What does it mean to transform a dying industry into “a museum piece”? That question is at the heart of Daniel Gifford's (PhD, History, 2011) new book The Last Voyage of the Whaling Bark Progress (McFarland Press, 2020). The Progress was a New Bedford whaler transformed into a whaling museum for Chicago's 1893 world's fair. Traversing waterways across North America, the whaleship enthralled crowds from Montreal to Racine. Her ultimate fate, however, was to be a failed sideshow of marine curiosities and a metaphor for a dying industry out of step with Gilded Age America. This book uses the story of the Progress to detail the rise, fall, and eventual demise of the whaling industry in America. It serves as a fascinating case study for anyone interested in museums and questions of commemoration and historical memory.
June 09, 2020