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 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 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 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.
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:
MARITIME ACCOUNT LEDGER COLLECTION
SWIFT & COMPANY
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
HOWES (Sea Captains) COLLECTION
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
ACCOUNTS OF SHIP VOYAGES
Journal of the Voyage of the Schooner Louisa A., 1880
The Museum Archives are open for research year round on Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 to 2 and by appointment. Appointments are encouraged.
To reach the archivist, Susan F. Witzell, email email@example.com.