Crew Agreements at the Maritime History Archive and British Institutions.
In 1966 the National Archives in London [Public Record Office] took the decision to discard part of the “Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, the Agreements and Account of Crew and Official Logbooks” for British Empire vessels from 1861 to1913. The decision met with considerable opposition from archivists and maritime and labour historians; these records were considered to be a valuable and largely untapped source of information on seafaring labour and the shipping industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eventually, through the co-operative effort of a number of individuals, the disposition of the Crew Agreements was settled, with the bulk of the records being transferred to Memorial University's Maritime History Archive (MHA).
However, a significant number of crew agreements remained in Britain. The National Archives took a random 10% sample as well as the collection relating to celebrated ships, BT100. The National Maritime Museum took the years 1861 and 1862, and a decadal sample of all the years ending in five, e.g., 1865, 1875, 1885 etc. And county record offices and other repositories in Britain and Ireland took advantage of the opportunity to acquire crew agreements which were of particular interest to their geographical area.
Beginning in 1975 the MHA began creating an inventory of crew agreements held by each repository. The data arrived gradually in as many different formats as there were repositories. Having received lists from the majority of institutions, the MHA transcribed the data from the original submissions to a standardized format. In 1986, thanks to a generous commitment of funds by Memorial University's Dean of Arts, the MHA was able to enter the data into a computer database.
However, not all institutions responded. The major missing collections are those of the National Maritime Museum and the National Archives. Neither of these repositories have been able to produce an itemized guide to the collections in their care. The National Archives does provide a box list of the 10 per cent sample, but it supplies only the range of official numbers held in each box.
From the time the records were first relocated county record offices have undergone various degrees of restructuring. Contacts and addresses have changed, and in some cases records have been transferred from one repository to another. We have done our best to provide current and accurate information, but errors are inevitable. We would appreciate notification of any changes that need to be made to our database. You may contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to the Search Page
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