Ships and shipping

Find technical information, pictures, logs and histories of passenger and cargo ships.

Finding pictures

There is no single comprehensive index of ships' pictures. However, there are a number of extensive indexes and collections, both online and in print, that are well worth checking.

You should bear in mind that unless a ship in operation before 1875 'had a very lengthy life (which was unusual), it is most unlikely that any photograph exists [...] Sketches, pen and ink drawings - even an occasional oil painting - do come to light, particularly of popular or fast ships' (source). The more modern the ship is, the more likely it is that an image will be available.

If you find a result in one of the picture indexes, remember that several ships may have had the same name. You should try to confirm that you've found an illustration of the correct ship, by cross-referencing with the information that you have found in other ship identification sources.

Online

Keyword search using the name of the ship followed by the word ship in the following online catalogues:

State Library of Victoria catalogue 

  • select the Pictures from the drop down menu next to the search box to limit your search to pictures.

Trove

  • search digitised images from libraries and archives across Australia.

Picture Victoria

  • provides a single portal for access to pictorial and photographic collections held in Victoria's public libraries

Shipspotting.com

  • the world's largest ship photo community. Its website contains more than 700,000 images submitted by its members.

Passenger and emigrant ships to Australia and New Zealand 

Illustrated newspapers

Illustrated Newspapers may also contain images of ships.  Some illustrated newspapers have been digitised and can be searched online.

Also refer to the Ships' pictures indexes in print box below. 

Ships' picture indexes in print

Ships' pictures index, 1491-1991

  • on microfiche, compiled by Nick Vine Hall, 1995.

Maritime illustration indexes compiled by Vaughan Evans

Master index to ships pictures in the Mitchell Library

State Library Victoria

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As of June 15 2020 the Library is open with reduced spaces and services.

Our Ask A Librarian  reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.