This past week has been quite productive in developing my research plan. It has been my intention from the beginning of this project to examine ship’s logbooks and passenger journals, but I was not really quite sure how useful they would be aside from the information that was expressly written in them. After reading some work by economic historians, who attempted to describe ship performance using some data that I thought ill suited for such analysis, I found a use for these documents. Port records are simply unreliable in determining when a ship may have come in or out of port as the record keepers were not always diligent about recording this information. The logbooks however, can be used as a much more timely record of how quickly a ship could move between points, and give information into the external factors affecting the voyage such as storms and wind conditions. I will be submitting a short article out in the next weeks for publication in a peer-reviewed journal highlighting their usefulness, and plan to write a full length article on this topic after collecting more logbooks. For that, I will be making a trip to Oxford to the Bodleian Library, where I have heard of a cache of 11 seventeenth-century logbooks relating to voyages to the Chesapeake.
On a side note, thanks to Terry Brock, his fiance Ashleigh Heck, and Historic St. Mary’s City for sharing my funding link through various social media outlets. Actions like theirs really help highlight the usefulness of social media in the professional world. You can read Terry’s blog here.