Wikipedia:GLAM/National Maritime Museum

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All Wikipedians are invited to get involved in a collaboration with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (in London) to help improve our histories of Royal Navy warships. This project has been set up by Wikimedia UK but it is now an entirely on-wiki project and everyone is welcome to join in!

The NMM have released under an open licence a large quantity of data they have gathered through their internal research.[1] They would like us to use this data to update Wikipedia articles on the relevant ships, cross-referencing and combining it with other data where appropriate - that is to say, doing everything we would normally do with a Wikipedia article. Once that's done they will use the information in Wikipedia as the outcome of their "Warship Histories" project.

This collaboration has the potential to help us start or improve several thousand articles and is the first project of its scale and scope. Please do get involved!

What use can we make of this information?[edit]

The data includes the name, type and launch date of (almost) every British warship from the 16th century to 1950. For many ships there is also data on the yard which built a ship, and details of the service history and captains of the ship concerned. For some ships further technical details (for instance, construction materials or dimensions) are available.

This information can add substantially to our coverage of British warships. A sandbox exercise using the data on ships called "Dragon" yielded basic information three ships which were entirely absent from en.wikipedia, a substantial expansion of one ship's article, and minor (but useful) contributions towards 5 more.

Some examples:

There were 13 ships called "Dragon", while the estimate of the total number of RN ships through history is some is 13,000. Extrapolating, we might expect integrating this data in its entirety to give us basic data on 3,000 new ships while improving 6,000 articles, 1,000 of which would expand substantially.

We are not going to see any articles promoted to FA status just by the incorporation of the NMM's Warship Histories information but it is still a very exciting source of information.

How can I help?[edit]

In short: take some of the information that is online here and use it to update articles on Royal Navy warships, either by starting new articles or updating existing ones. The best place to start is probably by looking at List of ship names of the Royal Navy.

Don't forget to reference the material you've added; there are two ways of doing this:-

  1. Please add the {{WarshipHist}} template to the bottom of the article (also, if you know how to improve the template, please do make suggestions). This also adds the article to the hidden Category:Wikipedia articles incorporating text from the National Maritime Museum.
  2. Also, you can reference the NMM's data inline. Suggested format:

<ref name="NMM-WH-365719">{{cite web|url=|title=NMM, vessel ID 365719|work=Warship Histories, vol i|publisher=[[National Maritime Museum]]|accessdate=30 July 2011}}</ref>

All Wikipedians are invited to take part. We are expecting a bit more documentation from the NMM but almost all the information released is self-explanatory. If not then an editor familiar with naval history in the relevant period might be able to help.

When you've finished editing an article, please update the list ships which are done.

Other things to do/ think about[edit]

  1. There is an open bot request here: Wikipedia:Bot_requests/Archive_43#Matching_index_to_articles_bot_for_GLAM_outreach - if you can think of a way to do this (or part of it) automatically/semi-automatically, that would be great.
  2. We also need better way of systematizing this work - e.g. a very long list of ships where people can tick them off when all the data is imported. If we get the CSV file of all the ships, we could then generate a list of all the names, building years and unique IDs and tick them off one by one.
  3. I've asked at Template talk:Infobox ship begin/doc for a Designer parameter - as many of these records have info on designers.
  4. Do we set up a taskforce of either the Ships or Milhist Wikiprojects (or both) tasked with incorporating this information? Or a separate project? Or how would it work?
  5. The NMM also has this data available in CSV format - if we can show how that would be useful to work with they will very likely let us have it.
  6. What templates/categories etc do we use to tag articles which this data is relevant to?
  7. And finally it would be nice to have some barnstars and other gestures of recognition!

Warship article tips[edit]

A few tips to help:

  • The NMM's name for a given ship is not necessarily the same as the name we would use. However the NMM data does virtually always have the year the ship was built or launched, which is the key bit of information to work out which ship is which.
  • Terminology for warships changed a very great deal during the history of the Royal Navy. E.g. a "frigate" in 1650 is very different to a frigate in 1790, which in turn is completely different to a frigate in 1870, and a frigate in 1940 is completely different to any of them.
  • Battles are often referred to by date. E.g. a record for Dragon (1647) says "4 June 1666 action". This means the Four Days Battle.
  • Where possible, cross-check against other sources you happen to have access to. The NMM's Warship Histories dataset is a good source but it is in no way canonical or complete.


The NMM has uploaded a number of historic photos to Flickr Commons. These photos are marked "no known copyright restrictions", which accords with the copyright statement on the NMM website. Where this appears to be the case, these photos can be transferred to Wikimedia Commons and used in appropriate Wikipedia articles. An example is here.

This is another way of using the NMM's material productively and you're encouraged to check some of the photos, move them to Commons and incorporate them in appropriate articles! (For the avoidance of doubt, the NMM put those photos on Flickr Commons entirely independently of our collaboration - so we can't take credit for it but we can make use of it...)

There are also a useful number of Royal Navy warship photos donated as part of Wikimedia Australia's partnership with the State Library of Queensland. Have a look here:


If you are interested in taking part in this project as it develops, please sign up here....

  1. The Land (talk) 19:39, 25 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 20:02, 25 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  3. NtheP (talk) 22:30, 25 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Thurgate (talk) 22:49, 25 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Nick-D (talk) 22:52, 25 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Parsecboy (talk) 14:48, 26 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  7. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 20:37, 26 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Sadads (talk) 01:54, 28 February 2011 (UTC) - I also have some contacts in the field that might be useful in helping[reply]
  9. --Toddy1 (talk) 11:07, 1 March 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Corneredmouse (talk) 13:01, 1 March 2011 (UTC) - National Maritime Museum is a ten minute train ride. I could, time and work permitting, collect and catalogue information.[reply]
  11. PKM (talk) 18:55, 20 March 2011 (UTC) In California; interested in image placement, especially 16th & 17th century items, and use and categorization of images in broader contexts (e.g. clothing history).[reply]
  12. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 16:27, 30 July 2011 (UTC) Happy to help as time allows; especially by sharing experience from Wikipedia:GLAM/ARKive.[reply]
  13. The Cavalry (Message me) 17:16, 1 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Acad Ronin: I will start drawing on the database to look for material to add to the articles I have already worked on. That said, is there any way to relabel or rename the database files to show the range of names covered? Acad Ronin (talk) 16:01, 7 August 2011 (UTC)[reply]
  15. LameCat (talk) 19:15, 17 December 2012 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Originally, the page on their website stated that the material was released under CC-BY-NC - this is an error, they actually released it under CC-BY-SA - it's now up to date.