• Most likely Surinamese seamen at the Amsterdam Zeemanshuis c. 1915-1916, Beeldbank Amsterdam
    Sailors on 19th and 20th-c Dutch merchant marine,  Shipping companies’ records,  VOC pay ledgers

    A collection of sailor’s biographies

    We’ve added something new to this website: a collection of sailor’s lives. In a number of short biographies, we explore the lives of some individuals and small groups in the data sets we work with, such as the VOC pay ledgers and records of 19th and 20th-century shipping companies. Our aim with this collection is simply to learn a bit more about the background of the seafarers in our research data. Our quantitative data are a very good starting point for analyzing where sailors came from, how their origin influenced their chances of gaining a promotion to a higher rank on board, and how these things changed over time. But…

  • 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…

  • 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).