The 'Nottingham' and the 'Mars'' (c1750), from 'Old Naval Prints,' by Charles N Robinson & Geoffrey Holme (The Studio Limited, London), 1924. HMS 'Nottingham' captured the French warship 'Mars,' which was returning to French from the unsuccessful Duc d'Anville expedition to North America, on 11 October 1746. (Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images)

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160,000 Recovered Letters Seized During Britain’s Naval Wars Are Being Digitized

The historical archive spans the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

The Prize Papers, an archive containing three centuries worth of personal letters seized during Britain’s naval wars, are being digitized. According to a story in The Guardian, the undelivered and now recovered letters taken from ships throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries span 19 languages, written by traders, sailors, and others onboard.

The Prize Papers hold clues to both intimate personal histories as well as physical evidence of Britain’s colonial evils. One recovered 1756 letter includes a register of 504 people sold into slavery in what is now Haiti.

Other letters share sailors’ accounts of the many wars Britain waged in the era, from the American Revolutionary War to the Napoleonic conflicts. The letters total 160,000, recovered from roughly 35,000 ships. A specialist working at the National Archives in Kew estimated that it will take another 11 years to properly organize the letters.

Read the full story at The Guardian