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.


Peter McCracken

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ShipIndex.org tells you which books, magazines, and online resources mention the vessels you're researching. With 153,649 entries in the free database and 3,159,372 entries available with premium access, you're bound to find useful information here.
Watch videos about ShipIndex.org features
A note about searching:
Searches will match both ship names and the citation text by default. There are many options for crafting your query outlined on the searching help page.
A note about icons:
Frame means the resource includes an illustration of the ship
Featherpen means the resource includes a main entry about the ship
Scroll means the resource includes a passenger or crew list for the ship

Star icon means the resource is in the premium database
New means the resource was added in the past 45 days
Dollar means the resource requires an additional subscription to access
Book means the resource is a book
Journal means the resource is a journal (magazine) or journal article
Newspaper means the resource is a newspaper
Web means the resource is a native online resource (digitized books or journals are still noted as 'book' or 'journal', even when they're accessed or accessible online)
To see all the books, magazines, and online resources included in this index, check the Resources page.