Warwick student voices
Joshua Callaway is currently a second year student at the University of Warwick, studying History with Italian. He has a keen interest in Early Modern European History, particularly aspects of the Military Revolution debate. He is looking to potentially undertake a MA in Italy after his undergraduate degree to pursue these ideas further.
"Warwick University’s collaboration with MarineLives has equipped us with a new range of palaeographical and transcription skills, and invited us to broaden our general academic and historiographical approach. Engaging with documents in the new way that MarineLives offers, we have been able to garner a far more personal and intimate appreciation of the mid -17th Century, and the multitude of characters that helped to influence it. After several weeks initially developing our basic understanding of calligraphic styles, we have been given the opportunity to collaborate on documents from the Huntingdon Library Collection.
Our first session involved coming to grips with the Huntingdon’s Ellesmere Collection, which drew our attention to the interesting case of merchant Humphrey Slaney and Captain Thomas King. The document, which was presented in the form of a series of preparatory legal notes, elucidates the nature of naval quarrels, and how they were legally dealt with. The second document was an analysis of the state of the English navy; its decay, charges and future prospects. Personally, I found the different style of both of these documents paleographically challenging. However, cooperation between the Warwick transcribers has allowed us to develop our transcribing skills even further. We are appreciative of the historical opportunities that this project has given us, and we are looking forward to continuing to work on material from the Huntingdon’s collection."
Celine Romano is a second year History student at the University of Warwick. Her interests in history range from early modern material history and its socio-political importance, to the philosophy of the Enlightenment.
"I remember I was sitting waiting for one of my lectures, when someone came to the front and announced this volunteer project the history department. I didn’t catch much, but when Dr. Redding mentioned engaging with primary sources I perked up, and I’m glad I did. Marine Lives has been a really valuable experience as it’s taught me a new palaeographic skills. Some people complain about student handwriting; I can now assure them, they are clearer than some 17th century scripts!I had just finished a week on maritime empires for one of my history modules, in which we discussed the bill of rights system and roguish sailors swapping flags. It seemed interesting, but the High Admiralty Court was still quite abstract. Through Marine Lives, I’ve gained a better understanding of the actuality of maritime trade and legal spheres than through secondary texts: it was something real, that individuals engaged with.
The sources themselves have expanded my awareness of how to engage with Early Modern History. For example, we studied the exchange of foodstuffs and dietary cultures across oceans in class. At the same time, I was transcribing a shipping catalogue where they listed all the provisions the crew would need for their trip. In it, I found mention of Arak – mostly because I didn’t know if it was a real word or how to spell it. With some research, I realised that it was a Middle Eastern liqueur, in a European ship in the East Indies (Batavia, or modern day Jakarta).
Marine Lives has been an eye opening experience to the interconnectedness of the seas and the communities that surround it. It has also helped me learn palaeography, which I look forward to using in my career as a historian."