Help me find these old whaling journals
February 24, 2012 12:55 AM   Subscribe

The naturalist Frederick Debell Bennett wrote a journal of his experiences on a whaler, which were published as Narrative of a whaling voyage round the globe. Are his original journals still around, and if so, where are they?
posted by Joe in Australia to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A good place to ask would be the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. They might even have the original journals in their extensive collection.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:00 AM on February 24, 2012

"Bennett collected a large number of botanical and zoological specimens, which he presented to the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Linnaean Society, and King's College London." Perhaps check their holdings?

I had no luck with the Royal College of Surgeons online archive, but YMMV.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:48 AM on February 24, 2012

The Chapin College of Rare Books at Williams College has a page on whaling and primary sources in its holdings. It recommends the following collections (links on page):

International Whaling Commission
New Bedford Whaling Museum
Nicholson Whaling Collection (Providence Public Library)
Whaling Archives (New Bedford Free Public Library)
Whaling Museum of the Nantucket Historical Society
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:17 AM on February 24, 2012

The British Library has the archive of Bennett's publisher Richard Bentley, including a letter from Bennett and the agreement for the publication of Narrative of a Whaling Voyage. But there's no entry for Bennett in the National Register of Archives, which suggests that his own papers, if they survive at all, aren't held by any of the major UK institutions.

Any official records of the ship that Bennett sailed on, the South Sea whaler Tuscan, would be in BT 98 at the National Archives in Kew. The ship's master was Thomas Reed Stavers .. and here you're in luck, because Stavers kept a journal which has been transcribed and put online, including an account of his 1833 voyage in the Tuscan mentioning Bennett, 'a respectable young man and very clever in his profession'.

Several missionaries travelled as passengers on the Tuscan, and if they left any records of the voyage, these may be in the archives of the London Missionary Society, now at SOAS. Rather unexpectedly, some of Bennett's botanical collections appear to be in the Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, which bought them in 1842.
posted by verstegan at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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