The Literary Life of the Whaleman

If you're wondering what kept whalers occupied when they weren't busy whaling, Robin Davis of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has part of the answer: reading the works of American women authors. In a recent blog post Robin describes hunting through logbooks from our Nicholson Whaling Collection for lists of the books read on board. She offers transcriptions of the relevant passages, and she's even linked the titles to records available via OpenLibrary, which means you can re-enact the whalemen's reading yourself. Here are links to the lists:

Books on board the James Andres (1851-55)

Books on board the Hopewell (1849-50)

Read Robin's fascinating post here.

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Jordan Goffin

Special Collections Librarian Jordan Goffin has been mining the wonders in the Library’s Special Collections since early 2011. If you’d like to stop in and spend some time with the historic and noteworthy books, manuscripts and ephemera at PPL, contact him by email at or by phone at 401.455.8021. Also, visit the Notes for Bibliophiles blog ( to read more about the exciting materials in Special Collections and to keep up with events and announcements.


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