July 9th- National Maritime Museum Archives and Library

To reach our location of the National Maritime Museum our class took the river taxi down the Thames to arrive at Greenwich. Greenwich used to be the location of the Greenwich Palace the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The palace is no longer standing instead the National Maritime Museum stands in the same area along with a university.

Stone marking the placing of Greenwich Palace.

Stone marking the placing of Greenwich Palace.

Once we arrived at the museum we were escorted to a meeting room to go over the functions and collections of the library. The librarian showed our group a certificate of offices (master mariners). This is a great resource for family history with the physical description, address and ship occupations listed. Additionally, he showed rare books including a children’s poem about the arctic and Inuit people and another book titled “People of the Eskimo” by an anonymous author. There were also bound handwritten journals that are unique since there are no other similar writings for the time. The journal describes a journey from Plymouth to London by boat in the 17th century.

Entrance to the Museum.

Entrance to the Museum.

Original copy of a master mariner certificate.

Original copy of a master mariner certificate.

After viewing the rare items, our guide moved to the online archives to show the funeral documents about Admiral Lord Nelson and used some objects to tell the story. Nelson won the battle of Trafalgar but left the field mortally wounded. Online he showed scanned sketches of the funeral with a large procession in which lasted days. The librarian also explained why the items were chosen and showed a wide variety of items and stories. This concluded our first portion of the tour in the meeting room.

Documents related to Admiral Lord Nelson.

Documents related to Admiral Lord Nelson.

We then went the Caird Library reading room named after Sir James Caird, the found father of the museum. The room is both staffed by archives and librarians. A third of the books are shelved in the library and the rest in storage. The shelved books are open access and others have to be ordered down along with manuscripts. The library contains both a library and archives catalog. There is access to ancestry, which has now scanned many master mariner certificates that can be searched and read. Their archives tend to get merchant related items whereas the National Archives receives Royal Naval items. In general the library and archives gets about 200 written and 100 calls enquires a month. Our tour of the Caird Library and their back stacks concluded the tour of the National Maritime Museum Archives and Library.

Beautiful day in Greenwich.

Beautiful day in Greenwich.

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