A quick post to let Readers know that the Quiet Study Area of the Caird Library will be closed for part of Thursday 27 June. The details of the closures are:
10am-12.30pm: Library Event: Introduction to the Caird Library
6.00-7.45pm: Archive Event: Jane Austen and the Navy
The Quiet Study Area of the Library will not be available to Readers during these times. Between 10am and 7.45pm, the Group Study Area of the Library will be open as normal on Thursdays.
If you are interesting in attending either (or both!) event(s), please note places are limited and do need to be booked in advance. Further details are available at: http://www.rmg.co.uk/whats-on/events/caird-library-june
It has been a while since Item of the Month made an appearance on the Library Blog, but June sees its return! As the centennial commemoration of the events of the First World War approaches, the Manuscripts team has been evaluating our holdings relating to this conflict. The anticipated public interest in the First World War during the coming months will place demands on our provision of access to relevant resources in the Caird Library. More significantly, in partnership with other departments at the NMM, we hope to showcase some material that has come into the collection in recent years and not been catalogued in detail.
Some personal collections feel particularly poignant because they relate to individuals who were killed on active service. One example is JOD/186, consisting of the journal and photograph albums of Charles Douglas Simmons. Simmons was drowned whilst serving in the Royal Naval Reserve just a few weeks before the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in November 1918. He was 37. He is remembered on the Naval Memorial at Chatham, a memorial in the High Street at Penge in the London borough of Bromley, and in the roll of honour for cadets from the training ship HMS Worcester (1860).
June’s Item of the Month looks at Simmon’s career in photographs held in the Caird Library’s collections. See for yourself at: http://www.rmg.co.uk/researchers/collections/by-type/archive-and-library/item-of-the-month/
Join up now –
The Merchant Navy needs you!
- Are you interested in volunteer work?
- Would you like to volunteer but from the comfort of your own home?
- Do you have a computer with broadband?
If you can answer “yes” to these three questions, then we would love to hear from you.
In partnership with The National Archives (TNA) the National Maritime Museum last year launched a project to transcribe and make available online, all of the surviving Merchant Navy crew lists from 1915. As there are no records for individual merchant seamen from this period, these records are of national significance in high lighting the vital contribution made by the Merchant Navy during the First World War. They are also of immeasurable value to family historians, as one of the few sources of information about the contribution of our sea-faring ancestors active in 1915. If you had an ancestor at sea in the British merchant navy in 1915, there is a high chance a crew list for one or more voyages survive. Approximately 39,000 crew lists have been photographed and NMM and TNA volunteers from as far afield as Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Italy, France and Ireland as well as all over the UK are transcribing these records to make them available and searchable. This is marvellous effort really demonstrates the international interest and demand for the information these records contain.We hope to launch the project in August 2014, to coincide with the centenary of the start of the First World War and really contribute something valuable to our memory and understanding of this conflict.
Your Museum Needs You: Could you invest some hours and transcribe a box of crew lists and help this valuable project?
For more information please contact:
The Caird Library has over 125 current subscriptions that range over a wide subject area including scholarly and special interest journals and publications. They include: Art – British Art Journal, Art Monthly, The Art Newspaper; Astronomy – Astronomy and Geophysics, Sky and Telescope; Horology – Horological Journal, British Sundial Society; Economics – Economic History Review and Maritime – Journal of Maritime History. There are a large number of publications on boats and ships, modern and historical vessels (Ships Monthly, Shipping Today and Yesterday, Sea History), as well as from both merchant and Royal Navy backgrounds (Warships, Warship World, Warships : International Fleet Review).
Are you a sailing enthusiast? For the owners of personal craft for leisure, take a look at: Cruising Monthly, Yachting Monthly or Sailing Today. Do you spend hours on model boat construction? For more tips, Model Boats is the journal that specialises in this detailed work. Antique hunter? Antiques Trade Gazette and Antique Collecting will help narrow down the hunt. Researching your family tree? Family Tree, Your Family History and Who Do You Think You Are provides unlimited tips and tricks.
Many of the journals we subscribe to, such as the English Historical Review and the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History boast impressive editorial boards consisting of some of the most well respected academics and professors working at top academic institutions in this country, and around the globe.
We also hold significant collections of journals for which we have no current subscription (e.g.: we no longer subscribe to a number of archaeology journals, as the museum no longer has an archaeology department); or those which are no longer published. However, the journals are kept for reference and much of the material published in them is still relevant.
Most of the journals we subscribe to as well as relevant historical collections are stored onsite and must be ordered and retrieved by staff, however we also display the current issues of over 75 journals in the quiet study area of the reading room, which are available for any reader to pick up and leaf through.
Search the library online catalogue for any of these journals by title or subject. We welcome any suggestions for new subscriptions – if you know of a journal you feel fits in well with the research aims of the museum or is simply of general maritime interest, please do let us know so we can consider it for our collection.
We look forward to hearing from you!
We’d like to advise Readers that the Quiet Study Area of the Caird Library will be closed on Thursday 25 April between 10am and 12pm and also from 6pm until closing (7.45pm). Starting at 11am will be April’s Introduction to the Caird Library session. If you’d like to see some of the Library’s rare books and manuscripts or pick up some tips on how to begin researching your own sea-faring ancestors, do come along. You can find more details about these introductory sessions at: http://www.rmg.co.uk/visit/events/intro-caird-library-april
Also on 25 April at 6.45pm will be an opportunity to see sea charts, maps and atlases from the Museum’s collections. Royal Museums Greenwich curators will be on hand to discuss the unique features of these navigational treasures, some of which date back to the fifteenth century. Many of these charts are works of art as much as aids to navigation, featuring sea monsters, mermaids, and amazing colours that reminded me of the vibrant colours sometimes seen in medieval stain glass windows. See for yourself at: http://www.rmg.co.uk/visit/events/treasures
The Quiet Study Area will be open as normal between 1- 6pm. Outside these times the Group study area of the Library will remain open. Here you can usually expect some quiet conversation but not generally enough to make concentration difficult.
We will be filming in the Quiet study area of the Caird Library on Friday 19 April. We’d like to let all readers know that this means the Quiet Study Area will be closed all day. The Group Study area will be open as normal (10am -4.45pm) so we hope this will not disturb readers too much. A certain amount of quiet conversation is to be expected in the Group Study Area, but not usually so much as to make concentration difficult.
We’re very excited about the Library Film which will appear on the Royal Museums Greenwich website to promote the Archive and Library and collections. We think the Library, its collections and facilities are worth shouting about!
There will be an opportunity to view a selection of the Caird Library’s rare manuscripts on maritime history. If you’ve ever wondered what life was really like in Nelson’s navy, how sick and injured seamen were cared for, or you simply want to explore your own maritime connections, this session will introduce you to the documents that can help you uncover the answers.
This session will be repeated on the 4th Thursday of April, May and June. The session is free, but places do need to booked in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The session will be taking place in the Quiet Study area of the Caird Library, which will be closed to readers from 10am – 12:30pm to allow the session to take place. Library visitors can continue to use our collections in the Group Study area, which remains open as usual.
Hello, my name is Tara and I recently joined the Manuscripts team as an Archives Assistant. Prior to this, I studied English Literature and subsequently the art of graduate job-hunting. After various stints working in smaller archives, I’m enjoying being in a large, specialist archive. I’m still getting used to just how vast the collection here is! Given that the role of archives is focussed very much on increasing public access, it is a great opportunity for me to be part of a team that spends a great deal of time helping members of the public get the most from the NMM archives collections. Whilst we can’t do everyone’s research for them, we do our best to guide researchers to possible sources for the information they seek. So when I’m not on duty in the library helping readers in person, I am usually answering public enquiries and trying to absorb the knowledge around me!
One of collections that I find interesting are the Atlases, Maps and Portolans (archive catalogue reference ‘P’). Consisting of fity-eight manuscript atlases believed to date from as early as the thirteenth century, the collection is a fascinating insight into how our ancestors navigated the seas. I spoke to the NMM Curator of Hydrography and learned that these atlases are made up of navigational sea charts known as a ‘portolan charts’. Emerging in the thirteenth century, portolan charts are a mystery of sorts as they appear to have been created right through to the eighteenth century before disappearing. It is not known exactly who first created them or how, yet it is believed they were used for over four hundred years to navigate the seas, primarily by judging the distance and direction between ports, and demontrate an impressive accuracy in their depictions of coastlines and dimensions.
A fascinating example of the detail of these charts can be seen in Basil Ringrose’s ca. 1682 atlas: A Waggoner – ‘Shewing the making and bearing of all the coasts from California to the Streights of Le Maire done from the Spanish original by Basil Ringrose’(archive catalogue reference P/32: you can scroll down to click on the individual pages refered to here in brackets beneath the image). ‘Waggoner’ means sailing directions and the manuscript consists of 106 individual charts with explanatory notes, covering the Pacific coast of the Americas. The origins of the atlas are rather interesting – Basil Ringrose was part of a group of English Buccuneers who on capturing several Spanish vessels, also captured a book of charts and sailing directions. On returning to England, he created his own atlas from the stolen Spanish charts. Drawn against a sqaure pencil grid, Ringrose used a coloured line to show the coastline clearly and employed a variety of symbols to mark features as well as annotations about places and ports. A compass rose, a typical feature of early charts, shows the direction of the winds. Opposite each chart, is accompanying text with information gained from the seafarers who used these type of charts, mostly to navigate between ports for trade purposes. Below are some examples.
Reference: P/32(11). This chart shows the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. The chart is one of the more detailed on the atlas and includes the compass rose, a note of the lattitude, depth soundings (the numbers in the sea area) as well as the dot textured areas to indicate shallow waters and red symbols for anchorages. Written opposite (not shown here), the text begins ‘Acapulco is a great port of trade it is the place whence the Spaniard embarques from Mexico for China and the Fillipines’ and goes on to explain that this is ‘a peculiar privilige it hath for no other port dares trade to any parts of the East Indies.’ Considering that the atlas is based on stolen Spanish charts, it’s not hard to see how valuable it was for the English to learn the Spanish trade routes. Indeed, on return to England, Charles II, far from punishing the buccaneers for their piratical deeds, expelled the Spanish Ambassodor! The text describes how ‘all goods are carryed on mules’ how during the journey the Spanish pass through ‘a nation of Indians’ who have ‘tiranicall masters’.
Reference: P/32(26). This chart shows the coast of El Viejo, Nicaragua. This chart is well annotated and shows the port of El Realejo, which was once the principal port of Nicaragua. During the early seventeenth century, it fell victim to piracy and declined in importance. It is therefore curious to see it charted by a buccaneer shortly after this period! The chart is detailed including extensive shallows and various ancorages. Intriguingly there are symbols for two nearby churches and a ship is shown coming by river from Fonseca…
Reference: P/32(2). Basil Ringrose’s waggoner also demonstrates the extent of European knowledge of the New World at the time: recording California as a separate island!
To see more images from Basil Ringrose’s South Sea Waggoner, search the online charts and maps collection here: http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections.html#!csearch;searchTerm=basil_ringrose
If you are interested in knowing more about the NMM atlases, charts and maps, browse our archive catalogue here: http://collections.rmg.co.uk/archive/objects/492065.html using the finding reference ‘P’ and look out for a coming item of the month post about London map and chart maker William Hack’s elaborate 1685 atlas of the same coastlines!
Further books available in the Caird Library catalogue:
Portolan Charts and Atlases in the National Maritime Museum
Pflederer, Richard L. [Library ID: PBF7917]
Finding their way at sea : the story of portolan charts, the cartographers who drew them and the mariners who sailed by them
Pflederer, Richard L. [Library ID: PBH5595]
Tara (Archive and Libary)
Hi there! My name is Nabila and I joined the Caird Library’s team as a Library Assistant in June 2012. These past seven months have flown by! I have been a library assistant since 2005 working in public libraries during my A-levels and a government library after graduating, so it is a welcome change to be in specialist library. I love working in libraries because I enjoy helping people find the information they are looking for. We have some incredible enquiries that range from family history research to questions about tides. We recently had a request for an authentic signature of Captain Cook (Click here to see AGC/C/15
: click on the second letter and scroll down).
I enjoy answering enquiries related to the Lloyd’s Maritime Collection. For example, when a reader asked us for the year a steamer was built and the vessel’s dimensions, knowing only her official number and that she sailed sometime in the 1950s. I had to search the Lloyd’s Register of Shipping of three different years (1952, 1955 and 1958) to find the ship by the correct official number. Still produced today, Lloyd’s Register is published annually and the Library’s collection dates back as far as 1764. It’s ideal for looking up basic facts such as where and when a vessel was built, who built it, who owned it and details of its hull, rig, construction and any engines.
I must confess I am no expert in maritime history, but I have learnt a lot in the short time I have been here! Our collections of books and manuscripts are, to say the least, vast and they provide an incredible insight in our history. It is exciting to be working closely with the acquisition and cataloguing of books that are added to this incredible collection. I help process new books and prepare them to be seen in the Library. For example, I have been working on cataloguing pamphlets and books from our offsite stores and have dealt with 230 of them so far. Look out for a forth coming post on the latest Library acquisitions, but in the meantime, here are some of my favourites so far:
- Dickens, Gerald, The dress of the British sailor (HMSO, 1957), 355.14(42), Library ID: PBD2074
- Greenhill, Basil, James Cook : the opening of the Pacific (HMSO for NMM, 1970), 92COOK:910.4(93/96)”1768/1780″, Library ID: PBH5181
- Carr, Frank George Griffith, Maritime Greenwich (Pitkin Pictorials, 1974), 914.216(26), Library ID: PBH5219
So if you see any of our new books be certain that I helped in getting it ready for you! Have a look in our Library catalogue
and look out for the new books in the link at the top of the page. And don’t forget you can search the Archive catalogue
for original manuscript records, like the Cook letter above!
Nabila (Library Assistant)
And a Happy New Year from the Caird Library!
We thought we’d get the new year rolling by introducing a few members of staff who have joined the Archive and Library team recently. It’s also our sad duty to report that Richard Wragg, long time editor of the Caird Library Blog, has left the Museum and gone on to pursue his doctoral studies. We wish him all the best and will miss him- and we hope he keeps a good archival eye on the blog yet! Last year we welcomed Jean Kenny to the Library team, and here is Jean in her own words… (I wanted to add Jean’s photo but she was not so keen on that...)
A belated hello to all the blog readers! My name is Jean and I joined the National Maritime Museum as a Library Assistant back at the end of March.
I’m from Dublin originally, and studied archaeology and Irish there before moving to England and completing an MSc. in maritime archaeology at the University of Southampton. Working in the Caird Library is a far cry from the optimistic visions I had of myself diving for wrecks in the Mediterranean, however I love the variety of enquiries we receive here at the library, and enjoy the opportunity it gives me to fine tune my research skills and learn more about the fascinating collections we have here at the National Maritime Museum. Outside public duties in the reading room and dealing with enquiries, my main responsibility is managing the museum’s long list of scholarly and maritime journal subscriptions. We subscribe to a wide variety of journals and magazines on a range of subjects – art, antiques, clocks and horology, history, sailing/commercial shipping, and of course, boats of all varieties! Some of them are particularly niche and specific – my personal favourite is Knotting Matters, the Journal of the International Guild of Knot Tyers!
I have already been churning my way through a number of the books from the wonderful collection, and have made plans to build my own boat with the help of a friend and a number of the very practical boat building books we have here. Who knows, there may be a blog post in the near future with some interesting photos of the amazing things you can learn from our books!
Item of the month readers can have a look at the story of a lesser known Trafalgar captain. Charles Tyler of HM ship Tonnant had a musket ball go clean through his thigh while his ship grappled with the Spanish Algeciras. Afterwards in Gibraltar he was encouraged by his Surgeon to drink quantities of Madeira to aid his recovery! Instead he wrote some rather tender letters to his wife. Pick up the story with January’s Item of the month at:
Do leave a reply and let us know whay you think- we’d love to hear from you!
(Archive and Library)