Whaling and Maritime History

The Nicholson Whaling Collection

Farewell old journal I love you well
Because of by gone days you tell
And I love you for other reasons too
One is because you allways gave me something to do.
- From the journal of the Columbus, 15 October 1852
Scrimshaw - Whaletooth

The Nicholson Whaling Collection at PPL is now the second largest whaling logbook collection in America. Mr. Paul C. Nicholson, the son of the founder of the world-renowned Nicholson File Company, formed an outstanding collection of over 750 manuscript logbooks describing more than 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, Vermont.

Whaling & Maritime History -- A PPL Online Exhibition

List of Digitized Whaling Logs

Manuscript Collection Guide (pdf)