From the Archives

Below is a list of articles that have been published in the Museum’s newsletter Mainsheet. The articles look at interesting aspects of Woods Hole history and feature research by Museum Archivist Susan F. Witzell and by several other guest writers. To see an article, click on a link.

Date, Title and Author
2017 Fall, The Cap’n Kidd — Salted Kiss Sundaes and “A Real Bar” by Susan F. Witzell
2017 Spring, The Pie in the Sky by Deborah Griffin Scanlon
2016 Fall, Blacksmiths in Quissett and Woods Hole by Susan F. Witzell
2016 Spring, ‘Fishmonger Restaurant and Other Restaurants at the Bridge by Susan F. Witzell
2015 Fall, ‘The Old Stone House Rejoins The Old Candle House – or Why I Love Archivists by Mark Foster
2015 Spring, ‘Train Stations and Ferry Terminals in Woods Hole by Susan F. Witzell
2014 Fall, ‘The Younger Joseph Story Fay by Susan F. Witzell (new photos of Fay from the 1860s).
2014 Spring, ‘A History Mystery by Susan F. Witzell (Vedeler-Fish photo album).
2013 Fall, ‘Quissett Oral History and the Fay Farmhouse by Susan F. Witzell (Molly Willett oral history collection and results from The Moors research).
2013 Spring, ‘The Hurricane of 1938 by P.K. Simonds.
,‘The story of some bicentennial cannon balls and a tale of cooperation by Susan F. Witzell.
2012 Fall, ‘New Accessions – Summer 2012 by Susan F. Witzell (Sarah Bryant Fay’s bread and milk mug; a sugar bowl from the City of Columbus; and the tale of the shipwreck).
2012 Spring, ‘The Loose Untailored Fabric of History – the Treasure Trove in the Archives by P.K. Simonds.
2011 Fall, ‘Prosperity from whaling created new-style houses in the 1840s by Susan F. Witzell (Captain Thomas Davis house and Eldridge house).
2010 Fall, ‘The Log Books of Captain Anthony Howes by Nancy Bundy.
2010 Spring, ‘A Town Called Nobska — a Cautionary Tale? by Les Garrick. (Secession of the Summer People).
2009, none
2008 Fall, ‘Part 2. Reminiscences of a Summer at the Breakwater Hotel 1960 by Allan W. Swank.
2008 Spring, ‘Part 1. Reminiscences of a Summer at the Breakwater Hotel 1960 by Allan W. Swank.
,‘A Bill Eaton Sea Tale 1964 by John Howard McClellan
2007 Spring, ‘Woods Hole’s First Yachtsman by John Valois (Alfred Harrison).
2006, ‘Eaton photos and new accessions by Susan F. Witzell


The Various Collections

The Museum Archives include general collections, family collections, photograph collections, an artifact collection, an oral history collection and a library.

The General Collection

The general collection contains papers of Woods Hole organizations, churches, business records, a few Cape Cod ship and maritime logs, genealogies and house histories, and numerous maps, charts, and plans. The links and material below delineate the content of our collections in more detail.

General Collection   Family and Individual Collections   Photo Collections 

The Photograph Collection

The photograph collection contains over 5000 photos of Woods Hole and Quissett going back to the 1850s, including family albums and photos, village scenes, boats, yachts, steamships, pictures of the early days of the scientific community starting in the 1880s with the U.S. Fish Commission and the Marine Biological Laboratory, as well as albums showing MBL activities in the 1920s and 1930s. A prized part of the photo archive is the Baldwin Coolidge Collection. Mr. Coolidge was a Boston photographer who worked extensively in the Woods Hole area from the early 1890s to about 1910. Our collection of his works contains 100 original prints and two glass plate negatives, as well as 100 more sepia and black and white copy prints.

The Museum has published a book of Coolidge’s photos, New England Views: The Photography of Baldwin Coolidge (1845-1928).

To view samples from our photograph collection see our Historic Photos page.

The Painting and Artifacts Collection

The painting collection includes artwork by William H. Littlefield, Peggy Clark Kelly, R. Swain Gifford, Dr. Leroy M. Yale, Jr., Franklin Lewis Gifford, artwork by and of members of the Fay family, and paintings and artwork by many local artists. The archives houses an extensive clothing collection dating from the 1840s to the 1930s; in addition there are a few quilts and paisley shawls. Other artifacts include ephemera, china, tools, crafts, maritime objects and boat models pertaining to the village of Woods Hole and environs.

The Oral History Collection and the Reading Room

The Oral History Collection contains over 600 recordings of interviews and “conversations” (public talks) with local residents and visiting scientists, collected since 1974. About 200 of these have been transcribed. The collection is constantly added to by digital recordings made from the monthly Conversation program. Most recordings are available in digital form.

The Reading Room contains well over 200 volumes devoted primarily to maritime and local history.

Maritime Records, Ship & Whaling Logs

The collection includes three types of records: Maritime Account Ledgers, Whaling Logs and accounts of voyages on other ships. The following are in the collection:

1. Bar Neck Wharf Company ledgers (facsimile) 1827-1840
2. Bar Neck Wharf Company ledgers 1853-1867
3. E. Swift & Co. ledger 1857, 1858, 1859
4. J. & E. Swift Co. ledger, Live Oak and Cedar, 1856-1860


1. Log books of Amulet* and Hippogriffe 1847-1849
2. Abstract log of Hippogriffe 1858
3. Abstract log of Kit Carson 1861-1862

1. Log book of the Hobomok* August 12, 1848-April 27, 1853
2. Log book of the Hobomok* 1853-1855
3. Log book of the Hobomok* 1856
* indicates volume has been digitized

Journal of the Voyage of the Schooner Louisa A., 1880