'From sailors’ chests to sailors’ homes: Finnish seamen and domesticity in the early 20th century', Laika Nevalainen, European University Institute

Lucy Dale's picture
April 24, 2018
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Maritime History / Studies, European History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Social History / Studies

FREE talk in central London

All welcome

17:15-18:30, 24 April 2018

Wolfson Room I, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London, WC1 7HU

The life of a merchant seaman was filled with hours of difficult and dangerous labour but what did sailors do besides work and how did they spend their free time? Historian Laika Nevalainen will focus on the lives of Finnish sailors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exploring their everyday routines, their living conditions, what they ate and what they kept in their sea chests. 

The seaman’s chest was particularly important to domestic life aboard ship since, in the words of a former sailor, ‘if one had not had one’s seaman’s chest one would have been quite homeless. On it one sat, on it one ate and in it one had all of one’s possessions.’

This talk will also examine sailors’ homes ashore. These institutions, which provided domestic comfort and Finnish food, were founded to prevent sailors getting ‘morally shipwrecked’ and remind them of their responsibilities to their families and their homeland. Nevalainen’s research also provides many important parallels with other Western merchant sailors of the same period.

For a full list of seminars in this series:



Contact Info: 

Lucy Dale (Royal Museums Greenwich)


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