Help us transcribe the journal of Henry Smith!

Volunteer opportunity

Are you looking for a challenging and educational volunteer opportunity?  The Westport Historical Society seeks a team of volunteers to transcribe the contents of the Henry Smith journal. Volunteers will transcribe the handwritten pages of this journal and will explore the themes of local history that will be illuminated during this project.

Much is yet to be discovered within the journal’s 360 pages. In preparation for the effort to transcribe the contents, the journal has been digitized, making it far easier to access and share. Henry Smith’s handwriting is neat and reasonably easy to read with a little practice.

You can view a sample page below.

If you think you could transcribe a few pages, then please contact us!

Volunteers must have access to a computer and be comfortable using Microsoft word (or equivalent). Digital images of the journal pages will be shared electronically and transcribing will be done at the volunteer’s home.

Local historians will be available to assist with questions at regularly scheduled in-person meetings.

The project will commence in November 2024.

More information about the journal:

The Westport Historical Society was lucky enough to purchase the manuscript journal of Henry Smith (1815-1873), a Westport whaling ship agent, sailor, and farmer. The handwritten, bound journal chronicles life and death in mid-19th century Westport, offering extraordinary insights into local people, places, and events including detailed accounts of Smith’s attempts to recruit crew members for his whaling vessels. Smith’s entries record Friends meetings attended (Smith was a Quaker) and sermons heard. The journal also documents Smith’s farming activities.  Henry Smith lived on a farm owned by his father-in-law, Henry Wilcox, located at 775 Horseneck Road.

This project is coordinated by the Westport Historical Society and the Westport Free Public Library.

To sign up or for further information please contact Westport Historical Society or the Westport Library.

Sample page



Westport January 1st 1853
Saturday 1st
At sunrise wind NE and thick middle and latter part rainy and warm for this season cut up a salted four quarters of beef. Beef sells for $6.50 and pork at $8.50 to [?] per cut. At sunset raining wind NE.

Sunday January 2nd
At sunrise wind NE and pleasant. Myself wife and Henry W attended friends meeting at Bald Hill had no preaching. Humphrey W. Seabury and son Charles P and Aunt Sally were here in the afternoon at 3 PM. I left home for Westport Point crossed the river and landed at Stephen Allen’s shore. Got a letter from the Bark Rajah reported her 15 months out and 350 bbls whale oil and 5400 lbs bone. Got a bill of laden for 400 bbls sperm oil shipped on board the Schooner Adelaide. Capt. Briggs oil sold to D & A Kingsland and Sutton[?] of New York @$1.20 per gallon. I arrived home in the evening, wind NE and dark cloudy weather.

Monday January 3rd
At sunrise wind NE and cloudy at 9 o’clock AM in company with H. Wilcox. Started off to look a mate for the Brig Mexico went by way of Hix Bridge and Adams Ville called on John Le Munion at his home about 1 1/2 miles from Adams Ville north. He does not feel disposed to go mate owing to poor health and other excuses his qualifications as an officer middling fair officer[?] and fair whaleman rather easy and lack of ambition. Proceeded on north to Gideon Manchesters [?] to ship him for a mate but owing to other engagements would not ship? his qualifications steered a boat two voyages and part of another [?] good boat steerer would make a good watch man or for a mate for a small ship. From thence proceeded on by the way of Bliss Corner through Stafford Road to Fall River stopped at Mr Sissons on Main Street. He is a merchant tailor and sailor outfitter gained but little information from him. From Fall River we went by the way of Slades Ferry to Capt Job Collins about one mile south of Sommerset Village stayed at night with Captain Collins. He has a wife and three children two boys and a girl. At sunset winds NE and cloudy.

Tuesday January 4th
At sunrise wind at NNE and cloudy, blowing a gale got breakfast and at 10 oclock AM harnessed our horse and started for home. Crossed Slades Ferry to Fall River stopped in the village about one hour at meridian commenced snowing moderately and blowing a heavy gale from NE by N. Left Fall River and went by the way of the narrows the watter flying across the road passed Davis Corner and turned down the factory road stopped at Peleg Tripp at the Factory tried to ship him for a mate but he chose not to go until spring. His qualifications fare. Was last 1st mate of the William and Eliza of New Bedford has good recommendations from her [?] would make a mate for a small ship. From Mr. Tripps we went by way of the Head of Westport to sister Hannah’s about ¼ mile north of the Head of the river found her quite smart[?] set up 20 minutes in 24 hours[?]. She has a fine boy 11 day old. At 3 o’clock started for home arrived home about sunset.