"The constituents of a chaos, nothing less is here"
April 2, 2018 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Whaling History, launched this week, is an online collection of comprehensive data on the North American whaling industry, 1700-1920, including every known whaling voyage (over 15,000) as well as logbooks recording day-to-day whale sightings and takings by type and location and crew lists with detail on people involved in the industry. A project of Mystic Seaport and the New Bedford Whaling Museum, it's the most comprehensive database of whaling material ever to be available. Users are encouraged to share their projects.

I'll just add that these datasets are extremely rich and yield incredible insights when put through the right lenses. For instance, Jeff Bolster's use of crew lists to determine the involvement of black and brown people in the maritime trades resulted in the book Black Jacks, which countered and reframed dominant racist histories of maritime enterprise that had long erased minorities. Researchers are also now using the data on past whale ranges to study the effects of climate change, resulting in projects like Old Weather: Whaling.

*Title is quoted from Moby-Dick, Cetology.
posted by Miko (4 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
This is beautiful.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:34 AM on April 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I did what everybody with roots in southeastern Massachusetts is probably going to do: Look up ancestors' names, and then look up ancestors' hometowns. And then email the link to other family members to see what they know.
posted by ardgedee at 10:09 AM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Interestingly a sperm whale has been spotted in the Salish Sea for the first time in memory.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:17 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

… and there are no right whale calves on the Canadian east coast this spring.
posted by scruss at 5:45 AM on April 3, 2018

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