Biographies of IMHA Founders
The Association was created through the contribution of several maritime historians from around the world. The biographies of some of IMHA’s founders are presented below: Ralph Davis, Helge W. Nordvik, Franklin J.A. Broeze, Keiichiro Nakagawa, Lars Scholl, Peter N. Davies, Lewis Fischer.
The Davis Lecture commemorates the contribution of Ralph Davis to maritime history. That contribution is grounded in his seminal study “The Rise of the English Shipping Industry”. This was and remains the only comprehensive study of English shipping during its period, but more so, when it was first published in 1962 it represented a watershed in two senses: it broke the mould of past studies which had tended to be descriptive and, more positively, it represented a new approach to the study of shipping both conceptually and in its analytical use of source material. Through such features and its high scholarly quality it came as a revelation to all interested in shipping. Moreover, although it was a specialized study, because its findings were placed in a wider context and addressed issues of the day it caused historians generally to begin to view the maritime dimension and maritime history in a new, different and positive light. This was the direct impact of Davis’ work, apparent within a few years of publication. Its indirect impact was arguably even greater. The publication of Davis’ study came at a time of expansion of university education and in particular the growth of the social sciences. With this came an increase in young scholars addressing maritime themes all of whom were influenced – and many were inspired – by Davis’ work. In Britain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Europe generally, Canada, the USA and Australia young scholars undertook research on the maritime world with new vigour and purpose. Very soon – through the expansion of publications and conferences – such scholars recognising their common interests and the trans-national nature of their subject joined together to organise specialised projects and conferences and it was through such contacts that various associations of maritime scholars were formed. Foremost was the International Maritime Economic History Association whose Journal and International Congress held every four years are the lynch pin of maritime study. Sadly, Davis died in 1978 and thus did not see his legacy but it is only right that each Congress recognises and honours his vital, pioneering contribution. A new edition of Davis’ study was published in “Research in Maritime History” no. 48 in 2012. This reprint with a new introduction by Lewis R. Fischer and David M. Williams will make the book more readily available to a fresh generation of scholars. It is essential reading for all interested in the historiography of maritime studies and for everyone engaged in research into shipping.
Helge W. Nordvik, who passed away in 1998, played a significant role in maritime history as a teacher, scholar and builder. As a teacher and mentor, he introduced the teaching of maritime history to Norway through courses at the University of Bergen, Norwegian School of Economics and Norwegian School of Management; at the latter, he was the inaugural professor of maritime strategy. He also supervised a number of important postgraduate theses, one of which (by Stig Tenold) was published in revised form as “Tankers in Trouble: Norwegian Shipping and the Crisis of the 1970s and 1980s” (“Research in Maritime History” No. 32, available from Liverpool University Press). As well, Helge was a visiting professor at the University of Washington, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of Liverpool. Just before his death, he had accepted an offer to be a visiting professor at the University of Gothenburg. Professor Nordvik was a scholar with multifaceted interests who published important works in business, economic financial and Norwegian history. But his first love was always maritime history. The study of humankind’s relationship with the sea was something that engaged him passionately: it was not something he did but rather something he lived. He published widely on various aspects of maritime history, both individually and as a team with Lewis R. Fischer. His study “The Shipping Industries of the Scandinavian Countries, 1850-1914,” in Lewis R. Fischer and Gerald E. Panting (eds.), “Change and Adaptation in Maritime History: The North Atlantic Fleets in the Nineteenth Century” (St. John’s, 1985), pp. 117-148, remains the best comparative synthesis of the history of Nordic shipping more than three decades after its original publication. As a team with Fischer, Professor Nordvik published a series of twenty-nine essays on various aspects of international maritime history and jointly edited three maritime-oriented collections, including “Shipping and Trade in the Northern Seas, 1600- 1939” (Bergen, 1988); and “Shipping and Trade, 1750-1950: Essays in International Maritime Economic History” (Pontefract, 1990). Yet it was a builder that Helge arguably made his greatest contributions, both nationally and internationally. He was the driving force in the creation of the Norwegian Commission for Maritime History and served on its executive until his untimely death. He also served on the Executive Council of the International Commission for Maritime History (ICMH) for a decade and was a long-time member of its nominating committee. His greatest accomplishments, however, were as a member of the International Maritime Economic History Association. Professor Nordvik was among the six members of the original steering committee of the Maritime Economic History Group and played a crucial role in its transition into the IMEHA, first as co-editor of the MEHG’s newsletter and then as co-founding editor of the International Journal of Maritime History. In 2000, the IMEHA acknowledged his contribution by establishing the Helge W. Nordvik Memorial Lecture which is now an established part of the program at each International Congress of Maritime History.
No individual made a greater contribution to maritime history since 1970 than the late Frank Broeze. As a teacher, scholar, and innovator, his accomplishments were crucial to the development of maritime history as a respected international field of study. His premature death in 2001 robbed maritime history of one of its most dynamic and creative thinkers, as well as one of its most enthusiastic promoters. After completing his PhD at Leiden University, Frank took up an appointment at the University of Western Australia, which became his intellectual home for the rest of his life. As an enthusiastic teacher, he launched a number of new courses, including several with significant maritime components. Notably, all Frank’s courses were taught from a broad international perspective, a trait that was also central to his scholarship. His scholarly contributions were impressive. He was the author of more than two dozen significant essays and three books: “Mr. Brooks and the Australian Trade: Imperial Business in the Nineteenth Century” (1995); “Island Nation: A History of Australians and the Sea” (1998); and “The Globalisation of the Oceans: Containerisation from the 1950s to the Present” (2002, No. 23 in the “Research in Maritime History” series, available from Liverpool University Press). He also edited three seminal collections of essays: “Brides of the Sea: Port Cities of Asia from the 16th to the 20th Centuries” (1989); “Maritime History at the Crossroads: A Critical View of Recent Historiography” (1995, available as “Research in Maritime History” No. 9); and “Gateways of Asia: Port Cities of Asia in the 13th-20th Centuries” (1996). Frank was also the founding editor in 1979 of “The Great Circle”, the journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History (AAMH) and the model on which the “International Journal of Maritime History” (IJMH) is based. But perhaps his most important scholarly contribution to maritime history was his definition of the subject as the relationship between man and the sea, a broad but brilliant formulation that has since become accepted by most professional scholars. Professor Broeze was honoured during his lifetime by a personal chair at the University of Western Australia and election to the prestigious Australian Academy of Humanities. After his death the AAMH, an organization of which he was co-founder and later president, established the Frank Broeze Lecture series. To commemorate his special interest in promoting the work of junior scholars, the IMEHA set up the Frank Broeze Prize, presented to the author of the best maritime history thesis defended in a four-yea period. Frank’s contribution to maritime history also included an impressive amount of service. In addition to the presidency of the AAMH, he was one of the six original members of the steering committee that founded the IMEHA. He served as president of the International Commission for Maritime History (1990-1995), vice president of the IMEHA (1996-2001), and was a long-time member of the editorial board of the IJMH. It was typical of him to place service to others high on his list of priorities. In summing up his career, the editors of the IJMH concluded in 2002 that his “contribution to maritime history has been singular and his impact incalculable.” They urged maritime historians “to remember…the role that Frank Broeze played in elevating their sub-discipline to the stature it enjoys today.” This plea still rings true.
The late Keiichiro Nakagawa was both a prominent scholar and one of the founders of the International Maritime Economic History Association. A long-time Professor of Economics and Business History at the University of Tokyo and later at Aoyama Gakuin University, he developed into one of the foremost maritime business historians of his generation, both in Japan and internationally. He also served in a visiting capacity at a number of foreign institutions, including the prestigious Harvard-Yenching Institute, where he was scholar-in- residence in 1958-1959. Although much of his published work was in Japanese, Western readers will be familiar with his editorial work on a number of volumes of the proceedings of the Fuji conferences on business history, sponsored by the Japan Business History Society, in the 1970s and 1980s. These meetings, which brought together scholars from around the world, were early and productive models of international cooperation. Among the volumes that Professor Nakagawa edited and to which he contributed incisive essays were “Strategy and Structure of Big Business” (University of Tokyo Press, 1976), “Social Order and Entrepreneurship” (University of Tokyo Press, 1977) and “Japanese Management in Historical Perspective” (University of Tokyo Press, 1989). Of particular significance for maritime history, however, was “Business History of Shipping: Strategy and Structure” (University of Tokyo Press, 1985), which included essays by a number of scholars who would later make important contributions to the IMEHA and to international maritime history. Professor Nakagawa’s essay, “The Japanese Shipping and Shipbuilding Industries before World War II: Financing and Technological Development,” in “Innovation, Know-how, Rationalization and Investment in the German and Japanese Economies, 1868/1871-1930/1980” (Steiner Verlag, 1982), pp. 80-102, remains a seminal work more than three decades after its first appearance. Equally significant, contacts with international colleagues at the Fifth Fuji Conference led Professor Nakagawa to join with Peter Davies of the University of Liverpool to conceptualize and organize a session on international maritime history at the Ninth International Congress of Economic History in Berne, Switzerland. This gathering, attended by more than one hundred scholars, spawned the Maritime Economic History Group, the predecessor of the IMEHA. Professor Nakagawa played an important role in the new body, serving first as a member of the six-member steering committee that shepherded the fledgling organization through its early years and making a number of crucial contributions during the transition to the IMEHA and the launch of the new “International Journal of Maritime History”, on whose editorial board he sat for the first decade of its existence. He continued to be generous in offering assistance and advice in a variety of ways until ill health forced him to curtail his activities at the turn of the twenty- first century. His role in fostering Japanese maritime history and integrating it into the international milieu will remain one of Professor Nakagawa’s lasting legacies.
In terms of continuous involvement in maritime history, it would be difficult to top the record authored by Lars Scholl. For over forty years, he has been among the most important maritime historians not only in Germany but also on the international stage. As a scholar, museum professional, teacher and executive member of numerous maritime organizations, Lars’ contribution to maritime history has been second to none. His early work focussed on shipping and shipbuilding on the Rhine. His doctoral dissertation on the role of engineers during the early phases of industrialization (published as a book in 1978) was awarded the prestigious Rudolf Kellermann Prize. Upon his appointment to the staff at the German National Maritime Museum in 1979, his focus shifted from inland navigation to a broader examination of shipping and shipbuilding in Germany, perhaps best exemplified by a seminal essay on German shipping in Tsunehiko Yui and Keiichiro Nakagawa (eds.), “Business History of Shipping: Strategy and Structure” (Tokyo, 1985). While he continued to contribute a large number of essays on the social, technical, economic and business aspects of German maritime history, he also became interested in the history of maritime art, publishing a substantial number of impressive volumes in this field. He remained in the museum for the remainder of his professional life, rising to the position of Managing Director in 2004. At the same time, he passed on his knowledge through teaching positions at the universities of Hannover, Hamburg and Bremen. As Professor of Maritime History at the latter institution, Lars occupied the first chair of its kind in Germany. Over the years he supervised more than fifteen PhD dissertations and numerous MA theses. Dr. Scholl was always concerned with placing his work in the broadest possible international context. It was this orientation that drew him in 1986 to the International Economic History Congress in Berne, Switzerland, the Maritime Economic History Group, the predecessor of the International Maritime Economic History Association (IMEHA) was founded. His growing stature in the profession was reflected in his election to the six-member steering committee that shepherded the new organization through its early years. In 1989 he was appointed to the inaugural Editorial Board of the new “International Journal of Maritime History”; this began an association with the IMEHA’s journal, including election as Vice Chair and later Chair, which lasted until 2012, when he was elected President of the IMEHA. Between 1990 and 1995, Lars was also served as Vice President of the International Commission of Maritime History and continued to sit on its executive until 2012. From 2005 to 2012, he sat on the executive of the International Congress of Maritime Museums and served on the Scientific Advisory Committee at the Maritime and Fisheries Museum in Esbjerg since 1994, chairing that body between 2003 and 2012. Despite all his international commitments, he never neglected his homeland, where he has chaired the German Commission for Maritime History since 1995. In 2005 he founded the book series “German Maritime Studies,” where he has been responsible for the publication of more than two dozen volumes. Since his retirement in 2012, Dr. Scholl continues to contribute to maritime history not only through his international commitments but also by leading major research projects on the art of Walter Zeeden, on the nitrate trade and the business history of the Rickmers family, active participants in shipbuilding and shipping for more than 180 years.
If a visionary leader is crucial in the development of a discipline, then Peter Davies is the person who provided it for maritime history. As a mentor, prolific author and head of the most important international maritime history organizations, he has become a model of what a well-rounded scholar should be. Professor Davies spent his entire academic career at the University of Liverpool, where he studied under—and later worked with—Professor Francis Hyde. Along with Hyde, John Harris and Sheila Marriner, Davies established the so-called “Liverpool School of Maritime History,” an approach that stressed the use of business records in writing maritime history. Before becoming Emeritus Professor in 1992, he influenced a generation of young minds and prospective scholars. His record of publication is staggering. His numerous articles and fifteen books are all the more impressive for their breadth. He began with British trade with West Africa; his first book, “The Trade Makers: Elder Dempster in West Africa, 1852-1972” (London, 1972) was so influential that it went through a second printing in 1980 and was updated in 2000 to take the story up to 1989 (Research in Maritime History No. 19, available from Liverpool University Press). His interest in business history led to (among other volumes) “Sir Alfred Jones: Shipping Entrepreneur par Excellence” (London, 1978), “Henry Tyrer: A Liverpool Shipping Agent and His Enterprise” (London, 1979), “The Sutcliffes of Grimsby: The Family and the Firm” (Grimsby, 1987) and “Musa Sapientum: Fyffes and the Banana, 1888-1988” (London, 1990). In the same year that the Fyffes book appeared, he collaborated with Tomohei Chida on “The Japanese Shipping and Shipbuilding Industries: A History of Their Modern Growth” (London, 1990), still the definitive history of Japan’s maritime endeavours. This interest in Japan continued with the “The Business, Life and Letters of Frederick Cornes: Aspects of the Evolution of Commerce in Modern Japan, 1861-1912” (Folkestone, 2008) and culminated with “Japanese Shipping and Shipbuilding in the Twentieth Century: The Writings of Peter N. Davies” (Folkestone, 2010), a collection of his most important essays on the topic. His role in making maritime history a truly international discipline was just as important as his writings. Along with Keiichiro Nakagawa, he organized the session at the Ninth International Congress of Economic History that spawned the Maritime Economic History Group. His importance was reaffirmed when he was elected by acclamation to the six-member steering committee that guided its transformation into the International Maritime Economic History Association, of which he became the first president. He later served as the chair of the British Commission for Maritime History and the president of the International Commission for Maritime History. Along with Lewis Fischer, he organized the first International Congress of Maritime History in 1992, fittingly held in Liverpool. The esteem with which he is held by his colleagues was reflected in the presentation of a festschrift (Lewis R. Fischer [ed.], “From Wheel House to Counting House: Essays in Maritime History in Honour of Professor Peter Neville Davies” [Research in Maritime History No. 2, available from Liverpool University Press]) and the establishment of a lecture series in his honour.