Its origins are at the Nautical School in Barcelona, when a small museum and a specialized library were founded in 1929. In October 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the institution was formally created as Museu Marítim de Catalunya, hosted at the Drassanes Reials (a medieval and early modern Royal Shipyard). In 1941, under Francoism, was renamed as Museo Marítimo de Barcelona. Since 1929 the institution has collected all kind of artefacts and documents linked with the Spanish maritime history, focusing on Catalan maritime tradition, and focusing also on civil marine; naval history is secondary in the collections.
This institution preserves a rich collection of documents of different kinds. Nowadays the sources are divided in two different blocks although depending of the same Department: Colecciones (Collections, an extensive sample of private documents that shows details of the life of seafarers, ship owners, ships and so on, collected from different origins) and Fons Historics (Historical Archive, that gathers archives of shipping companies, private people and institutions like Barcelona Port Authority.
The serie COLLECTIONS contains a multiple collections of documents gathered along years, for instance: certificates, full curriculum of masters and mates, logbooks, accounts, bills of lading, nautical charts, etc., and some rare and interesting books called “Libro de cuenta y razón”, which contains agreements and details of the payment to the crew. Collections are formed by around 3346 registers in 120 standard boxes and 18 special size boxes. The oldest document is from 13th century, but most of the collection represents18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The serie HISTORICAL ARCHIVES preserves archives of shipping companies (Linea de Vapores Tintoré, Compañía Trasatlántica Española), ship repairing companies (Talleres Nuevo Vulcano, Proname), institutions (Barcelona Port Authority, Estibarna) and private people. As it is frequent, archives are preserved partially. At present the historial archive contains around 6839 boxes, or 839 linear meters of folders. Among the archives preserved at the Museu Marítim de Barcelona we can find different materials useful for SeaLit purposes.