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.


This AOWV database can be searched by all fields. Searches are case insensitive and partial information is allowed. Each search results in a table of the information available for each matching voyage, with blanks for missing information. The tables include:

  • Voyage Number (#): unique identifier for each of the more than 15,000 voyages
  • Vessel name and rig
  • Port of registry or departure (“Hailing Port”)
  • Departure year and month
  • Arrival (return at end of voyage) year and month
  • Destination (as declared at the beginning of the voyage)
  • Product landed or sent home
    • sperm oil (“Sperm”, in barrels)
    • baleen whale oil (“Whale”, in barrels)
    • whalebone or baleen, (“Bone”, in pounds)
    • Master (captain) name (Last name, First name or initials), or names where there were multiple captains

Permissions and Credits

These data are made available for personal use. Reference to information from this database in any publications must be accompanied by citation of its source:

Lund, Judith N., Elizabeth A. Josephson, Randall R. Reeves and Tim D. Smith. “American Offshore Whaling Voyages: a database.” World Wide Web electronic publication.

Prior approval must be obtained to use any of these data in any publication, product, or commercial application. Contact World Whaling History (

Additional information on the scope and construction of the database is available in:

Lund, Judith N., Elizabeth A. Josephson, Randall R. Reeves and Tim D. Smith. “American Offshore Whaling Voyages: a database.” Contributions to World Whaling History, No. 5,

National Maritime Digital Library is supported by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations in association with the Collections and Research Department of Mystic Seaport

World Whaling History ( began in 2001 as part of the History of Marine Animal Populations (HMAP) project (, which is part of the Census of Marine Life (CoML) ( The World Whaling History project is focused on describing the effects that whaling has had on populations of whales over the centuries and throughout the world’s oceans. Email:, Webpage: