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Scanning Day

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center hosts a Scanning Day on the second Saturday of each month from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Scanning Day is an opportunity for the public to share and preserve a digital image of their fishing industry photographs, documents and other records for future generations. The event is free and open to the public.

The Center invites the public to bring their fishing industry related photographs, both historic and contemporary, as well as documents such as settlement sheets, union books, or news clippings to be scanned. Staff will scan the materials and record any information the owner shares about each piece.  The owner will leave with their originals along with a digital copy  of the scans on a flash drive. The Center is working to create a digital archive of these materials which will be made available to researchers and the public. These documents will help us to tell the story of the fishing industry. Scanning Day has been temporarily postponed for health and safety reasons. If you would like to have your collection scanned, please call (508) 993-8894 to make an appointment.

Workers on the New Bedford Waterfront

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is pleased to announce its receipt of a prestigious Archie Green Fellowship from the Library of Congress to support a year-long effort to document shore-side workers in New Bedford/Fairhaven.  Workers on the New Bedford Waterfront will focus on recording oral histories about rarely documented occupational skills, knowledge, and trades including: marine electronics and engine repair; fish processing, packing, and trucking; the design and manufacture of fishing gear; work in ice plants and on fuel barges; offloading of fish and scallops; the seafood auction, settlement houses; and shipyard work.

Folklorist and Center Director Laura Orleans, working with anthropologists Madeleine Hall-Arber and Corinn Williams, oral historian Fred Calabretta and photographer Phil Mello, will conduct a large ethnographic field project interviewing approximately 60 shore-side workers involved in the local commercial fishing industry.

Archie Green (1917-2009) was a pioneering folklorist who championed the establishment of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and who was awarded the Library’s Living Legend Award and honored in the Congressional Record.  Green documented and analyzed the culture and traditions of American workers and encouraged others to do the same. Archie Green Fellowships are designed to stimulate innovative research projects documenting occupational culture in contemporary America.  The Archie Green Fellowships went to four teams of researchers in four different regions of the country.

Digital Archiving Project

Salted, Pickled, or Smoked: Preserving and Presenting the Cultural Heritage of New Bedford’s Fishing Community: a year-long effort to digitize the cultural heritage of New Bedford’s fishing community.

Commercial fishing is often a family activity with skills and knowledge passed from one generation to the next. Consequently, much of this history resides in the photo albums, documents, and artifacts of fishing families.  This project digitized these materials through a day-long public event in combination with “house calls” to digitally document materials from individuals who are unable to attend the event.  The project was book ended by a variety of public programs which served to inspire community participation, evoke memories, and provide an interpretive framework for materials that are brought forward.  Digitizing these materials, making them publicly available, and using them to tell the story of the fishing community created a lasting legacy for families who have spent generations working the water in what is one of the nation’s oldest occupations.

The project was a collaboration involving the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center (NBFHC), University Archives and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, MIT Sea Grant, the New Bedford Public Library, and New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. The project was being funded through a National Endowment for the Humanities Common Heritage Grant.

Following the digitization event, UMass Boston processed images and metadata and provided storage and public access through the University’s online repository. These materials are included in the Digital Commonwealth and Digital Public Library of America. In addition to UMass Boston’s online repository, the resulting digital collection will be publicly archived as part of digital collections at the New Bedford Public Library, the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and the Massachusetts Public Library Digital Initiative, and shared as part of digital exhibits on the NBFHC website. Those who participate by sharing their photographs, documents, or artifacts were given a USB drive containing the scanned images of their materials.



38 Bethel Street
New Bedford, MA 02740

Located in New Bedford, the nation’s most valuable fishing port, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the fishing industry past, present, and future through exhibits, programs, and archives.

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