Category Archives: Books


Wow – it’s been quite a while since I last posted anything to the blog. One would be forgiven for thinking we’d disappeared. But we haven’t. In fact, we’ve been working away, adding new content, adding new (mostly backend) functionality, trying new marketing work, and more. But first, we’ve hit a big milestone — yesterday, we loaded our ONE THOUSANDTH resource! I’ll admit, I’m pretty astounded at that. Here’s a list of what we’ve added since the last blog post:

So, we’ve been working hard at adding new content. Getting to ONE THOUSAND resources is HUGE, in my book! We’ve got more to go, I assure you.

On the technology side, we have converted most of our subscription processing from PayPal to Stripe. We think that’s better for us, and better for our customers. If you have an opinion otherwise, I’d be glad to hear it; for now, we think it will make things easier for users. We have some more work coming soon, this time on the login process.

As always, if you have suggestions for content to add to the database, or questions about how it works, please contact me at comments (at) shipindex (dot) org, and share your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas. Until then, fair winds!

Last few months of new content!

Goodness, it’s been a while since I added a blog post. We do have a lot of new content that’s been added, and some new great functionality, as well — I need to write something about that, since it is its own big step forward.

But for now, let’s list the content that has been added to the ShipIndex database since May:

There’s more to add soon, and maybe enough to get us over indexes to 1000 resources in the database, before the end of the year. We’ll see!

We have a lot of files still left to process, and we’re going to be adding a lot of new files, too, soon. So, as always, there’s more content coming soon. If you know of a title whose index should be added to the database, please do let me know, at comments (at) shipindex (dot) org — now’s a great time to get some more titles on the list, so they’ll be processed soon!

Now with 3.5 million citations! (Almost.) And more content.

The ShipIndex database continues to grow: according to this screen grab from our home page, we’re just 126 citations away from 3.5 million citations!

This is certainly a new record for content, but it has taken a long time to get here. Several years ago, I had to remove some 380,000 citations from the database, because the online resource containing those citations disappeared. But we’ve been adding lots more content since then, and we’ve recovered and gotten beyond where we’d been.

Here’s content that has been added since the last list I posted. Lots more is in process, as always.

Several titles are worth particular attention. The four volumes published by the Roebuck Society are especially valuable for southern Pacific research, but they’re tricky to use. I wrote a blog post about just those volumes last week, and more titles from the Roebuck Society will be added over time.

Ward’s collection of notes from newspapers, about American activities in the central Pacific, is also interesting — the 7 volume set is remarkable in its own right, printed on heavy paper and with a volume of illustrations and maps, if I remember correctly. It’s organized geographically, which makes finding the entries a bit of a challenge. It’s also probably not a particularly common title, but if it mentions the ship you’re researching, those citations from contemporary newspapers are going to be pretty valuable!

I plan to write a brief blog post about the effects of low technology on this data, regarding the Naval Marine Archive, in the next week or two.

As always, let us know if you have titles to suggest we add.

Adding Roebuck Society volumes

Over the past year, we have been adding a TON of new content to ShipIndex. This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s looked at the blog – pretty much every entry has been just a listing of all the new content we’ve added since the last blog post about new content! Most of that has come from indexes to books, but some has been from online databases and websites.

Recently, we’ve started adding content from a special set of publications. If you’re interested in early Australian history, or Pacific exploration, these will be of particular interest. But they are challenging to search, and challenging to process and add to the ShipIndex database.

They’re published by the Roebuck Society, an Australia-based organization that has published many records about the arrival and departure of ships through Australia’s history. The books themselves are an amalgamation of entries from numerous sources. The content looks like this:

Title page from one of the Roebuck volumes.

A content page from the same Roebuck volume.

It’s tough reading! There’s a lot of information crammed on each of these pages. Luckily, there’s an index to all this madness, but it’s often not much easier to read. Consider this example of an index from the book above:

sample index page from a Roebuck volume

An index page from the above volume.


Processing these indexes has been very hard work, and has taken a lot of time and money to complete. Because of the complexity of the indexes and the associated text, understanding these indexes and how to use the information in them takes some work. If a ship of interest to you is mentioned in a Roebuck book, then your best bet is to track down the book itself. Unlike other titles, it just doesn’t make sense to ask for individual pages, based on the index citations.

Remember that you can almost always get almost any book through interlibrary loan from your local public library. It will take them some time, and it will cost them (and possibly you) some money – so be patient and don’t forget to thank them, and support them financially – but in most cases, other libraries will loan these books to your local library, and they’ll loan it to you.

Once you have the book in hand, find the ship on the index page shown, and then see where and how often the ship is mentioned within the body of the text. The entry in the text will give a summary of the ship’s movements, and provides information about the sources (usually newspapers) from which the data is drawn. Many ships are mentioned dozens and dozens of times. Many entries contain data from multiple sources, so – especially for tonnage – many data points may appear for each ship in the index. The printed index notes sources for some of this data, but we have not preserved those notations here.

The Roebuck society has published over sixty volumes, but not all of them relate to vessel information. We have identified about a dozen relevant volumes to add. Some have already been added, and others will soon join the database.

Here’s a list of what’s been added to the database, and what’s in process. Live, in the database, as of publication of this blog post:

In processing, but headed for the database:

  • Broxam, Graeme, and Ian Nicholson. Shipping Arrivals and Departures: Sydney. Vol III: 1841-1844 and Gazetteer.
  • Broxam, Graeme. Shipping Arrivals and Departures: Tasmania. Vol III: 1843-1850.
  • Cumpston, J.S. Shipping Arrivals and Departures: Sydney. Vol I: 1788-1825.
  • Jones, A.G.E. Ships Employed in the South Seas Trade: Vol I.
  • Jones, A.G.E. Ships Employed in the South Seas Trade: Vol II.
  • Nicholson, Ian. Shipping Arrivals and Departures: Sydney. Vol II: 1826-1840.
  • Sexton, R. T. Shipping Arrivals and Departures: South Australia, 1627-1850.
  • Syme, Marten A. Shipping Arrivals and Departures: Victorian Ports. Vol. III: 1856-1860.


If you have questions, or suggestions on additional Roebuck volumes to add, or other titles to add, or thoughts on how best to use Roebuck volumes, please don’t hesitate to share it here, or send to comments (at) shipindex dot org.

Happy searching!

Yet another list of new content

The ShipIndex data team has been hard at work over the past six to eight weeks, and we’ve added a lot more data. A full list of all content that’s been added since the last update appears below.

Some are short books, or brief websites, but they’ve got unique content you won’t find elsewhere. Some, like the Conway’s volumes, are much longer and have thousands of entries in them. All kinds of content has been added, but we always welcome suggestions for more!

Two weeks ago, we went to the National Library of Scotland, and collected content there that we couldn’t find elsewhere. That’s always a thrill. That content still needs to be processed, so it’s not in the database yet, but will be, eventually. There’s a benefit in knowing that a resource has some information that might be useful to you, even if it’s hard to get, because then you at least know that it’s out there, and you can request it through interlibrary loan. Or, if you travel often, you can use WorldCat to determine which libraries own it, and then when you go near one of those libraries, you have a reason to visit. I, for one, was thrilled to have a reason to add a new library card, from the NLS, to my collection!

Now, here’s a list of the content added since the last update:

As always, send a note to comments (at) shipindex (dot) org if you have titles you think we should add!



More new content

It’s been over six weeks since I last posted a list of recently-added content, so of course there’s tons more waiting to be listed here. In mid-May, the ShipIndex team met up in Washington, DC, and visited the Library of Congress. We collected indexes to a ton of titles that we hadn’t found elsewhere, and we’ve processed some of those titles already. A lot more are still waiting to go through the whole process, and will be added over the next few months.

As always, we welcome recommendations and suggestions for titles that should be added to the ShipIndex database.

The following content has been added to the database since my last update:

As mentioned above, lots more is still to come!


More new content

I’m kind of astounded by the amount of new content we’re adding here, but here comes another list. There’s some new stuff in this list — through some work with the folks at Findmypast, the genealogy research company, we’re creating links to the passenger and crew lists that are available on that site. If you’re already a subscriber to Findmypast, you’ll be able to get it to the resource easily. If you’re not,  you might want to consider joining, to take a look at what you’ll find there. Of course, we can’t guarantee how much or what sort of information will be in the Findmypast databases, but it might be worth an investigation. You just never know what you’ll find, and that’s really the whole point of More Findmypast content will be coming soon, as will many more monographs, and even some journal indexes that I found recently.

Without further ado, here’s what’s been added in the past few weeks:

More files will be uploaded soon, and many more are being processed. I’m working on the Roebuck Society volumes, which will be incredibly valuable for researchers interested in early Australian and New Zealand history. We now have nearly all Navy Records Society volumes in the database. In early May, we venture to the Library of Congress, to collect still more content! Now’s the time to tell me about other titles you’d like to see added — send us a note at comments (at) shipindex (dot) org.

The new content just keeps rolling in

I cannot believe how much additional content we’ve gotten into the database in the last several weeks. Here’s a list of content added since my last post:

As always, lots more will follow soon. And always feel free to let us know if you have titles  you think we should add. Send it to comments (at) shipindex (dot) org.

Can’t keep up with the new content….

It just keeps coming; I think we’ve added content from nearly 200 titles in the past six months or so. As of today, the full database contains “3,316,336 citations to ships in 729 resources”, and I know a lot more is waiting to be loaded. And, I’m planning trips to libraries this weekend, and to the Library of Congress in May, to collect still more.

Here’s what’s been added in the past two weeks:

So, there are good chances to get to the rare and unusual books that haven’t yet been added to the database. Let us know if you know of a title that should be added — comments (at) shipindex (dot) org.

In another data update, we’ve added full-text page links for all of the Navy Records Society volumes that are available through HathiTrust, meaning all pre-1924 volumes. Some links might not work if you’re accessing HathiTrust from a country that has different copyright laws, but hopefully most people will  now have more full-text access from home.

New online content added recently

We’re now moving to adding a bunch of online content. Here’s a list of online (and some print) resources that have been added in the past three weeks:

We also updated an online site that moved; unfortunately, this happens often. We don’t always hear about these URL changes, so if you see something that doesn’t work, please do let us know. And if you know of some other online resources that should be added to, so people know they mention specific ships, please let us know at comments (at) shipindex (dot) org.