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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

Descriptive Summary

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
Date(s): 1890-1908
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.

Processing Information:

Processed: April 2013
By: Benjamin Johnson

Conditions Governing Access:

Some material may be stored offsite. Please contact histcollref@hbs.edu 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.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Pacific Steam Whaling Company Records. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Historical Note:

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.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

Scope and Content Note:

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 1902.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Whaling ships--Photographs.
Whaling--United States--California.
Whaling--Arctic Ocean.
Black and white photographs.
Gelatin silver prints.
San Francisco (Calif.).
Leavitt, George Baker, 1860-1925
Pacific Steam Whaling Company.
Balaena (Steamer)
Grampus (Steamer)
Mary D. Hume (Steamer)
Narwhal (Steamer)
Thrasher (Steamer)