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G. W. Blunt White Library

Salem, Mass. Crew Lists Index: 1799-1879

Crew Lists

Between 1799 and 1879 over 7900 voyages to foreign ports sailed from Salem, Massachusetts. Prior to sailing the shipmaster, or captain of each vessel was required to file a crew list containing information about the vessel's destination and its crew. This website provides an index to those crewlists. Containing over 75,770 names, it also provides access to crew members based upon age, complexion, birthplace and residence place.

The Act of 28 February 1803 contained the first legal mention and requirements for keeping a Crew List as part of the ship's papers. Before a vessel could depart on a foreign voyage, the master had to deliver a list of the crew, verified by his oath, to the customs collector at that port. The collector then supplied the master with a certified copy of the list, copied in a uniform hand, along with a Clearance Certificate, at which time the master entered into a four-hundred-dollar bond to exhibit the Crew List to the first boarding officer he encountered upon his return to a U.S. port. There he was required to produce the persons named and described in the Crew List to give account for any crew members who were not present. Notes certifying sickness, discharge or desertion, usually signed by a consular official, were often included with the original list in order to prove that individuals not present were legally accounted for. Stein, Douglas. American Maritime Documents

About the Index

The voyage and crew list names entered in this database have been transcribed from copies of the originals held by the National Archives. The original records are in the possession of NARA, Northeast Region, in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Any requests for information about the original documents should be referred to:

Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452-6399

Toll Free Phone: ((866) 406-2379
Fax: (781) 663-0154
Web Site:

The project was funded by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Science.

If you would like to use a copy of the database for advanced scholarly uses please contact