Join the Lane Memorial Library in partnership with the Hampton Historical Society, Portsmouth Public Library, Seabrook Library, and Kingston Community Library for a free Zoom event with Skip Finley, author of Whaling Captains of Color: America's First Meritocracy on Thursday, August 26th, 7:00 p.m.
About Whaling Captains of Color
The history of whaling as an industry on this continent has been well-told in books, including some that have been bestsellers, but what hasn’t been told is the story of whaling’s leaders of color in an era when the only other option was slavery. Whaling was one of the first American industries to exhibit diversity. A man became a captain not because he was white or well connected, but because he knew how to kill a whale. Along the way, he could learn navigation and reading and writing. Whaling presented a tantalizing alternative to mainland life.
Working with archival records at whaling museums, in libraries, from private archives and interviews with people whose ancestors were whaling masters, Finley culls stories from the lives of over 50 black whaling captains to create a portrait of what life was like for these leaders of color on the high seas.
The book concludes as facts and factions conspire to kill the industry, including wars, weather, bad management, poor judgment, disease, obsolescence, and a non-renewable natural resource.
Ironically, the end of the Civil War allowed the African Americans who were captains to exit the difficult and dangerous occupation—and make room for the Cape Verdean who picked up the mantle, literally to the end of the industry.
“The story of people of color in the whaling industry is a fascinating and hitherto unexplored subject enough, but Skip Finley’s brilliant survey of the black captains and crew of the New England whale fisheries takes it one step further. His swift and sure narrative is excitingly told, bringing a fresh and vibrant focus to a vital part of American, and indeed global, history.” — Philip Hoare, author of The Whale
Skip Finley is a former broadcasting executive who was responsible for over 40 U.S. radio stations and experienced success in all areas of radio. Attempting retirement since age 50, he keeps returning to communications, currently in marketing at the Vineyard Gazette Media Group on Martha's Vineyard, where he summered since 1955, deciding to become a writer. For five years Finley wrote the weekly Oak Bluffs Town Column and is a contributor to several publications in the areas of whaling and history.
Skip has written articles for the Vineyard Gazette, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Island Weddings Magazine, the Provincetown Banner, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum publications, The Intelligencer and MVM Quarterly, Sea History Magazine and Cape Cod & The Islands Magazine.
To order copies of this book please visit this link to the author’s website.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 851 2622 6627