The Whaling Museum – New Bedford, Massachusetts (1927)

“Old Dartmouth” is the region on the south coast of Massachusetts that prospered, through the mid-nineteenth century, from whaling.

New Bedford was the largest town of this region, and the “whaling capital” of North America.

In 1903, as the evidence of the 200-year history of whaling was disappearing, a newspaper reporter wrote an impassioned plea to found an historical society in New Bedford.

The reporter, Ellis Howland, argued that it would be “deplorable” and a “dereliction of duty” to permit this history to be lost.

The citizens of Old Dartmouth responded, and began assembling the artifacts that languished in small collections throughout the region.

The museum now encompasses 20 galleries in several buildings that occupy an entire city block.

The model whaling ship, pictured in this postcard photograph, was commissioned in 1916 for the museum.

(Apart from log books, scrimshaw, sailor letters, and other first-hand memorabilia, the galleries now host comprehensive displays about the life of whales, the preservation of marine ecosystems, the ship-building industry, the growth of glass and textile manufacturing in the area, the rugged life of sailors, and the products of the art colonies that flourished in the region in the late 19th century.)

The postcard was mailed from New Bedford in August of 1927.

Wes writes that he “won’t be done before Saturday”, so he “won’t be down”.

The message was sent to Paul Otto of Clifton, New Jersey.

(Clifton is a city in northern New Jersey, only 15 miles northwest of midtown Manhattan.  

Once an agricultural area, it was (until 1970) the quarantine station for livestock and poultry entering the US.

Today, it is entirely suburban, although two farmer’s markets survive.)

One hopes that Wes was successful in his work at New Bedford and that he was able to visit Paul at a later time.

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