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Black Maritime History

Black Maritime History

Join us in celebrating the stories of Black men and women whose contributions, courage, and sacrifices have shaped maritime history.

Black history is weaved throughout the galleries of The Mariners’ Museum, even extending to the building itself. Here are some of our favorite highlights. 

  • Museum employees laying bricks,
  • black and white image of Mariners old entrance.

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.

photograph of crew members on the deck of USS Monitor.
Crew of the USS Monitor 1862

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

Exhibit - casemate

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?

ship model of an 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.

Location: International Small Craft Center

picture of a dugout canoe

Dugout Canoe 

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.

Chatti Raft

Chatti Raft 

Country: Egypt

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.

picture of a Ngalawa, 
Double Outrigger Canoe

Ngalawa, Double Outrigger Canoe 

Country: Tanzania

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.

side of boat - words lamu engraved on it

Lamu, Kenyan Dhow

Country: Kenya

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.

The Mariners’ Collection is home to an array of beautiful images and artwork related to Black Maritime History.

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