• Kweekschool-Zeevaart-Groep-leerlingen-aan-boord-van-het-Instructieschip
    Data,  General

    About Maritime careers

    Seafarers are a fascinating class of workers. They form a dynamic labour force, characterised over the past 400 years by varying levels of internationalisation. On this website we showcase the results of our research into the functioning of Dutch maritime labour markets and the characteristics of the seagoing workforce, and the changes these underwent over time. We’re interested in questions such as: how did skill levels of seamen develop over the centuries? How international was the maritime sector? And what changes in the level of internationalization do we witness over time? What differences can we observe between careers of native and migrant sailors? Time span and sources Currently, most of…

  • Grants

    Grant for research on seamen and their international contacts

    Great news: DutchCulture has awarded us a grant to document and present shared cultural heritage of merchant seamen who sailed on Dutch ships, 1600-2000. Before the age of cheap flights, the vast majority of Dutch who traveled to such faraway countries as Japan, India and Sri Lanka were sailors. Moreover, these seamen had often already come into contact with other cultures on the way to their destination, as the ships they manned usually employed many foreigners—initially mainly Germans and Scandinavians, later many Chinese, Indonesians and Philippines. With the DutchCulture grant, we are going to investigate the international contacts of merchant seamen who sailed on Dutch ships, 1600-2000: how and to…

  • KNSM cargo ship Jan van Nassau. Image: Wrecksite.eu
    Featured,  Methodology,  Sailors on 19th and 20th-c Dutch merchant marine,  Shipping companies’ records

    Reconstructing the career of a 20th-c sailor: the case of Wilfried Julius Lackin

    In an earlier post, we explained our methodology for reconstructing careers of sailors from 18th-c data. In this one, Daniël Tuik, researcher on our ongoing Sailors on Dutch merchant marine in the 19th and 20th centuries project, tells about his work with the personnel files of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Stoomboot-Maatschappij (KNSM), a company that operated mainly from Amsterdam between 1856 and 1981. Jigsaw puzzle Reconstructing a career is essentially like putting a large jigsaw puzzle back together. There is no clear overview, because the available information is fragmented across different archival records. As an example I will reconstruct the career of Wilfried Julius Lackin, which is notable for both its…

  • Seafarer's origins 18th & 20th centuries
    Maps,  Prize Papers,  Sailors on 19th and 20th-c Dutch merchant marine,  Shipping companies’ records

    First results from our project on the recent history of merchant marine sailors

    We can show some first results from our recently started project on sailors aboard Dutch merchant marine ships in the 19th and 20th centuries. Researcher Daniël Tuik has been working on a sample of personnel records from the archives of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Stoomboot-Maatschappij (KNSM), a shipping company that was based in Amsterdam. He tells more about his work in another blog post. The map on the right in Jelle’s tweet shows the birthplaces of KNSM crew members in the 20th century, mainly sailing on trans-Atlantic routes, while the one on the left shows where the sailors came from who appear in the Prize Paper dataset, which also mainly contains…

  • VOC Data Experience | impression
    Featured,  Grants,  Visualizations,  VOC pay ledgers

    Our research soon visible in augmented reality

    Together with Dirk Bertels / Studio Louter we have been awarded a subsidy from the Creative Industries Fund NL under the Digital Heritage x Public scheme to build the VOC Data Experience. Visitors to the experience can explore three existing online data sets about the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in augmented reality (AR). In the VOC Data Experience we will unlock three digitized VOC sources for a broad audience in a stimulating way. Visitors will be able to literally ask questions to the crew members of the VOC on an iPad: Where did you come from? What was your chance of survival? Did you participate in the slave trade? To find…

  • Featured,  Maps,  VOC pay ledgers

    Women sailors in the ranks of the Dutch East India Company

    Last week, Jelle tweeted about the women who dressed up as men to land a job with the VOC and were fired when subsequently their ‘real’ gender became known. Several people have asked for more information, in particular about the origins of the women involved. Below is a spreadsheet that lists their (for obvious reasons fake) names, and their place of origin – all other information available about the individuals are also listed. As you can see in the ‘remarks’ column, there are some really interesting cases: a woman going by the name of ‘Hendrik Huijsloop’ married a fellow sailor on board the Petronella Alida, and the ‘Joannes Burghart’ case…

  • General,  Sailors on 19th and 20th-c Dutch merchant marine

    Grant awarded for new research into maritime careers

    Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen (SMF), a body of six historical maritime foundations, have kindly awarded us a grant to do new research into the life and careers of Dutch sailors. We will use this money to broaden our focus to the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, allowing us to tell new stories about sailors (on this blog, but also in a book on sailors of the Dutch merchant marine), make some more cool maps, and draw lines through history. Watch this blog and Jelle’s Twitter feed for updates on the project (2019-2023).

  • Methodology,  Visualizations

    Visualizing networks and careers

    We mostly post map visualizations of our historical data on sailors, but we’re working on other visualizations to gain insight into our data as well. Markov models We’ve teamed up with DHLab and Marijn Koolen (@marijnkoolen) of the KNAW-Humanities Cluster to do a thorough analysis of sailor’s careers. As a first step, Marijn produced Markov model visualization of all steps in the career data we reconstructed from the digitized VOC pay ledgers. These visualizations give very good insight into the data. The one pictured below, for example, shows the various ranks from which crew members were promoted to ‘skipper or master’ and the most frequent career steps after having served…

  • Maps,  Methodology,  Prize Papers,  VOC pay ledgers

    Daniel Engel: a maritime career reconstructed

    Daniel Engel was a young man from ‘Dantsig’ (modern-day Gdańsk in Poland) who travelled to the Dutch Republic in the mid-18th century to apply for a job with the Dutch East India Company (VOC). We’ve written about him before (in this blog post, where we introduced the Company’s pay ledgers, one of our main data sources) and now come back to him once more. Not that Engel is so special–on the contrary, there were thousands of men like him in the ranks of the VOC–but because his story is a good case in point for illustrating our work on reconstructing maritime careers. 1766: first journey to the East Indies A…

  • Kepler visualization of Prize Paper dataset
    Maps,  Prize Papers

    Walking through the Prize Paper Dataset

    This video provides a tour through the Prize Paper dataset using Kepler. Kepler is an amazing open source geospatial analysis tool for large-scale data sets. Here I’ve used it get an impression of the geographical scope of the Prize Paper Dataset – focusing on the shipping connections. Every line represents the journey of an 18th century merchant ship. As you can see the main connections are intra-European and Transatlantic. We’ll make the dataset available (hopefully) sometime early next year. Please look at my twitter feed for any updates and other visualisation (maps in particular), using this dataset.