Archive of the month: The ship's log of the ISABEL/YSABEL

In the series "Archive of the Month", the German Maritime Museum (DSM) / Leibniz Institute of Maritime History regularly presents a special treasure from the archive. In November, research assistant Tobias Goebel looks into the diary of the ISABEL/YSABEL.

Captain Schneider's shipping diary of the Ysabel is a unique source from the early period of German colonial rule in the Pacific 1885-1914. The steamship, built by Blohm & Voss, was in service for the Berlin New Guinea Company and was one of the few ships to provide the all-important shipping link between individual stations such as Finschhafen, Stephansort and Friedrich-Wilhelmshafen on the northeast coast of New Guinea and the trading stations in the Bismarck Archipelago, the surrounding transportation hubs first at Cooktown in Australia and Soerbaya in the Dutch Indies, before North German Lloyd established the all-important overseas connection with the Reichspost steamship network from 1892. After that, the ships of the New Guinea Company were mainly used in the colony's island traffic.

The Ship's Diary of the Ysabell is a unique snapshot of everyday colonial life caught between economic exploitation, violence and conflict, and ordinary shipping practices. Ship's master Captain Schneider soberly describes everyday scenes from the period of German colonial occupation in New Guinea, including geographical explorations along the still little-traveled coasts, the transport of colonial goods and the transportation of people by colonial officials, but also the migration of Southeast Asian and Melanesian workers to the plantation economies, the introduction of diseases, and quarantine measures. The diary simultaneously documents resistance and revolt against German colonial rule, the brutality of so-called punitive expeditions in all their uncompromising and arbitrary ruthlessness, and at the same time ambivalent attempts to make a living in the colonial mishmash.

We are interested in rare sources of German shipping history in a colonial context. Any pertinent information would be gratefully received: Tobias Goebel,

Blick in eine Doppelseite eines historsichen Tagebuchs.

Blick in das Tagebuch des Kapitän Schneider. Credit: DSM / Archiv

Blick in ein historisches Tagebuch.

A look into the diary of Captain Schneider. Credit: DSM / Archiv

The front page of the diary. Credit: DSM / Tobioas Goebel

Doppelseite des Tagebuchs von Kapitän Schneider.

A look into Captain Schneider's diary. Credit: DSM / Tobias Goebel

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