Aug 30, 2010

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Discovering Maritime Museums for Genealogy

In my last blog I wrote about Discovering Immigration Museums for Genealogy. Closely related are Maritime Museums and Australia has quite a few and some with excellent online resources.

The Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) is one that I frequently refer to in my talks on immigration because it has Vaughan Evans’ indexes searchable online for free. These can be found under Collections and Research, then Pictures of Ships in the Australian Trade and are for the following newspapers:

  • Illustrated Sydney News 1853-1889
  • Illustrated London News 1842-1891
  • Australasian Sketcher 1873-1889

There are also other links to sites to help you find an image or photograph of an ancestor’s ship. Links on the left hand side of the webpage lead to all kinds of useful information on Coastal Shipping, Convict Ships, First Fleet, Sailing Ships, Steamships and Passenger Liners and so on. This is definitely a must browse site for Australian immigration and shipping.

State based maritime museums can be useful and include the Queensland Maritime Museum which outlines its holdings and resources but there is little online. Similarly, the Melbourne Maritime Museum features the Polly Woodside, an 1885 tall ship now berthed permanently at the Museum but there is little in the way of online resources.

The Western Australian Museum – Maritime is located in Fremantle  as is the Shipwreck Galleries, another part of the Western Australian Museum. While both websites are worth looking at there is little in the way of online resources for research. The primary area for accessing information is via the Western Australian Museum website under Collections where there are sections on Maritime Archaeology and Maritime History.

The South Australian Maritime Museum has an interesting range of links to other sites including National Motor Museums if you are more interested in cars than ships. Under Collections the various areas of the Museum are outlined but there is no online searching available.

The Maritime Museum of Tasmania has a number of Themed Resources including Lighthouses, Shipwrecks, Whaling, Sailing Ship Adventures and so on. These link to a wide range of additional resources and are quite interesting to follow.

There are also regional maritime museums and recently on an Unlock The Past regional roadshow I had the opportunity to visit the Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum in New South Wales. Perhaps the easiest way to find these is to simply Google for the area you are interested in and use a term such as maritime.  Some of the maritime museums offer to do research on a paid research basis if you can’t personally visit.

If you are looking to learn more about your ancestors’ immigration to Australia and the ships they arrived on, then seek out maritime museums for additional information beyond the passenger list. Happy researching!


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