Ships' logbooks, kept by either the Captain or one of his mates, provide a rich resource for historians who hope to recreate the history of whaling. In this lesson, students explore sample logbook pages from the ship Virginia and discuss why these records were created. They then use logbook data to map the ship's route and determine the most profitable whaling areas in the mid 1800s.
Print out sample logbook pages from the Virginia's whaling voyage and a photograph of wooden stamps. For each student or pair of students, have a worksheet of excerpted logbook data and a world map (with longitudes and latitudes). Likewise, make multiple small copies or one large classroom copy of the Whale Chart from 1831.
Mary Jane Aldrich-Moodie