Sources held elsewhere
The seamen's trade union records held at the Modern Records Centre do not readily lend themselves to tracing the careers of individual seamen, so it is probably best to start with one of the guides to shipping records produced by the National Archives.
Sources held at the Modern Records Centre
National Union of Seamen (MSS.175)
NB This archive does not contain membership records.
Finance/finance and general purposes committee minutes, 1911-1972
Need: Evidence and exact date of receiving incapacity or old age benefit.
The Seaman, 1908, 1911-1939, 1941-1993
Need: specific dates of going missing, injuries, involvement in shipping disasters, death (only if prominent member, post-1927). Up until 1927 (inclusive), The Seaman included monthly lists of deceased members and members receiving accident and shipwreck benefits.
Editions of The Seaman between 1908, 1911-1939, 1941-1946, have been digitised and are available to read in full.
Two indexes of articles and photographs relating to meritorious service or death between September 1914 - December 1918 published in 'The Seaman', the newspaper of the National Sailors' and Firemen's Union, are available arranged by the name of the individual and by the name of the ship.
- Executive council minutes, 1887-9, 1911-1963, 1966-7
- Management committee minutes, 1929-1937
- Proceedings of annual / special general meetings, 1911-1991
- Staff and Establishment Committee minutes, 1942-1951
- Some branch minutes, 1890-1987
- Need: evidence of prominence within the union, positions held and dates.
British Seafarers’ Union
The records of the British Seafarers’ Union form part of the National Union of Seamen archive.
British Seafarer, 1913-21
Need: specific dates of going missing, injuries, involvement in shipping disasters, death (if prominent member).
Need: evidence of prominence within the union, positions held and dates.
The National Union of Seamen archive has archives of the following unions but none of them include membership records. Only union officials and prominent members are therefore likely to feature in these archives:
- Amalgamated Marine Workers’ Union (MSS.175/6/AMW) minutes, publications, 1921-5
- Hull Seamen’s Union (MSS.175/6/HU) reports, 1914, 1920
Grimsby Steam and Diesel Fishing Vessels’ Engineers’ and Firemen’s Union (Grimsby Steam Fishing Vessels’ Engineers’ and Firemen’s Union up to 1961)
NB This archive does not contain membership records
Need: evidence of prominence in the union (ie positions held and dates).
Minutes, 1900-1, 1912-87; press cuttings, 1930s, 1950s-1980s
NB prior permission needed from the Transport and General Workers’ Union before access to unpublished material in this archive. Details are available from the Modern Records Centre.
Maritime Information: a guide to libraries and sources of information in the United Kingdom (Maritime Information Association, 2004);
Records of Merchant Shipping and Seamen by Kelvin Smith, Christopher T Watts and Michael J Watts
My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman by Christopher T Watts and Michael J Watts.
Len Barnett, maritime researcher: http://www.barnettmaritime.co.uk/