History of the IMHA

The origins of the International Maritime History Association (International Maritime Economic History Association until 2016) can be traced to a session organized by two eminent scholars, Dr. Peter N. Davies of the University of Liverpool and Professor Keiichiro Nakagawa of Aoyama Gakuin University, on “Shipping Industries in the 19th and 20th Centuries” at the 9th International Congress of Economic History in Berne, Switzerland on 25 and 26 August 1986. The meeting was designed not only to share the fruits of recent research with a broad range of colleagues but also to explore the possibility of establishing a mechanism for on-going communication.

Accordingly, the first day was given over to reports on recent international conferences and a series of presentations of current research by no fewer than eighteen individual scholars. After three more formal papers to open the second day, Dr. Davies chaired an open forum on what might be done to ensure better communication among maritime scholars scattered all over the world. While there was a general consensus that no formal organization was required at this point, those in attendance accepted a proposal from Lewis R. Fischer and Helge W. Nordvik to produce a newsletter to be circulated to all interested parties. In addition, there was an agreement to submit an application for a full session on maritime history at the 10th International Congress of Economic History in Leuven, Belgium, in 1990. A steering committee comprising Nakagawa, Davies, Fischer and Nordvik, plus Dr. Lars U. Scholl of the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum and Dr. Frank Broeze of the University of Western Australia, was struck to oversee these projects under the umbrella of the Maritime Economic History Group (MEHG).

Fischer and Nordvik set about identifying and contacting more than 900 maritime historians for items for the first newsletter, which appeared in March 1987. Over the next eighteen months four more newsletters were produced, expanding from the fairly modest fifty-page inaugural issue to hefty volumes of more than 100 pages. The editors also began to receive a number of unsolicited articles for publication. This led them to approach the steering committee about transforming the newsletter into a proper scholarly journal. The enthusiastic response led to the publication of the first issue of the International Journal of Maritime History (IJMH) in June 1989. Lewis Fischer was the editor-in-chief for the first fifty issues, ably assisted by Helge Nordvik (until his untimely death in 1998), Valerie C. Burton (1990-1992), David M. Williams (1995-1998), David J. Starkey (1999-2013), Malcolm Tull (1999-2008), Poul Holm (2000-2006) and James E. Candow (2008-2009). In 2014, David Starkey assumed the role of editor-in-chief, assisted by Michaela Barnard and Richard Gorski. As well, a series of excellent book review editors, including Valerie C. Burton (1989-1990), Jean François Briére (1990-1992), Poul Holm (1993-2000) and Olaf U. Janzen (2000-2013), established the IJMH as the publication of record for books on maritime history. This tradition is being continued by the current book review editor, Martin Wilcox.

As the Berne attendees had requested, Fischer and Nordvik submitted a proposal on behalf of the group for the Leuven congress. Once it was accepted they organized a pre-conference in Bergen, Norway, which coincided with the appearance of the first issue of the IJMH and the initial meeting of the editorial board appointed to oversee the journal. The sixteen essays presented at the Bergen meeting were edited by Fischer and Nordvik and published as Shipping and Trade, 1750-1950: Essays in International Maritime Economic History (Pontefract, 1990) and discussed further at the larger session in Belgium. Since then, the Association has organized sessions at the economic history congresses in Milan (1994), Madrid (1998), Buenos Aires (2002) and Utrecht (2009).

When the steering committee and the editorial board met again in Leuven in the summer of 1990, they approved three other initiatives. The first was the creation of a new International Congress of Maritime History to meet every four years. Fischer and Davies agreed to organize the initial conference, which broad together about 100 papers in Liverpool in August 1992. Subsequent congresses have been held in Amsterdam/Rotterdam (1996), Esbjerg (2000), Corfu (2004), Greenwich (2008), Ghent (2012), and Fremantle, Western Australia (2016). The 7th International Congress of Maritime History will be held in Fremantle, Western Australia in 2016. The second initiative entailed the creation of a series of volumes to supplement the IJMH. The first issue of Research in Maritime History appeared in 1991, and a further 51 have been published subsequently. Some of the volumes are full-fledged monographs, while others include collections of papers, bibliographies, reprints of important books, finding aids and primary sources. The series continues and is now being published by Liverpool University Press.

The final initiative agreed to in Leuven involved the creation of a formal, permanent organization to replace the MEHG. This was the International Maritime Economic History Association, which sponsors the IJMH (now published by Sage Publications in London); organizes the International Congress of Maritime History; and seeks to promote the study of the relationship between humankind and the sea in a variety of ways. Under the leadership of a series of respected presidents (Peter N. Davies, 1990-1995; Yrjö Kaukiainen, 1995-2001; David M. Williams, 2001-2004; Gelina Harlaftis, 2004-2008; Jesús M. Valdaliso, 2008-2012; and Lars U. Scholl, 2012-2016, Malcolm Tull, 2016-), the Association has undertaken a variety of initiatives. One of the longer-lasting is the annual Peter Davies Lectures in Maritime Business History, which has been held every year since 1993. The Association also offers fellowships for students to attend the International Congresses, and sponsors the Frank Broeze Prize, given every four years to the best post-graduate dissertation in maritime history. The organization also aims to honour significant contributions by important maritime scholars by establishing named lectures at the International Congresses. Thus far, these plenary sessions have included lectures honouring Ralph Davis, Keiichiro Nakagawa and Helge Nordvik.

Over the past three decades, the IMEHA has established itself as the preeminent scholarly organization in the field of maritime history. The IMEHA has constructed a rather broad tent, attracting not only historians but also scholars working in cognate disciplines. We invite all those interested in maritime affairs to join us.

At the General Assembly hold during the 7th International Congress of Maritime History in Fremantle (Australia) the members of IMEHA and the International Congress of Maritime History (ICMH) decided on an amalgamation of the two associations and to transform the association into the International Maritime History Association (IMHA). While IMHA will continue with a strong focus on maritime economic history the delegates were convinced that the association should reflect the inclusiveness it had already achieved in recent years in the name of the association and more important that having only one international umbrella organization for all scholarly maritime historians will be of substantial benefit for maritime historians all over the globe. With the amalgamation between IMEHA and ICMH into IMHA the new association has become also the representative of maritime historians within the network of CISH/ICHS.


Maritime Economic History Group Steering Committee, 1986-1990

Keiichiro Nakagawa, Aoyama Gakuin University

Peter N. Davies, University of Liverpool

Lewis R. Fischer, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Helge W. Nordvik, Norwegian School of Economics

Lars U. Scholl, Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum

Frank Broeze, University of Western Australia


IMEHA Executive Members


Honorary President

Robin S. Craig (England), 2004-2007



Peter N. Davies (England), 1990-1995

Yrjö Kaukiainen (Finland), 1995-2001

David M. Williams (England), 2001-2004

Gelina Harlaftis (Greece), 2004-2008

Jesús M. Valdaliso (Spain), 2008-2012

Lars U. Scholl (Germany), 2012-2016

Malcom Tull (Australia), 2016-2022

Ingo Heidbrink (USA), 2022-


Vice Presidents

Olaf U. Janzen (Canada), 1992-1995

Yrjö Kaukiainen (Finland), 1992-1995

Frank J.A. Broeze (Australia), 1995-2001

Faye Kert (Canada), 1995-2001

Gelina Harlaftis (Greece), 2001-2004

Jesús M. Valdaliso (Spain), 2001-2008

John Armstrong (England), 2004-2008

Malcolm Tull (Australia), 2008-2016

Amélia Polónia (Portugal), 2008-2022

Constantin Ardeleanu (Romania), 2016-2022



Gerald E. Panting (Canada), 1990-1995

Olaf U. Janzen (Canada), 1995-1999

James Reveley (Australia), 1999-2004

Berit E. Johansen (Norway), 2004-2012

René Taudal Poulsen (Denmark), 2012-2016

Ingo Heidbrink (USA), 2016-2022

Constantin Ardeleanu (Romania), 2022-



Edward Reed (Canada), 1990-2000

Peter L. Ridgway (Australia), 2000-2001

Edward W. Sloan (USA), 2001-2008

Ayodeji Olukoju (Nigeria), 2008-2012

Ruthy Gertwagen (Israel), 2012-2016

Maria Fusaro (United Kingdom), 2016-2020

Martin Wilcox (Great Britain), 2020-


MEHG/IMEHA Sessions at International Congresses of Economic History

Leuven, 1990

Milan, 1994

Madrid (Seville), 1998

Buenos Aires, 2002

Utrecht, 2008


International Congresses of Maritime History

Liverpool, 1992

Amsterdam/Rotterdam, 1996

Esbjerg, 2000

Corfu, 2004

Greenwich, 2008

Ghent, 2012

Fremantle, 2016

Porto, 2022


International Journal of Maritime History


Lewis R. Fischer (Canada), 1989-2013

David J. Starkey (England), 2014-2021



Helge W. Nordvik (Norway), 1989-1998

Valerie C. Burton (Canada), 1990-1992

David M. Williams (England), 1995-1998

David J. Starkey (England), 1999-2013

Malcolm Tull (Australia), 1999-2008

Poul Holm (Denmark), 2000-2006

James E. Candow (Canada), 2008-2009

Michaela Barnard (England), 2014-

Richard Gorski (England), 2014-


Book Review Editors

Valerie C. Burton (Canada), 1989-1990

Jean François Briére (USA), 1990-1992

Poul Holm (Denmark), 1993-2000

Olaf U. Janzen (Canada), 2000-2013

Martin Wilcox (England), 2014-


Editorial Board Officers


Peter N. Davies (England), 1989-1990

David M. Williams (England), 1990-1995

Lars U. Scholl (Germany), 1995-2012

Gelina Harlaftis (Greece), 2012-


Vice Chair

Lars U. Scholl (Germany), 1989-1996

Gelina Harlaftis (Greece), 1996-2001

Merja-Liisa Hinkkanen (Finland), 2001-2004

Morten Hahn-Pedersen (Denmark), 2004-2006

Elisabetta Tonizzi (Italy), 2006-2012

Maria Fusaro (England), 2012-



Gerald E. Panting (Canada), 1989-1992

Gelina Harlaftis (Greece), 1992-1995

Merja-Liisa Hinkkanen (Finland), 1996-2001

Stig Tenold (Norway), 2001-


Board Members (Alphabetical)

Catía Antunes (Netherlands), 2009-

Constantin Ardeleanu (Romania), 2011-

John Armstrong (England), 2001-2004

John Barzman (France), 2004-

Tapio Bergholm (Finland), 2009-

Hubert Bonin (France), 2008-2012

Huw V. Bowen (England), 2006-2011

Gordon H. Boyce (New Zealand/Australia), 1999-

Jean François Briére (USA), 1989-1990, 1993-2001

Jürgen Brockstedt (Germany), 1989-1992

Frank J.A. Broeze (Australia), 1989-1995

Jaap R. Bruijn (Netherlands), 1989-2012

James E. Candow (Canada), 2007-2008, 2009-2011

Pin-Tsun Chang (Taiwan), 1993-2006

Tomohei Chida (Japan), 1989-2001

Ashin Das Gupta (India), 1989-1991

Greta Devos (Belgium), 2001-2005

Dharmasena (Sri Lanka), 1989-1996

Anita van Dissel (Netherlands), 2012-

Tomasso Fanfani (Italy), 1989-1996

H.E.S. Fisher (England), 1989-1996

Stuart M. Frank (USA), 1989-1995

Maria Fusaro (England), 2008-

Femme Gaastra (Netherlands), 2001-2008

Ruthy Gertwagen (Israel), 2007-2012

Antonio Gómez-Mendoza (Spain), 1989-1991

Shin Goto (Japan), 1999-2001

Morten Hahn-Pedersen (Denmark), 1992-2006

Gelina Harlaftis (Greece), 1989-2001, 2012-

Jean Heffer (France), 1989-1992

Ingo Heidbrink (USA), 2012-

Graydon R. Henning (Australia), 1999-

Merja-Liisa Hinkkanen (Finland), 1995-2004

Gordon Jackson (Scotland), 1994-2010

Adrian Jarvis (England), 2004-

Hans Chr. Johansen (Denmark), 1990-1998

Kunio Katayama (Japan), 2001-2006

Yrjö Kaukiainen (Finland), 1989-1992

Jan Tore Klovland (Norway), 2009-

Maria Bárbara Levy (Brazil), 1989-1991

Silvia Marzagalli (France), 1997-

Kenneth McPherson (Australia), 2009-2010

Michael B. Miller (USA), 2001-

Graeme Milne (England), 2009-2012

Ioanna Minoglou (Greece), 2001-2007

Kenneth Morgan (England), 2009-

Leos Müller (Sweden), 2011-

Forbes Munro (Scotland), 1989-1994

Keiichiro Nakagawa (Japan), 1989-1998

Victor Norman (Norway), 1996-2001

Jari Ojala (Finland), 2008-

Sarah Palmer (England), 1992-

Gerald E. Panting (Canada), 1989-1996

Amélia Polónia (Portugal), 2007-2008

René Taudal Poulsen (Denmark), 2011-2012

Himanshu Prabha Ray (India), 1997-2006

Edward Reed (Canada), 1991-1998

Chris Reid (England), 2007-

Paul C. van Royen (Netherlands), 1995-2001

Jeffrey J. Safford (USA), 1989-2004

Stephen Salmon (Canada), 2004-

Lars U. Scholl (Germany), 1989-2012

Edward W. Sloan (USA), 1995-2001

Morten K. Søndergaard (Denmark), 2009-2010

David J. Starkey (England), 1995-1999

Arnljot Strømme Svendsen (Norway), 1989-1995

Carl E. Swanson (USA), 1990-

Mariko Tatsuki (Japan), 2001-2008

Stig Tenold (Norway), 2001-

Elisabetta Tonizzi (Italy), 2004-

Malcolm Tull (Australia), 1989-1999

Jesús M. Valdaliso (Spain), 1992-2001, 2012-

Carmel Vassallo (Malta), 2001-

Karel Veraghtert (Belgium), 1989-2001

Simon P. Ville (Australia), 1996-2004

David M. Williams (England), 1989-1995, 1999-2001

William D. Wray (Canada), 1989-