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COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:282 1893-1908 L439

Pacific Steam Whaling Company records


The Pacific Steam Whaling Company records include log books, photographs, and ephemera associated with the Arctic whaling voyages of Captain George Baker Leavitt, 1893-1908.


  • Creation: 1893-1908


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. Contact for more information.


3 linear feet (6 volumes, 1 box)

The Pacific Steam Whaling Company records contains logbooks kept by Captain George Baker Leavitt while on whaling voyages from San Francisco, California to the Arctic Ocean. Six log books document ten voyages made in different steam vessels between 1893 and 1908. The log books describe living conditions in the Arctic, social activities and engagements while wintering in port, work aboard the ship and daily nautical observations. The photographs depict Captain Leavitt, locations visited, land and seascapes, natives and crew members. Also included are two handwritten Thanksgiving menus for 1893 and 1902.

Historical Note:

George Baker Leavitt was born in Portland, Maine in 1860. He worked for a New Bedford, Massachusetts whaling company at an early age before moving to California. He found employment with the San Francisco, California based Pacific Steam Whaling Company as a second mate before rising to the rank of captain. The Pacific Steam Whaling Company was incorporated in 1883 and managed by merchant marine turned entrepreneur, Josiah Nickerson Knowles. Associated with the Pacific Steam Whaling Co. was the Arctic Oil Works, the first refinery for oil on the west coast. Capt. Leavitt was the master of a number of steamers owned by the Pacific Steam Whaling Company, including the Mary D. Hume, Newport, Thrasher, Grampus, Baleana and Narwhal between 1893 and 1908. Leavitt made yearly voyages from San Francisco to the Arctic whaling grounds. A small whaling community was established on Herschel Island where the whaling ships wintered from roughly October to July. Leavitt retired from whaling in 1908 and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii where he worked as a fruit and plant inspector for the island of Kauai. He later worked as a harbor master and pilot for Port Allen on the island Kaua. Leavitt died in Honolulu in 1925.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged in the following series:

  1. Series I. Log books, 1893-1908
  2. Series II. Photographs and menus, 1893-1908

Physical Location



Gift of Arthur S. McFee, 1962.


Patrons must use surrogates. All log books are available on microfilm (1 reel, 35mm), from Historical Collections, Baker Library. Order no. 94-2932.

Digitized photographs:

The photographs in this collection have been digitized and are available in HOLLIS Images.

Processing Information

Processed: April 2013

By: Benjamin Johnson

Baker Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections and Archives, Harvard Business School Repository

Baker Library Special Collections and Archives holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

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