– Matt Randolph (Amherst College ’16) –

Digital Scholarship Summer Intern for Digital Programs at Frost Library (2014)


When many historians think of the name Paul Cuffe, they usually imagine the famous half-African, half-Native-American nineteenth-century sea captain and abolitionist from New Bedford, MA. But did you know that Paul Cuffe also had a son of the same name? Like his father, the younger Paul Cuffe sailed the seas as a whaler, merchant, and traveler, even publishing a maritime narrative in 1839, twenty-two years after his father’s death, called Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Paul Cuffe, A Pequot Indian: During Thirty Years Spent at Sea, and in Traveling Foreign Lands (1839).

For a long time, Paul Cuffe Jr. and his sole narrative received little scholarly attention, having always been in the shadow of the works and legacies of Paul Cuffe Sr. However, Jace Weaver, in his landmark book published in March 2014, The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927, discusses the role of Paul Cuffe Jr. in Native American history, highlighting the significance of Native American world travelers and sailors. I seek to supplement such recent scholarship by bringing Paul Cuffe Jr.’s narrative into the realm of digital scholarship.



Supported by Digital Programs at Amherst College’s Frost Library, The Paul Cuffe Jr. Project is an undergraduate summer research initiative in the digital humanities to bring to life the maritime journeys of Paul Cuffe’s son, who like his father spent many years at sea as a free person of color. The project is a virtual storytelling initiative that integrates the narrative’s text with geographic mapping of Cuffe’s maritime travels using ArcGIS Online: instead of reading the text alone, you can follow Paul Cuffe’s adventures at sea by viewing the text of particular segments on a digital map.

The project seeks to illuminate the nature of maritime labor, war, and daily life in the nineteenth century. With this digital project, you can follow this incredible sailor’s adventures as if you were sailing right along with him: from the War of 1812 to interactions with natives of island nations, from capture to escape, from imprisonment to liberation.

Tales of pirates, turtle-hunting, whaling, islands, war, and more await you!

– Matt Randolph –

Amherst College ’16

– Five Guided Interactive Maps of Paul Cuffe Jr’s Adventures –

Map of Cuffe’s Atlantic Voyage with His Father 
Map of Cuffe’s Journey to Germany
Map of Cuffe’s Travels in the Lusophone World
Map of Cuffe’s Journey in the Pacific World
Map of Cuffe’s Encounters with Pirates

Paul Cuffe Project Slider Image

I’ve also provided a segmented replication of Cuffe’s narrative below, organized into 25 thematically distinct “chapters”. Go ahead and click any of the chapters below to explore the text from a particular point:

*Transcriber’s Note:

These chapters reflect my own desire to divide the narrative into chapters to improve readers’ experiences with the text. They are the original works of Paul Cuffe, not my own. Paul Cuffe Jr.’s original 1839 narrative was published without being divided into chapters. The unsegmented full text is readily available through the public domain at Archives.org or Project Gutenberg

-Matt Randolph

Amherst College ’16

Click on the images below to learn more about Paul Cuffe Jr.’s experiences at sea! 

Paul Cuffe Jr., Turtle Hunter
Paul Cuffe Jr., Whaler
Paul Cuffe Jr. and Religion
Paul Cuffe Jr. and Ethnicity


  1. Cuffe, Paul. Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Paul Cuffe: A Pequot Indian: During Thirty Years Spent at Sea, and in Travelling in Foreign Lands. Vernon: Printed by Horace N. Bill, 1839.

*Button images acquired through openclipart.org

Please send any corrections or questions to Digital Programs at libdig@amherst.edu