A log book is the official record of life on a ship, and includes information about what has happened during each voyage. The requirement for the master of a ship to keep official log goes back to about the 18th century; as a result of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1850 British merchant ships were legally required to keep an official log.
From 1852 logs start to appear among official records, but after 1874 they appeared to be routinely discarded when vital information had been extracted. However there was a legal requirement to keep logs that contained information on a birth, marriage or death as this was often the only recorded mention of the event. The ships’ official logs can be found at the National Archives in series BT 165.
Starting in 2014, The National Archives recruited volunteers to transcribe the information contained in ships’ official logs into our online catalogue. There are over 40,000 merchant navy ships’ logs in BT 165 series. Their catalogue entries have been enhanced as part of a project supported by dedicated team of volunteers and staff from the London Family History Centre as well as The National Archives.
Volunteers worked with great care to extract information from each and every log, such as ship name and official number, as well as the date(s) of voyage(s). The combined effort of each volunteer’s work was invaluable in making this collection more accessible: it is now searchable by ship name as well as official number and date of voyage on Discovery, our catalogue. Continue reading »