An exciting Letter from Admiral Horatio Nelson to the 2nd Earl Camden dated 11 October 1804 has been put on display and revealed to the public for the first time. The letter concerns Camden’s nephew, Francis James, who, having lost his ship and his clothes, evidently decided he was not cut out for a life at sea! As Tunbridge Wells Museum’s Object of the Month for December, the letter sits alongside supporting text provided by our own Mike Bevan, Archivist at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. You can take a look at the letter online: http://www.tunbridgewellsmuseum.org/Default.aspx?page=2363. The full article is also available via the link and as a PDF. This version reveals letters from the NMM’s Archive, specifically the Croker collection (CRK) and puts the exhibited letter into a wider context concerning patronage, naval operations and reminds us that the call of the sea didn’t suit everyone!
The letter has already generated some local media attention:
Regular visitors to the Caird Library will be used to seeing references to the National Archives amongst our collections. Now it seems that other great Kew institution is getting in on the maritime act. We spotted recently this fascinating blog post written by colleagues at Kew Gardens about some rare cloth in their collection with a connection to HMS Bounty.
While we’re at it, I wonder if the staff at Kew Gardens would be interested in this item, re-discovered recently in our archive collection. Not to mention the logbook of HMS Sea Flower; our collection of documents belonging to George Rose and of course a whole host of family trees.
Richard (Assistant Archivist)
Shipindex.org is an online resource that gives references to ships in books, magazines and other websites. It’s been around for a few years so you may have come across it before, but what you may not know is that it’s recently entered a new development phase and is looking more and more useful to maritime researchers.
What it provides is something that everyone wants – the ability to put the name of a ship into a database, and find out where to find information on it. Ideally that information would come straight back out of the database (and maybe it will one day, if Google have their way with copyright), but as you will know if you’ve spent time here at the Caird Library, typically the information likes to hide. In books. So being able to find out which books it’s hiding in really is the next best thing.
Shipindex now has 143,937 entries free to view, with an additional 1,278,431 entries available as premium content, accessible by subscription. We are currently running a trial of the premium content, so if you’d like to try it out, come and visit us here at the Library or E-Library sometime before March 17. We’d love to know what you think, and I’m sure the people behind Shipindex would too.
Renee (Digital Resources Librarian)
If you’d like to continue the literary shipwreck theme we started with December’s item of the month, the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has recently published some more online books with a shipwreck adventure theme. There’s quite a chronological range, from Francois Raynal’s Wrecked on a Reef (1880) to Crusoes of Sunday Island (1957), Elsie Morton’s account of the Swiss Family Robinson style adventures of the Bell family.
Don’t think you’ll have to be glued to your PC to read them though – these books are all available as ePub eBooks, downloadable for mobile devices such as the iPhone or iPod Touch. So, if you’re lucky enough to be getting one of these for Christmas you’re all sorted for your maritime holiday reading.
Merry Christmas from everyone here at the Caird Library – we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
Renee (Digital Resources Librarian)