CLIP data

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The CLIP data sets are a series of linked indexes which will help you to find records of ships and seafarers.

This page details:

How the CLIP finding aids can help your research

There are two main difficulties for researchers in tracking down individual vessels and seafarers: finding the official number of a vessel, and finding where the records for a particular vessel are held. The purpose of the CLIP database and finding aids is to help you do that.

Please note that these finding aids do not include the full CLIP index of crew list entries - some of this is available on-line from findmypast, the rest is on this site.

Abbreviations and conventions

We have used these abbreviations:
AS - Archives Service; RO - Record Office; CRO - County Record Office;
Manx NHL - Manx National Heritage Library;
MNL - Mercantile Navy List;
MHA - Maritime History Archive;
NELA - North East Lincolnshire Archives;
NMM - National Maritime Museum;
RCUS - Royal Commission on Unseaworthy Ships;
RSS - Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff;
TNA - The National Archives.

Transcription protocols, conventions and caveats

All data for ships was double-keyed - ie it was transcribed and entered by two separate transcribers and the two data sets cross-checked. This is recognised as the gold-standard for transcription. Errors can still occur but they are usually in places where the original data is obscure. We estimate our transcription error-rate as under 0.2%.

Our transcribers are instructed to transcribe 'as seen'. They are instructed not to interpret the data in the light of other knowledge they may have. We edit the data in the same way.

Transcription data 'as seen'

Our reasons for doing this are:

Please bear in mind that this is a database of entries in documents, not a database of ships. We do not make any attempt to say what the 'real' name of a ship is. That is not the point of this site - it would be in conflict with its purpose and misleading to do so. We leave that to the experts. If it is of interest to you, the evidence we provide may help.

Where there are doubts about an entry - for example if we are aware of other conflicting data, we mark it with a ?. It is for you to decide.

To assist with searching and indexing, there are one or two exceptions to our strict 'transcribe as seen' rule:

Some of the names, especially those which we have taken from elsewhere have not yet been standardised in this way. Also, MNL is not always consistent in the way in which it orders ship names. For vessel names of this sort, it would be sensible to use the fuzzy searching facilities when searching the data.

Where the name of a port is shown against a vessel, this is its port of registry (or 'home port' if that is how it has been referred to in a publication). At least some of the shipping records for that port should be available at the local record office.

Where data is taken from shipping registers, the folio number within the register is included if we know it. If the same vessel turns up twice in the same register volume, it usually indicates that the vessel was re-registered at the same port and so it does have two entries in that volume.

Where data has been taken from crew lists, a range of dates indicates the earliest and latest dates for which there are lists, but not necessarily that they exist for all the included dates. Refer to the CLIP index of crew lists at record offfices for more detail. Where crew lists are shown against a record office but with no dates, you will have to refer to the record office itself for more information.

In referring to publications, we have used a convention of:

We do not, at present, include the publisher's name or town, but we hope the above will be enough to identify the publication concerned.

Sources and limitations of the CLIP indexes

The sources for this data are:

The data in these indexes is not comprehensive or definitive. For example, while we have catalogues of crew lists for a substantial proportion of the local record offices which are known to hold them, we do not, at present, have complete or even partial catalogues from some record offices (neither do they, in some cases!). The absence of entries for a particular vessel therefore does not mean that they do not exist - in the case of crew lists, for example, you should check with the relevant record office.

All CLIP transcription was checked, but we have not attempted to check data from on-line catalogues, for example. Where records have been taken from publications, we have accepted the author's data without further checks, beyond checking the accuracy of our transcription.

The data has been compiled through the efforts of many archivists and volunteers, which we are glad to acknowledge. Please see our  Acknowledgements  page for more details.

We have made every effort to ensure that we have permission from all the relevant parties to publish data in this format. If we have inadvertently failed to do so, please bring this to our attention so that we can put matters right.

Please note that this data is provided for private research purposes only: do not publish it in any form without permission. As well as the inevitable errors, the data includes one or two spurious items to make it identifiable. Some are obvious, some are not, but they are unlikely to impede normal research.

Of course, while we have made efforts to check the accuracy of the data reproduced here, we cannot accept liability for losses that users may incur through using these finding aids. It is basic research practice to check out the original sources yourself!

Please bring any errors to our attention.

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