Creator: Gloucester Fishermen’s Institute
Dates: 1909-1983
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet (5 manuscript containers)
Acquisition:  Accession #: 2495; 2618; 2648; 2773; 2894.1.17; 2803; Donated by: Irving Goodman, President of Gloucester Fishermen’s Institute.
Identification: A28 ; Archive Collection #28
Citation: [Document Title]. The Gloucester Fishermen’s Institute Collection, [Box #, Folder #, Item #], Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, MA.
Copyright: Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be addressed to the Librarian/Archivist
Language: English
Finding Aid:  Peter Brown, 2006; supervisor, Stephanie Buck, CAM Archivist

View the collection here.


The Gloucester Fishermen’s Institute was founded in 1891 by the Rev. Emanuel C. Charlton the pastor of an East Gloucester Methodist Church. The Institute was founded on a Protestant philosophy combining the temperance movement, the evangelical belief and a heavy dose of nationalism. An 1896 resolution stated that all British provinces in North America should be annexed by the U.S. and Cuba should be free.

They also made the statement: “The G.F.I. is not a social club for the young men of the city who have homes, societies, churches and friends all interested in them; but for the thousands of fishermen that are strangers in our city. There (sic) are the legitimate prey of the land sharks and sirens. The open saloon on every hand inviting, the inmates of the houses of ill-repute alluring to them. The G.F.I. is to them a harbor of refuge, a sanctuary, a home, a self retreat.”

Located originally at 53 Duncan St., the Bethal moved to the Phoenix Block on Duncan St. in 1892. This corner is now the parking lot behind the police station. At that time the surrounding area was also the center for “saloons” and “houses of ill repute.”

The G.F.I. provided a library for the members (3500 volumes by 1898) as well as lending books to the 400 schooners in the fishing fleet. They also subscribed to 25 daily newspapers, 13 weekly papers, 10 foreign papers and 11 monthly magazines. Baths, lodging, snacks, billiards, card games, lectures, concerts and social entertainment were all offered along with church services.

The G.F.I. also acted as a mailing address for relatives of the fishermen.

Through the decades, the financing of the G.F.I. strongly depended on bequests and investments with some operating income coming from the sale of snacks, cigarettes and the renting of rooms.


The history of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Institute is partially covered by a typed draft documenting its founding, the records for it, and its initial success. The draft covers the years 1890-1901. Three extensive record books cover the period 1909-1983 with minutes of monthly and annual meetings, treasurer reports, committee reports, votes and motions. Other material consists of books and pamphlets from the Institute’s library, photos of sea captains, schooners and auditors reports. Also included are accessioning records of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Museum.


Box #1

Record Book 1909-1928 (399p.)

Record Book 1928-1957 (384p.)

Folder 1: correspondence - insurance, wills

Folder 2: Photos, Mystic Seaport and clippings re: retired fishermen

Folder 3: Financial correspondence, bequests


Box #2

Record Book 1957-1983 (215p.)

Folder 1: Letter to JR Pringle with photos of Fishermen’s Race, Columbia, 1926

Letter from Museu de Marinha, Portugal, 1981

Gloucester Fraternity Club 50th Anniversary Program book.

Photos of Capt. Solomon Jacobs, Capt. Alfred Johnson, Capt. Reuben Cameron, Capt. Joseph Mesquita

Photo of Italian Fishing Fleet in Boston, late 1930s

Folder 2: Large format, mostly unidentified (except L.A. Dunton & Elsie)

Fishermen’s Museum exhibit photographs

2 paper placemats from the Schooner Race Lounge, 342 Main St.

Off-prints of schooners: Esperanto, Columbia, Bluenose, Elsie, Henry Ford, Canadia, Elizabeth Howard, Delawanna

Framed document - Captains signatures

Framed photo of Howard Blackburn

Ledger book 1979, 1980


Box #3

Accessioning list - Gloucester Fishermen’s Museum.

2 Art catalogues, Lewis Bryden

Periodical - The New England Fisheries, 1918

13 copies of Atlantic Fisheries 1922-1936

Typed draft - History of the G.F.I. 1890-1901


Box #4

Financial statements, Auditors reports, 1940-1976


Box #5

Booklets, pamphlets, and articles

The Trawler - James Connolly, 1914

Gloucester Sea Ballads, Kitty Parsons, 1946

Dog town Common, Kitty Parsosn, 1936

The Saga of Howard Blackburn, Kitty Parsons, 1945

The Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage, Kitty Parsons, 1945

Article: What’s Happening to the Fish Pier, c.1980

A History of the Emblem of the Codfish, 1895

Whale Fishery of New England, State Street Trust, 1915

Rockport, a Town of the Sea, Arthur Morley, 1924

13 issues of Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, U.K., 1937-1942

Yankee Ship Sailing Cards, State Street Bank, 1952

Old Shipping Days in Boston, State Street Bank, 1918

4 copies of History of the Fishing Port of Gloucester, 1973

Clipping re: Fisheries Fishermen’s Memorial Service, 1967

The Gloucester Book, History of Gloucester, Frank Cox, 1921


Back Room Library Shelves

In Great Waters by Jeremiah Digges, 1941

The Book of the Gloucester Fisherman, James Connolly, 1927


See also:

P 10 FF 03

D 10 FF 04 & 05

D 10A all folders

D 24 FF29