Our lectures cover a wide range of maritime topics. Catch a Maritime Connections staff lecture or Civil War Lecture by John Quarstein during the day. Experts and maritime authors lead lectures in the evenings.

Maritime Connections staff lectures and Civil War Lectures are free with Museum admission. Evening lectures are $5 and free for members. RSVP for any of the lectures online to guarantee a spot.

Steven Callahan at The Mariners' Museum

Steven Callahan, American author and survivor of 76 days adrift at sea, speaking in 2014 at The Mariners’ Museum

2018 Spring Lecture Dates & Titles


Lectures cover a wide range of maritime topics and are presented by nationally and internationally recognized authors, filmmakers, historians, scientists and other experts in their fields.

Author lectures are followed by a book signing. Books are available in the Museum Shop and may be purchased the night of the lecture.

Tickets are required for all evening lectures

  • Adult and child tickets are $5 each.
  • Mariners’ Museum Member tickets are free.

Lectures begin at 7:00 PM  •  Doors open at 6:15 PM

Unless otherwise noted, lectures are held in the Main Lobby of The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Become a Mariners’ Member
Attend select lectures for FREE!

To learn more about Member benefits like free admission to select lecture series programs, please visit MarinersMuseum.org/Membership.

Special thanks to our lecture sponsors:

Virginia Health Services logo
WHRO Public Media logo

Notice About Reservations:

Members will receive free admission to our Lecture Series Programs with reservation. Reservations will be accepted online until 4:00 PM on the day of the lecture as well as available at the door. When placing a reservation over the telephone, leaving a voicemail does not guarantee that your reservation has been accepted. Reserved seating will be held until 6:55 PM (or 5 minutes before the program begins), afterwards seats will be available to all guests.

22 FEB

American Dunkirk

Presented by Tricia Wachtendorf and James Kendra

Thursday, February 22, 2017 • 7:00 PM

American Dunkirk

When the terrorist attacks struck New York City on September 11, 2001, boat operators and waterfront workers quickly realized they had the skills, the equipment, and the opportunity to take definite, immediate action in responding to the most significant destructive event in the United States in decades. For many of them, they were “doing what needed to be done.”

American Dunkirk shows how people, many of whom were volunteers, mobilized rescue efforts in various improvised and spontaneous ways. James Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf explore how people pull together to respond to and recover from catastrophic events.

American Dunkirk book cover

“American Dunkirk: The Waterborne Evacuation of Manhattan on 9/11” book cover

Photo of James Kendra

James Kendra

Photo of Tricia Wachtendorf

Tricia Wachtendorf

James Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf are professors at the University of Delaware and directors of the Disaster Research Center.

22 MAR

Still Water Bending

Presented by Wendy Mitman Clarke

Thursday, March 22, 2017 • 7:00 PM

Still Water Bending

Still Water Bending is the story of a third-generation Chesapeake waterman, his estranged daughter, and their unusual path to reconciliation in a drafty old shed, building a traditional deadrise skiff. It’s also a story of place—a deeply felt song of the Bay’s natural beauty and cultural history.

Still Water Bending book cover

“Still Water Bending” book cover

Photo of Wendy Mitman Clarke

Author Wendy Mitman Clarke

Wendy Mitman Clarke, the former executive editor of Chesapeake Bay Magazine and author of Window on the Chesapeake: The Bay, Its People and Places, has woven years of living on and writing about the Bay, its traditions, and natural history and beauty into this story of Jines Arley Evans and his daughter Lily Rae. Though fiction, the rendering of Bay culture and environment that runs through the novel is rooted in her career as a journalist, observing, interviewing, and curating the details of Chesapeake life.

12 APR

The Prince Who Would Be King

Presented by Sarah Fraser

Thursday, April 12, 2017 • 7:00 PM

The Prince Who Would Be King

Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales, was a prince of global vision. Though he never saw the sea until he was 10 years old, when he was given a ship in 1603, it was love at first sight. Hailed as “Protector of Virginia,” Henry invested in the 1607 expedition of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. The Jamestown voyage established the first permanent British settlement in America. Henry planned to sail to the New World to help establish and grow the fledgling colony. Renowned Scottish author and historian Sarah Fraser thinks history would have been very different had he lived past the age of 18.

The Prince Who Would Be King book cover

“The Prince Who Would Be King” book cover

Photo of Sarah Fraser

Author Sarah Fraser

Sarah Fraser has lived in the Highlands of Scotland for over thirty years, having married into Clan Fraser not once, but twice. She has a PhD in bawdy Gaelic verse from the University of Edinburgh, and is also the author of The Last Highlander: Scotland’s Most Notorious Clan Chief, Rebel, and Double Agent, which won the 2012 Saltire First Book of the Year Prize, and was a New York Times ebook bestseller.

19 APR

In the Kingdom of Ice

Presented by Hampton Sides

Thursday, April 19, 2017 • 7:00 PM

In the Kingdom of Ice

In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of “Arctic Fever.” It hoped to reach the North Pole, and carried with it the hopes of the young United States.

Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached and the Jeannette sank to the bottom. The men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice—a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival. With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.

In the Kingdom of Ice book cover

“In the Kingdom of Ice” book cover

Photo of Hampton Sides

Author Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides is best-known for his gripping non-fiction adventure stories set in war or depicting epic expeditions of discovery and exploration. He is the author of the bestselling histories Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, Hellhound On His Trail, and, most recently, In the Kingdom of Ice. He lives in New Mexico with his wife, Anne, and their three sons.

24 MAY

African Americans and the War for Democracy

Presented by Adriane Lentz-Smith

Thursday, May 24, 2017 • 7:00 PM

African Americans and the War for Democracy

For many of the 386,000 African Americans who served in the military during World War I, the Great War was their civil rights movement. Indeed, the generation before Martin Luther King forged their civil rights ideology by appropriating President Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric in service to their own visions of self-determination and by protesting his administration’s expansionist vision of Jim Crow. This talk will focus on the experience of African American civilians and soldiers in the war years, with a particular focus on how World War I shaped the black freedom struggle.

Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I book cover

“Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I” book cover

Photo of Adriane Lentz-Smith

Author and Professor Adriane Lentz-Smith

Adriane Lentz-Smith is Associate Professor of History at Duke University where she holds secondary appointments in African & African-American Studies and Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies. An historian of the black freedom struggle in the United States, she is the author of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I (Harvard, 2009) which won the Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She is currently working on a new book project on African Americans and state violence in the post-civil-rights years.

Civil War Lectures


Please join John Quarstein, renowned historian and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, as he teaches about the intriguing maritime history of the Civil War. This long-running series explores the ships, personalities, technologies, and battles that would shape our nation for the next 150 years.

Civil War lectures are free with Museum admission, but reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. Reserve seats online –see each lecture below.

Become a Mariners’ Member
Attend select lectures for FREE!

To learn more about Member benefits like free admission to select lecture series programs, please visit MarinersMuseum.org/Membership.

18 NOV

CSS Manassas

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, November 18, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Built on the hull of the tug boat Enoch Train, the Manassas was designed as a one-gun ironclad ram. While conceived to serve as a privateer, she was commandeered by the Confederate Navy. The Manassas attacked the Union blockade at Head of the Passes on October 12, 1861, but she fought the USS Mississippi and was sunk on October 24, 1862, near Fort Jackson, Louisiana.



CSS Nashville

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, December 9, 2017 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The Confederate Navy introduced commerce to the Civil War when the CSS Nashville sank the merchant marine Harvey Birch. Commerce raiders decimated the American merchant marine and whaling ships; however, the Nashville might have been the first; yet, not the most successful. It was trapped near Savannah, Georgia, and was destroyed by the monitor USS Montauck, captained by Commander John. L. Worden.


13 JAN

Confederate Pirates: The Capture of the St. Nicholas

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, January 13, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

The daring capture of the steamer St. Nicholas on June 2, 1861, in the Potomac River was the Union’s first charge of Confederate piracy during the Civil War. Captain George Hollins, CSN, and adventurer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thomas Zarona captured the ship using an elaborate ruse. Their plot focused around a flirtatious French “lady” known as Madame La Force. She had brought three heavy trunks on board and was traveling from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to begin a business there. At the appointed hour, the trunks were emptied of their contents (pistols and cutlasses) by Col. Zarona’s followers. Madame La Force disrobed, revealing none other than the colonel himself, in full Zouave uniform. Zarona and Hollins took over the steamer, later capturing three Northern merchantmen. The pair was proclaimed vicious pirates in the North and treated like heroes throughout the South.


10 FEB

Passaic-class Monitors

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, February 10, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Even though the USS Monitor was proclaimed the “little ship that saved the Union,” this experimental ironclad had numerous design flaws. The Monitor’s inventor, John Ericsson, set about to improve the design which resulted in the Passaic-class of monitor ships. Ericsson added XV-inch Dahlgren guns to compliment the XI-inch shell guns in each turret, improved the protecting armor, and enhanced the hull design, making this class of monitors more seaworthy. In all, 10 were constructed, and they all served well during the war. Two were sunk off Charleston, South Carolina: the USS Weehawken, overtaken by a swell that flooded its hatches, and the USS Patapsco, hit by a torpedo. The Passaic-class proved to be the ironclad backbone of the Union’s blockading squadrons during 1863.


10 MAR

The Age of Iron

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, March 10, 2018 · 9:30 AM

Following the American Civil War a number of improvements were made to ironclad vessels to better project the imperialistic interests of world nations. Rams were built as part of the hull designs and improved turrets allowed the use of heavier guns, all of which enhanced combat capabilities during engagements such as the 20 July 1866 Battle of Lissa and the 8 October 1879 Battle of Angamos. Although these were decisive engagements, new technologies replaced ironclad ships as the Age of Steel emerged. Steel rifled long-range guns, stronger shot-stopping steel armor, and new propulsion systems marked significant changes in this new era of naval warfare.


14 APR

DuPont’s Ironclad Attack on Charleston

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, April 14, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

On April 7, 1863, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont sent a squadron of nine ironclads to destroy Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. This enabled his command to reach the inner harbor. The strike force included the casemated ironclad New Ironsides, the experimental tower ironclad Keokuk, and seven Passaic-class monitors. Defending Charleston were numerous forts, obstructions, torpedoes, and two ironclads: CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State, all under the command of General P. G. T. Beauregard. The Union hoped for a grand victory, but it was not to be. Their ironclads were pounded by Confederate forts. All seven Passaic-class monitors were heavily damaged, and the Keokuk was sunk. The defeat was so resounding that DuPont would be relieved of his command in the aftermath of this battle.


12 MAY

Confederate Piracy on the High Seas: The Clarence/Tacony/Archer Affair

Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center

Saturday, May 12, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

When the CSS Florida, commanded by Lieutenant John Newland Maffitt, captured the Baltimore brig Clarence, Lieutenant Charles W. ‘Savez’ Read took command of the brig to operate separately from the Florida as a commerce raider. Read then seized several merchant ships including the bark Tacony. The Clarence was burned as Read transferred his flag to the Tacony, taking 15 ships, the last being the fishing schooner Archer, off the coast of Maine. Read took command of the Archer, burning the Tacony. He then conceived a plan to capture the revenue cutter Caleb Cushing. The Archer sailed into Portland, Maine’s harbor and docked. On June 27, 1863, Read and his men captured the cutter. At dawn, they sailed out of Portland. Unfortunately for the Confederates, a falling wind enabled the Federals to capture the two ships, but not until Read set them afire. Read’s daring leadership made him the scourge of Northern shipping.

RSVP Coming Soon

Maritime Connections


This is a new lecture series presented by The Mariners’ Museum and Park staff. Go behind the scenes of the Museum and explore our collection while learning about the work we do. This series will explore the ways our staff cares for our collection, designs our exhibits, brings objects to life, and helps us all to connect with the world’s waters. These lectures will be held on the first Saturday of each month.

Maritime Connections lectures are free with Museum admission, but reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. Reserve seats online –see each lecture below.

Become a Mariners’ Member
Attend select lectures for FREE!

To learn more about Member benefits like free admission to select lecture series programs, please visit MarinersMuseum.org/Membership.


The Technology of the America’s Cup

Presented by Jeanne Willoz-Egnor, Director of Collections

Saturday, February 3, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM



The Comeback: How Oracle Team USA Won the 2013 America’s Cup

Presented by Jeanne Willoz-Egnor, Director of Collections

Saturday, March 3, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM



The History of the Museum through Photographs

Presented by Brock Switzer, Digital Imaging Specialist and Photographer

Saturday, April 7, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM



The State of USS Monitor‘s Turret

Presented by Will Hoffman, Director of Conservation and Chief Conservator

Saturday, May 5, 2018 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM