A Voyage of Discovery with Skip Finley

Author and historian Skip Finley shared some of the stories he uncovered while researching his book titled Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy.

A Voyage of Discovery with Skip Finley

November 10, 2020

Virtual Presentation – Book Talk
Members: $5, Non-Members: $10

View the presentation on the Museum’s YouTube Channel HERE.


Long before NASA’s “Hidden Figures” blazed the mathematical trail for John Glenn’s orbit of the earth, America’s original hidden figures charted the course for ships that provided the fuel for homes to be lit and heated across the United States.

Author and historian Skip Finley didn’t expect that his research for an article for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine in 2014 would launch him on a ‘voyage of discovery.’ However, he soon found himself navigating a sea of historic documents, logbooks, and whaling journals uncovering the untold stories of whaling captains of color and their career journeys in the country’s first meritocratic industry.

Whaling was the first American industry to exhibit any diversity, and a man could rise to the ranks of captain based on skill, not skin color. Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy features stories from the lives of over 50 whaling captains of color. Attendees joined Skip as he shared some of the stories he uncovered during his ‘voyage of discovery’ and painted a picture of the career paths of whalers.

“Skip Finley provides a fascinating portrait of the turbulent and fraught world of the men of color who not only were whalemen, but also became leaders in one of America’s most iconic industries. Whaling Captains of Color is a most welcome and long overdue addition to the literature, and one which will hopefully spur others to dig deeper into this important aspect of whaling history.”

— Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

About Skip Finley

Author | Historian | Speaker

Weekly Oak Bluffs Town columnist for the Vineyard Gazette from June 2012 to June 2017, Skip Finley is a retired broadcaster who has written for, been featured, or quoted in most media industry trade publications.

Skip built his career in radio, becoming a well-known executive and station owner. He served as Vice Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters and Chairman of the Radio Advertising Bureau. He served on virtually all broadcasting industry boards of directors, and on their executive committees.

Having attempted to retire since age 50, he keeps returning to communications, currently as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Vineyard Gazette Media Group on Martha’s Vineyard, where he summered since 1955 and has lived since 1999, deciding to become a writer.

Skip has written articles for the Vineyard Gazette, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Island Weddings Magazine, the Provincetown Banner, and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum publications, The Intelligencer and the MV Museum Quarterly. His book Historic Tales of Oak Bluffs is available now, published by Arcadiapublishing.com/The History Press. Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy is available now, published by the Naval Institute Press.