About the Collection

The Nicholson Whaling Collection encompasses a range of material, from printed books and archival collections to artifacts like scrimshaw and harpoons.


The collection consists of more than 750 logbooks, which document more than 1,000 voyages, ranging from the 1760s to the 1920s. Digitized copies of nearly the entire collection can be found on the Internet Archive. New titles are being digitized on an ongoing basis and added to our online repository. For more information (for instance, to enquire about logbooks from a particular location or time period) or to make an appointment to view the logbooks contact Special Collections.


The collection includes approximately 63 boxes of manuscript material, including business documents, personal correspondence, and more. A finding aid provides an overview of the material available. Contact Special Collections to make an appointment to view collection materials.

Books & Ephemera

Paul Nicholson collected published volumes related to whaling, and the Library has continued to add to this collection. Approximately 400 volumes can be found via the Special Collections online catalog. In addition to scientific and historical non-fiction works, the collection includes works of fiction, such as Melville’s Typee. The whaling ephemera collection includes advertising material, broadsides, and more. The collection has not been fully processed, so contact special collections to learn more and make an appointment to view collection materials


The collection includes hundreds of photographs, some which are still in the process of being organized. Approximately 200 photographs from the collection have been made available online through our digital repository, ProvLibDigital.org. Photographs that have not yet been fully processed may be accessed in the Special Collections reading room.


The Nicholson Collection includes nearly 100 pieces of scrimshaw, as well as harpoons and other artifacts connected to the whaling industry.