Saturday Talk – “The Last Voyage of the Whaling Bark Progress”

April 24, 2021 @ 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Join historian Dr. Daniel W. Gifford when he explores one of the stranger sagas of the famous White City of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. He is the author of the new book The Last Voyage of the Whaling Bark Progress: New Bedford, Chicago and the Twilight of an Industry, the subject of his talkGifford will make his visual presentation via Zoom from his home in Louisville, KY. This program is sponsored by @MassHumanities Bridge Street Fund.

Gifford will introduce us to the whaling bark Progress, a New Bedford ship transformed into a whaling museum for the Chicago fair. Traversing waterways across North America, the whale ship enthralled crowds from Montreal to Racine, WI. Her ultimate fate, however, was to be a failed sideshow of marine curiosities and a metaphor for a dying industry out of step with Gilded Age America. The author will explore questions of commemoration, historical memory, and what it means to transform a way of life into “a museum piece.”

Gifford is a public historian who focuses on American popular and visual culture, as well as museums in American culture. He received his PhD from George Mason University. His career spans both academia and public history, including several years with the Smithsonian Institution. An affiliated professor in the Department of History at the University of Louisville, he currently teaches at multiple universities in the Louisville area.

His book may be ordered at

The Gifford talk is free as this program is supported by a grant from the Bridge Street Fund, a special initiative of Mass Humanities. The event will be offered via Zoom. To order on Zoom please visit

Mass Humanities @masshumanities and Mass Cultural Council @masscultural