59 School Street, Box 1310, Edgartown MA 02539 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum

A Finding Aid to the Stuart C. Sherman Papers, circa 1851-1974, undated

Descriptive Summary

RepositoryMartha's Vineyard MuseumGale Huntington Research Library59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539
Call NumberRU 409
Creator - creatorSherman, Stuart C.
TitleStuart C. Sherman papers
Date [inclusive]circa 1851-1974, undated
Extent1 box and 2 oversize folders (0.504 cubic feet)
LanguageThe materials are in English.
AbstractThis is a collection of documents relating to Stuart C. Sherman. Included are documents related to his work as a librarian, bibliographer of the whaling industry, and defender of free speech. Most of these documents were written by persons other than Mr. Sherman, and collected by him in the context of his work as a bibliographer.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions to access.

Use and Reproduction Restrictions

Requests to reproduce material from this collection should be directed to museum staff. Reproduction fees may apply.

Preferred Citation

Martha's Vineyard Museum, RU 409, Stuart C. Sherman Papers.

Acquisition Information

The Stuart C. Sherman papers were acquired by the Martha's Vineyard Museum in 2006 from Nancy Walker.

Publication Information

Martha's Vineyard Museum

Gale Huntington Research Library
59 School Street
P.O. Box 1310
Edgartown, MA 02539

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed and its finding aid originally prepared by Joshua Pitt in the summer of 2012. Additional materials were located during the Martha's Vineyard Museum's CLIR Hidden Collections grant project, and the finding aid was then revised and machine-encoded by Nathaniel Janick in July 2014. During reprocessing, the intellectual arrangement of the collection was removed to facilitate access for researchers; the physical arrangement remains intact as the original scope and content read "all efforts have been made to preserve the organizational system these items were in when they were first donated to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum." New folder titles were supplied to more accurately and concisely describe the contents, and date ranges for each folder were also added. When deemed appropriate, description related to individual folders in the original finding aid has been attached as a note to the corresponding folder description.

 Creation of this finding aid was sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Hopewell (ship)
  • Providence Public Library (R.I.)
  • Rosalie (ship)

Personal Name(s)

  • Miller, Henry, 1891-1980


  • Whaling

Biography/Historical Note

Stuart C. Sherman was born in Amherst, MA. He attended Brown University and later Columbia University, where he studied to be a librarian. In 1943, he joined the Providence, Rhode Island library system as a branch supervisor, and later became an assistant librarian, and eventually, librarian emeritus at the Providence Public Library. It was during his tenure in Providence that he first began collecting whaling ship log books, eventually amassing a catalog of over 4,000 ship log books chronicling over 14,000 voyages, many of which were published in two books: The Voice of the Whalemen and  Whaling Logbooks and Journals, 1613-1927. During this time, he also defended Henry Miller’s  Tropic of Cancer against obscenity prosecution and became a vocal advocate of what he termed the “freedom to read,” and the integral role of the public library as a democratic institution. Following his departure from the Providence Public Library in 1968, Sherman became the librarian of the John Hay Library at Brown University, where he also served as a professor of bibliography. He retired in 1978 and moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where he died in 1983.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains correspondence, clippings, articles, and other research material collected by Stuart Sherman, mostly regarding whaling. The correspondence contained within this collection is mostly between Mr. Sherman and various libraries and booksellers, and is predominantly related to either Mr. Sherman’s attempts to acquire books on whaling, or interested parties soliciting recommendations for books on whaling from Mr. Sherman. Many of the other materials contain annotations made by Sherman. In addition to the materials on whaling, there are also a few items pertaining to Martha's Vineyard, including an 1882 tourist map and a 1928 map which was drawn and annotated by Stuart C. Sherman himself. There is also a copy of Sherman's academic paper on the censorship of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.


The materials are arranged as they were during initial processing:

Within Series I, all efforts have been made to preserve the organizational system these items were in when they were first donated to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. The miscellaneous materials contained within Series II were not organized in folders when they were donated to the Museum, thus explaining their separate cataloging.

In the original arrangement, Series I was comprised of what is now folders 1-24. Series II was comprised of what is folders 25-27 and the 1928 map. All other items were located during a 2014 survey of uncataloged materials and were not a part of the RU 409 as it was originally processed.

Collection Inventory


Correspondence regarding Wilmington, DE, whaling industry, 1946-1958 


Clippings regarding Wilmington, DE, whaling industry, 1948-1951 


Photographic materials and prints regarding whaling industry, 1898, undated 


Vineyard Gazette clipping regarding New Bedford, MA, 1840s whaling industry, 1967 


Correspondence regarding the Stone Fleet of 1861, 1949, 1961 


Notes regarding Stone Fleet of 1861 and naval records, undated 


Clipping of "Thar She Blows" from Llewellyn Howland's  The Middle Road, 1961 


Fall River Herald clipping, "Killed Whales in Seaconnet River", 1927 February 28 


Providence Journal-Bulletin clipping, "Whaling Station Last of Its Kind", 1967 May 10 


Correspondence regarding Stuart C. Sherman talk on "Rhode Island Whaling Voyages", 1951 


Whaling Tales and Yarns research materials, 1949, undated 


Notes regarding Rosalie 1825-1828 logbook, undated 


Typescript of 1849 George Slocum letter, undated 


Notes on whaling references in the Providence Gazette and Country Journal beginning 1762, undated 


Notes on whaling references in the 1763 Newport Mercury, undated 


Miscellaneous materials regarding whaling references, undated 


Photocopy, typescript and notes of the bark Sun 1861-1862 logbook, undated 


Stuart C. Sherman bibliography regarding whaling and Rhode Island, undated 


Correspondence regarding whaling logbooks and The Voice of the Whalemen, 1951-1956 


Miscellaneous clippings regarding whaling, 1951-1955, undated 


Includes Vineyard Gazette article on Amos Smalley.


Materials related to whaling, circa 1955 


Correspondence regarding acquisition of whaling logbooks, 1956-1957 


Clippings, 1957, undated 


Materials related to whaling, 1932-1957, undated 


Vineyard Gazette, 1960 July 1 


Stuart C. Sherman article, "Defending the Freedom to Read,"  Library Journal, 1962 


Notes on vessels (1726-1921), undated 


"The Islands of the Bay State" by N. Robinson, 1881 July 


Clippings and articles regarding whaling, circa 1851-1974 


Old Colony Line Map of Cottage City and Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion and Baillou's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion clippings regarding whaling, 1881-1882, 1885 

OS GEN 514

Stuart Sherman map of Martha's Vineyard, 1928 

OS GEN 105