Welcome to the National Maritime Digital Library

The Digital Library’s mission is to collect, preserve and make accessible maritime resources in electronic format, thereby promoting maritime cultural heritage scholarship.


Coriolus: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies

A publication of the National Maritime Digital Library

Named for the prevailing global force that shapes human maritime experience, Coriolis offers scholars and serious researchers a refereed forum in which to disseminate work on human interaction with the seas. We define “maritime” broadly to include direct and indirect influences on human relationships through the fields of history, literature, art, nautical archaeology, material culture, and environmental studies. Coriolis is open to discussion of maritime connections through all periods and human cultures, and it includes freshwater as well as saltwater marine environments. We encourage works that explore interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches. The journal is international in scope and purpose, and we particularly welcome English-language scholarship from outside Europe and North America. Continue readingCoriolus: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies”

Whalemen’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript, 1843-1914

We are happy to present PDF versions of the Whalemen’s Shipping List, first published in 1843 with the “…latest advices of every vessel engaged in the Whaling business, together with the prices current of our staple commodities, and interesting items of commercial intelligence.” The List was the main source of information on American whaling vessels throughout the second half of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. Continue reading “Whalemen’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript, 1843-1914”

American Offshore Whaling Voyages

The American Offshore Whaling Voyage (AOWV) database includes information from about all known American offshore (or “pelagic”) whaling voyages from the 1700s to the 1920s, but not including the modern factory ship voyages of the mid 20th century. Information is most complete for the 19th century.

The voyages included in the AOWV database sailed from, or later were under the registry of, what is now the United States. Voyages continued for several years and were defined to be complete when the vessel returned to its port of departure or registry. Continue reading “American Offshore Whaling Voyages”

San Francisco Shangaiers 1886-1890

In 2005 Mystic Seaport Museum received, in database form, information gathered from a rare source, the ledger book of 19th century shipping master James Laflin. A copy of this ledger is accessible through the J. Porter Shaw Library, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park ; that institution has had the foresight with the services of volunteer Bob Francis to input most of the data in James Laflin’s whaling ledger (dated from 1886-1890) into a database uploaded by Mystic Seaport Museum into It’s website.

By the mid-1880s, the center of whaling activity had shifted from New Bedford to San Francisco. More than two dozen whaling vessels set out each year from San Francisco’s piers, along with numerous schooners in search of seals and otter. Every man who shipped out, save the captain and certain mates, shipped through James Laflin between 1881 and Laflin’s death in 1905. Every man’s name is recorded in Laflin’s pages, and every shanghaier signed that ledger when he or she received their due bill. Continue reading “San Francisco Shangaiers 1886-1890”