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.