The Atlantic Fisherman


A collection of more than 1000 prints and negatives from Atlantic Fisherman monthly from 1919-1950’s documenting the fishing industry of the Northeast coast

The Atlantic Fisherman was founded as a monthly in Boston in 1919 as “a paper for fishermen — producers — the men who actually fish for a living.” It was supported by advertising promoting everything that a fisherman needed: from larger engines to power the new draggers that were starting to take over from sailing schooners in the Banks fisheries, to hip boots. Its masthead read “A farm journal for the Harvesters of the Sea.” It informed fishermen about new designs, gear and catches and provided historical articles and profiles of prominent fishing captains.

In May 1929, P.G. Lamson became president and in July he moved the office to Goffstown, New Hampshire. By then the magazine had color covers, a color advertising insert, and correspondents reporting from Canada as well as Maine and Massachusetts. Lamson continued publishing the magazine, taking his son Gardner Lamson into the business as a correspondent, photographer and editor. In 1954, they took on a broader mission, becoming National Fisherman. In 1960 the magazine was sold to Maine Coast Fisherman, which had started in Belfast in 1946; for a while the resulting publication was called National Fisherman Combined with Maine Coast Fisherman.

Gardner Lamson kept the magazine’s photo files and some correspondence, and in 1992 he began giving these files to the Penobscot Marine Museum. The files have about 1,000 prints dating back into the 1920s, most of which can be traced to specific uses in the magazine, and about the same number of negatives.

All have been scanned, but it will be a challenge matching negatives to prints as few negatives were labeled. Along with the photographs, Lamson gave the museum a full bound run of the magazine.The Atlantic Fisherman Collection provides an unmatched look at fishing on the Maine-Massachusetts coast in the fifty years after engines supplanted sail in fishing. The museum has done some test scanning of the Maine columns from 1930 to 1953 and is exploring ways to put these online as searchable documents.