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Episode 172: The Last Voyage of the Whaling Ship Progress


In 1892, the whaling ship Progress under the command of Captain Daniel W. Gifford made an unusual voyage, not out to sea for a two to three year voyage, but up the St. Lawrence River and into the Great Lakes—the entire time under tow, rather than under sail. Its destination was Chicago and the great Columbian Exposition of 1893.

With me to discuss the last voyage of the Progress, and the decades of experience that led to that voyage, is the great-great-grandson of Daniel Gifford—who is also named Daniel Gifford, but instead of a ship captain teaches history at the University of Louisville. His book that we’re discussing today is The Last Voyage of the Whaling Ship Progress: New Bedford, Chicago, and the Twilight of an Industry. It is a microhistory, a community history, the history of an inudstry, and it is full of questions about memorialization, memory, and public history.


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