• 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.

  • Prize Papers

    Data: Prize Papers

    One of the best early-modern maritime sources is the Prize Paper Archive, an archive held at the National Archives in Kew (London). In a project that started at the University of Oxford in 2011 and later moved to Birmingham, we’ve collected data from this amazing archive to get an insight in maritime migration in the 18th century. But what are the Prize Papers, and how can we use this source to reconstruct early-modern migration patterns? Lawful loot When a Royal Navy vessel or a private man-of-war captured an enemy ship, a court needed to establish whether the vessel was in fact a lawful prize: in other words whether the ship,…

  • Presentations

    Presentation at the 2018 World Economic History Congress

    Today we presented the paper ‘Maritime careers in the Dutch Republic: some preliminary findings’ at the 2018 World Economic History Congress (WEHC) in Boston MA. It was great to show our findings to an international audience at the session ‘Factor Costs in the Expansion of Pre-Modern Ocean Shipping: Labor, Capital, and Knowledge Transfer, 1300-1700’, organized by Maryanne Kowaleski (Fordham University). Good career opportunities for migrant sailors Based on quantitative analysis of our Dutch East India Company’s sailors’ careers database, we argued that the tightening native labor supply in the 18th-century Dutch Republic necessitated an influx of skilled migrant workers, and that these migrant workers were given equal opportunities compared to…

  • Conferences,  Methodology,  Papers

    How do we reconstruct sailors’ careers?

    We published a paper on our methodology of reconstructing sailors’ careers in the HUMIGEC project. It’s called ‘Small Lives, Big Meanings. Expanding the Scope of Biographical Data through Entity Linkage and Disambiguation’ and was co-authored by Lodewijk Petram, Jelle van Lottum, Rutger van Koert, and Sebastiaan Derks. The paper was originally presented at the 2017 edition of the Biographical Data in a Digital World conference, held in Linz, Austria. The maritime dataset and career reconstruction methodology serve as a use case to introduce the Huygens ING digital biographical data policy.

  • VOC crew members' places of birth (Europe)
    Featured,  Maps,  VOC pay ledgers

    Where the VOC crews came from

    The pay ledgers of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) are an important data source for our projects (we tell more about this source in this blog post). The following dynamic heatmaps give a good impression of the regions where the sailors on board of the ships headed for Asia originated. For clarity reasons, crew members from one of the six VOC towns (Amsterdam, Delft, Enkhuizen, Hoorn, Middelburg and Rotterdam) were excluded from these maps.

  • Entry Daniel Engel in VOC pay ledger (1766)
    Maps,  VOC pay ledgers

    Data: VOC maritime personnel records

    Our research on the careers of maritime workers is based on a number of data sources, which we’ll introduce in separate blog posts. First up is a database containing the maritime personnel records of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). In the period 1602-1795, just under 5,000 Dutch East India Company ships sailed from the Dutch Republic to Asia. Each of these kept a pay ledger, in which personal particulars and salary information for all paid crew members were registered. Not all pay ledgers have survived until today, but for the late 17th and, especially, the 18th century, the ledgers give a very good view of the (highly international) workforce of…

  • 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…