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Sailors on Dutch merchant marine, c. 1850-2000

Who worked on board of Dutch merchant marine ships in the 19th and 20th centuries? Where did the sailors come from, what was their education, how did they proceed through the ranks? In this project we will do original archival research in the personnel files of various Dutch shipping companies to find answers to these questions. We will identify patterns in the data and compare these with our findings based on eighteenth-century data on seafarers collected in the HUMIGEC and Dutch Prize Paper projects. Finally, we will analyse what transitions in the composition of ships’ crews meant for those directly involved, the shipping sector and, more generally, the sector’s position in Dutch society and culture.

Regular updates about this project (2019-2023) are posted on Jelle van Lottum’s Twitter feed and an online blog about our historical research into sailors and their careers. This project will result in a book (narrative history, in Dutch) about the role and position of the shipping sector and its sailors in Dutch society, one or several academic articles on various aspects of the maritime labour market and a publicly accessible data set on sailors of the Dutch merchant marine. Funding was generously provided by the Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen (SMF).