My working space

My working space – The Cadbury Research Library – is in the cellar of the Muirhead tower.
– Private Picture – 8.9.2021.

After arrriving in Birmingham, I thought to have now – apart from my archive visitings – plenty of time of preparing blog articles. After the first ten days, I have to admitt: No, I do not.

In Birmingham I have these manuscripts in mind, which I want to go through:

CMS/B/OMS/C/N E: Early Correspondence, 1809-1821 (1 box)
CMS/B/OMS/C/N O 49/1-18: Hall, Francis, 1819-1823 (1 box)
CMS/B/OMS/C/N O 55/1-58: King, John, 1820-1854 (1 box)
CMS/B/OMS/C/N O 93/1-231: Williams, Rev. Henry, 1823-1861 (2 boxes)

My first step is to go through the sources of the most important Missionary individuals (I ascribe the term “most important” to those, who were regularly mentioned or quoted in secondary literature). Then I take pictures of EACH manuscript page, which means that I am adding roughly 300 pictures every day.

Taking pictures during the day – Private Picture – 8.9.2021.

Afterwards, I copy and remove them from my camera card into my research cloud and separate and distinguish each mansucript number. During the six weeks, in which I stay in Birmingham, do not allow me to additionally read all of them. The aim is to forge a detailed source corpus, which I then can consult and use for my next writing process, when I am back in Trier.

Organizing them in the afternoon/evening. Private Picture – 8.9.2021.

So, taking hundreds of pictures during the days and importing and categorizing them in the evenings, do shape my time here. For the rest of the remaining day, I enjoy lunchbreaks in the sun and discover the city centre of Birmingham.

As soon, as I finish with the manuscripts of the individual missionaries, I will go a step further and will take the Mission books and the letter books of the research collection in to account.

Hello Birmingham (Cadbury Research Library)

It took me a while to write this blog article, not due to its planning, but rather because I had a busy time with a lot of Covid-related travel preparations and restrictions.

In May 2021, I applied successfully for a three-month research scholarship of the German Historical Institute London and now, at the end of August, fully vaccinated and equipped with (german and british) Negative Tests and visa, I was finally ready to travel and arrive in the UK.

As this research blog emerges with my current research, I had two different ideas to proceed with the next articles; Either I could start chronologically and explain step by step what I have done so far and what I intend to do in the future. Or I let you dive with me right in my current situation and then provide you with the historical background.

Private Picture – 1.9.2021

I decided for the second way and therefore, I will explain why I travelled to Birmingham in the United Kingdom. I will spent the next six weeks here in order to visit and read the manuscripts of the Church Missionary Society Archive (1799-2009) at the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham.

You might ask yourself: “Wait, what? Why does he talk about missionaries? I thought this is all about Quaker Whalers and Māori.” Well, history is unfortunately very complex and one cannot tell all its strings at the same time, yet I will, nevertheless, only focus on the interactions of Missionaries with Māori individuals and Whalers.

Until the next blog post, I will leave you with two monographs of Ballantyne and Middleton, which are two very helpful sources to start with the history of the Church Missionary Society and their enocunter with Māori individuals in the early 19th century.

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Ballantyne, Tony (2014): Entanglements of Empire. Missionaries, Māori, and the Question of the Body. Durham & London: Duke University Press.

Middleton, Angela (2014): Pewhairangi. Bay of Islands Missions and Maori 1814 to 1845. Dunedin: Otago University Press.

How everything began – and how it continues

Thank you very much for visiting this research blog. Let me give you a short introduction of the function of this website. I understand and consider the content, which I share here with you, as an extended, digitized version of my academic research journal.

In April 2017, when I returned from my Erasmus exchange semester at the KU Leuven in Belgium to Trier University to finish the M.A. degree in History, I had forged a thriving fascination for maritime history related topics. With several (very vague) ideas in mind, I began to talk with several lecturers and eventually found in Ursula Lehmkuhl and Eva Bischoff two encouraging and inspiring supervisors.

One of the most helpful academic practices Eva Bischoff taught (and later also Lynette Russell reminded) me was to trace my thoughts, ideas and process in a research journal. The more I read, researched, structured, changed and wrote the chapters of my M.A. thesis, the more I realized the advantages of journaling, in particular for long-termed projects such as a dissertation project later on.

Private Picture – 20.8.2021

Such a reconstruction and historical tracing method of the own work is crucial and helpful in several ways. It avoids losing the overview, it keeps your motivation – oh yes, even the most interesting topics can (and surely will) frustrate you – and it orientates you in your own process. Research Journaling helps you also to tackle the following questions too:

  • Where do I stay?
  • Which parts have I done successfully already?
  • Which steps are in front of me?
  • Which questions and tasks are urgent right now?

At this point, there is no right or wrong, there are no perfect lines, sentences or thoughts to be deleted.

Tracing the own thoughts can guide you through the wideness of a dissertation project and can (sometimes automatically) rise new questions and thoughts, which can be then discussed and mentioned outside the own research journal.

Having said this, I look forward to come in touch with you.

Transoceanic Voyages

Throughout the 19th century, whale oil was a natural resource that was in high demand as both a lubricant and a means of illumination for the growing cities of the Atlantic World. One can even say: It fuelled the Industrial Revolution in this period. After having exhausted whale populations in the Atlantic, whaling ships from both London and New England ports ventured from the 1790s onwards into the Pacific.

Such transoceanic whaling voyages, which could last up to four years, required regular stops for provisions and supplies at ports and islands. During their stopovers, members of whaling ships came in touch with local communities, traded not only guns and goods, but also employed Indigenous peoples on various islands in the Pacific Ocean. As such, these transoceanic whaling voyages put “thousands of people from around the world on the move” (Wanhalla 2013, p. 7) and “provided mobility and travel, which facilitated a kind of freedom that was not [always] present on land” (Russell 2012, p. 97). The whaling ventures departed from Atlantic ports followed the whale migration patterns as far as the Pacific in order to fulfil “the [growing] demands of a vast network of consumers” (Shoemaker 2014, p. 4) for its oil.

My dissertation project shows on the example of the Swain and Starbuck families how Quaker whalers constituted an interaction space with Native American, African and African American individuals already in the Atlantic. Having these backgrounds in mind, I argue that these families had already formed a specific interaction space in the Atlantic, when they reached the Pacific from 1790 onwards. I aim to reconstruct these multiple socioeconomic relationships of these global interactions between whalers and Māori Iwi between 1790 and 1840.

This research blog shall give my dissertation project a (digital) audience and allow me to discuss specific topics and aspects, to introduce research details, key publications, and accompany me in the academic journey on a regular base.

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Russell, Lynette (2012): Roving Mariners. Australian aboriginal whalers and sealers in the southern oceans, 1790-1870. New York: State University of New York Press.

Shoemaker, Nancy (2014): Living with whales. Documents and oral histories of Native New England whaling history. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Wanhalla, Angela (2013): Matters of the Heart. A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University Press.