Megan (jehoshabeath) wrote,

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Crew list week (and mutinies!)

So far this week, I've spent every evening looking through crew lists!

Monday-Tuesday I was studying the lists from the Oceanic that I received from London. It looks like she had a pretty good deck crew. For the most part, the same men signed on voyage after voyage. Some of them even seemed to sign on in the same order! I can just about see them standing in line at the shipping office waiting to hand in their discharge books for another trip. Who's that young fellow from L'pool?

This evening, I spent my time transcribing some crew lists for the Mayfield as part of the CLIP project. She was about 1000 tons and made her home in Dundee. I've run across some Scottish sailors for that set of records, which has been fun.

This afternoon, I stumbled onto some very dramatic stories about a number of mutinies in the early 1900's. Zoom in on the top-middle for the "Shipboard Mutinies." Those stories are as action-packed as an episode of 24. While I've seen child labor and deserters in my crew list projects, I haven't run into any mutineers.

Late last week, I found a series of 1913-14 Congressional hearings about the merchant marine that were really fascinating. They had some great information about the different departments and employees on steamers. They also provided a really nice picture of the state of sailing affairs at the time. Through the discussion they mentioned how hard it was for British sailors on the large passenger liners to make enough money to support a wife and children and that many of those sailors were in fact single. A ship owner in California explained that many, if not most, of his ships were crewed primarily by Chinese sailors because it was cheaper. That particular witness was drawn into a heated argument with one of the congressmen - so much so that at one point, a section of discussion was removed from the record (page 43 of Part 2). It was quite interesting, but I really felt for that Captain and ship owner when he said this: "And I do not know that I ever undertook a thing that I hated as much, and that hurt my feelings as much, as to come here before you gentlemen to-day" (page 48 of Part 2). He was later defended with the comment, "I take pleasure here and now, in saying that Capt. Dollar is one of our best citizens; he is an honorable man; he is a fair man, and a good man; that he is honestly endeavoring to build up a trade on the Pacific coast, but he is handicapped to a certain extent by the conditions out there...His ideas regarding this bill and mine may be diametrically opposed; but so far as the man is concerned, there is no better citizen in California" (page 43, Part 2).
Tags: crew lists, history

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