Bring­ing the lists to­gether

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - FOCUS ON -

In 1966, some nine mil­lion crew lists were due to be trans­ferred from the Reg­is­ter Gen­eral of Ship­ping and Sea­men to the then Pub­lic Record Of­fice. The sheer scale of the col­lec­tion led to the de­ci­sion be­ing made by the Pub­lic Record Of­fice to pre­serve just a 10 per cent sam­ple with the re­main­der be­ing sched­uled for de­struc­tion.

Need­less to say this de­ci­sion was met with con­sid­er­able op­po­si­tion from mar­itime, so­cial and labour his­to­ri­ans as no col­lec­tion ex­isted con­tain­ing such com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion on work­ing men’s lives. In the face of this grow­ing op­po­si­tion, the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum agreed to take a fur­ther 10 per cent. Among the se­lec­tion was the re­main­der of the years end­ing in ‘5’ that had not al­ready gone to the Pub­lic Record Of­fice. This was to prove sig­nif­i­cant for the 1915 pro­ject.

Lo­cal record of­fices were then in­vited to take crew lists that were of lo­cal in­ter­est, such as ships that were built, reg­is­tered or fre­quently used the lo­cal port. This still left about 70 per cent of the col­lec­tion with­out a home, and it was some home that was re­quired for the ap­prox­i­mately 6,500 me­tres of lists re­main­ing. In the end, one was found at the Mar­itime His­tory Ar­chive in New­found­land ( www.mun.ca/mha).

To give an idea of the col­lec­tion’s scale, it was shipped out to Canada in six ship­ping con­tain­ers. Al­though the col­lec­tion is far too vast to ever be united phys­i­cally, the Crew List In­dex Pro­ject ( CLIP), The Na­tional Ar­chives, the Mar­itime His­tory Ar­chive and the Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum are work­ing to­wards re­unit­ing the col­lec­tion on­line, with TNA’s 1915 pro­ject just one el­e­ment of this huge un­der­tak­ing.

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