The Caird Library and Archive at the National Maritime Museum subscribes to a range of electronic resources to assist you in your research.

These include specialist dictionaries, encyclopaedias and indexes, as well as leading family history services and maritime research journals.

Resources are available free of charge in the Caird Library and Archive and database login details (if required) are available from Library staff.

Please note: the resources we subscribe to cannot be accessed outside the Museum buildings.

Caird Library & Archive digitised collections

The Caird Library & Archive holds many important collections, including: the documents of the P&O Shipping Line (ref: P&O); Lord-Macquitty (ref: LMQ) (the Titanic collection) and the Michael-Graham Stewart Slavery Collection (ref: MGS). These collections have not been digitised and are available to order and consult in person. Please see our order page for more information

One of the numerous crew list collections held at the National Maritime Museum are the 1915 Crew Lists - the originals have been transcribed and digitised as part of our contribution to the World War One centenary. Find out more about Crew Lists, agreements and official logs.

Three prominent National Maritime Museum collections are online: the Masters and Mates Certificates, the Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital Admissions and Discharges and Merchant Seamen Deaths (World War II) which have been digitised by Ancestry.

To verify the Museum's Ancestry subscription, you should see 'provided by the National Maritime Museum' in the top right corner.

  • Great Britain, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927 This database contains masters and mates certificates issued to merchant seamen by the British Board of Trade. Records include certificates of competency, certificates of service, examination applications (which list the names of ships served on), and similar documents.
    • Originals can be ordered here.
    • An index to the Colonial Masters Certificates are available in a published book in the library collection: List of the certificates of competency granted ... to masters, mates and engineers [...] ca. 1870-1930. (Includes Bengal, Bombay, Canada, Hong Kong, Malta, Mauritius, Newfoundland, New South Wales and Australia.) Please ask staff for more information. 
  • Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939-1953 This collection holds information about the merchant seamen who lost their lives during and after the Second World War.
  • Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital Admissions and Discharges, 1826-1930 The Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital at Greenwich was the main clinical site of the Seamen’s Hospital Society (now Seafarer’s Hospital Society), founded with the philanthropic mission of providing relief to sick and injured seafarers of all nations. 

Search tip: the content is organised in more than 30,000 separate collections, so it's worth searching the Ancestry title list to see which ones are likely to have the information you're looking for. See also: Research Guide: C2: Merchant Navy Tracing People-Master Mariners and Mates

1915 Crew List The 1915 Crew List images and transcriptions was a collaborative project between the National Maritime Museum and the National Archives highlighting the contribution of the Merchant Navy in the First World War. Over 400 volunteers from around the world transcribed the 1915 crew lists of the British Merchant Navy in our collection which ensures a high standard of accuracy. These crew lists contain the details for around 39,000 voyages, including the names and personal details of over 750,000 seamen.

Research Guides

The Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum has produced a range of research guides to help people carry out their own research on a wide range of topics. They provide information about the Museum's collections and other sources for research into maritime history.

The information in the guides was produced by museum staff, with additional contributions from researchers. The guides are the copyright of the National Maritime Museum.

Main Page of the Research Guides 

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Dictionaries, encyclopedias and indexes

Bibliography of British and Irish History Originally developed by the Royal Historical Society, the Bibliography of British and Irish History is an index to books, articles in books, and articles in journals. It is a key tool for anyone researching British and Irish history from the Romans to the present. It indexes several maritime journals, including the Mariner's Mirror.

Lloyd’s Register of Ships A highly-regarded reference source providing information on all sea-going, self-propelled merchant ships of 100 GT and above, whatever their classification, for the current year. 

  • Please note: Lloyd's Register Foundation Heritage and Education Centre provides a separate page where they explain how to access digital copies of the Lloyd's Register up to 1764-1998. 
  • Lloyd's Register of Ships 1764 to today's date can be accessed in print in the library.  List of digital copies of Lloyd's Register

Lloyd’s Directory of Shipowners - Unfortunately this resource is no longer provided online. Lloyd's Directory of Shipowners 1764-1979 are found in print in the Lloyd's Register of Ships. The Lloyd's Register - years 1764-1980 are available on the library shelves.

  • Lloyd's Directory of Shipowners post-1980 are published in separate volumes and are available to order via the Library Catalogue.
  • More information about Lloyd's Maritime collections can be found on the Lloyd's Research Guide. It includes: a brief history; Lloyd's Captains registers; Lloyd's List Indexes; Lloyd's Registers; Lloyd's survey reports

Oxford Art Online and Benezit Dictionary of Artists Oxford Art Online is an encyclopedia-style resource covering every aspect of the visual arts from prehistory to the present day. It is particularly good for biographies of artists and subject overviews on styles, movements and places. Over 5000 images from art museums and collections are included.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Over 50,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from early times to 2003. You can search, browse, or explore themed essays.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History Search or browse over 900 entries on topics including naval history, shipbuilding, navigation and scientific instrumentation, maritime art and literature.

Oxford English Dictionary Online The OED is the authoritative dictionary of the English language. It contains information on the past and present meaning of words from across the English-speaking world. It traces the history of words through quotations, from the earliest usage to the present day.

Who's Who, and Who Was Who Who's Who is an annually published directory of noteworthy and influential individuals in all walks of life, in the UK and worldwide. It has been published since 1849, and previous editions are also included in this online version as Who Was Who. Where relevant, entries also contain links to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

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Family history

Ancestry Library Ancestry Library is a key resource for researching family history. The primary resources for England, Wales and Scotland are the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1901 censuses as well as birth, death and marriage indexes, trade, town and telephone directories.

Maritime resources found on Ancestry Library include: Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910; Campaign Medals Awarded to WWI Merchant Seamen, 1914-1925 and WWII Medals Issued to Merchant Seamen, 1939-1945. This information is provided by various record offices including the National Archives. In addition to Merchant Navy and Royal Navy resources, maritime resources can include: The National Roll of the Great War, passenger lists and medal rolls.

Ancestry now includes three datasets from the documents in the Caird Library & Archive collection.

  • Great Britain, Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927  This database contains masters and mates certificates issued to merchant seamen by the British Board of Trade. The certificates and other documents included in this database were issued to merchant seamen who qualified as masters or mates aboard merchant ships. Records include certificates of competency, certificates of service, examination applications (which list the names of ships served on), and similar documents. Originals can be ordered here
  • Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939-1953  This collection holds information about the merchant seamen who lost their lives during and after the Second World War.
  • Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital Admissions and Discharges, 1826-1930  The Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital at Greenwich was the main clinical site of the Seamen’s Hospital Society (now Seafarer’s Hospital Society), founded with the philanthropic mission of providing relief to sick and injured seafarers of all nations. Did you know?  The Dreadnought Seaman's Hospital records can be searched by place of birth and will include seafarers and sailors of Caribbean and African descent. For example, a search for place of birth in Barbados results in 3,306 sailors who were in the Merchant Navy. 

Passenger Lists :UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960

Search tip: the content is organised in more than 30,000 separate collections, so it's worth searching the Ancestry title list to see which ones are likely to have the information you're looking for.

Find My Past This is another key family history e-resource. It is very user-friendly and has a wealth of valuable material. (RMG staff please note: due to licensing agreement restrictions Find My Past may not be accessed when you are working from home.)

The Records of Merchant Navy Seamen were deposited at The National Archives, however, they have been digitised and are available on Find My Past:

  • Merchant Navy Seamen 1835–1857 
  • Records of Merchant Navy Seamen for the period 1857-1918: These records do not exist as the Board of Trade deemed that as they were superseded by crew lists and ship agreements, it was not necessary to keep them. 
  • Merchant Navy Seamen 1918–1941 Records may include name, age, place of birth, physical description, ship names and dates of voyages. 

Search tip: copy the Title into Find My Past's AtoZ Card Catalogue (click on Search, scroll down to Card Catalogue). 

Other notable resources on Find My Past include:

  • Census Collection of England, Wales and Channel Islands (1841–1911)
  • Birth, Marriage and Death Index (primarily 1837–2006)
  • British Newspapers 1710-1963: thousands of local and regional publications across England, Wales, and Scotland.​

Find My Past also has records of outgoing passenger lists for all ships leaving the UK between 1890 and 1960: This is the search page.

  • Records of ticket-holding passengers embarking or transiting through the UK on long-distance voyages 1890–1960
  • Records of individuals or groups of people leaving for destinations including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and USA featuring ports such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Also passenger lists of SS Titanic
  • Passengers include not only immigrants and emigrants, but also businessmen, diplomats and tourists.
  • Images of the passenger lists are available to view, download and print.

The National Archives’ Discovery The National Archives' (TNA’s) Discovery portal to their catalogue enables the searching and full-text downloading of TNA's large collection of digitised public records.

  • It is a vital family history resource, and is especially helpful for seaman’s service records and wills. There is an extensive collection of naval records available.
  • The collection also includes the selected wills of well-known historical figures such as Horatio, Lord Nelson and Sir Francis Drake.
  • A variety of First World War records, including war diaries (containing operations reports, intelligence summaries and other material), medal index cards (giving information on military personnel and their medal entitlements) and service records are also available.

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Maritime journals and research

Mariner's Mirror The international journal of the Society for Nautical Research. It has been published since 1911 and is recognised as the world's leading journal of naval and maritime history. Print copies are available in the library's reading room. 

Journal of Maritime Research The Journal for Maritime Research (JMR) is the first electronic journal in the field of maritime studies. From contemporary issues to the political, economic, cultural and social aspects of maritime history, the JMR publishes innovative, multi-disciplinary research on maritime subjects. It is published by the Centre for Research at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.'

The Naval Chronicle The Caird Library has permanent free electronic access to The Naval Chronicle (published in 40 volumes from 1799 to 1818). The Naval Chronicle is a key historical maritime source, containing accounts of battles and lists of ships, plus details of naval marriages, promotions, deaths, courts-martial and biographies, plus some engravings and charts. This publication is also available to consult in it's print edition in the library reading room. 

Journal archives

JSTOR Archive JSTOR is a digital archive containing important scholarly journals and a large collection of 19th century British Pamphlets. The journal content covers all disciplines, while the pamphlet collection is strong on issues of political debate – for instance the anti-slavery movement. The JSTOR website has some good online tutorials on searching the archive and locating a specific article.

Please Note: Some of the journals we subscribe to in print form also come with online access. Please search for the title in the Library Catalogue and click on the url link in the catalogue record. For additional help, please email the Library staff.

Further maritime research

Manual of Maritime Curatorship Produced by the Maritime Heritage Network, this handbook provides a useful introduction to maritime curatorship for those who work in maritime museums, as well as those in related museum and heritage fields who are not maritime specialists, but who may have to deal with maritime material. As such it is an excellent overview of the extraordinarily broad and deep knowledge of the maritime world built up by curators and others over many decades.

Maritime Memorials Maritime Memorials is an online database containing records of over 6000 memorials to seafarers and victims of maritime disasters. These include records of church, cemetery and public memorials, and fuller entries also include photographs, extensive bibliographies and notes.

Flinders Papers An insight into the explorer and chartmaker Matthew Flinders, the first-known European to circumnavigate Australia.

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Rare and historic books

Early English Books Online Early English Books Online contains digital (PDF) versions of books, broadsheets and tracts printed in English between 1475 and 1700. It includes 100,000 of over 125,000 titles listed in the Pollard & Redgrave and Wing Short-Title Catalogues, as well as the Thomason Tracts (1640–1661) collection. Around 14,000 titles have also been transcribed and are available in printable text format.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) is a wonderful resource, covering every noteworthy English-language and foreign-language title printed in Great Britain during the 18th century, along with thousands of significant works from the Americas. E-content pages are available, plus fully-digital images of each page from the original historical works, which may be viewed online from cover-to-cover.

ECCO contains 33 million pages, over 180,000 titles, making up 200,000 volumes. It is a full-text searchable database and is based on the English Short-Title Catalogue.

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Newspapers

17th and 18th Century Burney Collection The newspapers and pamphlets collected by Reverend Charles Burney (1757–1817) are the largest single collection of 17th and 18th century English news publishing. Most material is from London, but there are also English provincial, Irish and Scottish papers, and a few examples from America, Europe and India. Titles include the Daily Courant (1702–1735) and the London Gazette (1666–1792).

You can find out more about the Burney collection from the British Library website.

19th Century British Library Newspapers This resource contains the digitised content of 49 influential national and regional newspapers from the 19th century. Titles include the Daily News (1846–1900), the Morning Chronicle (1801–1865), the Graphic (1870–1900) and the Liverpool Mercury (1811–1900).

The British Library also hosts its own version of this database, which is free to search on their website, and articles are via pay-per-view online or for free at their St. Pancras site. The website has some good topical articles, and also offers the entire runs of the Graphic and the Penny Illustrated News on open access in their reading room.

A version of the British Newspaper Archive can be found on Find My Past.  British Local Newspapers such as the Liverpool Daily Post, the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Portsmouth Evening News can be found under the Family History heading on this page.   Included is the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette which was absorbed into Lloyd's List. 

Guardian and Observer Digital Archive The Guardian/Observer Digital Archive contains more than 200 years of reporting from the Manchester Guardian (1821–1959), Guardian (1959–2003), and Observer (1791–2003) newspapers. There are a variety of search options, and you can view articles in PDF.

The Illustrated London News Historical Archive With its debut in 1842 the Illustrated London News became the world's first illustrated weekly newspaper, sparking a revolution in journalism and news reporting. The publication presented a vivid picture of British and world events – including news of war, disasters, royalty, social affairs, the arts and science. Containing over 260,000 full colour pages, fully searchable and browseable, the ILN Historical Archive 1842–2003 provides users with unprecedented access to the entire run of this unique historical record.

Newspaper Archive  Access to newspapers in Jamaica, includes the Kingston Gleaner (10 titles); Bahamas: Nassau  (1 title), Suriname (7 titles) and the United Kingdom. Strong coverage in Kingston and London, U.K.  U.K. published newspapers include: Allens Indian Mail, (U.K.) 1845-1870; British Workman 1855-1874; Bermondsey Review and South London Record; China Telegraph; Colonies and India 1877-1898.

To display the newspapers covered by the National Maritime Museum subscription use the Browse by Location option.

Times Digital Archive The Times Digital Archive contains more than 7 million articles from The Times newspaper from 1785 to 1985. There are a variety of search options, and you can view articles and pages in either text or facsimile image.

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