The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has made images of several sets of crew list documents.
These are available online via FamilySearch, though only at FamilySearch Centres or through centres such as archives and libraries which are affiliated to FamilySearch (known as FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries). These images are by far the largest online resource of crew documents.
This page explains which sets of records are involved, how to find FamilySearch Centres and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries, and how to find and search the films of images.
There are three main sets of records which are available via FamilySearch:
Each film covers a batch of records. For example, at TNA, the documents are stored in boxes (pieces) holding up to a hundred or more documents, with archive references which run from BT 98/1 to BT 98/6944. Each box is usually covered by one film though some run on to a second film.
A full list of the FamilySearch resources relevant to British seafarers and shipping is here: FamilySearch British maritime resources
The LDS Church runs FamilySearch Centres at many of its churches. These centres provide genealogical research facilities with access to a huge range of resources which are used by members of the church to research their ancestry. The centres usually run sessions which are open to the public, free of charge. Volunteer staff at the centres are always welcoming, friendly and helpful to everyone, though topics like crew lists may be a little outside their normal run.
To use the images on FamilySearch, you will need to register with FamilySearch, which is free. It can be done online before a visit to a centre or the staff will be able to assist.
Affiliate Libraries are not part of the LDS Church. They are archives, libraries and family history society centres which have an agreement with the LDS Church and so can provide access to FamilySearch resources, including images. They may have their own registration with FamilySearch, but you should be able to use your own account if you have set one up.
To find a centre near you, look on the LDS Church site, FamilySearch centres
This shows a world map and you can zoom in to find a centre near you. For example, Figure 1 shows the centres at Southampton (an Affiliate Library) and Portsmouth (a FamilySearch Centre).
Hovering over the icons on the map will show contact details for the centre. These may be out of date and it would be sensible to contact the centre before travelling.
You will probably need to have your own FamilySearch account to be able to view the images. Follow the links on the FamilySearch site, or use this link:
Setting up the account is straightforward and free. You do not need to be a member of the LDS Church and the church will not make further contact with you using the data you provide.
You need to enter some basic personal details and create a password - see Figure 2. Once this is set up, you will be able to log in to see the images.
You access the films via catalogue pages on FamilySearch - there are links below. Figure 3 shows the page for the catalogue of BT 98 images covering 1747 to 1856.
You'll need to scroll the page, and move from one page to another using the controls at the top of the list.
Once you have found the image set you want, clicking the icon on the right hand side will open an image viewer so that you can work through the images on that film. You should be able to copy or print from the images but this will depend on the facilities available at the centre.
The FamilySearch catalogue pages for the image sets are as follows:
The documents are sorted by year and port and, from 1845 (BT 98/564), by ship's name also.
The documents are sorted by year and then by ship's official number (ON) (FamilySearch refers to this as the 'Ship number'). Only the range of official numbers in each box is shown and there is no certainty that there will be documents for a particular ON.
The films relate to the PRONI catalogue and there are details which may be helpful on this CLIP page: Documents at PRONI
The documents are sorted by year and then by ship's official number (ON). Only the range of official numbers in each box is shown and there is no certainty that there will be documents for a particular ON. These documents have been indexed by seafarers' names and further resources including a search page are available via a link on the FamilySearch catalogue page.
The National Archives of Ireland site also has a search page which connects to the images, here: National Archives of Ireland search pages
The CLIP page for the National Archives of Ireland is here: Documents at the National Archives of Ireland
The documents were filmed by the LDS Church in the 1970s. The quality is good and the filming was done extremely thoroughly. Every part of every document was filmed, including blank pages and, as a result, there are many images to work through. There is no index. This all takes some patience, especially at first, but you will find that you get used to the way in which the images run and are able to skip through more quickly. However, it will still take an hour or more to go through a film of 400-500 images so you will need to plan your visit to a centre.
A few tips:
To help in identifying ships, particularly 'Previous vessels', you can use the lists of ships available on the CLIP site.
To search for ships by name pre-1855, see: Ships pre-1855
To search for ships by name after 1855, see: Ships post-1855
To search for ships by port, see: Ships by port
FamilySearch provides free online access to the enormous volume of data which the LDS Church has collected over many years, working with thousands of organisations and untold thousands of volunteers. More details are here:
If there is no FamilySearch Centre or Affiliate Library near you, why not ask your local library, archives or Family History Society Centre to become an Affiliate Library? It's free, straightforward and requires no additional workload for the organisation. We asked CLIP's local archives to become an Affiliate Library. They kindly did that and it was a game-changer for our project on the Port Rotation Numbers. More details of Affiliate Libraries are here:
Details of applying to become an Affiliate Library are here: