Whaling & Maritime History

Whaling & Maritime History

The Paul C. Nicholson Whaling Collection came to Providence Public Library by bequest in 1956; recently his children established an endowment to ensure the collection's upkeep.

The Nicholson Whaling Collection

Mr. Paul C. Nicholson, the son of the founder of the world-renowned Nicholson File Company, formed an outstanding collection of 750 manuscript logbooks describing 1,000 whaling voyages, as well as several thousand printed books on whaling. His collection also contained scrimshaw, a narwhal tusk, three harpoons, a harpoon gun, prints and photographs and ship models. At the suggestion of Mr. Stuart C. Sherman, then librarian of Providence Public Library, Mr. Nicholson bequeathed the collection to the Library. After Mr. Nicholson’s death in 1956 Mr. Sherman compiled a catalog of the logbooks and wrote an account of the collection that was published by the Library in 1965 with the title The Voice of the Whaleman. The book was handsomely printed by the Stinehour Press of Lunenberg, VT. The Nicholson Whaling Collection is the second largest whaling logbook collection in America.

Read a Selection from The Voice of the Whale Man by Stuart C. Sherman which describes the story of how Paul C. Nicholson built one of the largest collections on whaling in the world.

Scrimshaw: Whale tooth - Alwilda, the Female Pirate.

Logbook: Journal of a whaling voyage of the William Rotch of Fairhaven, Mass.

Scrimshaw: Whale bone - Footed sea chest with dovetail joints.

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