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Posts tagged with 'maritime archives and library'

The other Plimsoll – Samuel’s ‘untiring coadjutor’

8 March 2019 by Jen

Gold edged historic document with elegant calligraphy in gold, red and blue

“Honour to whom honour is due…” Testimonial address to Samuel Plimsoll, Maritime Archives collections DX/1110

“I like to think that the Plimsoll line should be regarded as a commemoration not just of Samuel Plimsoll, but of his wife Eliza Plimsoll, whose idea it was originally that he should initiate his campaign for the defence of sailors, and who was definitely dedicated to the cause as he was.” – Nicolette Jones lecture, 2008

As a society we are becoming more aware of the vast swathes of people whose stories have been excluded from, or side-lined within, the historical narrative. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) women, people of colour, the disabled and LGBT+ people. It can be difficult to combat this when a lack of acknowledgment from their contemporaries has often been compounded by the way history books, and museum collections, have, in previous years, focussed on the privileged and powerful. It is important we remember though that just because these stories have not been told does not mean that there is nothing to tell. Read more…

John Holt and post colonial development in West Africa

19 February 2019 by Charlotte Murray

Large ship

‘Jonathan Holt’ ship, built 1910, John Holt & Company. Copyright unknown. Maritime Archives & Library

While the Maritime Archives & Library was recently closed for refurbishment, a lot of work was going on behind the scenes. At our reserve store, which houses the archives of various local businesses, I have been cataloguing collections previously inaccessible to the public.

Here I’d like to highlight just one of the fascinating collections that are now available for the first time. Read more…

Volunteer spotlight: Randa Craig

12 February 2019 by Rachel O'Malley

Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. As part of the volunteer spotlight series we are meeting up with volunteers who have been making outstanding contributions to the organisation and finding out more about the work that they do.

Randa Craig and Anne Gleave in the Maritime Archives Library

This month, I had the pleasure of meeting Randa Craig, a volunteer with the Maritime Archives and Library, whose enthusiasm for the role was clear from the get go! Randa was introduced to National Museums Liverpool and volunteering through a friend in 2012 and began working with the Archives in 2014.  Her first project was working with Paper conservation: cleaning glass plate negatives from the Stewart Bale collection.

Randa told me that it is exciting to be surrounded by beautiful art and that it is a privilege to be so close to the works. Read more…

Documenting a deck apprentice’s journey

4 February 2019 by Vicki Caren

bundles of letters in air mail envelopes

The Jim Fitt collection, before

Today’s guest blog post is by Brenda McCafferty, who completed a placement with us in January as part of her Masters in Archives and Records Management (MARM) degree:

“Recently I was fortunate to receive a placement in the Maritime Archives and Library in partial fulfilment and completion of my Masters of Archives degree program at the University of Liverpool.

My work placement involved arranging and describing a recent acquisition of letters and photographs received from Jim Fitt, detailing his early experiences at sea as an 18-19 year old deck apprentice with Shell Tankers Ltd, 1962-1963.  Read more…

A tale about a toboggan from the Archives!

29 January 2019 by Vicki Caren

document next to computer screen showing info on George Ashworth Cobham Jr

This guest blog comes to you from Helen Ritchie, a University of Liverpool student currently undertaking a Masters in Archives and Records Management (MARM). Helen has reflected upon her recent placement here at the Maritime Archive and Library, which included the discovery of an unexpected tale:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to complete a two-week volunteer placement at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

During my time at the Maritime, I have witnessed what it takes to be an archivist within a museum setting and the constraints that the sector often endures such as funding and space management.

The collection I was asked to catalogue belongs to the Bryson-Cobham family collection which includes a large number of personal and business correspondence relating to the Cobhams Read more…

Maritime Archives and Library refurbishment

19 November 2018 by Vicki Caren

old arched doorway into empty room with some rubble on the floor

New entrance to the Maritime Archives and Library during the refurbishment, with a view through the library space towards the Three Graces on the waterfront

As part of the Sea Galleries development at Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Maritime Archives and Library has been closed for refurbishment. Works are currently underway to reconfigure the public search room and staff office.

The improved facilities will see the creation of a new entrance, utilising the original features of this listed dock warehouse. A spacious entrance area will also contain exhibition cases to showcase some of the treasures from the archive collections, along with a touchscreen allowing access to our information sheets and research guides outside of our opening hours.  Read more…

A glimpse into the life of a historic seafarer for World Mental Health Day

10 October 2018 by Jen

Logo compromised of a lifebelt and phone receiver to look like an old fashioned phone with text giving the e-mail address for SeafarerHelp

SeafarerHelp run a free, confidential, multilingual helpline for seafarers and their families, offering support with whatever issues they may be facing. You can find a link to their website at the bottom of this page.

Earlier this year I wrote about a romantic story from the journals of young Captain William Porter, from the 1860s. He was dearly missing his wife, Bess, when he discovered, weeks out to sea, that she’d hidden a letter to him among his belongings.

This sweet story about William and Bess was not however what had drawn me to the journals in the first place. It was a rather less happy strand to his writing that had caught my eye on the summary transcript. I had been researching in the Archives for historic references to struggles with mental health, or simply the loneliness and isolation we know are often a part of life at sea. In the summary for William’s journals there were certainly mentions of loneliness, but also repeated references to worry about a variety of things and a note of a New Year’s Eve entry that particularly spoke about his state of mind. Read more…

Centenary of Mersey ferries’ daring Zeebrugge raid

19 April 2018 by Jen

Black and white photograph of two Mersey ferries

The Mersey ferries Daffodil and Iris II at Dover soon after the vessels returned from the Zeebrugge Raid © IWM (Q 18888)

Anyone who’s looked out across the Mersey in the last couple of years has probably noticed the very colourful Mersey ferry Snowdrop in her fabulous dazzle-inspired livery. Designed by Peter Blake to mark the centenary of the First World War, it is reminiscent of the Dazzle camouflage used by thousands of ships in the conflict. If you step on board and visit the display co-curated by National Museums Liverpool you’ll discover that when the Mersey ferries played their own role in the war, their livery couldn’t have looked more different to the spectacular Dazzle. Read more…

A story of female friendship and survival

7 March 2018 by Jen

Back and white photo of a large two funnelled liner, the City of Benares

City of Benares, Maritime Archives & Library, MMM collection, reference MCR/61/371 (copyright unknown, believed to be expired)

When I first started to think about women’s stories we could spotlight this year for International Women’s Day there was one in particular that instantly came to mind. I’ve blogged before about the sinking of the Ellerman liner, City of Benares. Torpedoed mid-Atlantic in 1940 while taking child evacuees to Canada, it’s one of the most heart-rending pieces of research I’ve ever carried out. As always with such tragedies though, the larger story is made up of hundreds of smaller, more personal, ones. Beth and Bess are one of these stories. Read more…

A Valentine to seafarers

12 February 2018 by Jen

Off-white tile with red printed design showing a woman embracing a sailor with sailing ship in the background.

British Delftware tile, ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’, from National Museums Liverpool’s Decorative Arts collection – M2234 i

Here at the Maritime Museum our curatorial team are busy researching the content for our new Sea Galleries, looking at the lives and experiences of seafarers. I’ve become particularly interested in the effects of separation from one’s family and home, and have been reading through a collection of journals in the Maritime Archives kept by a Captain Porter in the 1860s aboard his ship the Jamna. Read more…



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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.