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Ongoing Projects

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 or email programs@fishingheritagecenter.org to make an appointment.

Past Projects

Workers on the New Bedford Waterfront

In 2016, the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center (NBFHC) received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to document workers on the New Bedford, Massachusetts, waterfront for the Occupational Folklife Project (OFP). Folklorist and NBFHC Executive Director Laura Orleans, anthropologists Madeleine Hall-Arber and Corinn Williams, and oral historian Fred Calabretta recorded oral histories with 58 workers involved in diverse fishing-related trades on the New Bedford waterfront. Documented trades range from fish packers to net makers, navigational electronic technicians to marine divers, and maritime upholsterers to ice house workers. The interviews are supplemented by striking workplace portraits taken by New Bedford photographer Phillip Mello, who was also interviewed about his job as general manager at Bergie’s Seafood, and who has been taking photographs of his fellow waterfront workers since 1975.  Click here to explore the collection.  The Center is pleased that some of this work is being featured as part of DATMA’s Harvester’s of the Deep exhibit in the summer of 2021.

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.

This project resulted in the creation of a best-practices “Digitizing Day Handbook” which you can access by clicking here.

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.

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