The Prize Papers are documents seized by British navy and privateers from enemy ships in the period 1652-1815. These papers are kept in the archive of the High Court of Admiralty in The National Archives in Kew (London). Approximately a quarter of the Prize Papers originates from Dutch ships. Apart from ship’s journals, lists of cargo, accounts, plantation lists and interrogations of crew members, this collection also contains approximately 38,000 business and private letters.
In the Dutch Prize Papers online project, started in 2015 and coordinated by Huygens ING, 144,000 pages of selected documents from Dutch ships are digitised and will shortly be made available to the public in an online environment. The Dutch national programme for the preservation of paper heritage Metamorfoze financed the preservation and digitisation; the Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen provided funding for developing the online environment.
Data on seafarers’ lives and careers
Based at the universities of Oxford and Birmingham, and using data from the Prize Papers records of interrogations of crew members, Jelle van Lottum led a research project on the migration of sailors and the distribution of human capital between them. This research was financed by the Economic and Social Research Council (2011-2016). We tell more about the dataset created in this project and what is reveals about the lives and careers of European seafarers in this post. Also, we made a video that gives an impression of the geographical scope of the Prize Papers dataset.