Coastal Perspectives Lecture – Feb 9, 2021

A Voyage of Discovery with Skip Finley

Skip Finley – Author | Historian | Speaker

Skip’s Website  |  Skip on Facebook


Long before NASA’s “Hidden Figures” blazed the mathematical trail for John Glenn’s orbit of the earth, America’s original hidden figures charted the course for whale ships that provided the fuel for homes to be lit and heated across the United States.

Author and historian Skip Finley didn’t expect that his research for an article for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine in 2014 would launch him on a ‘voyage of discovery.’ However, he soon found himself navigating a sea of historic documents, logbooks, and whaling journals uncovering the untold stories of whaling captains of color and their career journeys in the country’s first meritocratic industry.

Whaling was the first American industry to exhibit any diversity, and a man could rise to the ranks of captain based on skill, not skin color. Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy features stories from the lives of over 50 whaling captains of color. Join Skip as he shares some of the stories he uncovered during his ‘voyage of discovery’ and paints a picture of the career paths of whalers.

Skip Finley provides a fascinating portrait of the turbulent and fraught world of the men of color who not only were whalemen, but also became leaders in one of America’s most iconic industries. Whaling Captains of Color is a most welcome and long overdue addition to the literature, and one which will hopefully spur others to dig deeper into this important aspect of whaling history.” — Eric Jay Dolin, author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America


About Skip Finley; Author | Historian | Speaker

Weekly Oak Bluffs Town columnist for the Vineyard Gazette from 2012 to 2017, Skip Finley is a retired broadcaster who has written for, been featured, or quoted in most media industry trade publications.

Skip built his career in radio, becoming a well-known executive and station owner. He served as Vice Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters and Chairman of the Radio Advertising Bureau. He served on virtually all broadcasting industry association boards of directors, and executive committees.

Having attempted to retire since age 50, he keeps returning to communications, currently as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Vineyard Gazette Media Group on Martha’s Vineyard, where he summered since 1955 and has lived since 1999.

Skip has written articles for the Vineyard Gazette, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Island Weddings Magazine, the Provincetown Banner, Sea History Magazine and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum publications, The Intelligencer and the MV Museum Quarterly. He writes a history themed column for Cape Cod and the Islands Magazine.  His book Historic Tales of Oak Bluffs was published by Arcadia Publishing’s History Press and Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy, published by the Naval Institute Press in June 2020 is in its second printing.



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