Sources of information for ships research - Ships Nostalgia
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  #1  
Old 20th February 2006, 23:14
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Sources of information for ships research

I have started this new thread to try and pull together sources of information that may help those engaged with ships research.

Could I ask that anyone adding to this thread keeps to this topic rather than putting information about specific ships here.

Some of the information here will be pasted from previous threads.

Regards,

Brian
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  #2  
Old 20th February 2006, 23:17
benjidog benjidog is offline
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National Maritime Museum Research Guides

(Information copied from an earlier thread I started on first joining SN)

The NMM website has a lot of information about their collections and how to undertake research - check out http://www.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/nav.005002

Here is a brief description of some of the Research guides available from this site and what they are about. This could be of interest to anyone studying the history of vessels and those that manned them. Most of the documents are held in the Caird library at the NMM. I visited them last week and got a readers ticket there and then (you need ID); the staff were very helpful:

RESEARCH GUIDE C1: THE MERCHANT NAVY: TRACING PEOPLE:CREW LISTS, AGREEMENTS AND OFFICIAL LOGS.
This describes the records that may be available (not all still exist!) on muster rolls and crew assignments back to 1747. It says that for 1861 to 1938 there is a 10% sample in the National Archives at Kew, the NMM hold records for 1861, 1862 and years ending in 5 - the remainter are in the Maritime History Research Collection in Canada. For 1939-50 agreements, crew lists and logbooks are in the National Archives. For 1951-1977 again 10% are at Kew, the NMM has 90% of material for years ending in 5 and the remainder in Canada. From 1978 onwards crew agreements are held by the General Register and REcord Office of Shipping and Seamen in Cardiff. Indexes of the Canada material are held in the NMM library. British merchant ships had to keep logs from 1850 though only about 20% survive apart from WW1 and WW2 years. There is information about where existing logs can be found.

RESEARCH GUIDE C3: THE MERCHANT NAVY: BIBLIOGRAPHY.
This contains a short bibliography of books in the NMM Caird library. The full catalogue is available on line with search facilities.

RESEARCH GUIDE C4: THE MERCHANT NAVY: SOURCES FOR ENQUIRIES
This provides a list of places other than the NMM that have records and information related to mercantile history and an overview of what kind of information they hold.

RESEARCH GUIDE C5: THE MERCHANT NAVY: SOURCES FOR SHIP HISTORIES
This provides information about types of records that may exist and where they may be checked out. It includes Lloyd's Register, Lloyds Lists and indexes - The Guildhall library has a partial index pre-1838, NMM has microfilms from 1838-1927 and there is a card index at Guildhall for 1927 onwards. Passenger records of all ships arriving at or leaving British ports between 1890 and 1960 are in the National Archive at Kew. Final fates of ships can also be traced in the Lloyd's register.

RESEARCH GUIDE C6: THE MERCHANT NAVY: THE MERCANTILE NAVY LIST
The Mercantile Navy List compiled by the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen was published from 1849-1855 and 1857-1976 apart from 1941-1946. It contains a comprehensive listing and basic information for all merchant vessels registered under the British flag including many not listed in Lloyds. There is no complete set but the NMM covers 1857-1976.

RESEARCH GUIDE C7: THE MERCHANT NAVY: SHIPPING LISTED IN PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS
This guide lists some of the papers produced for the House of Commons related to shipping. They fall into three main categories - Board of Trade casualty returns, BOT Enquiry Reports and other special reports. Vessels listed include wrecked or mssing ships, steam packets, ships built in certain ports and vessels used for emigrants.

RESEARCH GUIDE C9: THE MERCHANT NAVY: WORLD WAR ONE
This guide outlines the main sources for researching the activities of merchant ships and their crews during the First World War, 1914 to 1918. Although overlapping some of the other guides this includes where to look for information about merchant ships brought into the Royal Navy, ship movements in war time (not publically available at the time), crews and gallantry awards, ships sunk by war causes, ships sunk by marine causes and cargo.

RESEARCH GUIDE C11: THE MERCHANT NAVY: THE HANDY SHIPPING GUIDE
This is a brief introduction to the Handy Shipping Guide which was produced between 1887 and 1988. It provides two main sources of information. (a) A list of all foreign, continental and coastwise ports and the ships presently to sail thereto, with details of the loading port, dock, closing date for cargo and,frequently, ship owners. (b) Custom clearances, inwards and outwards, for every major British port. Later issues include lists of vessels outward and homeward bound etc.

RESEARCH GUIDE C13: THE MERCHANT NAVY: TRACING MERCHANT SEAMEN: SOURCES OF INFORMATION IN THE NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM
This contains additional information about tracing individuals to supplement guides C1 and C2.

RESEARCH GUIDE F3: SHIPPING COMPANIES: P&O BIBLIOGRAPHY
This is a list of about 20 books covering the history of P&O held in the NMM Caird library. It is a far from complete list of what has been published it seems!

RESEARCH GUIDE J1: HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE NMM
The NMM holds about a quarter of a million negatives, a million prints and fifteen hundred albums! A large proportion cannot be copied for copyright reasons. The guide tells you how to find out what is there. I can vouch for this service as they were able to trace a full set of plans for the RMS Morea which I am researching and said these could be provided for about 200 but I couldn't publish them without permission. (I will have to see what Father Christmas brings!) The collection includes negatives covering warships and naval life transferred from the Admiralty and other sources; a merchant ship collection from sailing vessels to the 1980s; life aboard ship; shipbuilding etc. etc.

RESEARCH GUIDE M8: THE SUEZ CANAL: SOURCES OFINFORMATION IN THE NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM
This guide is a bibliography covering books etc. in the NMM dealing with the Suez Canal.

There is also a Film Archive and Art - painting, prints and drawings.

The NMM has a vast archive - much of what is in it is unique. For obvious reasons it can't be taken off the premises so if you want to research it you will need to plan one or more visits to the NMM. I have only just scratched the surface but hope the above will be useful to others.
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  #3  
Old 20th February 2006, 23:24
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Voyage Record Cards and Ships' Log Books

(This information was provided to me by SN member Ron Stringer in a PM and is repeated here for the benefit of other members with his agreement. The message was in response to a question I posed "How would you trace all the voyages of a specific ship?" This information supplements the information about guides issued by the NMM in the previous posting)

There are two possible sources of this information - the ship's logbooks and the voyage record cards created by Lloyd's.

The logbooks (and crewlists) are held by the University of Newfoundland whilst the Voyage Record Cards are held in London's Guildhall Museum Library. You may find the information below to be of use.

Voyage Record Cards

For anyone wishing to find out which ports (and in which order) they visited when they were at sea, it is possible to consult the Lloyd's List Voyage Record Card Index held by London's Guildhall Museum Library. For those unfamiliar with Lloyd's List, it was (and still is) a daily newspaper reporting matters of interest to insurers of ships and other large risks that are insured at Lloyd's of London.

Of interest to seafarers are the daily reports of the movements of shipping - arrival in port, sailing from a port, passing a signal station or being involved in an accident or casualty. A record of the date and type of each report about a vessel was made by Lloyds on a card index, specifically on the index card for that vessel. The idea was that anyone seeking information on a ship would be able to check that ship's Voyage Record card, note the dates recorded and then look up the details of each report in the archived copy of Lloyd's List for each date of interest.

Instead of just junking all the old Voyage Record cards (as the UK Government tried to do with the British Merchant Navy crew lists and ships' log books), Lloyd's passed them over to the Guildhall Museum Library where, free of charge, they are available for examination by the general public. Provide the Library staff with a list of ships' names (giving net tonnage or port of registry for each ship) and the year or years concerned, and they will produce the relevant index cards. You can then copy out the information, or photocopy it on the premises.

If required, they will provide you with copies for a small fee and mail them to you.

NOTE: If you are going to attend the Library to view the Voyage Record index cards, be aware that the staff require 2 working days notice in advance to extract the cards from the store and make them available for viewing. You cannot just turn up and ask to see cards on demand.

The "Voyage Record Cards" (VRCs) held in archive by the Guildhall Library are not quite what the name might suggest. They are not really records of ship's voyages, they are merely index cards created to assist people to locate information in back copies of Lloyd's List. The archive was donated by Lloyd's List (i.e. the daily newspaper that gives details of ship movements, incidents etc. and other information relevant to insurance activities at Lloyd's). However the filing system used to archive the cards is rather complex, making it necessary for Library staff to recover them for consultation by the public.

They are from an era pre-dating computers and take the form of simple index cards. For each ship there is a card (or cards) in the vessel's name starting when the vessel was named/renamed or handed over from the builders. On each card a clerk has written (or typed on later issues) or even pasted-in clippings from the newspaper, an entry of the date whenever the vessel's name appeared in the Lloyd's List.

The idea was to provide a shortcut to references to a vessel in the Lloyd's List. To research a vessel for insurance purposes, it was necessary to refer to its history as recorded in back issues of Lloyd's List. Rather than read through the bound volumes of back issues of Lloyd's List, it was only necessary to pull Voyage Record Cards for that vessel and scan them for the significant dates. Only the back issues for those specific dates need then be consulted.

On each card is a sub-heading for the year in question, under which is listed, in date order, all the dates in that year when the ship was mentioned in Lloyd's List. So the entries go: "27/2 arr. Valparaiso" "9/3 sld Valparaiso" "20/3 Panama Canal" and so on. If there was an 'incident' - collision, grounding, fire etc., the date entry is marked with an asterix * for emphasis, but only the date appears, without any details - remember that this is only an index card. To see the details of the incident, it is necessary to consult the Lloyd's List back issues for the date concerned

However there are some shortcomings. One of these is that Lloyd's List itself has some idiosyncracies. These take various forms, one of which is an indifference to the detailed ports within a large harbour system. For example you can see entries such as "14/4 arr Hampton Roads". The subsequent entry would be "18/4 sld Hampton Roads". Whether the vessel has docked in Norfolk Va, Philadelphia, Newport News, Baltimore or wherever (or even all of those ports), is not recorded. Similarly Elders & Fyffes vessel 'Golfito' used to arrive in Kingston, Jamaica on a Sunday evening to discharge passengers and cargo, sailing the following day to go around the coast loading bananas at various small ports e.g Bowden/Port Maria. She normally finished up in Port Antonio to complete loading and to embark passengers before sailing for the UK on Thursday. The VRCs for the vessel simply show her arriving in Kingston on Sunday and sailing from Port Antonio on Thursday. Where she was in between is not recorded - it didn't appear in Lloyd's List so it isn't on the VRC.

Within their limitations the cards are valuable aids. If you are in London you can visit the Library (very close to Moorgate underground station) and view the cards yourself. However you need to advise the librarians of the names of the ships and the voyage dates required (e.g. mv Nonsuch, May '54 to Feb '55) at least 2 working days in advance of your visit so that they can pull the relevant cards from the archives.

Anyone wanting to use the service and understand the background can see much more information in these two .pdf files:

http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/NR/r...yagerecords.pdf
and
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/NR/r..._lloydslist.pdf

Ships' Log Books

The University of Newfoundland's Maritime History Archive have a website http://www.mun.ca/mha/index.php where you can see the various listings of records that they hold and the services that they provide. If you are not able to attend yourself, on receipt of a list of ship names (and official numbers if you have them) and the dates concerned, they will look up the information and send photcopies to you by airmail or surface mail, as you request.

The information is free but the services of their staff to research it for you from the records is not! Their research fees are based on 1 hour to complete a search of 2 years of crew agreements for 1 vessel (or 2 vessels for 1 year). If there is a log book accompanying a crew agreement the number of copies for each voyage is usually around 40 although there could be more for the 1950s and 1960s.

Be prepared for a big bill if there are many ships and many voyages. I was quoted over 400 for the ports of call and crew lists for the 6 years I was at sea. The contact address is

Heather Wareham, Archivist
Maritime History Archive
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's, NL
A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 737-8203
Fax: (709) 737-3123
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  #4  
Old 21st February 2006, 00:18
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John Rogers John Rogers is online now  
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Its a shame that you cannot enter you Discharge Book Number and out pops the information,even on microfich would of been great.
John
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  #5  
Old 21st February 2006, 00:45
peter lewis peter lewis is offline  
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thanks for a very infomative thread benjidog it would have taken me a week just to type it out the one place you forgot to mention was ships nostagia the informaition on this site is second to none as your thread shows
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  #6  
Old 21st February 2006, 00:47
Hamish Mackintosh Hamish Mackintosh is offline  
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You can pop your discharge book# into "kew" and you will see your name and where you were born,and it is possible to add (or delete) #'s and find out who is close to you in book #'s
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  #7  
Old 21st February 2006, 11:39
tugboat142 tugboat142 is offline  
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Researching Seamen

For those who are not aware
If you got to the National Archive Site:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/c...search.asp?j=1

I have helped many people looking for fathers, relatives, lovers etc using this.

If you search Using DISCHARGE BOOK NO. and/or SURNAME and/or DOB using this format ??/??/19??, PLACE OF BIRTH
Using BT in the DEPARTMENT CODE. You should get a file, or list of files. The more info you have the more you can narrow it down. The discharge book number is ideal, the date of birth alone can produce a result.

Click on the file you want it will open it, Nothing much in it, but to the right click 'request this' it will explain how to obtain a copy of the file.
I am not certain whats in the file but usually a photo on joining and service history. Note these file are not accessable until 30 years after the last entry is made in them.

Regards

Tugboat 142
GY
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Old 21st February 2006, 21:42
helen helen is offline  
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Research Idea

What I have found a very useful research tool is:

At the beginning I made a Word document called "Personal Details Sheet" (in the form of a 2 column table) setting out ALL the personal information on my father, name, DOB, place of birth, wartime address, NI No., Radio Certificate No. (these are held at Liverpool Maritime Musuem by the way) -ships, ships nos. dates of particular ships he sailed, every little detail I could find/think of. Does not matter if typed or handwritten.

e.g.

Name: Joe Bloggs

Date of Birth: 01.01.1901

Place of Birth: London

(My example appears to have all gone to the left when saved, but if you can't do tables tab the info. over to the right. If handwritten, simply fold a piece of paper down the centre and insert a piece of info. on each side equally so its really neat, spaced and easy to read).

This has served me well as it makes life so much easier for the recipient and, hopefully, gets me quicker results! I simply attach it to any letter/e-mail which warrants its inclusion. The theory being - in secretary land we get lots of illegible work, untidy work (and believe me I have seen some masterpieces!) but if someone is known to turn out neat, tidy work they tend to get the very best of service. Its all psychological! Hope this helps. Helen

Last edited by helen; 21st February 2006 at 22:55.. Reason: to give an example of what I mean.
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Old 16th September 2006, 23:43
Blade Fisher Blade Fisher is offline  
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Searching for lost seafarers/ships/voyages

I have had a number of relatives ancestors in service of the sea. I have researched my Gt Gt Grandfather who sailed from 1830's to 1873 and am now starting on my Gt Grandfather. I had my fathers records from the companies he served with.

I have used Kew and this year went to St Johns. The staff there are excellent and I spent 4 days going and photocopying all the records. I have also tracked down all the ships my GGF owned/sailed upon and their histories including Lloyds List and the registration of these vessels whose records are held at Kew. Before this I knew nothing so it can be done.

If anyone wants any assistance its fairly straightforward but helps if you have cheap accommodation in/near London as it is all very time hungry!
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Old 18th September 2006, 22:36
K urgess K urgess is offline
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Is this restricted to internet research or can I request hard copy information?

There are so many publications about ships I'd love to know who recommends what.

The Observer's Book of Ships doesn't seem to be the sort of thing the "experts" use, So what's recommended?
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Old 1st November 2006, 11:01
KenLin39 KenLin39 is offline  
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Ship Research Site.

Hi, spotted this site today. Just type in ships name. Ken.

http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz/
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Old 3rd November 2006, 10:45
dave beaumont dave beaumont is offline
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I wrote to Canada some months ago and got log book copies of voyage i did on Antrim in 1972. Cost me $65 Canadian. Well worth it. About 60 plus pages. Names and addresses (from that time) of all the officers and crew, write up of whole trip,including my loggings!!draught of water etc for each port and much more. Asked for trip before(1971) but they dont have, in Uk maybe. Hope to get all trips if possible over time. Frome enquiry to receiving papers from Canada about 2 weeks all up. Dave
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  #13  
Old 1st July 2007, 17:31
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Tomvart Tomvart is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenLin39 View Post
Hi, spotted this site today. Just type in ships name. Ken.

http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz/
Ken, what a fabulous resource - answered almost all of my questions, thank you.

Yours Aye

Tom
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Old 1st July 2007, 19:00
benjidog benjidog is offline
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Peter447 has reminded me of two other well-known sources of information:

1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The CWGC have an excellent website at: http://www.cwgc.org/

In addition to a lot of information about the good work done by CWGC to commemorate those who lost their lives for the sake of their country, there is a search engine to assist location of their graves.

The site has also commenced a History section starting with a great deal of information about the Battle of the Somme in WW1. I hope that in future there will be more information directly relevant to the RN and MN as well so it is worth keeping an eye out for this.

2. The Ships List

This site has a great deal of information about shipping fleets, individual ships, which were sunk in the war, passenger lists (mainly for the 1800s) etc. This is a great resource and I have used it extensively.

http://www.theshipslist.com/

Regards,

Brian
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Old 2nd July 2007, 09:18
PollY Anna PollY Anna is offline  
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Hi guys
Just done all mine most were in Canada, but one was in Kew and the other at Greenwich it was great fun and interesting as the log book(s) brought back a few things that had been forgotten in the mists of time. Also a great record of all the ports Arr & Dept etc along with crew records so if you are thinking of tracing your history go for it, it will keep you enthralled for hours great to do in those long winter nights.

Regards Ron
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Old 1st August 2007, 15:53
Irvingman Irvingman is offline  
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This Maritime museum in Halifax Nova Scotia did some searches for me on Canadian Shipping. Took a couple of weeks but they came back with all the names, dates etc on most of the vessels I asked for ..........and it was free!!

http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mma/index.html
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Old 29th February 2008, 11:07
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Thanks Brian for coming up with this thread, the more info on available sources the better. For a thirty day trial period Ancestry.com ran a freebie access to US immigration records. I checked up on a previous master I had sailed with and found that on a visit to New York as second mate he was recorded as having tattoos. It gave me a smile as when I sailed with him he was a pillar of rightousness and never shirtless. Unfortunately a payment is required for access now, worth it probably for a keen researcher.
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Old 29th February 2008, 18:44
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The actual form was displayed. Believe US Immigration must have actually sighted tattoo before entering such remark in appropriate column on entry record. Details of tattoo not recorded. Perhaps I am misjudging the man, it may it have been biblical related i.e. "The End is Nigh"/ "Jesus Saves" / "Down With Drink".
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Old 29th February 2008, 19:10
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On a less frivolous note - the records were in the handwriting of the Immigration Officers. I actually sighted and printed out a record of my father's entry to New York when serving aboard the fleet oiler Brambleleaf loading for Scapa Flow in 1918. One of those days I will send in a group picture taken aboard at about that time.
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Old 9th March 2008, 15:36
Fiesty Fay Fiesty Fay is offline  
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If anyone is interested in books of various shipping companies and vessels I came across this site while looking for information on the closure of Small & Co. (Lowestoft) Limited. It might be of interest to some of the members.

http://www.coastalshipping.co.uk/Commercial.htm

Fay
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Old 2nd May 2008, 16:52
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The Merseyside Maritime Museum has a small number of records and may be able to help. If its specific mariners you want, you could try Southampton Archives Services, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LY

From an email from them: "We hold the Central Index Register of Merchant Seamen, which includes details of individuals serving on board British registered Merchant Vessels between 1918 and 1941. The Register takes the form of 4 series of index cards, 2 of which are arranged in alphabetical order of seaman’s name, and 2 which are arranged numerically by discharge number. The cards give various details on individuals including date and place of birth, nationality, rating, details of any certificates, physical description, sometimes next of kin, dates of engagement on board vessels, and one of the series which runs from 1918-1921, includes a photograph of the seaman.
Although the Register first began to be kept in 1913, unfortunately the parts covering 1913-1918 were destroyed back in the 1960s and so records only survive from 1918 onwards."

HTH!

Paul
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Old 11th July 2008, 12:50
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ssr481 ssr481 is offline  
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For many US ships, an excellent research website is Navsource -

http://www.navsource.org

The above has information on many US ships, past and present, of many different types. Each entry also has a link to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships entry for that particular ship.

Muster rolls, deck logs, general correspondence files for any US ship after 1940 are kept in the US National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland. They have photos, engineering drawings, etc. there as well.

Anything prior to 1940 (say World War I) is kept at the US National Archives building in downtown Washington DC.

For an online search - the US National Archives has the following tool (they've just updated the design/functionality of it) - ARC, Archival Research Tool of the US National Archives. The link -

http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/

Though not listing everything the US National Archives has in their collections (it would take a system with infinite memory, almost) it's a good starting point for some basic research. They have some photos in the database..

If anyone needs help making their way through the US National Archives, send a private message.. I'm well familiar with the process and may be going to College Park sometime later this year
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  #23  
Old 28th October 2008, 21:26
Bill Forster Bill Forster is offline  
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Lloyds VOYAGE RECORD CARDS at Guildhall Library

These are a fantastic resource for tracking the ports of call of merchant ships but the earlier handwritten entries with their cryptic abbreviations can make interpretation difficult.

The Guildhall Library have published a list of the commoner abbreviations at:
http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/NR/rd...nsDTBMay08.pdf

If anybody can add to this list it would make the kind of research I and many others are doing a whole lot easier.

Any offers?

Bill
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Old 31st October 2008, 21:04
benjidog benjidog is offline
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I have updated the Directory entry for research sources with the various suggestions made above over the last 6 months. For anyone not knowing where the list is, please go to Directory (see tab at top of page) then Categories - Information Sources - Nautical Websites.

Further contributions are always welcome so if you find a great site please post it here.
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  #25  
Old 6th November 2008, 00:45
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needadditionalinformation needadditionalinformation is offline
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Ship research

There is an excellent resource for researching American ships located at: http://www.pmars.imsg.com/default.asp

Some ships built elsewhere, but operated by Americans are also included.

PMARS stands for "Property Management and Archive Record System" and as they describe it, "PMARS is MARAD's official repository of NDRF (National Defence Reserve Fleet) ship and ship-related property records. The PMARS program is managed by the Division of Reserve Fleet (of the U.S. Maritime Administration)."

Records go all the way back to the EMERY RICE of 1876, 1246 gross tons "with 15 to 20% wood", which was, sadly, "Awarded Scrap Hull to The Boston Metals Company, purchase price $13,666.66... Date 2/7/1958 "

Some naval ships are included.

There is also a large page of historical photos of the "mothball" fleets themselves here: http://www.pmars.imsg.com/NDRFPictures.asp

There are also PDF's of the current fleet inventory listings going all the way back to January 1984.
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