Maritime History

National Maritime Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The history of maritime endeavor is contained primarily in museums, libraries and archives around the world, many searchable on-line. In addition, there are many Internet discussion groups and list-serves, bibliographies, magazines and journals, and other collections of material culture that evoke the wide spectrum of life by and on the sea.



Maritime Museums

A majority of the major maritime museums or institutions with maritime collections are members of the associations below. Additional organizations can be found in the World Ocean Directory.

International Congress of Maritime Museums

Council of American Maritime Museums

The Navigation of Knowledge - Network of Historical Naval Dockyards

From Brunei to New Zealand - A selected listing of exhibits around the world


Libraries, Archives and Specialty Collections

Libraries and archives frequently contain maritime-related collections of rare books and manuscripts, maps and charts, portraits, letters, photographs, objects and ephemera. Additional material can also be found in local historical and genealogical societies, natural history museums, folk arts and craft collections, and science and environmental centers in coastal settings.

Mystic Seaport, G.W. Blunt White Library Mystic Seaport Collections and Research Department - Online Resources

The Mariners' Museum Research Library

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Maritime History Archive, Memorial University, Newfoundland

Ships and Boats

Maritime history is well told through the voyages of innumerable ships plying the high seas, transporting goods, people and ideas worldwide in a complex weave of successful passages through time. These ships are evident throughout the history of civilization. They evoke the triumphs and tragedies of human endeavor, the myriad individual stories that collectively proclaim human achievement. STEAMing into the Future (Interactive Site)

All Things Boat | Famous Ships & Famous Ship Names

Indigenous Boats | Small Craft Outside the Western Tradition

Maine Windjammer Association

World Ship Trust

European Maritime Heritage

Traditional Small Craft Association

History of the Submarine (1580-1869)

Museum Fleets:

The German Maritime Museum, Bremerhaven

San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

South Street Seaport Museum, New York

Mystic Seaport Museum

Australian National Maritime Museum

Watercraft Collections, Registers and Inventories:      

Museum Small Craft Union List, United States

National Maritime Museum, Cornwall, United Kingdom

New Zealand Maritime Index

Historic Light Stations, United States

Australian Regist of Historic Vessels


Online Collections and Resources

Maritime patrimony is also interpreted through collections of artifacts, models, paintings, archival materials, and ephemera, much of which is found in institutional settings. Several museums and other organizations with large, encyclopedic collections have made these resources publicly accessible through on-line search facility and thematic bibliographies.

Fyddeye (fid-i) A place to discover and share your maritime history

A New Way to Research Vessels:

The National Maritime Museum of Greenwich, United Kingdom

Collections Search System for Maritime Museums in the Netherlands

The Mariners Museum, United States

The New Bedford Whaling Museum, United States

Selected Internet Bibliographies

Exploration, The Hakluyt Society

Maps and Charts

Maritime Folklife, The American Folklife Center

Maritime Dictionaries, Termisti

Genealogy, Ship Passenger and Crew Lists  

Transatlantic Slavery

Nautical Archaeology:

Western Australia Maritime Museum, Australia

Nautical Archaeology on the Web

Shipping/World Trade

UN International Maritime Organization

Maritime Transportation - Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Piracy, Past and Present

Modern Shipping


Lloyd's Register of Modern Shipping

Atlantic World: A specialized history bibliography from Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
Includes: African diaspora, Latin America, slave trade, and many related topics