Ship­ping pro­ject nears com­ple­tion

Re­searchers in the Nether­lands are search­ing for vol­un­teers to help them fin­ish tran­scrib­ing the Sound Toll Reg­is­ters – nearly four cen­turies of records pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion about ships that passed be­tween Den­mark and Swe­den

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - ON THE RECORD -

Fam­ily his­to­ri­ans will soon have ac­cess to a com­plete set of Euro­pean ship­ping records on­line, thanks to a ma­jor digi­ti­sa­tion pro­ject.

The Sound Toll Reg­is­ters, held at the Dan­ish Na­tional Ar­chives in Copen­hagen, are cur­rently be­ing pub­lished on the web by re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Gronin­gen and ar­chive cen­tre Tre­soar in the Nether­lands.

Dat­ing back to the 15th cen­tury, the reg­is­ters were cre­ated as a record of the toll levied on ships pass­ing through the Sound – the strait that sep­a­rates Den­mark and Swe­den. While the type of in­for­ma­tion recorded in the reg­is­ters may vary de­pend­ing on the year, each en­try gen­er­ally pro­vides in­for­ma­tion about the ves­sel’s cargo, fi­nal desti­na­tion, cap­tain and toll that the crew were re­quired to pay.

To date, de­tails of 1.5 mil­lion pas­sages be­tween 1634 and 1857 have been scanned, tran­scribed and made avail­able to search via Sound Toll Reg­is­ters On­line ( STRO), an elec­tronic data­base that can be ac­cessed for free at di­et­rich. sound­toll.nl/pub­lic. Given that ships from all over the world trav­elled through the Sound, ex­plor­ing the set could pro­vide vi­tal clues about Bri­tish sea­far­ers.

How­ever, the team be­hind the pro­ject is now seek­ing vol­un­teers to help tran­scribe the re­main­ing records, which to­gether pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on a fur­ther 300,000 pas­sages be­tween 1497 and 1633. Par­tic­i­pants do not have to be based in the Nether­lands and can take part on­line by vis­it­ing sound­toll.nl/in­dex.php/en/vri­jwilligers.

Al­though the reg­is­ters were writ­ten in Dan­ish, the web­site stresses that the records are gen­er­ally quite easy to un­der­stand, as many of the same words and ex­pres­sions were re­peated through­out each vol­ume. If vol­un­teers do strug­gle with the tran­scrip­tion work, they can take part in a se­ries of prac­tice ses­sions at bit.ly/1j7WyRo un­til they are feel­ing con­fi­dent.

Univer­sity of Gronin­gen his­to­rian, Dr Jan Willem Veluwenkamp, who is man­ag­ing the pro­ject, said he be­lieved that the fin­ished data­base would be an im­por­tant re­source for ge­neal­o­gists.

“STRO is al­ready be­ing used by pro­fes­sional and am­a­teur his­to­ri­ans alike,” he told Who Do You Think You Are? Mag­a­zine.

“The data­base is a very pow­er­ful re­search in­stru­ment for the his­tory of trade, trans­port, ship­mas­ters and ship­mas­ter com­mu­ni­ties along the coasts of Europe and else­where, in­clud­ing Great Bri­tain and Ire­land.

“But in or­der to com­plete this work, we need more help from vol­un­teers.”

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