A note from Peter
In 1995, I earned a Masters in Library Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. During a summer internship in 1994, I spent ten weeks working in the library at the Maine Maritime Museum. Whenever I was doing research on a vessel, I would go to the appropriate section of the small library, pull out each book, check its index to look for the vessel I was researching, and then move on to the next. A semester later, I started building my "Maritime History on the Internet" web pages, which were some of the first ones about maritime history available online.
Over time, I'd get emails from folks who found my web pages, and wanted to ask me for information about a specific vessel. I never had it, but I thought about how I'd done research while in Maine. Eventually, after earning a Masters in Maritime History from East Carolina University and then after I was employed at the University of Washington Libraries as a reference librarian, I thought of a better way of doing this type of research.
So I started collecting indexes to books and journals in the UW's collection, scanning in the pages, OCR'ing the result, and creating a way of searching for the ships in a rudimentary database. By this time, I'd started Serials Solutions with my two brothers, Mike and Steve, and a high school friend, Chris, but I was still working at the UW. Using some help from the folks at Serials Solutions, I created a very clunky site at http://shipindex.org. But when I went to work at Serials Solutions full-time, and left the UW, the ShipIndex.org site languished. While the site remained live and accessible, content wasn't added for years. It was always on my mind, though.
Recently, while I tried to find a way to add more content, and make the ShipIndex.org site more useful, my brother Mike came out to visit me in central New York. He said that, instead of hiring a contractor to build the more advanced website, I should let him do it -- and we should make a partnership out of it. We'd done that before (though with two more people, but also with a much more complicated project), and it had turned out pretty well. He's a sharp guy, and he knows his way around the inside of a database pretty darned well.
So we decided to do it. Mike took over anything to do with the webpage and web & database development, and I took care of all the other stuff. What you see here is the result.
Our goal is to have a minimum of half a million entries in this database, and soon. Then we'll expand it beyond just English-language resources. We're gonna have cool and useful links to as much content as possible. Then we'll make the website spit a pancake out of your CD-ROM drive, and pour coffee from your headphone plug. And that's just the start!
Stick around, please, and read a bit more about what we're doing over at the blog.