Ships Papers

Purchased in 1972 through funding from the Edward Bangs Kelley and Elza Kelley Foundation, this collection of shipping papers detail the financial, political, and sometimes human costs of doing business in the whaling and shipping trade. These papers contain Barnstable sea captain papers such as the Western Star; Cape Cod as well as New Bedford and Southeastern Massachusetts papers. It also contains a few crew documents including those of David Eldridge, Seaman of Barnstable, 1802.

Agreement of Joseph Belain, boatsteerer, 1867

Agreement of Joseph Belain, boatsteerer, 1867

Abbie Bursley (schooner)

  • Bills for trimming coal, 1876.
  • Bills for hire of chronometers, 1876.
  • Bills for harbor charges, 1876.
  • Bills of commission merchants, 1876.
  • Bills for dues, winch hire, carting, 1876.
  • Bills for tow boat charges, 1876.
  • Bills for stevedore charges, 1876.

Cape Horn Pigeon (bark)

  • Bill receipted for whaling equipment from Gideon Allen & Co., 1872.
  • Claims vs. Russia on account of arrest and seizure of the American vessel, 1903.
  • Payroll for season, 1887.
  • Orders to advance wages, 1886.
  • Bill of Oahu Police, 1885.
  • Letter from Benjamin Kelley re: whaling restrictions by Russians, 1885.
  • Note of shipping agent to cover wages of one of the crew, 1885.
  • Order of Benj. Kelley, master, to advance wages of father and son.
  • Letter from W. D. Gifford to William Potter 2nd, 1882.
  • Promises to pay J & W.R. Wing & Co.and Boston Marine Insurance Co., 1869 and 1882.
  • Affidavit of H. P. Panning re: sperm oil shipment, 1869.
  • Agreements with officers of vessel, 1867, 1871.
  • Agreement of Joseph Belain to be boatsteerer, 1867.
  • Whalemen’s shipping paper, 1864.
  • Papers relating to desertion of crew, 1859, 1864.
  • Outward Account, 1858.
  • Agreement to ship casks of sperm oil received from Otis S. Snow, captain, 1867.
  • Discharge papers of crew members. ca. 1865–1887.
  • Receipt for 900 barrels of sperm oil/bone 3/24/1868.

Charles and Edward (schooner)

  • Sales agreement to convey part ownership of bark Albert R. Tucker, 1852.
  • Charles and Edward (bark) Bill receipted for purchases for vessel, 1860.
  • Bill receipted for repairs to vessel, 1860.
  • Charles and Edward (bark). Bill receipted for dockage, 1860.
  • Charles and Edward (bark). Agreement of Wm. Potter, 2nd, and Capt. Wm. D. Gifford, 1860.

Ella F. Crowell (schooner)

  • Insurance policy #684 – 1866.
  • Insurance policy #695 – 1866.
  • Notes for insurance policy, 1866.

Matilda Sears (bark)

  • Power of Attorney William D. Gifford 1882.
  • Affidavit of Vice Consul S. J. Stanton 1881.
  • Check signed by Capt. Giles L. Bennett 1880.
  • Landing certificate at Talcahuano 1878.
  • Capt. Gifford, expense account 1872.

Carpenter (schooner)

Bill of Sale of schooner by Barnabas Baker to Thomas Whitford, et. al. 1842

Commodore Morris (bark)

Whaling Inventory formerly belonging to Commodore Morris, 1906.

Dartmouth (bark)

Dimensions of spars, n.d.

Gurnit (schooner)

Receipted invoice for supplies, 1842.

Henry Clay (schooner)

Bill of lading for goods of Bartlett Bent, 1846.

Joseph G. Dean (schooner)

Receipts for insurance premiums on policy, 1882.

Katie P. Lunt (schooner)

Promissory note of John R. Lunt, 1869.

Martha (sloop)

Insurance adjustment by John S. Tyler, 1838.

Samuel Obed (schooner)

Insurance policy and note, 1864.

Summit (schooner)

Letter of Daria Chase, 1873.

Sunbeam (bark)

Sales agreement Whitney to Potter, 1890.

Taylor Small (schooner)

Receipt for insurance claim paid, 1870.

Undaunted (ship)

Affidavit of leaking oil casks, 1885.

Union (sloop)

License to carry on coasting trade and fisheries. 1812.

Wm. F. Miller (schooner)

Bill of Sale, 1885.

Billow (schooner)

Instrument of protest of Samuel Barker. 1827.

West Dennis (schooner)

Bill for services of tugboat. 1876.

Western Star

Freight list Captain W.H. Bearse, 1866.

Crew Lists

  • Shipping Papers. Letter from A.H. Potter & Co., New Bedford, 1860.
  • Telegram from Lorenzo Waite, 1860.
  • Certificate of Silas H. Talmage, 1860.

Marine Insurance

  • Note for insurance premium, Capt. R. R. Freeman, Provincetown, 1863
  • Atlantic Mutual Fire & Marine Insurance Co., 1864-1870
  • Equitable marine Insurance Co. stock. 1865, 1871
  • Receipt for return of premium, 1867
  • Records of dividends of Atlantic Mutual Fire & Marine, 1869
  • Check of Atlantic Mutual Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 1874


  • Bill and sight draft for services of Thos. G. Hunt. 1880.
  • Daybook of Hiram Weeks. 1860.


  • Quarantine regulations for Boston Harbor, 1873.
  • Letter setting out fog signals. 1871.
  • Notice of fog signals. 1873.
  • Dimensions and specs. for a barque. n.d.