

Members always free. Free access is a benefit of Museum membership and is extended as well to partner organizations including the staff and volunteers of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House, the New Bedford Free Public Library, the New Bedford Historical Society, and the Melville Society.

Non-members $19. Admission for all non-members reflects current Museum admission of $19.00 per day.

Access, Research and Fees

Library staff is available to assist researchers. Many patrons find it convenient and efficient to search the library collections’ online databases before making an appointment. Many of the most significant manuscript collections have records in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections.

Researchers must check in with the Museum’s admission desk prior to beginning their research visit in the Library.

There is a $10.00 flat fee for any digital photography which is to be used for personal reference use only. This fee must be paid at the Museum’s admission desk prior to entering the Library.

Photocopies are $0.25 per sheet with a limit of 20 sheets per visit. Photocopies will be made only by Library staff at the discretion of the Librarian.

Research requests via email, telephone, and post beyond basic reference and confirmation of holdings are subject to a prepaid non-refundable fee of $25.00 per hour.

Microfilms of the logbook and journal collection including the Old Dartmouth Historical Society collection and the Kendall Whaling Museum collection are available through interlibrary loan at a rate of $15.00 per reel, one reel at a time, for a period of 30 days.