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Duration 18:00

Tracing merchant seamen, 1857-1918

A frustrating aspect of researching merchant navy ancestors is the ‘black hole’ between 1857 and 1918 when there are no records for individual seamen. This podcast looks at what records there are for this period, how to access them and what work is currently being done to make this period more accessible to both family and academic researchers.

Janet Dempsey is a records specialist with the Military, Maritime and Transport team, working at The National Archives for almost nine years. She specialises primarily in Merchant Navy records, spurred on by a long line of seafaring ancestors.

Please note: you may now find online records, whose source is cited here as DocumentsOnline, in our new catalogue, Discovery.


  1. Edwina Higgins says:

    I have started listening to these podcasts to keep me busy while recovering from an eye problem. This one was full of information but Ms Dempsey spoke far too quickly and quietly and gabbled too many abbreviations or detailed names of registers etc for me to find this a useful podcast. I like podcasts that are a ‘good listen’, not just a jam-packed list of information.

    I appreciate that people use the podcasts for different purposes, but hope you will fnd this perspective useful.

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