How to look for Logs and journals of ships of exploration 1757-1904

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

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What are these records

These records consist of 164 volumes of log books of the Royal Navy’s voyages of scientific discovery in series ADM 55. The records were made between 1757 and 1861, with one exception made in 1904.

Many famous officers kept logs held in this collection, including James Cook, William Bligh and Matthew Flinders.

The main areas covered in the logs are the Pacific, the Arctic, the Antarctic, Australia, the Americas and the west coast of Africa, although China, St Helena and other places are also included.

Amongst this collection of Royal Naval ships’ logs, there are a several logs which were kept by merchant ships.

What information do the records contain?

These logs and journals are a first-hand account of the day-to-day activities of the exploration party, giving a picture of life aboard ship.

They include details such as:

  • scientific information gathered during the voyage
  • detailed daily accounts of the weather
  • meteorological observations

How do I search the records?

You can search the records in Discovery, our catalogue, by filling in the form below.

Please note, your results will show all instances of the term(s) you searched for within the record descriptions, as this is currently a keyword search. Examples of keywords you might want to use are the ship’s name or the name of the logbook keeper.

Searching is free, but there may be a charge to download documents.

What do the records look like?

To get an idea of what the logs look like, you may wish to view the log of the ship Felix which details her voyage to the North Pole from 1850 to 1851.

Felix log (PDF, 25.27MB)