Tuesday, May 05, 2009

FindMyPast: Merchant seamen 1860-1913

NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at FindMYPast.com. Please address all inquiries to info@findmypast.com.


Lists of 270,000 merchant seafarers at sea in 1860-1913 made available online

The indexes to lists of crew members working on British merchant ships between 1860 and 1913 are now available online from today at leading family history website findmypast.com.

Over 270,000 merchant seafarers are included in the crew list indexes, which were completed by ships every six months, from captains to able seamen to engine room staff and stewardesses. Family historians can now view the indexes online to help track down seafaring ancestors, who have been notoriously more difficult to trace than their land-dwelling counterparts.

The records are from ports around the British Isles so the indexes give genealogists the opportunity to find ancestors wherever they had signed on - not just ships from their home port.

With the launch of this latest set of records, in association with the Crew List Index Project (CLIP), findmypast.com is further expanding its extensive collection of online records to help family history enthusiasts compile detailed information about their ancestors' lives.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.com, said "The UK has a vast array of records documenting our seafaring ancestors, who played such an important part in the nation's history. However due to the complex nature of the documenting system, these records are held in many different archives across the country, creating a massive hurdle for family historians looking to access their ancestors' records.

"Happily, the Crew Lists Index Project has made huge strides in collating a national index of the records, which we're making easily accessible to the general public online today. Today's addition to the findmypast.com suite of genealogy records is a significant step forward for family history enthusiasts who are looking to trace their seafaring ancestors."

Peter Owens of CLIP added "Thanks to all the hard work by many volunteers, this is data which will make researching seafarers far simpler. This publication is another important step in making these records accessible, and we hope it will stimulate a growing interest in our rich maritime past."

How to trace seafaring ancestors
  1. Log onto www.findmypast.com and search for your ancestor in the Crew Lists section.
  2. Once you have located your ancestor, make a note of the ship's official number and records source. The original records are not currently hosted online, but you can contact the repository that holds the original records to arrange access to the documents. The original documents will contain information about each crew member's age, date of birth, date of signing on and off the ship, their occupation, the ship's voyages and the names of any ships in which the crew member previously served.

For more information log on to www.findmypast.com.

About findmypast.com
Leading UK family history website findmypast.com (formerly 1837online.com) was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.

Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today.

In April 2007, findmypast.com's then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement.

Findmypast.com has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 650 million records dating as far back as 1538. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.

In November 2006 findmypast.com launched the ancestorsonboard.com microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

As well as providing access to historical records, findmypast.com is also developing a range of online tools to help people discover and share their family history more easily, beginning with the launch of Family Tree Explorer in July 2007.

Over 1.7 million people in the UK have researched their family trees and findmypast.com has over 800,000 active registered users, revealing the mass appeal of genealogy and findmypast.com's position as the leading family history website based in the UK.

Findmypast.com was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives' contract to publish online the 1911 census.

About CLIP
CLIP (Crew List Index Project) is run as an independent volunteer project by Peter and Jan Owens. CLIP aims to improve access to the records of British merchant seamen for the last part of the nineteenth century - originally by indexing records at local record offices throughout the UK. From 1999 to 2001, a team of volunteers throughout Britain transcribed approximately 12,500 Merchant Navy crew lists from the period 1863-1913.

Since then CLIP has continued to transcribe information from crew lists and a variety of other maritime sources, including the first and only complete index to British registered ships.

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