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The New Bedford Whaling Museum has been collecting historic artifacts, manuscripts, rare books, and photographs since 1903. Today, the collection comprises over one million items. Explore research topics & resources below.
The New Bedford Whaling Museum has a large collection of manuscripts, rare books, and archives related to American and international whaling history, maritime voyages and travels, exploration, natural history, the local history of the Old Dartmouth region (New Bedford, Fairhaven, Acushnet, Dartmouth and Westport, Massachusetts), and New England regional history.
The Museum houses the largest and finest collection of whaling logbooks and journals in the world, and the largest collection of banking records of any US archive. The archival and manuscript collections consist of thousands of linear feet of manuscript materials documenting a range of New Bedford and regional industries including textile manufacturing, cordage manufacturing, tool manufacturing, banking, business papers, whaling and merchant shipping, modern mechanized whaling, biographical collections, whaling agents’ papers, whaling history, local history, and firefighting. It also includes over 2,500 individual maritime logbooks and journals, many of which have supporting agents’ business papers. The bulk of the logbook and journal collection documents American whaling, although British, Australian, Norwegian and Azorean voyages are also included. The cartographic collections number around 800 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. Finally, the collection includes logbooks and journals on microfilm compiled through the International Maritime Archive, American newspapers on microfilm, and American consular records on microfilm.