Funded Projects 2017

2017 Grant Funding for Research Projects.

One of the main elements of the SNR Research and Programmes Committee’s work continues to be scrutinising applications each year, from those seeking grant aid for their research, and awarding funding from the Anderson Bequest Fund to those deemed the most worthy.  Unfortunately, the amount of money available each year is limited and therefore difficult choices have to be made.

This year the committee received nine applications for research grants and out of those we were able to assist four people.  We also helped fund various conferences and these included The International Postgraduate Port and Maritime History Conference and The Joint International Conference – The Dutch Raid on Chatham Dockyard in 1667: its Anglo-Dutch Context and Legacy.

As far as the Research Grants were concerned the successful applicants, in no particular order, were:

  1. Dale Booth, from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA for her research into Fluid Economies, Fluid Identities: Gender, Water and Work in Britain 1750-1918.The dissertation she is writing focuses on ‘looking at the working sea and shore to illustrate the mutability of gender and the making and unmaking of identities along Britain’s coastlines’ during that period. Her grant will be put towards visiting the Newhaven Collection at the Museum of Edinburgh and consulting work relating to the visual and print culture that surrounded the archetype of fishwife, as well as the records of various fish curing yards that employed women in and around Newhaven.

The committee thought Dale’s research ‘intriguing’ and thought that much research could be done along the theme she was considering.

  1. Simon Harley, who is an independent researcher, is studying Flag Officers of the Royal Navy during the First World War. Simon proposes to use his grant to assist him in travelling to Los Angeles to consult the papers of Arthur J. Marder, which are held in the Langson Library of the University of California. Professor Marder may perhaps be termed the doyen of modern British naval history, and nearly forty years after his death his history of the Royal Navy in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century (From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow – five volumes) continues to overshadow the historiography.

In addition to privileged access to official records, many of which have since been destroyed, Marder enjoyed a considerable correspondence with many naval officers with firsthand experience of the era, such as Vice Admiral Kenneth Dewar and Admiral Sir Geoffrey Blake, as well as authorities such as Captains John Creswell and Stephen Roskill.  This network of contacts appeared, in the absence of access to official and private papers which have surfaced since his death in 1980, to have shaped Marder’s knowledge and understanding of the Royal Navy which he wrote about in such detail.  Given that most of Marder’s informants would have been relatively junior during the period he was writing about, in would be intriguing to know what information he was able to glean from them, and to what extent he then relied upon them in his work.  Simon is hoping to systematically go through the Marder papers as a primary source and in particular looking at the two hundred men who served on or reached the Royal Navy’s flag list during the First World War.

The committee, and in particular Professor Eric Grove, thought that Simon’s project very interesting and also significant as Marder has been making a comeback in recent times and a new, and balanced, critique of his personal assessments would be very worthwhile.

  1. Joanna Thomas, a PhD student from Exeter University, is focussing her research on 19th Century British Seafarers and Maritime Communities. Using qualitative and quantitative methods Joanna is investigating the maritime labour force from 1850-1911, looking at the impact of the introduction of the steamship and the change from sail to steam on the social and economic structures of maritime labourers. She is also examining the demographics of maritime labour, social backgrounds, motivations for going to sea, opportunities for social mobility through a career at sea (Master Mariners) and women at sea and their roles in maritime communities.

The SNR Research grant will enable Joanna to visit the Maritime History Archive in St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, which hold the majority of important primary sources for her project.  The committee thought her application exemplary as it had been well thought through and presented.

  1. James Clipson, an MA student studying Naval History at the University of Portsmouth, is researching The Influence of HMS Warrior on Naval Operations in the US Civil War. His research is focussing and expanding on other academic work e.g. Quite Simply, the Warrior Altered the Course of the American Civil War (Howard Fuller – International Journal of Naval History 2013) and perhaps more importantly, picking up Andrew Lambert’s point of considering battles prevented as well as battles fought in his book HMS Warrior 1860 Victoria’s Ironclad Deterrent (2011).  James presented a paper at the North American Society for Oceanic History in May of this year on his research. Whilst there he undertook various aspects of research with American academics and some field research in and around the forts of Charleston. This was particularly useful as one of his case studies relates to the repulsed siege of Charleston by the Federal forces, using iron-clads in 1863.

The judging committee thought the study of Warrior worthy of grant aid and it also enabled James to collaborate with his American counterparts at Charleston. They noted that Warrior had, in some respects, been forgotten by many due to recent publicity that focussed on Mary Rose and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.  They were pleased that a new study was in progress and that James’s research may provide something new to say about Warrior.