Long Island boasts a particularly vibrant whaling heritage. Historically, whaling was one of Long Island’s most important commercial industries, significantly shaping the economic development and social foundation of the region, as well as contributing to America’s emergence as an international power in the 19th century. One of the three whaling ports on Long Island, Cold Spring Harbor, a village located on the North Shore of Suffolk County, offers a microcosmic view of the quintessential 19th century American whaling town. To honor the town’s heritage, the Whaling Museum Society, Inc. was founded in 1942.
The Museum’s object and archival holdings of 6,000 artifacts document the whaling and general maritime history of Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, and general US whaling history. The star of the Museum’s permanent exhibits is a historic whaleboat, the only fully-equipped whaling vessel with its original gear on display in New York. Highlights of the collection include one of the notable scrimshaw collections in the northeast. Additional objects include whaling implements, ship’s gear, navigational aids, ship models and maritime art. The library and archival collection contains 2,800 primary and secondary volumes and manuscript material from the Cold Spring whaling fleet, ship’s logs, journals and business correspondence of the Cold Spring Whaling Company, family documents dealing with maritime commerce on Long Island, records of the Long Island coastwise trade under sail and records from the Cold Spring Harbor Customs House (1798-1908).
Whaling Museum and Education Center is a member of the Long Island Library Resources Council.