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
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.”