The Arctic Whaleman; or, Winter in the Arctic Ocean


The whaler Citizen left New Bedford, Massachusetts, on October 29, 1851, for what was to be a three- or four-year voyage to North Pacific. After rounding East Cape (today known as Cape Dezhnev), the northeastern-most point on the mainland of Asia, and entering the Arctic Ocean, the vessel was wrecked in a storm on September 25, 1852. Five members of the crew were lost in the gale. The other 33 men made it to shore, where they were kept alive for nine months by local people, Yupik Eskimos inhabiting this sparsely populated region of Chukotka, Siberia. The Arctic Whaleman; or, Winter in the Arctic Ocean is an account of the ordeal of the crew of the Citizen, written by Lewis Holmes, a clergyman from Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, based mainly on an oral account of the voyage given to him by Thomas Howes Norton, also of Edgartown, captain of the Citizen. The book has 15 illustrations and includes notes on the native people of the region, including their methods of hunting whales, their huts, manner of preparing food, customs, language, and so forth. The surviving crewmembers of the Citizen finally were rescued by two New England whalers on July 4, 1853. The book concludes with a brief history of the whaling industry. The heyday of the American whaling industry was from 1820 to 1850, when American whalers accounted for 652 vessels in the worldwide whaling fleet of about 882 ships. New Bedford was the leading whaling port, followed by Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Nantucket, Massachusetts, and New London, Connecticut. Whaling in the Arctic Ocean began in 1848, when the bark Superior of Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, first passed through the Bering Strait to hunt the bowhead whale. Within three years, 250 ships, mostly from New England, had made whaling voyages to the seas north of Siberia and Alaska.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Thayer & Eldridge, Boston


Title in Original Language

The Arctic whaleman; or, Winter in the Arctic Ocean : being a narrative of the wreck of the whale ship Citizen ... Together with a brief history of whaling

Type of Item

Physical Description

296 pages : illustrations


  1. Winthrop L. Marvin, The American Merchant Marine: Its History and Romance from 1620 to 1902 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902).

Last updated: August 31, 2017