National Maritime Museum

The places that genealogists find useful information are always interesting. Maritime records are pretty useful for tracing individual people- the certifications they earned, the ships on which they served, date of death, pensions, that kind of thing. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich definitely gets inquiries like that, as well as professional academics, hobby-level researchers and writers. The resources at the museum are a treasure trove for anyone writing about the heyday of British naval supremacy. I couldn’t stop looking for Horatio Hornblower, myself.

20150709_100225 copy

Writers have the weirdest search histories, I swear. I think writers doing research for stories are a huge part of why older reference librarians don’t even flinch at the strangest questions: they have seen EVERYTHING.

The stories contained in the museum’s library are also fascinating, if you’ve got the time to hunt them out. The stories about how the artifacts came to rest in the library are equally fascinating- I’m reminded of the children’s book, which is about the only one that resides there, titled “A Peep at the Esquimaux“, that the librarians weren’t exactly sure why the book had been included in the first place, aside from the fact that the illustrations were very similar the illustrations in an adult book, possibly sharing an illustrator.

It is impossible to guess at the motivations of past curators sometimes, and it’s kind of up to us to decide if the items they collected need to stay or not. In that case, the librarians have kept the children’s book, though I don’t think that finding it a new home would be a terrible idea. Throwing it away would be a terrible idea- by now it’s old and rare, but a new home not so much. Librarians, especially those with academic or special collections, have a lot of judgment calls to make. My sphere is a bit less so- Joe Wisdom noted that a lot of public libraries toss books when they’re not sexy any more. Largely that’s true- we replace worn-out books if the circulation warrants that, simply discard them if there’s no intrinsic value. Sorry, but still-in-print James Patterson books are not in any danger of being wiped from the earth.

I’m also amused at what this library considers as “modern.” The modern books are those from 1850 onward. I have a hard time considering books that are 165 years old to be “modern,” but by comparison? Go for it, guys. have fun.

I’d hoped that the maritime museum would had more about the Harrison clocks regarding longitude, but that was all at the royal observatory. I think I was the only LibSci person to tour that part, it was so worth it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s