Mss:282 1893-1908 L439
Pacific Steam Whaling Company Records, 1893-1908: A Finding Aid
Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: Mss:282 1893-1908 L439
Repository: Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Pacific Steam Whaling Company
Title: Pacific Steam Whaling Company records
Quantity: 1 linear feet (6 volumes, 1 box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Pacific Steam Whaling Company records include log books, photographs and ephemera
associated with the Arctic whaling voyages of Captain George Baker Leavitt, 1893-1908.
Gift of Arthur McFee.
Processed: April 2013
By: Benjamin Johnson
Some material may be stored offsite. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Patrons must use surrogates. All log books are available on microfilm (1 reel, 35mm),
from Historical Collections, Baker Library. Order no. 94-2932.
Cite as: Pacific Steam Whaling Company Records. Baker Library Historical Collections.
Harvard Business School.
George Baker Leavitt was born in Portland, Maine in 1860. He worked for a New Bedford,
Massachusetts whaling company at an early age before moving to California. He found
employment with the San Francisco, California based Pacific Steam Whaling Company
as a second mate before rising to the rank of captain. The Pacific Steam Whaling Company
was incorporated in 1883 and managed by merchant marine turned entrepreneur, Josiah
Nickerson Knowles. Associated with the Pacific Steam Whaling Co. was the Arctic Oil
Works, the first refinery for oil on the west coast. Capt. Leavitt was the master
of a number of steamers owned by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, including the
Mary D. Hume, Newport, Thrasher, Grampus, Baleana and Narwhal between 1893 and 1908. Leavitt made yearly voyages from San Francisco to the Arctic
whaling grounds. A small whaling community was established on Herschel Island where
the whaling ships wintered from roughly October to July. Leavitt retired from whaling
in 1908 and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii where he worked as a fruit and plant inspector
for the island of Kauai. He later worked as a harbor master and pilot for Port Allen
on the island Kaua. Leavitt died in Honolulu in 1925.
The collection is arranged in the following series:
- Series I. Log books, 1893-1908
- Series II. Photographs and menus, 1893-1908
The Pacific Steam Whaling Company records contains logbooks kept by Captain George
B. Leavitt while on whaling voyages from San Francisco, California to the Arctic Ocean.
Six log books document ten voyages made in different steam vessels between 1893 and
1908. The log books describe living conditions in the Arctic, social activities and
engagements while wintering in port, work aboard the ship and daily nautical observations.
The photographs depict Captain Leavitt, locations visited, land and seascapes, natives
and crew members. Also included are two handwritten Thanksgiving menus for 1893 and
- Series I. Logbooks
Scope and Contents: This series contains the log books kept by George B. Leavitt during whaling voyages
in the Arctic Ocean between 1893 and 1908. The six log books describe living conditions
in the extreme cold, work aboard the ship, and social activities. Some log books contain
entries for more than one voyage.
- Volume 1Log book, 1893-1894
Scope and Contents: This log book, kept by Captain George B. Leavitt aboard the Steamer Mary D. Hume while on a whaling voyage from San Francisco to the Arctic Ocean, 1893-1894 describes
social activities aboard the ship and on shore including a minstrel show and a baseball
game, practical information on wintering in the Arctic and the difficulties of life
without a doctor. Leavitt also recorded a list of masters and vessels at Herschel
Island, a list of whales taken by each vessel and an account of running aground. The Mary D. Hume wintered at Herschel Island during the winters between 1893 and 1894.
- Volume 2Log book, 1896-1897
Scope and Contents: This log book is a continuation of vol. 1 and is kept between Aug. 1, 1896 and June
30, 1897 while wintering at Herschel Island. Capt. George B. Leavitt gave the Mary D. Hume to Captain William Hegarty and on Sept. 4, 1896 took charge of the Steamer Newport. After spending the winter of 1896 in the Arctic quarters, the Mary D. Hume was still at Herschel Island when the log ends on June 30, 1897.
- Volume 3Log book, 1896-1898
Scope and Contents: This log book contains entries for two separate voyages. The first, kept by William
F. Macomber, mate of the Steamer Thrasher, which left San Francisco for the Arctic Ocean on March 3, 1896 with Captain Bernard
Cogan at the helm. The log details ice navigation. The second entry details a voyage
taken by the Thrasher from the Arctic to San Francisco Oct 16, 1898-Nov. 8, 1898.
- Volume 4Log book, 1899-1903
Scope and Contents: This log book documents voyages made by three separate vessels all mastered by Captain
George B. Leavitt; The Grampus, the Balaena; and the Narwhal. The Grampus left San Francisco on March 25, 1899 for the Arctic Oil Works. The vessel wintered
from Sept 19, 1899-July 15, 1900 and returned to San Francisco Nov. 14, 1900. The
log book, possibly kept by William F. Macomber details the difficulties of the voyage,
throwing overboard 33 gallons of liquor illegally on board and the amputation of a
sailor's foot. The Balaena left for the Arctic April 7, 1901, but was wrecked off St. Lawrence Island on June
7, 1901. All crew members were saved and were taken to Nome by the Ship Alexander. The Narwhal left San Francisco on March 29, 1902 and reached Dutch Harbor on April 17, 1902.
The Narwhal was in winter quarters from Sept. 28, 1902 to July 7, 1903. This voyage is continued
in vol. 5.
- Volume 5Log book, 1902-1906
Scope and Contents: This log book contains two voyages made by the Narwhal. The first entry is a continuation from volume 4 and begins in winter quarters at
Herschel Island between July 8, 1903 and documents cruising the Arctic Ocean in the
summer of 1903. The vessel is in winter quarters again from Oct 1, 1903 to July 13,
1904. The Narwhal returns to San Francisco Nov. 4, 1904. The second entry begins with departure from
San Francisco on March 22, 1905. The vessel wintered in the Arctic over the winter
of 1904-1905 at Herschel Island. The log book contains descriptions of wintering and
notes a football game played in February. This log book ends Sept 30, 1906.
- Volume 6Log book, 1907-1908
Scope and Contents: This log book contains entries for two separate voyages made by the Narwhal. The first entry is continued from the previous volume. The Narwhal cruised out of winter quarters in July 1907 on its return to San Francisco. The voyage
ended in San Francisco Oct. 9, 1907. The second entry begins with departure from San
Francisco on March 10, 1908. The Narwhal cruised in the Arctic during the summer months and returned to San Francisco on Nov.
- Series II. Photographs and menus
Scope and Contents: This series contains thirty-two black and white gelatin silver process photographs
of the Arctic whaling voyages of Captain G.B. Leavitt, 1893-1904. Included are photographs
taken of and by Captain Leavitt, crew, natives, whaling work and locations including
the Bering Straits, Alcatraz Island, Cape Sibena, Herschel Island, Nome Beach, Point
Tangent, Port Clarence Harbor, Port Spencer, Unalaska Island and unidentified locations.
Also included are two Thanksgiving menus dated 1893 and 1902.
- Box 7Photographs, 1893-1908
- Box 7Thanksgiving menus, 1893 and 1902
Black and white photographs.
Gelatin silver prints.
San Francisco (Calif.).
Leavitt, George Baker, 1860-1925
Pacific Steam Whaling Company.
Mary D. Hume (Steamer)