New Bedford Area Chamber donates archive

Michael Dyer, maritime curator, surveys archival records donated by the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.

The New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce recently donated its early records archive to the Museum’s Research Library. The collection includes bound correspondence of the Chamber’s predecessor organization, the New Bedford Board of Trade, dating as early as 1915. However, much of the collection documents the period from the 1960s to the 1980s covering a range of topics including urban renewal, waste management, economic development, tourism, parking and other Chamber affairs. Earlier materials include the original organizational by-laws and a large volume of correspondence from the early 20th century.

“We’re pleased to donate these archival records of the Chamber’s early years to the whaling museum’s research library; we know they will be cared for properly and will be made available to students and the public for generations to come,” said Roy Nascimento, president and CEO of the Chamber.

Michael Dyer, the museum’s maritime curator notes that the Board of Trade was first organized in 1884, with many founding members being whaling agents whose business interests had expanded. “Men like Jonathan Bourne, Jr., Jireh Swift and William R. Wing had all made their fortunes in whaling but maintained important investments in other businesses,” Dyer said.

The research library’s other recent manuscript acquisitions include the papers of the local law firm of Crapo, Clifford and Clifford, the George C. Perkins collection and the Merchants Bank collection. Taken together they offer new research opportunities into the history of the city and its transition from a whaling port and textile center to a diverse manufacturing, retail and arts hub in the region.

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