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 data on trans-Atlantic shipping. A transition from international crews to a predominantly native labour force is clearly visible. Though not surprising, this change is still very interesting. As Jelle mentioned in a follow-up tweet, it would be followed by another change in the late 20th century, when crews again became more international. Our research focuses on these subsequent transitions. We will first document them and then analyse what they meant for the people directly involved, the shipping sector, and, more broadly, its position in Dutch society and culture.