Prize papers project Akademie der Wissenschaften
zu Göttingen

The Prize Papers Lunch Talks

Log Rahmen

The London Prize Papers are a unique source and treasure trove for research. Since its discovery, the collection has already inspired numerous groundbreaking projects in various fields of study and many countries around the globe.

In this online lecture series of the Prize Papers LUNCH TALKS, we will
hear eight lectures from some of the leading experts on and pioneers of
working with the collection, exploring the High Court of Admiralty’s
prize court and its other jurisdictions, and discuss with them about
their most recent work. This lecture series aims at bringing together
renowned scholars, international early-career researchers, master’s
students as well as the interested public to discuss
with us in a relaxed setting - over lunch.

The Prize Papers LUNCH TALKS will take place between November 15, 2021, and February 14, 2022, every other Monday, at 1-2 pm (CET).

The event is open to the public, with advance registration requested.

Links to the meeting rooms via the user-friendly platform Webex will be provided after registration: Registration

Please contact lucas.haasis@uni-oldenburg.de to subscribe to the mailing list.

Programme for the Winter Semester 2021


Monday, 15th November 2021 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Cátia Antunes & Siem van Eeten (Leiden | Zuidwolde)
The Saint-Malo Prize Papers: Looking at the Future of Prize Papers in a European Context

Monday, 22nd November 2021 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Sheryllynne Haggerty (Liverpool)
'Wagstaffe has put his Mouth on me for true' : Death Disease and Decay in Jamaica 1756

Monday, 06th December 2021 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Hannah Knox Tucker (Virginia | Copenhagen)
Captains’ Mail Circuits: Examining Social and Commercial Relations in Letter Transfer

Monday, 13th December 2021 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Richard Blakemore (Reading)
Anatomy of a mutiny: The voyage of the Gilbert and an admiralty court case in 1657

Monday, 10th January 2022 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Colin Greenstreet (MarineLives | Viae Regiae)
The Uses of Early Modern Literacy - The Literacy Intensity of Work

Monday, 24th January 2022 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Bertie Mandelblatt (Providence, Rhode Island)
Food Provisions as Cargo: the evidence provided by the Prize Papers

Monday, 07th February 2022 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Francisca Hoyer (Stockholm)
From awe to ah! and huh? The Prize Papers as a complementary source for writing a global family history of the German Ostindienfahrer

Monday, 14th February 2022 01:00pm - 02:00pm CET:
Lucas Haasis (Oldenburg)
The Power of Persuasion. Becoming a Merchant in the 18th Century

Antunes Eeten Rahmen
Prof. Dr. Cátia Antunes & Dr. Siem van Eeten (Leiden University | Zuidwolde)

Monday, 15th November 2021: The Saint-Malo Prize Papers: Looking at the Future of Prize Papers in a European Context

The English/British Prize Papers collection has gathered the interest and attention of scholars in Europe and North America. However, the British Prize Papers are far from unique. They belong to a long genealogy of European sources regarding privateering throughout the continent, the British isles and Scandinavia. From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and from the North Sea to the Baltic, multiple states and local ports engaged in the practice of privateering since the Middle Ages and well into the nineteenth century. Decentralizing, thus, the perspectives provided by the British Prize Papers is imperative for a social and cultural history of maritime Europe.

In this presentation, a case of citizen-history is used as an example how societal interest for this type of sources can result in rich and welcoming cooperation with academic work. Siem van Eeten and Cátia Antunes (on behalf of her team) look at the case of French prize papers, particularly to the case of Saint-Malo, as a case study towards the decentralization and ‘perspectivation’ of the British Prize Papers. We will explain the process of discovery, work and scholarly analysis of the data pertaining to Saint-Malo, concluding with the need to initiate a worldwide network of scholars that use prize papers not only to reconstruct the maritime history of Europe, but also to construe the social history of the Early Modern world at large, in view of the global insights that most of these archives provide. We will also focus on how this process can be accelerated by connecting different academic communities to the principle of citizen-history and thus involve local communities and individuals in one’s own history.

Haggerty Rahmen
Dr. Sheryllynne Haggerty (University of Liverpool)

Monday, 22nd November 2021: 'Wagstaffe has put his Mouth on me for true': Death Disease and Decay in Jamaica 1756

Based on a cache of letters sent from Jamaica in 1756, and found amongst the Prize Papers in the TNA, this paper explores the question ‘How did people cope with and express the cultural shock of a different disease environment and high mortality?’ Whilst health in letters sent within England and within Europe was of course an prevalent concern, there were particular ideas and myths about disease in whites and people of colour in the West Indian colonies. When John Crow complained that ‘Wagstaffe has put his Mouth on me for true … he wishes I may have the Gout for 6 Mos’, he was conflating conceptions and misconceptions that gout was a prophylactic against fevers, acclimatisation, of white and ‘black’ diseases, and Obeah. Death and disease were of course prevalent everywhere in the eighteenth century, but in the mid-eighteenth century Caribbean, they were heightened and strangely experienced.


Tucker Rahmen
Dr. Hannah Knox Tucker (University of Virginia, Copenhagen Business School)

Monday, 06th December 2021: Captains’ Mail Circuits: Examining Social and Commercial Relations in Letter Transfer

During the eighteenth-century, a dual mail system emerged in the British Atlantic. One operated through the administration of imperial officials. The other operated on a more limited basis, and at a far lower cost, through the administration of mercantile sea captains. Captains transported the information contained in letters for their friends and local acquaintances in port. The letters in a captain’s mail-bag regularly numbered in the hundreds. Upon arrival in the next port of call, captains delivered the letters or arranged for their collection. While captains’ efforts burnished their reputations, which might translate into future mercantile favors or credit, captains performed postal functions for individuals in their trading communities who did not possess the mercantile wherewithal to advance captains’ careers. This paper uses three intercepted mail bags to reconstruct captains' roles in letter transfer, transatlantic information networks, and the circuits of commerce captains constructed.

Blakemore Rahmen
Dr. Richard Blakemore (University of Reading)

Monday, 13th December 2021: Anatomy of a mutiny: The voyage of the Gilbert and an admiralty court case in 1657

In 1657 the Gilbert, an English merchant ship, was returning from Barbados when they ran into trouble: first a violent storm lasting five days and damaging the ship, then disagreement between the master and mariners over whether to head for Bristol or London, followed, when they reached Bristol, by further discontent among the crew over loading and unloading cargo. Unsurprisingly that was not the end of the matter, as several mariners then sued the master in the High Court of Admiralty for the wages he refused to pay them. In this paper I will delve into this voyage and the lawsuit it provoked, considering the nature of authority at sea and examining some key aspects of the admiralty court’s civil jurisdiction and procedure, and the strategies of lawyers and litigants both in and outside the court.

Greenstreet Rahmen
Colin Greenstreet (Director of the Signs of Literacy initiative; Founder and Director of the MarineLives and Viae Regiae projects)

Monday, 10th January 2022: The Uses of Early Modern Literacy - The Literacy Intensity of Work

This talk addresses the practical uses of literacy in the period 1570 to 1670 amongst mariners and marine tradesmen and their families. It draws on a dataset of 20,000 depositions from the English Admiralty Court from this period, which have been coded according to literacy evidenced by signatures, initials and marks, together with more detailed evidence of literacy from the substance of the depositions. The talk will present novel statistically significant comparative data on literacy for detailed mariner roles together with marine trade roles, and will contextualize these data within hierarchies and within businesses. It will relate literacy levels to the specific uses to which literacy was put, and will demonstrate a conceptual framework to explain the literacy intensity of different work activities, which bundled together determine the literacy intensity of specific roles. Complementing quantitative analysis, the talk will present a series of case studies of mariner literacy at the level of ship crews, showing different literacies on different sized ships and on ships carrying different cargos and pursuing different routes and economic strategies. The talk will link literacy on ship and on shore, using a case study of ship building. It will also deal explicitly with literacy within mariner and marine trade families from a qualitative perspective.

Mandelblatt Rahmen
Dr. Bertie Mandelblatt (The JCB Library, Brown University, USA)

Monday, 24th January 2022: Food Provisions as Cargo: the evidence provided by the Prize Papers

Hoyer Rahmen
Dr. Francisca Hoyer (Stockholm)

Monday, 07th February 2022: From awe to ah! and huh? The Prize Papers as a complementary source for writing a global family history of the German Ostindienfahrer

In the early modern period thousands of Germans, mostly men but also a few women and children, travelled to the Indian Ocean World in the service of the Dutch and British East India companies. Family played a vital role for these Ostindienfahrer (East Indies travellers). Therefore, Francisca Hoyer argues for re-framing the history of the Ostindienfahrer as a global family history. Drawing on a wide range of largely untapped records from archives in Germany, England and the Netherlands, her doctoral dissertation Relations of Absence (Uppsala 2020) focusses on 180 German families from all social orders who were associated with the EIC and VOC from around 1750 to 1820.
The study shows that empire's imprint on early modern German people, families, states, and history was much stronger than previously assumed. In this Lunch Talk, Francisca discusses how she used the Prize Papers as a complementary and corrective source to reconstruct the social, connected and global family histories of the German migrants in the East Indies.

Haasis Rahmen
Lucas Haasis (Prize Papers Project, University of Oldenburg)

Monday, 14th February 2022: The Power of Persuasion. Becoming a Merchant in the 18th Century

Based on the unique discovery of a previously hidden complete mercantile letter archive in the Prize Papers collection, in his microhistorical book Lucas Haasis examines the establishment phase of the 18th century Hamburg merchant Nicolaus Gottlieb Luetkens. Luetkens travelled France between 1743-1745 in order to become a successful wholesale merchant. He succeeded in this undertaking via both shrewd business practice and proficient skills in the practice of letter writing. This pioneer study presents the crucial steps and activities of a mercantile establishment phase, the typical letter practices of early modern merchants, and the practical principles of persuasion leading to success in the 18th century.