Go to homepageUncovering the common past of the countries around the Baltic Sea in the years 1450-1800

Archival Guide

A database giving access to the records kept all around the Baltic Sea documenting the region's mutual maritime connections between 1450 and 1800


This database contains descriptions of archival materials concerning the common maritime history of the countries around the Baltic Sea roughly from 1450 to 1800. The described materials pertain to shipping and other maritime matters, merchants and enterprises, transaction costs, trade regulations and diplomacy, and some spin-off effects such as migration and monetary exchange (for a more detailed list of included subjects, see Subjects covered by the database). The database aims at covering the most relevant repositories in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

In the course of the project, 982 descriptions of materials in 127 repositories in 10 countries have been made available in the database. Its contents have also been published by Brill in an archival guide of three volumes: Baltic Connections. Archival Guide to the Maritime Relations of the Countries around the Baltic Sea (including the Netherlands) 1450-1800 (The Northern World, 36), edited by Lennart Bes, Edda Frankot and Hanno Brand (Leiden/Boston, 2007).

Each description covers one record group (archives or collection) and begins with some general information about the repository and the record group as a whole. Next, it focuses on those archival materials that concern the Baltic Sea, listing their contents, period, countries involved and languages. Finally, when applicable or relevant, information on accessibility, custodial history, record creator, visually attractive materials, copies, related materials and publications is given.

The database can be searched in two ways:

In both cases, one may also leave the keyword field empty and — under Advanced search — just select one or several of the above-mentioned options, in order to see all possible records groups to which the selected options apply. One should note that diacritic marks must be used. Searching on, for instance, "Konigsberg" will not lead to descriptions in which "Königsberg" is mentioned. If certain diacritic marks are complicated to produce, one may enter a part of a word without the character in question. For example, when looking for "Šiauliai", one may search on "iauliai".

With every possible search option, the result will be a list of record groups (with the period of relevant materials and the name, place and country of the repository). By clicking on the name of the record groups, the full descriptions will be shown. (For certain information, such as related materials and publications, one should next click on the respective "+" signs.) Within a description, one may search for specific words by using the "Ctrl" and "F" keys.

One should be aware that searching by keyword will only produce archival descriptions in which that keyword is actually mentioned. The descriptions of record groups that chiefly consist of documents referred to in general terms (such as correspondence, resolutions, reports, etc.) may therefore not be shown after a keyword search, while in fact those record groups might very well contain information relating to that keyword. One should also keep in mind that many a town around the Baltic Sea may be referred to in a number of ways: old and new versions, different names in different languages and various spellings. Thus, for example, one is advised to search on both "Reval" and "Tallinn", "Viipuri" and "Viborg", "Lübeck" and "Luebeck".