Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design


Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Linda Welters


During the nineteenth century many New England men spent much of their lives at sea in pursuit of whales. Whale oil and bone obtained during these long voyages brought considerable monetary gains to the captains and owners of the vessels. Members of the crew often were drawn to the adventure of the whale hunt, as well as experiencing other cultures and lands.

Clothing was an important aspect of everyday life aboard ship. This study examined the acquisition, use and maintenance of men's clothing onboard whaling vessels. Journals, outfitting books, ship logs and contemporary literature of the mid-nineteenth century provided evidence. Whaling reached its peak in 1846 when more than half of American whaling vessels were owned and commanded by New Englanders.

The clothing styles and textiles produced between 1840-1869 influenced the unique image of the whaleman. Distinctive jackets, hats and caps, wide trousers, and shirts distinguished whaling from other occupations. Diverse climates encountered, occupational needs and rank distinctions among the crew, suppliers, and available technology influenced clothing choices of whalemen.



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