Prize Papers Online: Atlas

A resource with examples of research on the maritime sectors of early modern and modern Europe and North America.

Aimed at researchers and students, the Prize Papers Online: Atlas is dedicated to showing the richness of the Prize Papers, considered to be one of the world’s most important maritime archives.

In the course of its many naval engagements the British Royal Navy seized numerous enemy ships. Documents pertaining to tens of thousands of these seized ships (“prizes”) have been preserved. Every ship's file contains at least one document in English: transcriptions of the interrogations by the Prize Courts of the captain and other crew members aboard ships taken as lawful prizes.

The Prize Papers Online: Atlas makes available a sample of the Prize Papers’ interrogations. Providing a wealth of information about ships and their crews, the interrogations make up a crucial portion of the Prize Paper Archive, providing unprecedented insights into the workings of the maritime sector during the Age of Sail.

The material contained in the Prize Papers Online: Atlas is relevant to various strands of historical research, ranging from international labor migration to transatlantic trade relations to globalization. The advanced search option in the Map Tool provides answers to the following sorts of questions: In what places did emigrant sailors from Scandinavia end up? From where did Boston draw its foreign sailors? What were the trade connections among ships from the major French ports of Le Havre and Bordeaux? And where did the one ship sailing to Buenos Aires hail from? But the Map Tool also allows more specific investigations. It can identify the birthplaces of illiterate mariners, or generate a visual representation of the places of residence of married seamen. Every icon on the map is clickable, linking to comprehensive profiles of individuals and ships.

The Prize Papers Online: Atlas provides fascinating background stories for individuals who can be found in the interrogations and gives examples of existing research based on the Prize Papers. The Atlas also features a selection of high-quality scans of documents from the interrogations.

The website is based on two databases: Prize Papers Online (Brill) and the database created by an ESRC-funded project led by Jelle van Lottum.

The data available on Prize Papers Online: Atlas covers the period between 1775 and 1783.

For more information: