With the help of volunteers working from home, we have completed a project with the National Maritime Museum and the Crew List Index Project (CLIP) to transcribe the Crew Lists and Agreements from the Merchant Navy for 1915.
Though no records of individual merchant seamen and women survive for the First World War, the Crew Lists and Agreements for 1915 enable you to search almost a million names of those at sea during that year.
How do I search the records?
You can search the records in Discovery, our catalogue, by using the search box below.
This is a keyword search so your results will show all instances of the term(s) you searched for within our catalogue descriptions for these records.
You can search by:
- an individual’s name. Sometimes full names were not recorded, so you can also try searching by first name initial and surname
- the name of the ship. Do not use abbreviations such as SS, RMS or MV
The results of your search could be from record series BT 99 and BT 100, which are held by The National Archives, or BT 400, which is held by The National Maritime Museum.
What can I do next?
Once you have searched the records by name, you will have not only the ship they were serving on at the time but also the name of the ship they were on for the previous voyage.
You may have multiple returns for your ancestor for 1915. This is because they will be recorded on every voyage they made during that year. You can keep using the ‘previous ship’ to carry on tracing your mariner back beyond 1915 but you will need to refer to crew lists that have not been transcribed as part of this project.
Other crew lists
The crew lists for other years are held in a number of different archives. You can search Discovery by ship’s number to see if they are held at The National Archives. Note: you can convert the ship’s name to a number using the CLIP website.
Many crew lists are held by the Maritime History Archive and you can search their catalogue by ship’s number. You can check where other crew lists are held using Discovery – search for the term ‘crew lists’ and click on the ‘other archives’ filter.
You may also be interested in the log books for the ships’ your ancestors served on. These are held by The National Archives in series BT 165 and are currently being catalogued. Go to Discovery advanced search and type in the Ship’s name and restrict your search to series BT 165. These are original documents and you will need to visit us to view them or order a copy.