The Melville Society is dedicated to the study and appreciation of the nineteenth-century American author Herman Melville, writer of Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd, such short stories as “Bartleby” and “Benito Cereno,” and several volumes of poetry, including Battle-Pieces and the epic Clarel
We publish the award-winning journal Leviathan which all members receive three times a year and which offers scholarly articles, book and art reviews, Society news, and Melville-related events. Membership is open to all. For information about Leviathan and joining The Melville Society click here.

The Eaton Portrait

Herman Melville JOEaton 95ppi 250wBy permission of Houghton Library, Harvard University: 61Z-4

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Melville Electronic Library

mel-thumb-crpd-3The Melville Electronic Library is an online resource for Melville texts. Housed on a Hofstra University server, MEL is being developed and maintained by a group of Melville scholars and digital specialists.

Johns Hopkins University Press

jhup-logoTo join the Melvillle Society and subscribe to Leviathan, visit Leviathan's Johns Hopkins University Press journal site by clicking here.

Melville Society Cultural Project

Melville Society and New Bedford Whaling Museum Cultural Project The New Bedford Whaling Museum in collaboration with The Melville Society is the established home of the Melville Society Cultural Project and Melville Society Archive. The Melville Society Archive is housed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum's Research Library, where significant works from this collection are also on display. The Melville Society Cultural Project also sponsors a book donation program and presents exciting annual events including the Moby-Dick Marathon and a Birthday Lecture.

Herman Melville's Arrowhead

BHS FB HM portraitHerman Melville's Arrowhead Facebook Group page of the Berkshire Historical Society. Celebrating historical Berkshire County and Herman Melville's Arrowhead, the farm and home where Melville lived while writing Moby-Dick.

Bylaws of the Melville Society

Amended January 2020


I. Purpose of the Society

The Melville Society, founded in 1946, is a scholarly organization whose principal aims are to study, preserve, and disseminate scholarship about the life, works, and historical context of Herman Melville. The Society publishes a journal and occasional works, sponsors conferences, maintains an archive, supports educational and cultural activities, manages endowments, and enters into affiliations with organizations that share its aims. The Society is open to anyone who shares its aims. It is managed by an Executive Committee (elected by the membership) that follows the policies prescribed in these bylaws.

II. Officers of the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee (EC) is the governing body of the Society and consists of seven elected officers. All officers have full voting rights and are expected to conduct day-to-day business at meetings (in person or electronically) as called by the Executive Secretary. Wherever possible, EC officers should seek institutional support for their activities in behalf of the Society, including teaching reductions, clerical support, office space, postage and copying expenses, travel expenses, and other necessities.

A. President

The President is an individual who has made significant contributions to Melville studies and serves as an honorary officer. The President appoints one member of the Society's Nominating Committee to a three-year term and serves the Society in other capacities as the EC suggests.

Term: one year; may serve more than once, but not in consecutive years.

B. Executive Secretary

The Executive Secretary is the Society’s chief executive officer and official spokesperson. Duties include:

1. Convening and chairing the Executive Committee.
2. Calling for and supervising all elections and tallying ballots.
3. Corresponding between the Society and all external groups.
4. Maintaining an archive of the Society's official business, including files of the retiring Executive Secretary and other important documents.
5. Coordinating activities among the Society's officers, committees, and its various constituencies, especially the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP).
6. Working with the Associate Secretary on programs and conferences.

Term: three years; may serve successive terms.

C. Associate Secretary for Programs and Conferences

The Associate Secretary has primary responsibility for scheduling the Society's annual programs at the conferences for the American Literature Association (ALA) and MLA.

Duties include:

1. Communicating with MLA and ALA regarding rooms, times, and other practical details.
2. Communicating with the MLA and ALA program chairs to ensure timely planning and effective panels that meet the Society's aims.
3. Communicating with members who propose conferences in accord with Society guidelines and bringing these proposals to the EC for discussion and action.
4. Maintaining and distributing Society policies and guidelines pertaining to conferences.
5. Handling other tasks as the Executive Secretary requests.

Term: three years; may serve successive terms.

D. Editor

The Editor is responsible for all publishing associated with the Society, primarily Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, but also any special publications, single or serialized. Duties include:

1. Managing editorial responsibilities professionally to insure a fair and effective peer review process, high quality content, excellence in journal or book design, accuracy in copyediting, and the timely submission of copy for printing and distribution.
2. Appointing, at his or her discretion, an Associate Editor to assist in general editing or special projects, and other individuals to perform specific editorial roles (special guest editor, book review editor, advisory committee, etc.). The Associate Editor serves on the EC ex officio as a non-voting member.
3. Employing, at his or her discretion, a Managing Editor or other assistants to help with manuscript submissions, correspondence, and filing. Such arrangements may be made with the Society and the editor's home institution.

Term: three years; may serve successive terms.

E. Treasurer

The Treasurer administers and supervises all financial accounts, and prepares an annual report on the Society's fiscal health that is published in the Society's journal. Other duties include:

Collecting all monies, exclusive of dues and subscriptions, that accrue to the Society, the journal, the MSCP, and any other Society entity, including the Murray and Cohen Endowments, depositing them in one or more accounts under the Society's name and tax identification number, and disbursing them as the EC, MSCP, or other budgeted entities of the Society direct.
Filing Federal income tax returns and such documents as are necessary to retain non-profit status; filing annual reports with the Society's state of incorporation (currently New Jersey) and such documents as are necessary with our registered agency in the state of incorporation.
Providing such documentation as is required by Hofstra University to maintain the Leviathan subvention for the duration of that relationship.
Maintaining accurate and up-to-date financial records for all Society funds, including the MSCP.
Submitting an annual budget for the Society, including the MSCP, that must be approved by the EC, as directed by the Executive Secretary. Significant variations from the budget must be approved by the EC.
Maintaining an archive of the Society's important financial records and transmitting them to future treasurers.
Consulting as necessary with the Murray Endowment Committee.

Term: three years; may serve successive terms.

F. Member At-Large

The executive committee member at-large shall be a member of the Melville Society who holds no other concurrent office or duties. The member At-Large is an equal member of the EC with voice and vote on all EC matters and shall attend meetings, correspond regularly with the EC, and perform such occasional duties as the Executive Secretary may direct.

Term: three years. (may repeat once)

G. Melville Society Cultural Project Representative

The MSCP Representative acts as a liaison between the MSCP committee (see below) and the Executive Committee. Duties include:

1. Attending meetings of both the MSCP committee and EC.
2. Advising the Treasurer on the annual MSCP budget.
3. Reporting the year's MSCP activities at the annual meetings of the Society and of the Executive Committee.

Term: Two years; may serve successive terms.

III. Standing Committees

A. Nominating Committee

The nominating committee consists of three persons selected from the membership at large who do not serve on any other committees. Every year the outgoing President appoints one member to serve one three-year term. The senior member chairs the committee and receives instructions from the Executive Secretary regarding vacancies, deadlines, and other procedures. The committee nominates one person for each vacancy and submits its slate to the Executive Secretary, who prepares a ballot that is submitted to Society members. Duties include:

1. Nominating one person for each vacant position on the Executive Committee and the Murray Endowment Board of Trustees;
2. Nominating chairs for the annual programs at MLA and ALA, who hold one-year terms and may serve no more than once every three years.

B. Murray Endowment Committee

The Murray Endowment began in 1987 with a $20,000.00 bequest from Henry A. Murray. It is a permanent endowment whose funds were originally designated in part to support new publications of the Society, improvements to the Society's journal, and a stipend to the Editor.
The Murray Endowment is managed by a committee of six consisting of the Executive Secretary, the Treasurer, the Editor, and three independently elected trustees. Each trustee is nominated by the nominating committee and serves a staggered three-year term. This committee oversees all decisions about the use and investment of funds, with actual disbursements to be made by the Treasurer.

C. Cohen Endowment Committee

The Cohen Endowment honors the memory of Hennig Cohen with a cash award
given annually for the best article, book chapter, or essay in a book about Melville. These may be self-nominated or nominated by a mentor, colleague, or friend, as well as the Cohen Endowment Committee, which selects the winner. The committee is appointed by the Executive Secretary and consists of three persons serving staggered three-year terms, with the senior member serving as chair. The award is typically made in the year after the article or chapter is published and is presented at that year's MLA meeting. Preference will be given to newer scholars in the field of Melville studies, and no one may win the award more than once. The Cohen Endowment itself is a permanent endowment and is managed by the Treasurer.

D. Communications Committee

The communications committee consists of a Communications Chair and at least two members appointed by the Executive Secretary with the approval of the Executive Committee. The Chair acts in close consultation with the Editor and the Executive Secretary to coordinate and develop effective and engaging communications between the Executive Committee and membership, among the membership, and between the Society and the public. Members should be proficient in digital communications and social media platforms.

Term: three years (may repeat).

IV. Elections

Election of officers is held every year, usually in the late spring, by electronic ballot emailed to the membership. The Executive Secretary, in consultation with the Executive Committee, determines election deadlines and when necessary makes minor adjustments to ensure that the terms of officers overlap and thus provide continuity and experience on the Executive Committee. Terms of office begin on January 1 of the year following the election. Additional votes of the membership are required to approve revisions of the bylaws, affiliations with other organizations, or any departures from these bylaws in principle or practice as determined by the EC.

V. The Melville Society Cultural Project

The MSCP is a subcommittee of the Executive Committee consisting of at least four members who are appointed by the Executive Committee. Duties include:

1. Managing the archives and artifacts that accrue to the Society through donations and bequests, such as books, documents, and art works.
2. Promoting educational programming, including teacher institutes, conferences, symposia, and other public events devoted to Melville's writings, life, and times.
3. Arranging exhibitions, musical and dramatic performances, lectures and lecture series, and other special events associated with Melville.
4. Advising affiliated organizations, such as the New Bedford Whaling Museum, on Melville exhibitions, Melville museum walks or tours, or other activities consonant with the purposes of the Melville Society.

VI. Vacancies

The Executive Secretary, with the advice and consent of the Executive Committee, may appoint members to fill out the remaining term of any position that becomes vacant.

VII. Terms of Society Membership

All individuals (not institutions) are automatically considered voting members of the Society if they have paid their annual dues on schedule and are not in arrears for past years. The Treasurer will provide this list to the Executive Secretary before each election or ballot. It is expected that all officers, program chairs, and committee members will be members of the Society and keep their memberships current.

VIII. Ratification and Amendment of Bylaws

These bylaws will take effect when they are ratified by a majority of those voting in an election called for that purpose. They may be amended by the Executive Committee with the ratification of a majority of those members voting in an election called for that purpose.

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Fellowships and Scholarships

Melville Society Archive
Walter E. Bezanson Fellowship
The Melville Society, under the auspices of the Melville Society Cultural Project in New Bedford, offers an annual fellowship to help a scholar undertake research on Herman Melville at the Society’s Archive in the Research Library of the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.


Click here for more information and application details.


New York Public Library
Short-term Research Fellowships


Graduate students or other affiliated academics whose work would benefit from visiting the Manuscripts and Archives Division to view collections such as the Gansevoort-Lansing collection, and Duyckinck family papers are encouraged to apply.


Click here for more information and application details.

From Our Photo Collections

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Woodlawn Cemetary

WoodlawnWoodlawn Cemetary - final resting place of Herman, his wife, Elizabeth, and other family members. Click here to view photos of the gravesites.

125th Anniversary Celebration

125th Woodlawn

A celebration of Melville's life at Woodlawn Cemetary on the 125th anniversary of his passing.

Lansingburgh Historical Society

Melville House

Melville lived for nine years in this Lansingburgh house. It was here that he wrote Typee and Omoo

Berkshire Historical Society

ArrowheadMelville's Arrowhead home and farm in Pittsfield, MA where he wrote Moby-Dick and lived for most of the 1850s.