The internet has had a significant effect on the nature of Academia, and there are an ever growing number of online projects that have the potential to significantly contribute to the discussion and study of naval history. In this guest post, Dr Sam Willis introduces us to a current project from the Navy Records Society.
NAVY RECORDS ONLINE
Navy Records Online was set up to provide the Navy Records Society with an online publishing platform. The Navy Records Society has been publishing British naval documents since 1893 and has primarily focused on large, themed volumes that showcase significant collections of documents. Navy Records Online was set up to allow the Navy Records Society to publish significant stand-alone documents, and also documents with a strong or sometimes entirely visual element. Hitherto printing costs have precluded the publication of images but the internet now allows us to publish things like photograph albums or sketchbooks. The nature of the new website also encourages members of the public to get in touch with their own documents or naval treasures that they now wish to share.
Each posting comes with a c.1000-word context-setting introduction. If a member of the public has submitted their own document they are wholly encouraged to write an introduction and help is given along the way by the editor of navyrecordsonline.co.uk, Dr Sam Willis. The site has only been running for a year but has already proven a great success. We have a previously unpublished account of Trafalgar, an exquisite sketchbook from a sailor in the early nineteenth century, a letter from Admiral Cochrane to his son, all of which are in private collections and have never seen the light of day. Forthcoming posts include a wonderful photograph album of service in a gunboat on the Yanxe River in the 1920s and a series of watercolour cartoons made on the same station at the same time, but aboard a different ship.