US Seamen’s Protection Certificates – from the Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society September 2018 Newsletter.

By Michael John Neill

Under a US Congressional act of 1796 (the Act For The Relief and Protection of American Seamen (1 Stat. 477) signed into law on May 28, 1796), American seamen were periodically issued certificates to hopefully prevent them from being illegally impressed by ships from other nations. These documents can appear in one of three formats:
• registers–listing certificates that were issued–not all are extant, some are held by the National Archives and others by local historical societies

• applications–proof and evidence–generally held by the National Archives, available on microfilm or digitally and usually arranged by port
• certificates–usually kept by the sailor himself

The Mystic Seaport Museum has a database of entries from the Custom Houses of Fall River, Gloucester, New Haven, New London, Newport, Marblehead, and Salem.

FamilySearch includes these databases:
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Seamen’s Proofs of Citizenship, 1791-1861
Maine, Bath, Seamen’s Proofs of Citizenship, 1833-1868
browse items in the FamilySearch catalog that match a keyword search for “seamen certificates”

Selected Ancestry.com databases:
Applications for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940
Indexes to Seamen’s Protection Certificate Applications and Proofs of Citizenship
Register of Seamen’s Protection Certificates from the Providence, Rhode Island Customs District, 1796-1870

National Archives research guide on the “Seamen’s Protection Certificates.” (PDF file)

(c) Michael John Neill, “Genealogy Tip of the Day,” http://genealogytipoftheday.blogspot.com, 23 Aug 2018