Research Assistance

library staff providing assistanceLibrary staff provide assistance to researchers visiting the facility. Prior to your visit, we recommend you search the Library Catalog to identify items of interest and review our Special Collections.

If you are unable to visit the Library, you can review our bibliographies of recommended resouces, browse some frequently asked questions, listed below as Flotsam and Jetsam, or ask for research assistance. Before requesting assistance, please review the following guidelines.

  • Fees for services vary. Prepayment is required.
  • Requests are handled on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Staff will conduct a maximum of six hours of research per request.


What kind of information should I provide?
Whom should I contact?
How much will the research cost?
When should I expect an answer?
How can I place my order for research?

What kind of information should I provide?
As a general rule, the more information you provide, the better the final research product.


  • A detailed description of the information you are seeking
  • For vessel requests, the complete name of the vessel or name of boat model and length
  • For Chris-Craft, the hull number is required. Model and length are desired.
  • For other recreational craft, the model and length of boat are needed.

Highly Desirable

  • Year the vessel was built or years of activity
  • There are many vessels with the same name operating during a particular time period, therefore the year built is almost essential. If you do not have this information, the research will require additional time.


  • Vessel builder or designer
  • Name of shipbuilder or shipyard
  • For recreational craft, the complete company name
  • Type of propulsion
  • Identify if the vessel is powered by sail, steam, diesel, or other
  • Type of rigging, hull structure or function of vessel

For sailing vessels, rigging such as Bark, Brig, Brigantine, Schooner, Ship, Sloop, Snow, etc.
Hull structure or function of vessel such as Bugeye, Buy Boat, Canoe, Deadrise, Dory, Ferry, Hydrofoil, Liberty Ship, Skiff, Skipjack, Tanker, Tugboat, etc.

When searching for your immigrant ancestor's vessel

  • Port and date of departure
  • Port and date of arrival
  • Ship Captain's name

Note: our collection focuses primarily on vessels rather than on individuals although we have a limited number of passenger lists from the late 19th century.

Whom should I contact?
Chris-Craft for any information about Chris-Craft boats and the company archives

Vessel Plans to find out which plans are in our collections and to order a specific plan

Library to
Request information on a maritime topic, a specific vessel, etc.
Find out if we have images of a specific ship or on a specific topic
Find out if we have a specific book, magazine, manuscript or printed item
Obtain a copy of an article from a magazine or book in our collection

Licensing to request image research for commercial use or public display or for licensing agreements

Photography to obtain reproductions of images on The Mariners' Museum website or an image whose photograph number is known

Collections for information about artifacts in The Mariners' Museum

How much will the research cost?  

  • Prices vary, depending upon the service requested, the amount of information you provide, and the depth of research you are seeking.
  • For Chris-Craft research, $40 per research package. There are additional fees for copies of plans and other materials.
  • For research of Library collections, except Chris-Craft

If you would like us to search all of our collections

  • There is a prepaid non-refundable research fee of $30 for the first hour, and $15 for each additional half hour. Museum member rate is $25 for the first hour and $12.50 for each additional half hour.
  • For prepayment of search fees, mail a check or money order from a U.S. bank or supply us with a credit card number (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) and expiration date. Please provide the appropriate information on the Library Research Request Form.
  • Most research requests seeking information from all of our collections, including manuscripts and special collections, take 1 - 2 hours.
  • Tell us the maximum amount of time you would like us to spend on the research in advance.
  • The research package includes up to 25 photocopies and shipping and handling, if mailed in the U.S.
  • There is an additional $10 charge for overseas shipping.
  • If your search results in more than 25 pages of material, additional fees may be assessed.

If you are requesting only an image or plan from our collections for personal use

  • There is a $15 prepaid search fee for Library staff to locate images or plans of a specific vessel and to provide pricing and ordering information. The Museum member fee is $10 per vessel.
  • If you are searching for up to three U.S. Navy or WWII era vessels, the search fee for locating a specific image or plan will be waived.
  • If you are searching for more than one vessel, contact us at for search fees.
  • There are additional fees to order a digital or print reproduction of the image or plan.

When should I expect an answer?

  • Response times will vary depending upon the number of requests received, the complexity of your request and the number of staff available to conduct research.
  • Normal response time for a research package is 4 - 6 weeks following receipt of payment or providing credit card information.
  • Normal response time for vessel or plan image research is 1-2 weeks following receipt of payment.
  • For rush processing, response is less than 1 week. Rush research fees are $60/ hour.

How can I place my order for Library research?

  • Fax a copy of the Library Research Request Form to 757-591-7310, or
  • Submit a Research Request online, or
  • Mail a written request including a check, money order or credit card information to:
    The Mariners' Museum Library
    100 Museum Drive
    Newport News, VA 23606

Call 757-591-7782 and provide a detailed description of your information need.

To facilitate the research process, we prefer electronic or written research requests containing detailed information.