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- Crew lists and logbooks
- Vessel registers
- Shipping lists
- Ship captains
- Voyages
- Shipwrecks
- Atlantic Canada Shipping Project
- More Than a List of Crew

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Crew lists and logbooks

In 1966 the National Archives in London [Public Record Office] took the decision to discard part of the “Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, the Agreements and Account of Crew and Official Logbooks” for British Empire vessels from 1861 to 1913. The decision met with considerable opposition from archivists and maritime and labour historians; these records were considered to be a valuable and largely untapped source of information on seafaring labour and the shipping industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eventually, through the co-operative effort of a number of individuals, the disposition of the Crew Agreements was settled, with the bulk of the records, covering 1863-1938 and 1951-1976, being transferred to Memorial University's Maritime History Archive (MHA).

However, a significant number of crew agreements remained in Britain. The National Archives took a random 10% sample as well as the collection relating to celebrated ships, BT100. The National Maritime Museum took the years 1861 and 1862, and a decadal sample of all the years ending in five, e.g., 1865, 1875, 1885 etc. (Majority of 1915 crew lists have been scanned and are available to search online.) And county record offices and other repositories in Britain and Ireland took advantage of the opportunity to acquire crew agreements which were of particular interest to their geographical area.

The crew agreements provide particulars of the vessel, including the port of registry, tonnage, form of propulsion, owner and intended voyage. The information relating to the individual crew members includes the person's name, year and place of birth, capacity, previous vessel served on, and date of signing on and off the vessel.

There are no nominal indexes to the crew lists. When looking for a particular seafarer it is necessary to know the name or official number of the vessel and the approximate years that a person served on a vessel in order for us to search the agreements. Once we have located a person it is sometimes possible to trace the career back through previous vessels.

For information on ordering copies of crew agreements from the Maritime History Archive please go to the Ordering Crew Agreements page.

Please visit our 1881 Crew Lists Database to view some of our collection of crew agreements for voyages terminating in 1881, and our Newfoundland and Labrador Crew Lists Database to view the crew lists of more than 430 vessels either registered in St. John's, Newfoundland or containing Newfoundland and Labrador crews.

The following series of crew lists and logbooks are held at the Maritime History Archive

Great Britain. Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen
Agreement and Account of Crew and Official Logbooks for British Empire Vessels, 1857-1942 (predominantly 1863-1938), 1951-1976. Total of extent 6,439 metres of textual material.
Since 1971 the Maritime History Archive has acquired approximately 70% of the original documents which make up this series. The agreements are filed by the year in which a voyage terminated at a UK port. Included are crew lists for passenger, cargo and fishing vessels. They are arranged chronologically and filed within each year by the official number of the vessel. As well as particulars of the vessel and information relating to individual crew members, the agreements also include accounts of the apprentices on board as well as records of births, deaths and marriages of crew and passengers. The agreements were endorsed by the British Consul at each major port of call, and notations made of any changes of crew were noted at that time. Official logbooks accompany many of the crew agreements up to 1874, but thereafter they were mostly destroyed. The Official logbooks contain information on medical and disciplinary matters.

The British Public Record Office at Kew has retained most of the surviving documents prior to 1860, as well as a random sample in the 1863-1938 period. The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, England holds records for 1861-1862 and the years ending "5". Please note that the majority of 1915 crew lists have been scanned and are available to search online.

The Maritime History Archive maintains an on-line catalog of all crew agreements and accounts in its archives. These lists can be searched by Official Number.

Official Number Search of the Crew Agreements and Accounts
Types of Agreements and Accounts

Great Britain. Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen
Agreement and Account of Crew of Commissioned Chartered Ships,T124, 1914-1920. 23 metres of textual material.
Agreements of armed or unarmed hired vessels in H.M. service under the Lords of the Admiralty for the period of World War, 1914-1918. Arranged by vessel and indexed by official number and/or name of vessel.

Great Britain. Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen
Agreements and Crew Lists, Series 1 (BT 98): Colonial, 1846-1856. 58 reels of microfilm.
Agreements of colonial registered vessels, containing the names and addresses of seamen, dates of engagement and discharge, name of previous vessel, destined voyage, etc. Arranged chronologically and indexed by vessel name and port of registry.

Great Britain. Board of Trade
Dartmouth and Plymouth Muster Rolls, 1755-1808. 16 reels of microfilm.
An early form of crew agreement. These give particulars of the vessel, name of master and crew and destined voyage, date of departure and return to port. Index by vessel name in progress.

Whaling logbooks, 1812-1860. 2 reels of microfilm.
A collection of logbooks for 28 whaling vessels registered in Hull, England, from Hull City Library and Hull Museum.

Newfoundland. Mercantile Marine Office
Agreements and Account of Crew, 1919-1938. 18 reels of microfilm.
Surviving crew agreements of vessels registered in Newfoundland. Mostly steamships. All crew agreements from this collection have been indexed by vessel name and are also available online in the Newfoundland and Labrador Crew Lists Database.

Collector of Customs, New London, Connecticut
Crew Lists of Outgoing Vessels, 1815-1817, 1822-1829. 1 part reel of microfilm.
Members of crew on board American vessels clearing the district of New London and bound for foreign ports or whaling voyages. Includes name, place of birth and residence, age and height, colour of hair and complexion and the county of citizenship of each crew member. Also includes information on the vessel.

Collector of Customs, New London, Connecticut
Crew lists Surrendered, 1792-1888. 1 reel of microfilm.
Members of crew on board American vessels arriving in the district of New London from foreign ports or whaling voyages. Information similar to lists for outgoing vessels, above.

Collector of Customs, Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts
Crew lists for the ports of Salem and Beverly, 1803-1899. 31 reels of microfilm.
Mostly copies of crew lists deposited with the Collector of Customs when the vessel left on its voyage. Information as listed for New London (above). Arranged by year and alphabetically by vessel name.

Essex Institute Marine Logbooks and Journals, 1750-1803. 4 reels of microfilm.
Microfilm copies of the logbooks in the Essex Institute collection, mostly for fishing and trading voyages out of Salem and Beverly, Massachusetts. Indexed by vessel name.

France. Archives Maritimes, Port de Cherbourg
Roles d'armament et de desarmement des navires de Granville et de Requeville, 1833-1856. 82 reels of microfilm.
Records of outfitting and paying off at the termination of a voyage. Vessels involved in the coasting trade and the Newfoundland fishery. Lists crew members, wages, details of the vessel and voyage.

Updated January, 2015

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