Whaling and Other Nautical Papers, 1696-1974 | Boston Public Library Archival and Manuscript Finding Aid Database
Nantucket Island (Mass.) -- History -- Sources.
New Bedford (Mass.) -- History -- Sources.
Osborn, Samuel, Jr.
Sailors -- Correspondence.
Whaling -- Massachusetts -- History -- Sources.
William R. Rotch & Company (New Bedford, Mass.).
Wives -- Effect of husband's employment on.
The majority of this collection documents the many aspects of the whaling and shipping industries from 1694-1974, such as outfitting and financing of voyages to daily life on board a 20th century whaler to the price of whale oil. In addition, the lives of sailors’ families at home, the business transactions of many ship owners, among them Samuel Osborn of Edgartown, Massachusetts, and William R. Rotch & Co. of Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts, and transactions of business agents such as Sullivan & Barber of Boston, Hathaway & Luce of New Bedford, Massachusetts, and William and Edward Potter of London, England. In addition, the financial condition of the families at home, the prices of every day commodities such as tobacco, cotton, and coal and their availability at different ports is also documented. Moreover, the physical condition of ships after their voyages and the repairs made on them as well as the histories of crew members and the ships on which they served are also included.
There are about 100 ships represented in the collection either through business, insurance, or legal records or in photographs. For example, there are receipts and related records for the Alice Knowles, Tennessee, Young Teaser, and Ploughboy. Other ships that are documented through insurance and legal papers are the Martha, Valparaiso, John Jay, Ospray, and Hound. Also included are insurance records of several ships whose loss records document the facts of incidents alleged to provide the basis for various insurance claims, and the Dispatch Line (New York) records account for the gross stock of each vessel, number of trips, port charges, and profits and expenses. Among the photographic images that are included in the collection are 19th century New Bedford wharf scenes, and 20th century whaling expeditions and stations, and whaling ships, schooners, and barks.
Records consist of correspondence, insurance and legal documents, photographic images, account books, voyage records, and receipts.