William Martin's 1887 Whaling Voyage

William Martin and the 1887 Voyage of the Eunice H. Adams

In the autumn of 1887, the Eunice H. Adams departed Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard on what would be the last voyage of its captain, William Martin. Martin was a Black whaler with a career that spanned decades and over a dozen voyages. He began as a green hand and finished his career four decades later as master of the Eunice H. Adams.

As part of its Nicholson Whaling Collection, PPL is fortunate to have a wide range of documentary material related to the 1887 voyage of the Eunice H. Adams, and this website provides an opportunity for users to examine those documents in various contexts and develop connections of their own between items and topics.

A more important reason to showcase this particular voyage from among the many in the library’s Nicholson Collection is the light it casts upon the important role that people of color played in this crucial American industry. By the same token, whaling and other nautical occupations are being increasingly recognized for their importance in the long struggle against slavery in the United States*

PPL’s Special Collections, as is often the case with rare book and archival institutions, were originally built by white collectors with primarily white interests. More broadly, much of the evidence preserved in historical artifacts — from books and manuscripts to scrimshaw and photographs — prioritized white experience and history. This website is part of a larger effort to increase the visibility of materials relating to people of color in our collections and highlight histories that have been underrepresented in the past.

Please note: This site is currently in early development, and we look forward to adding much more content in late 2023 and early 2024. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to contact us.

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