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This week's Feature: Three ship account books from the 1620s and 1630s: HCA 30/636/


HCA 30/636 in all its glory, just waiting for some collaborative work by volunteers

Are you interested in a startup collaborative online project to look at, partially transcribe and understand three ship account books from the 1620s and 1630s? You have come to the right place. Marine Lives is launching a new project and is seeking volunteer collaborators. This will be a project about co-creation of a public resource, which will be published on the Marine Lives wiki and made available to all - public and academic historians alike (and those just intrigued by our past).

HCA 30/636 is a document category which has been created to cover certain papers generated by the Prize Court jurisdiction of the English High Court of Admiralty papers. It contains nine sub-references. We have imaged all the documents within HCA 30/636 and will be making these available to volunteer collaborators online. Documents include three beautifully leather bound account books of various sizes, further paper bound account books, a letter copy book of letters written from on board ship, and various miscellaneous accounting documents relating to multiple voyages. In all we have over one thousand images.

We are in start up mode. Our current thinking is to make the images available on DropBox or OneDrive and to use this MarineLives wiki as our collaboration platform - to share ideas, to provide support, and to be the vehicle to publish our transcriptions and synthesis. But we are open to your ideas about how to organise this project and nothing will be finalised until we have our team in place. You can get up to speed on our thinking by reading this Twitter Thread.

We have had expressions of interest from people from many places - Mexico, Michigan, Texas, London, Newcastle to list a few - which is perfect given the virtual nature of our project and the broad geographic scope of the papers which include multiple voyages from England to the West Indies, the Mediterranean and to Northern Europe.

We will be sending out an email to everyone who has expressed this interest this weekend (Saturday, October 16th 2021), and will invite people in that email to take a look at some sample images and to tell us about their research interests, skills and ideas for this project.

This is going to be a very relaxed project running through to the middle of 2022 in which people are welcome to dip in and out, and to do as little or as much as they have time and interest for.

If you are interested in learning more, follow Marine Lives on Twitter, tweet your interest and we will get in touch with you by Twitter direct mail.

You can also access our HCA 30/636 account book project home page here, which we are starting to populate. Come join us and help us fill in the blanks.



About MarineLives


MarineLives volunteers, past and present, 2015-2018. Read more about them here

MarineLives is a collaborative volunteer driven project. The project started as a spinoff from a National Archives hackathon in early 2012. We are explore lives touched by the marine world between 1540 and 1680. Commerce, materials, language and correspondence.

At the core of MarineLives is the collaborative transcription, linkage and enrichment of primary manuscripts from the English High Court of Admiralty, together with thematically related manuscripts from international manuscript and printed document collections.

In the past ten years over 250 volunteers have contributed to our transcriptions and to our synthesis of the many themes which constitute lives in the Early Modern marine world. Currently, we have 12,753 text pages and 12,083 images available and nearly six million words of full text transcriptions on the MarineLives wiki.

We have finding aids for themes as varied as Early Modern women in the marine world; Materials handling; The Early Modern River Thames; Commercial record keeping; Mariners letters; and many more.

We have also developed a database of 20,100 depositions drawn from the HCA 13/ series covering the period 1575 to 1684, which provides quantitative and qualitative insights into this important series of Admiralty Court depositions.

Sample our training material to see if this could be for you.


Sample images
This will be a project about co-creation of a public resource, which will be published on the Marine Lives wiki and made available to all - public and academic historians alike (and those just intrigued by our past).
HCA 30/636/3 Andrew Hardey's account book for voyage to Barbados in the ship the Abraham- extract from wages schedules
HCA 30/636/ Handwriting sample
HCA 30/636/ Letter copy book from on board the ship the Abraham