The New Bedford Free Public Library submits the following announcement of their new Whaling Crew List Index now accessible by clicking on "Whaling Voyages Crewlist" on the Library's Homepage at http://www.ci.new-bedford.ma.us/nbfpl.htm:
Whaling Crew List Index Project
New Bedford Free Public Library has initiated a five-year project to construct,
and make available on the Internet a comprehensive index to whaling Crew Lists
of the New Bedford Custom District beginning 1809 and on to 1925. The first year
of this project is supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts
Historical Records Advisory Board and the Secretary of the Commonwealth,
William Francis Galvin. The project is being coordinated by the New Bedford Free
Public Library Archives Department. The Internet accessible database was
constructed and is maintained by the City of New Bedford Management Information
This index as it is being compiled, is currently searchable through five distinct search templates; Crew Men Search, Vessel Search, Port of Registry Search, Whaling Ground Search, and Crew Supplemental Information Search. This last search option allows searching on a crewmember’s physical description, rank, residence, or keyword in Remarks field. Search capabilities will ensure that genealogists and historians will be able to retrieve useful information with minimal effort. Searches are possible on both surname and personal name, birthplace or residence at time of embarkation, vessel names, departure dates, whaling grounds, ports of registry, rank, and keyword in Remark field or multiple combinations of these. For each crewmen’s record, fields include: last and first name of mariner, age, residence or birthplace, height, eye color, hair color, skin color, station or rank in the crew including lay or agreed upon share of profit, Remarks, vessel name, rigging type, port of registry, whaling ground, date of sailing, date of return and repository of source documents.
The Remarks field is significant in that it contains information from original attachments to the Whalemen Shipping Papers. Attachments are supplemental information registered with Custom House agents at ports visited throughout the voyage. Information such as discharges, desertions, new enlistments, promotions, deaths, missing crew, mutinies, arrests, etc. are recorded on attachments then signed and dated by the Customs Agent of the indicated port. This information is useful for someone searching for men who got on a whaler at some point throughout the voyage typically Brava in Cape Verde, the Azores or Sandwich Islands. It now becomes easier to trace men who were discharged or deserted during the course of a voyage, as the Remarks field will indicate date and place of discharge or desertion.
Search screens are easy to use; contain Tips throughout that assist by providing example searches and item specific guidance. Each search allows three radio buttons “Begins with,” “Contains,” “Equal to” to further expand or delimit, resulting in productive searches for both researchers with exact names and those seeking names. Consistent with indexing standards, spelling in all cases adheres to that in the original document. Information is transcribed directly with no inference made by the indexers. This results in variations in spelling of personal and place names, a situation addressed well by the “Contains” search option.
Updates and new batch files of additional records will be loaded periodically.
The Whaling Crew List Index is available free of charge through the New Bedford Free Public Library’s home page http://www.ci.new-bedford.ma.us/nbfpl.htm and can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Availability of the index on the World Wide Web ensures preservation of the originals while expanding the audience base to world wide researchers on such subjects as immigration, whaling history, and the underground railroad.
New Bedford Free Public Library is committed to the preservation of the original
documents in its care while increasing access to information. For more
information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tina V. Furtado, archivist
New Bedford Free Public Library
(508) 961-3104 Fax: (508) 979-1481
e-mail : email@example.com