CORRAL (UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks)



a project funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee

What are we doing?

CORRAL is an imaging and digitising project funded by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) whose website can be found at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/. The project began on 1st October 2008 and is funded until 30th September 2009 during this time its principal objective is to image ship’s logbooks of particular historic and scientific value, and to digitise the meteorological observations in those logbooks. The logs of Robert Fitzroy (captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin’s epic voyage around the World) offer a good example. The logbooks of ships on voyages of scientific discovery and exploration are held in the National Archives at Kew, Surrey (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/) and are stored under catalogue heading ADM55.

Such documents record, first hand, the daily activities and weather that these intrepid explorers encountered on their voyages. As such they stand not only as records of national and historical importance, they are also a unique source of climatic information from those distant years and at a time when the scientific community need to know as much as possible concerning future and past climatic change they are a unique source of valuable data and information. CORRAL has now imaged nearly 300 logbooks producing some 40,000 catalogued images giving access to every page of these remarkable documents. This rich fund of original material is now freely available on our partner site at http://badc.nerc.ac.uk/data/corral/index.html. CORRAL are also in the process of abstracting data from these documents to create an accessible database in which the valuable climatic information can also be made available to researchers and those with a more general interest in the weather and the climate of distant places in years now long past.

In this connection the project is also concerned to obtain climatological data from other sources, in particular the observations made during the nineteenth century at lighthouses in areas such as the Caribbean and the remote areas of the South Atlantic at St. Helena. The records are held in the UK National Meteorological Archive in Exeter.

To find out more about the logbooks of sailing ships from past ages, go to the page on this website where we explain some of the advantages they offer to climate researchers.