San Francisco, Anchorage, and other ports, but mostly at sea, such as Point Barrow, Franklin Bay, and more. 1909-1911. Three volumes. ,60; 34; 42pp. Quarto. Matching printed canvas, calf corners. Bindings shaken, some staining. Some hinges split but holding, mild dampstaining, commensurate with items used regularly on whaling ships. Good, with generally clean and legible handwriting. Item #WRCAM54230
Original manuscript log books of three whaling voyages by steamer, departing from San Francisco for the North Pacific and Arctic Ocean, for eight to nine months at a time over three years in the first decade of the 20th century. This was an interesting time in the exploitation of resources in the Northern Pacific and Arctic regions. With Roald Amundsen's successful navigation of the Northwest Passage from 1903 to 1906, the area exploded with activity, but the whaling industry was in decline. The present whaling journals stem from this era of hyperactivity in the Arctic region just after this monumental event, but also stand as one of the last remnants of a waning industry - whaling by steamer. At the time these journals were written, only a few steamships still operated as whaling ships in the area. Like the whales they were hunting, steamers decked out as whaling ships were a dying breed. Daily entries of the log books detail the wind and weather, events and activities on board, numerous mentions of whale sightings, lowering boats to capture whales, several instances of killing and cutting up whales, encounters with other ships, supply inventories, and more. In the first journal, there are a number of ink stamps of whales in the margins, indicating sightings; sightings of whales in the third journal are indicated by the word "Whale" in the margins. Further details, and one sample entry from each the three journals are as follows: 1) 1909 Log Book, commencing April 27, 1909, ending Nov. 2, 1909: "Sunday, Aug. 29th, 1909. Begin with strong N.E. Wind BF tied up to ice East Point Barrow due the forenoon snow squalled latter part clear up some at 3 p.m. We raised Bowhead out side the ice. We had S. Boat on lookout in the ice. So he struck the whale. We lowered 4 Boat took the whale along side cutting before night at night we clear away the head so end." 2) 1910 Log Book, commencing April 30, 1910, ending Nov. 9, 1910: "[Westward from Point Belcher, in sight of Herald Island] Monday Oct. 3rd . Light westerly winds hauling to the S & W saw whale 8a.m. lowered boats - chased til dark several whales in sight. Working to the westward among young ice...." 3) 1911 Log Book, commencing March 22, 1911, ending Nov. 9, 1911: "Friday Sept. 15th . Moderate easterly winds 4:30a.m. Herald Island SE magnetic distant 25 miles came around on Northern tack. 7:30a.m. saw whales lowered boats - Sardvard boat struck killed whale 2 other boats chasing other whales. Mr. Allen & officer struck and killed whale finished cutting at 4:45p.m. Number of whales in sight...." The 1909 log book is titled in manuscript on the first leaf, "Log Book Str. Herman April 27th 1909. Keep by chief officier [sic] E.F. Morgan. Sail from San Francisco." The second journal is titled on the first page, "Journal of S.S. Herman to Arctic Ocean Commencing Sat. April 30th 1910." The latter two log books seem to be written in different hands than the first. Further, the authors are not identified, but the running headers note the same ship and the same master, Captain Bodfish. The three journals here were likely kept by the first officer of each expedition. Capt. Hartson H. Bodfish commanded a number of whaling and trading voyages into the Pacific and along the Northwest Coast at this time. He later produced, with the assistance of Joseph C. Allen, CHASING THE BOWHEAD: AS TOLD BY CAPTAIN HARTSON H. BODFISH, published by Harvard University Press in 1936. The New Bedford Whaling Museum owns logbooks kept by Capt. Bodfish, including one for the 1910 expedition, in a binding matching the present volume, with entries conforming to the activities recorded here. A fascinating collection of whaling logs, encompassing three years of the industry during its last days.