Dutch Prize Papers

Instructions Dutch Prize Papers

Instructions v1.1.


The Dutch Prize Papers Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is developed by the Huygens Institute and the KNAW Humanities Cluster Department of Digital Infrastructure. The development of the VRE was made possible by a grant of the Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen Foundation (www.samenwerkendemaritiemefondsen.nl).


This VRE is aimed at allowing the user to browse through a selection from the Prize Papers collection. However, in the current release the functionalities of the VRE (its search options and overall scope) are still limited, and search results are suboptimal. Future releases, which will be announced on this page, will improve the VRE’s functionalities and search options. Annotation and transcription tools are not available in the current release.

Search options

Search and filter options are listed in the panel on the left side of the screen; results will be displayed on the right side of the screen. Filters can be used to further refine one’s search results. The button ‘clear all filters’ will remove all filters (and therefore results).
Text search The free text search is based on the automatic transcription of the text on each scan. The transcription is based on HTR (Handwritten Text Recogntion). Currently, a text search on individual terms delivers the best results, e.g. ‘Anna’ or ‘Sugar’. The use of a tilde (~) will increase the number of search results, as it allows for some spelling variation in the chosen search term (it adds one edit-distance to the term). For instance, when one enters ‘Amsterdam~’, the VRE will return both results including ‘Amsterdam’ and ‘Amfterdame’. Note: Because the transcription of in particular handwritten text is still in development (see disclaimer above), in many cases search results will contain errors (wrong transcription will lead to false search results) or will be incomplete. New releases of the VRE will improve the search results.

Filters options

Based on metadata provided by The National Archives ( www.nationalarchives.gov.uk ), the VRE allows the user to filter the search results by series, ship name(s), ship master(s), and capture date.


This filter offers the possibility to filter for images from the selected HCA 30/32 inventory numbers. This filter can be opened by clicking on prize papers. Through clicking on a specific inventory number, search results will be limited to that specific inventory number. Please consult The National Archives Catalogue for renumbered records.

Ship name

This filter allows the user to filter for a specific ship (if a place of origin is known it is mentioned behind the ship name in brackets; ship names in more than one language are listed next to each other). After pressing the button ‘Clear all filters’, this filter can be used in two ways. 1) by entering a ship name in the search box (here too a tilde (‘~’) can be used to increase the number of results, see text search above). 2) By ticking the box of a specific ship (multiple boxes may be ticked). Please press ‘view more’ to see more ship names.

Ship master

This filter allows one to filter on the name of the master of a ship. If known his place of origin is mentioned behind the captain’s name (between brackets). After pressing the button ‘Clear all filters’, this filter functions in a similar way as the ship name filter, one can search for a specific name or tick a box in front of name.

Capture date

By sliding the two slider bullets it is possible to filter for a period in which the documents in question were captured, or even a specific year (the latter can be achieved by sliding the two bullets close to each other).


This option allows one to filter for a specific language. As it is only based on printed texts such as newspapers, it will not yield good results for handwritten texts.

Scan detail page

When clicking on an image on the results page you will enter the scan detail page. On this as well as a transcription of the text. The transcription is based on HTR technology (automatic transcription of handwritten text). Improved HTR transcription layers will be implemented in future releases. Using the arrow left and right of the image it is possible to scroll through the inventory number of which the selected scan is a part of. Below the displayed image thumbnails of adjacent images are shown. Above the scan various annotation and comment ‘tools’ are shown. These tools are not yet functional.
Dutch Prize Papers
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