What is it about?

While it is easy to get the impression, from reading published maritime history, that we understand everything we need to about ordinary merchant ships in the British Atlantic Empire in its first two centuries, deeper investigation reveals that to be questionable. In this article, I identify questions that remain to be answered, and why they matter to our understanding of how this key technology served and adapted to its world.

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Why is it important?

The ordinary merchant ship was the technology that carried the living creatures--including humans--and human-made goods that created new societies and profoundly altered older ones in the Americas. Understanding why the people who made and used this technology did so the way that they did offers important insights into the economic, technological, cultural, social, and political histories of the world that gave rise to our own.


As a maritime historian, publishing a research agenda in this journal is a significant milestone. I certainly hope it will spark interest and discussion and--even better--good work from other historians and archaeologists.

Dr Phillip Frank Reid

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The ordinary merchant ship in the British Atlantic, 1600–1800: A call for further research, International Journal of Maritime History, October 2017, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0843871417726750.
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