Black Maritime History
Join us in celebrating the stories of Black men and women whose contributions, courage, and sacrifices have shaped maritime history.
Around the Museum
Black history is weaved throughout the galleries of The Mariners’ Museum, even extending to the building itself. Here are some of our favorite highlights.
Exterior of The Mariners’ Museum
Location: Business Entrance
The exterior of the original Mariners’ Museum building (today’s Business Entrance) was built by 21 African-American men from the surrounding community, and a few later became employees of the Museum.
Hidden Histories Project
The Museum set out to uncover the names of unidentified Black Americans who built The Mariners’ Museum and Park.
8 Known African American Crew Members
Location: USS Monitor Center
Eight known African-Americans served on board the USS Monitor ironclad. Three of these men went down when the ship sank on Dec. 31, 1862 — their names are indicated by the asterisk (*).
- Siah Carter
- William H. Jeffery
- Edward Cann
- Daniel Moore*
- Robert Cook*
- William H. Nichols
- Robert Howard*
- William Scott
Location: The Casemate of the CSS Virginia
Once believed to have been enslaved, Mary Louvestre was a free African American woman who managed to get a copy of the plans for CSS Virginia. She took the plans to Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy, in Washington DC.
Mary Louvestre, a Union spy?
Egyptian Seagoing Vessel
Location: August F. Crabtree Gallery
The model represents a vessel of the fleet which, during the reign of the dynamic Queen Hatsheput made a trading voyage to the land of Punt.
Queen Hatshepsut was the 5th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty and considered among the most successful.
Boats from Around the World
Location: International Small Craft Center
Country: the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located on Africa’s west coast and was a major trading center for centuries.
Egypt is one of Africa’s oldest civilizations. The Nile River, the longest in the world, was and is still today, an important resource throughout the continent.
Ngalawa, Double Outrigger Canoe
This canoe is a type of craft used along the east coast of Africa, particularly in Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Kenya. They are used by the Swahili people for fishing, transporting goods, or people.
Lamu, Kenyan Dhow
This dhow is named after Lamu Island, which is one of the oldest and most continuously inhabited places in Kenya. Dhows have been used on the eastern coast of Africa for centuries.
In Our Collection
The Mariners’ Collection is home to an array of beautiful images and artwork related to Black Maritime History.