In 1980, the Descendants of Whaling Masters published a volume of previously uncollected correspondence of the whaling era entitled "My Dear Husband." The book was compiled and edited by DWM member and UMASS Dartmouth professor Genevieve Darden. A poignant collection of letters written between whalemen and their wives, whaling masters and merchants, and fathers to children, the book was enthusiastically received and has been out of print for many years.
In 1999, DWM approached New Bedford, Massachusetts, actor Ray Veary to see if the material in "My Dear Husband" might be adapted for a staged reading. The result was a script which he adapted from the book and which he has performed in the Southeastern Massachusetts area with local actor Lucy Bly.
When Ray and Lucy performed their first dramatic reading of excerpts from "My Dear Husband" at DWM's annual meeting, the program was so successful it soon became apparent that there was a demand for a reprint of the book.
In the fall of 2002, under the leadership and inspiration of then DWM chairperson, Susan Grace Taber, and a committee comprised of Catherine and William "Bud" H. Potter, Jr. and Christine Davis and with the blessing of the DWM executive board, the "Whaling Letters" reprint project was launched with the new title suggested by Ray Veary.