Asian and African Studies Blog: Digitised East India Company ships’ journals and related records. “Enhanced catalogue descriptions have been created for journals of ships that visited ports in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, and these journals have been digitised and are being made freely available on the Qatar Digital Library website as part of the British Library/Qatar Foundation Partnership. They constitute an extraordinarily rich and valuable set of primary sources for numerous areas of research, including: the history of global trade networks; encounters between British merchants and crews and diverse people in different parts of Asia, Africa and elsewhere; the origins of British imperialism; rivalry between European powers in Asia; long-distance marine navigation; the experience of everyday life on board ship, and during lengthy voyages, for members of the crew; and historic weather patterns over the course of more than two centuries.”
The Text Message (National Archives): Over 650 Newly Digitized Navy Logbooks in the National Archives Catalog. “These firsthand accounts of the Battle of New Orleans during the Civil War are just small snippets from two Navy logbooks, which are part of 653 digitized logbooks from 30 Navy vessels that recently became available in the National Archives Catalog (see list below). These logbooks were digitized in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC, by a team of five graduate student interns working on a project titled ‘Seas of Knowledge: Digitization and Retrospective Analysis of the Historical Logbooks of the United States Navy.’ This project will continue through 2021 and will focus on digitizing Navy logbooks for the period 1861-1879, after having made 548 volumes of associated muster rolls available in the NARA catalog last year.”
Noted: The little known story of the great Polynesian migration and its radical navigators. “The stories of how a team of three celestial navigators guided them 4300km across the Pacific Ocean, relying solely on the technology available to the Polynesian wayfinders who preceeded them, have been uploaded to the website, which was being furiously readied for launch as this story was published. Next, the film crew is shifting its attention from the sea to the land, travelling around the country to record stories of Māori innovation and create a digital archive as a gift to the nation.”
University of Washington: More than 100 years of Arctic sea ice volume reconstructed with help from historic ships’ logbooks. “Our knowledge of the dwindling sea ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean comes mostly through satellites, which since 1979 have imaged the sea ice from above. The University of Washington’s Pan-Arctic Ice Ocean and Modeling System, or PIOMAS, is a leading tool for gauging the thickness of that ice. Until now that system has gone back only as far as 1979. A new paper now extends the estimate of Arctic sea ice volume back more than a century, to 1901. To do so it used both modern-day computer simulations and historic observations, some written by hand in the early 1900s aboard precursors to today’s U.S. Coast Guard ships.
This is from February but I missed it then. From DutchCulture: 3D scans of Dutch VOC ships uncover secrets from the past. VOC ships were apparently the Dutch East India Company ships. “In 2018 maritime archaeologist John McCarthy spent 10 weeks visiting European museums to 3D scan models of Dutch VOC ships dated to the 17th and 18th centuries.”
New-to-me: an online museum of maritime pets. “[Patricia] Sullivan founded the resource in 2006, and runs it with four volunteers from her home in Annapolis, Maryland. She defines a ‘maritime pet’ pretty broadly: ‘We include animals living or working on or near the water, who collaborate with man in times of peace and war.’ Dogs, cats, and prescient chickens are included, but so are cormorants, which have been domesticated as fishing birds in parts of Asia, as well as much larger animals such as the bears and reindeer that played important roles in northern maritime history.
A digital archive of shipwreck journals is now online. “The Western Australian Museum and the Netherlands National Archives is creating a digital archive of journals and documents relating to the ships and shipwrecks associated with the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) in Australia.” Looks like there are three online so far, 2 from 1727 and one from 1658.
This was announced late February, but I just found out about it. From the US Naval War College: Navy higher education libraries announce digital archives and preservation collaborative. “U.S. Naval War College (NWC) Library has announced initial implementation of TRIREME digital repository and preservation system. The name TRIREME comes from the ancient Mediterranean maritime vessels with three banks of oars. It stands as a metaphor for the three institutions of higher education involved in the initial pilot project: the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; and NWC. TRIREME is the result of a two-year collaboration between Navy higher education libraries and a leading software developer in digital preservation technology and was launched worldwide today. It is open to the public.” Didn’t seem like a lot was here yet and it’s really tough to browse.
NARA has released a new collection of records from the Pacific Theater of World War II. The records may not be online, but a catalog/finding aid is available online. “The National Declassification Center (NDC) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) recently released 192,500 pages of formerly classified U.S. Navy Command Files from the World War II era. The Treasures from World War II US Navy Command Files consist primarily of records from the Pacific Theater. Most of the records date between 1941 and 1946. Some records, however, date as far back as 1917 and some up to 1967.”
A new Web archive chronicling the circumnavigation of the globe by 70-year-old sailor Pat Lawless has been launched. “On July 23, 1996, 70-year-old Limerick sailor Pat Lawless was hailed as a hero after sailing single-handedly around the globe. It had taken him three years and three days to complete and was his third attempt, the first two having ended in near disaster. Now 20 years on – and six years after his death – Pat’s extensive archive of journals, photographs, interviews, newspaper clippings and video diaries has been put online…”
Now available: an online database of men who went on whaling expeditions out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. That’s over 127,000 people and spans 1809-1927. “The searchable list includes the sailor’s name, age, job title, home state or country, and in some cases notes physical characteristics, including skin and hair color. It lists men from 33 states, two U.S. territories and more than 100 foreign nations.”
This might be just new-to-me, but I think it’s new: the CSS Georgia now has a digital archive at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. “The CSS Georgia Project Digital Archive is a repository for digital materials related to the Civil War shipwreck archaeological investigation in the Savannah River. This collection currently includes educational resources, public outreach materials, videos, and photographs. This archive is a work in progress and will continue to grow.”
The New York Public Library has added some new items to its Early American Manuscript Collections. The five new collections include New York Vice Admiralty Court Records, Reports of the Board of Treasury (1785-1787), and Fort Niagara Statement of Account with Edward Pollard.
Scientists and historians need your help to transcribe whaling logbooks. “The project, called Old Weather: Whaling, is led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whaling museum is transcribing and digitising its own logbooks, as well as original data sources from the Nantucket Historical Association, Martha’s Vineyard museum, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and the New Bedford free public library. The digitised logbooks are being posted online so ordinary ‘citizen-scientists’ can help researchers sift through the vast amounts of information.”
A huge amount of information on World War I Merchant Seamen is now online.
“The stories of 750,000 First World War merchant seamen and 39,000 voyages can be read online for the first time following the completion of a four-year-long project. Organised by The National Maritime Museum and The National Archives as part of their First World War commemorations, the 1915 Crew List Project has transcribed the entire crew lists of the Merchant Navy from 1915. “