A nice little gift for the holidays is just up and could be succour to the despairing descendants of a seaman or shipowner. The Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime have added to their filmed documents on their website a section entitled Recherche dans l'inscription maritime which contains the following treasures for the ports of Le Havre and Rouen:
- Commissioning and de-commissioning of merchant ships, various registers - Armement et désarmament des bâtiments de commerce
- Registers of merchant ships and of private boats based at the port - Matricules des bâtiments de commerce et de plaisance
- Registers of seamen based at the port, classed by rank - Matricules des gens de mer
- Crew lists - Rôles des bâtiments de commerce
The dates covered are, at the extremes, 1730 to 1903, but the majority of the registers date from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. There are nearly a million new images here, of beautifully readable pages, for the most part, giving histories of ships, including name changes, and details of the men who worked on them, including when and where they were born, their height, the names of their parents and wives, their addresses and, if they died in service, when and where. Most of the registers have alphabetical indices at the end, so check these first to make life easier.
How we wish the same would be done for a couple of dozen other ports of France, especially Brest!
©2012 Anne Morddel