New whaling museum online database puts research, documents in one spot

NEW BEDFORD – Whaling-history buffs can now find archival ship logbooks, crew lists and voyage information at WhalingHistory.org, a whaling-history database developed by the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Conn.

The museums call the collection the world’s most comprehensive whaling-history database. It’s designed to be used by teachers, students, researchers, genealogists and history enthusiasts, according to a New Bedford Whaling Museum press release.

All data is open to the public and available for download.

The database is actually three databases combined, said museum officials: the American Offshore Whaling Voyage database, the American Offshore Whaling Log database and an extensive crew list database.

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Judith Lund, a former New Bedford Whaling Museum curator, spearheaded the AOWV, which has information of all American offshore whaling trips from the 1700s to the 1920s, for example, not including modern factory ship voyages. Whalemen diary entries offer details on where and when whales were found.

The whaling log database, meanwhile, contributes information from more than 1,300 logbooks from U.S. offshore whaling voyages from 1784 to 1920. The logbook entries – now all in one place – were gathered from three different research projects.

Crew lists from more than 5,300 voyages recorded at customs houses in Massachusetts and New London, Conn., form the third element of the new database.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributing writer.