The New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library and Archives

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. 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 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. It includes the combined collections of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society (est. 1903) and the Kendall Whaling Museum (1956-2001) formerly located at Sharon, Massachusetts.

The Research Library is open Wednesday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. as well as the first Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Visits to the Library are appointment-based. To schedule an appointment, please contact the Librarian Mark Procknik: (508) 997-0046 ext. 134, or mprocknik@whalingmuseum.org.