Lewis (Skip) Fischer

The IMHA sadly announces the loss of Lewis (Skip) Fischer, one of its founding members, who passed away on 11 February 2018.

Lewis Fischer has been one of the driving forces behind the growth of maritime history for the past forty years. As a teacher, scholar and organizer Skip was involved in many of the new initiatives in maritime history since the mid-1970s.

Lewis Fischer spent most of his career at Memorial University of Newfoundland, an institution he joined in 1976 as part of the Atlantic Canada Shipping Project (ACSP), the first – and still one of the most ambitious – computer-based projects in maritime history. He has also taught extensively overseas, especially in Norway which became the focus of many of his writings. He retired at the end of 2015.

Professor Fischer is the author or editor of more than 200 publications. Foreshadowing his later career, he also edited three volumes of ACSP papers and eleven volumes of Canadian shipping records. A desire to place the Canadian experience in an international context led him to Norway in the mid-1980s to collaborate with Helge Nordvik, with whom he published twenty-nine essays, many of which focussed on maritime labour markets and the profession of shipbroking.

For much of his career he explored comparative maritime history. Skip was also active in both national and international organizations. One of the founders of the Canadian Nautical Research Society, he served as its vice president and secretary, and as the founding co-editor of its journal, “The Northern Mariner/Le Marin du nord”. He was one of the original members of the steering committee of the International Maritime Economic History Association, now IMHA, and co-editor of its newsletter, which in 1989 became the “International Journal of Maritime History”, a journal he served as editor-in- chief for twenty-five years.

He also founded and edited the Association’s on-going series “Research in Maritime History” and several other book series. Along with Peter Davies, he organized the first International Congress of Maritime History in 1992 and served on the organizing committees of several others. Between 1990 and 1995, he was secretary general of the International Commission for Maritime History.

His contributions to the profession have been honoured by an honorary doctorate from the University of Liverpool (2005) and a festschrift: Gelina Harlaftis, Stig Tenold and Jesús M. Valdaliso (eds.), “The World’s Key Industry: History and Economics of International Shipping” (London, 2012).

Frank Broeze Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis in Maritime History

Professor Frank Broeze was one of the leading maritime historians of his generation. In his honour, the International Maritime History Association has instituted the Frank Broeze Prize to be awarded to the author of a doctoral thesis which, in the opinion of the panel, makes the most outstanding contribution to the study of maritime history. As befitting Frank’s visionary approach to the field, maritime history encompasses all aspects of the historical interaction of human societies and the sea. The panel of judges will therefore consider works that focus on the maritime dimensions of economic, social, cultural, political, technological and environmental history.

The Frank Broeze Prize carries with it a cash award of 500 Euros and free registration at the Eighth International Congress of Maritime History in Porto, Portugal, 2020. To be considered for this prestigious award, those who have completed a doctoral thesis between 1 September 2015 and 31 August 2019 are invited to submit a copy of their thesis for consideration. If the thesis is written in a language other than English, the entrant should provide a summary of their work (minimum 10,000 words) in English.

The judges will apply the following criteria in deciding the winner of the prize:

  • Contribution to knowledge and understanding of the maritime past;

  • Originality of approach, source material and/or findings;

  • Depth and coherence of argument;

  • Choice and application of methodology;

  • Presentational and stylistic quality.

Eligible candidates should submit their entries, including a letter of support from their supervisor, via e-mail attachment to each of the panel members no later than 15 September 2019. The winner will be notified as early as possible in 2020, and the prize will be awarded at the Congress in Porto.

For this competition, there will be a panel of six judges:

Maria Fusaro (University of Exeter); M.Fusaro@exeter.ac.uk 

Gelina Harlaftis (Ionian University); gelinaharla@gmail.com

Ingo Heidbrink (Old Dominion University); IHeidbri@odu.edu

Graeme Milne (University of Liverpool); G.J.Milne@liverpool.ac.uk

Malcolm Tull (Murdoch University); m.tull@murdoch.edu.au

New Researchers in Maritime History Conference, April 6-7, 2018

Britain Trust invites contributions to its twenty-fourth conference for new researchers. Hosted at the Great Western Dockyard in Bristol, the conference provides a unique opportunity for new scholars to present their work in an historic maritime setting. The Conference supports emerging scholars who wish to share their work in a supportive environment and build relations with other maritime historians. We encourage applications from research degree students and warmly encourage participation by independent scholars. Contributions can address all aspects of maritime history in its broadest sense.

The call for papers is currently open until 16 February 2018. Those wishing to offer a paper should complete the online form available from: https://goo.gl/forms/3NIAZhERbptxtSTK2 or go to the website www.maritimehistory.org.uk  Please direct any queries to h.r.doe@exeter.ac.uk

Call for Applications: Opening Access to the Heritage & Education Centre

Opening Access to the Heritage & Education Centre

More details can be found on the website here. Applicants need to apply using the specially created application form in the document.

Essentially we are looking to fund between 3-6 small scale research projects over 3-6 months using HEC’s collections (between £5,000 – £10,000).

We do not fund individuals but are looking for museums, archives, libraries and Universities to apply with associated collections to put ours in a wider context.

The funding will pay for travel, and other costs but not salaries.

The research projects have to fit in with the research priorities from the research plan:

  1. Development of ship and yacht building since the 1800s
  2. Impact of maritime sector on world trade and trade routes
  3. Safety at sea
  4. Depiction of maritime technology in art

Applications are due in by 9 February, and will go through a peer review process, before the final ones going to the Grants Application Meeting (GAM).

For more details, see this link.


The Origins of Worker Mobilisation: Australia 1788 – 1850

IMHA welcomes news of our members recent publications. In this post we feature the work of member Professor Michael Quinlan from the School of Organisation and Management at the University of New South Wales. Michael’s recent book features a chapter on collective action by seamen, whalers and sealers. The chapter draws on a range of sources including court records, newspapers and logbooks and covers all Australian colonies. The book also includes mention of other relevant maritime activities including the regulation of maritime workers.

This is a book on how and why workers come together. Almost coincident with its inception, worker organisation is a central and enduring element of capitalism. In the 19th and 20th centuries’ mobilisation by workers played a substantial role in reshaping critical elements of these societies in Europe, North America, Australasia and elsewhere including the introduction of minimum labour standards (living wage rates, maximum hours etc.), workplace safety and compensation laws and the rise of welfare state more generally.

This book provides a new perspective on and new insights into how and why workers organise, and what shapes this organisation. The Origins of  Worker Mobilisation will be key reading for scholars, academics and policy makers the fields of industrial relations, HRM, labour economics, labour history and related disciplines.

New issue of IJMH


The lastest issue of the IJMH has been published: Volume 29, Issue 4, November 2017.

David J Starkey

The Sasanian Navy revisited: An unwritten chapter in Iran’s military history, by Vladimir A. Dmitriev

Why were Dutch East Indiamen so slow?, by Peter M. Solar, Pim de Zwart

Whatever happened to those villains of the Indian seas? The happy retirement of the Madagascar pirates, 1698–1721, by Ryan Holroyd

Finding longitude: The Investigator expedition, 1801–1803, by Kenneth Morgan

Infectious disease mortality in British merchant seamen and Lascars since 1900: From causes to controls, by Tim Carter, Stephen E Roberts

Emerging as a national figure: Walter Runciman and the rise of the British tramp shipowner, by Oliver Carpenter

Maritime trade and merchant shipping: The shipping/trade ratio since the 1870s, by Jari Ojala, Stig Tenold

Continuity and breakdown: Taiwan’s customs service during the Japanese occupation, 1895–1945, by Lin Yuju

Liverpool as a trading port: Sailors’ residences, African migrants, occupational change and probated wealth, by Stephen D. Behrendt, Robert A. Hurley

Research note
The ordinary merchant ship in the British Atlantic, 1600–1800: A call for further research, by Phillip Reid

Centre of Maritime History, Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Establishment of the new Centre of Maritime History at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies
The Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation of Research and Technology – Hellas based in Rethymnon, Crete, Greece, announces the foundation of a new Centre for Maritime History Studies headed by the Director of the IMS/FORTH Professor Gelina Harlaftis. The aim of the Centre is to expand research on a broad range of topics of Maritime History related to the areas of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and beyond, having the global, interdisciplinary and comparative studies in the epicenter.
The Centre will provide the necessary resources for young and experienced scholars to carry out their research in a stimulating and encouraging environment. Among these resources will be digital data bases and archives, a specialized library, and a cohesive and experienced group of researchers working in maritime history. Furthermore, the Center will devote funding resources to attract talented Ph.D. students who are willing to pursue research on maritime history. The Centre will also organize workshops, conferences and lectures in order to provide academic meetings on a regular basis and opportunities for scholars to discuss research problems and questions and exchange ideas for further research development.
The first workshop titled “What is Maritime History?” to be organized by the new Centre will take place on 25-26 April 2018 where leading maritime historians will inaugurate the Centre and will discuss developments in Maritime History in the last 20 years.
The new Center of Maritime History in Crete already hosts two ongoing research projects of IMS/FORTH in Maritime History.
The first is the ERC STG 2016 project entitled “Seafaring Lives in Transition. Mediterranean Maritime Labour and Shipping during Globalization, 1850s-1920s”, directed by Dr Apostolos Delis in partnership with the Universities of Barcelona, Genoa and Aix-Marseilles, and will last from 2017 to 2021. It is worth noting that Dr Apostolos Delis is the first Greek historian to have received an ERC grant. The project explores the transition from sail to steam navigation and the effects of this technological innovation on seafaring populations in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, between the 1850s and the 1920s, whose lives were drastically changed by the advent of the steam.
The second project is entitled “Onassis Business History” and is directed by Gelina Harlaftis, with post-doc Dr Alexandra Papadopoulou, and will run during the period 2017-2020. The project is funded by the Onassis Foundation. It is rather impressive that despite the global reach of Aristotle Onassis, there is not one extensive study of his business edifice based on archival materials and not one to analyze the scope and impact of his entrepreneurial activity in Greece or abroad, either of his shipping business, or of Olympic Airways. In this way, the aim of this research project is twofold: the creation of the Onassis Archive and the writing of Onassis Business History.

XVIII World Economic History Congress, July 29 – August 3 2018, Boston

This gathering of the World Economic History Congress will convene 29 July – 3rd August 2018 in historic Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. The 18th World Congress is the second to be hosted in North America and marks the 50th anniversary of the previous occasion. At the Congress you are invited to consider the many ‘Waves of Globalization’ that have given rise to the varied and multi-directional connections that characterise the economic and social world we know today.
For more information about the Congress visit: http://wehc2018.org

Mechanisms of Global Empire Building in the First Global Age

Mechanisms of Global Empire Building in the First Global Age, edited by Amélia Polónia
and Cátia Antunes, 2017.
This book maps out the crucial mechanisms of global empire building during the Early Modern period and poses at center stage global exchanges between, across and among individuals and empires. The book focuses on instances in which individuals or groups systematically looked for ways to connect beyond the territorial and institutional limitations imposed by their respective empires. In doing so, it showcases a set of clear mechanisms of individual and collective agency. They challenged, cooperated with, or represented imperial interests, in what should be perceived as a sliding scale of individual behaviours and motivations, rather than an absolute stance run by central powers. How did people connect empires and what happened to empires as a result? How did individual and collective agency contribute to the constitution of global maritime empires during the Early Modern period?

This book will answer these questions by looking at the role individuals played in the construction of ‘informal empires’, resulting from the enactment of a multitude of self-organized networks operating world-wide, whose main goal was safeguarding their personal social and economic advantages, sometimes cooperating with formal powers, frequently regardless of (and in spite of) state intervention.