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Lectures

Our lectures cover a wide range of maritime topics. Catch a Civil War Lecture or a new lecture series about Hampton Roads History with John V. Quarstein during the day. Or attend an evening lecture led by experts and maritime authors.

Civil War Lectures and Hampton Roads History Lectures are free with Museum admission, and Evening lectures are $5 per person. All these lectures are also FREE to Mariners’ Museum Members.

RSVP for any of the lectures online to guarantee a spot, as seating can be limited.

Larry E. Tise


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, and FREE for Mariners’ Museum Members. Reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. 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.


15 FEB

Gustavus Vasa Fox

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

Saturday, February 15, 2020 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

FREE with $1 Museum admission

Gustavus Vasa Fox was appointed midshipman in 1838 and served during the Mexican War on the brig USS Washington. He resigned his commission in 1856 to go into wool manufacturing. Fox volunteered for naval service just before the Civil War erupted. Fox took command of the steamer Baltic in an effort to take supplies to the besieged Fort Sumter, but arrived too late. He was only able to return the garrison to the North after the fort’s surrender. Fox was named Assistant Secretary of the Navy on August 1, 1861, and played a major role guiding the US Navy to victory.

The lecture will be held in a classroom in the Museum. Please confirm upon check in at Visitor Services the classroom and location of the lecture.

RSVP Here


7 MAR

European Ironclad Evolution: 1855 to 1870
Technological Change in Action

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

Saturday, March 7, 2020 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

FREE with $1 Museum admission

The Battle of Sinope on November 30, 1853, ended the era of wooden ships. The Russian fleet, armed with shell guns, was able to completely destroy a Turkish fleet. Wooden walls simply could not withstand the devastating effect of explosive shells. Accordingly, during the Crimean War, the English and the French developed iron-cased floating batteries to destroy Russian fixed fortifications, but these vessels were slow and unseaworthy. Consequently, the French built the frigate La Gloire, using iron-hulled fabrication; and the British constructed two iron frigates: HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince.

The Battle of Sinope on November 30, 1853, ended the era of wooden ships. The Russian fleet, armed with shell guns, was able to completely destroy a Turkish fleet. Wooden walls simply could not withstand the devastating effect of explosive shells. Accordingly, during the Crimean War, the English and the French developed iron-cased floating batteries to destroy Russian fixed fortifications, but these vessels were slow and unseaworthy. Consequently, the French built the frigate La Gloire, using iron-hulled fabrication; and the British constructed two iron frigates: HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince.

Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services.

RSVP Here


11 APR

Flag Officer French Forrest, CSN

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

Saturday, April 11, 2020 · 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

FREE with $1 Museum admission

French Forrest became a midshipman in 1811, and fought at the Battle of Lake Erie and during the capture of the HMS Peacock during the War of 1812. He was promoted to captain in 1844. During the Mexican War, Forrest commanded the naval forces during the siege of Vera Cruz. When the American Civil War erupted, Forrest was named flag officer in the Virginia Navy and assigned to be commandant of the Gosport Navy Yard. It was Forrest who guided the conversion of the USS Merrimack into the ironclad ram CSS Virginia. Forrest was then detailed to command the Office of Orders and Details until named commander of the James River Squadron from March 24, 1863, to May 6, 1864. He then served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy until the war’s conclusion. Forrest died in 1866.

Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services.

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23 MAY

Civil War Siege of Yorktown

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

Lecture begins at 2:30 PM

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

Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services.

On April 4, 1862, Union General George Brinton McClellan began his march up the Virginia Peninsula to capture Richmond. The next day, his 121,000-strong army’s path was blocked along the Warwick River and before Yorktown by the 13,000-man Army of the Peninsula, commanded by Confederate General John Bankhead Magruder. Magruder created an illusion of greater strength causing the Union advance to be delayed for one month. This helped defeat McClellan outside the Confederate capital.

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30 MAY

Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Russell Mallory

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

Lecture begins at 2:30 PM

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

Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services.

Prior to the Civil War, Stephen Mallory was a senator from Florida and chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Naval Affairs. In February 1861, Confederate president Jefferson Davis named Mallory Secretary of the Navy for the Confederacy. He created a navy out of virtually nothing, and used new, innovative weapons such as rifled cannons, torpedoes, rams, and ironclads. Mallory was one of the most effective Confederate cabinet members.

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13 JUN

Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles

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

Lecture begins at 2:30 PM

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

Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services.

A strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the 1860 presidential campaign, Gideon Welles, later nicknamed “Father Neptune,” was named Secretary of the Navy in March 1861. He immediately prepared the US Navy for war. Welles implemented General Winfield Scott’s Anaconda Plan by blockading the South’s coastline, thereby disrupting the Confederates cotton for cannon trade. The blockade was only made possible by the naval expansion conducted by Welles, greatly helping the Union win the war.

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Evening 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 either the night of the lecture or in advance online.

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 6:00 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.

 

 

Open for dinner before evening lectures!

Full menu is available from 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Grab a meal, snack or cup of coffee before the lecture begins.  View the menu

Lecture Dates & Titles:


13 FEB

The Stowaway

A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica

Presented by journalist and author Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Thursday, February 13, 2020 • 7:00 PM

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over. American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to go along as mess boys. Newspapers across the globe covered the mission’s planning stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler, desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard. Could he get away with it?

Meet journalist and documentary filmmaker Laurie Gwen Shapiro as she takes readers on the “novelistic” (The New Yorker) and unforgettable voyage of a plucky teen who became a Roaring Twenties celebrity. This Indie Next selection, The Stowaway, is her first non-fiction book.

 

RSVP Here

Author: Laurie Gwen Shapiro


Purchase your copy of The Stowaway online or in the Museum shop!


5 MAR

Bitter Waters

America’s Forgotten Naval Mission to the Dead Sea

Presented by best-selling author David Haward Bain

Thursday, March 5, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Come hear the fascinating tale about two Virginians, Lieutenant William Francis Lynch and his friend Matthew Fontaine Maury, from best-selling author David Haward Bain in his book, Bitter Waters. In 1848, an American exploring expedition was sent to the Holy Land to solve geographical puzzles and reply to ancient superstitions with modern scientific reasoning. Lynch, in command of USS Supply, led a small land party inland from the Mediterranean shore in Palestine, hauling two metal lifeboats for the sacred River Jordan and the Dead Sea, through often hostile Arab tribal lands.

The compelling story of Lynch’s exploits, and Maury’s parallel 19th-century journey, in helping to modernize the American Navy and perfecting the US National Observatory, “details one of the most hazardous, yet by now almost forgotten, attempts to roll back the veil of mystery and legend and reveal scientific truths,” as noted in the Roanoke Times.

 

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Author: David Haward Bain


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


9 APR

Chasing the Cup

An America’s Cup Update Featuring American Magic

Presented by America’s Cup host Tucker Thompson

Thursday, April 9, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Join award-winning TV commentator, producer, and America’s Cup host Tucker Thompson for a sneak peek into the next America’s Cup, sailing’s highest prize. On a nationwide speaking tour featuring New York Yacht Club American Magic, Thompson returns to The Mariners’ Museum to share the storied history of the oldest international trophy in sports. He will give an insider’s look at the Cup’s new class of boat – , AC75 – foiling monohulls, considered the future of Cup racing.

Sailing fans will get an exclusive view of NYYC’s American Magic, leaving with an insight on what to expect in New Zealand in March 2021 when all eyes will be following the 36th America’s Cup.

Join us early before the lecture to view our Speed and Innovation in the America’s Cup gallery. The gallery will be open from 5 -7 p.m. for our lecture guests! Don’t miss this chance to see the exhibition for the first or fifth time! Always something new to marvel at in this gallery.

Sponsored in part by The Moorings® and Quantum.

 

RSVP Here

America’s Cup Host: Tucker Thompson


7 MAY

Blood Money

The Caribbean’s Crucial Role in the U.S. Civil War

Presented by award-winning author Robert N. Macomber

Thursday, May 7, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Blockade-runners, Confederate ocean raiders, Union blockade squadrons, US Navy shipwrecks causing international incidents, clandestine arming of new warships, and desperate preparations for the final naval battle of the Civil War are all part of the action as Robert N. Macomber, an award-winning author and internationally acclaimed lecturer, takes a fascinating look at the Caribbean’s role in the American Civil War. From the war’s beginning to its tumultuous end, Spanish Cuba, the British Bahamas, French Mexico, and the Danish West Indies were the scenes of fantastic profits, naval skullduggery, and political intrigue, and Macomber will tell all.

Best known for his 14 Honor Series novels, Macomber’s maritime thrillers describe the life and career of his protagonist, US naval officer Peter Wake, from the Civil War in Florida to beyond the Spanish-American War in 1898. Admired across the globe for his work on the page and the stage, Macomber illuminates significant historical events with inimitable enthusiasm.

 

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Author: Robert N. Macomber


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


24 SEP

A Furious Sky

The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes

Presented by best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin

Thursday, September, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Hurricanes have had a profound and surprising impact on American history. Now, best-selling historian and author of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates, Eric Jay Dolin returns to present a story on five hundred years of American hurricanes.

His latest book, A Furious Sky, due for release in June, spans centuries from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus’s New World voyages to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico three years ago. Dolin’s narrative is populated with unlikely heroes such as Benito Viñes, the 19th-century Jesuit priest whose methods for predicting hurricanes saved countless lives, and journalist Dan Rather, whose coverage of a 1961 hurricane would change broadcasting history.

A necessary work of environmental and cultural history, A Furious Sky will change the way we understand the greatest storms on Earth, looming on the horizon of America’s future.

 

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Historian: Eric Jay Dolin


Online book sales – Coming Soon!


Hampton Roads History

 

Join John V. Quarstein, a noted historian, author, and director emeritus of USS Monitor Center, in a new lecture series as he dives into significant events in our nation’s history and examines their direct ties to the Hampton Roads region.

These lectures will be held on select Saturdays, and will be located upstairs in the Monitor Center Classrooms.

Hampton Roads History Lectures are free with $1 Museum admission, and FREE for Mariners’ Museum Members. Reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited. 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.


8 FEB

The Apprentice School: Celebrating a Century

Presented by author William A. Fox

Saturday, February 8, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

William “Bill” Fox’s ties to Newport News Shipbuilding run deep. A respected naval architect, professional engineer, researcher, and writer, Fox was honored when the company asked him to write the centennial history of its renowned and nationally recognized Apprentice School.

Newport News Shipbuilding, founded in 1886, is the nation’s largest shipbuilder, building the world’s most complex ships – nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines for the US Navy. Its success is due in no small part to the Apprentice School, which has educated and trained more than 10,000 craftsmen and women, middle managers, and company executives over the last 100 years.

Informal apprentice training began early on. The school’s first certificate was awarded to machinist Norwood L. Jones in 1894. Today, the Apprentice School continues to train and educate hundreds of employees, with many becoming 40-year Master Shipbuilders. An industry icon, the school annually attracts more applicants than it can accept, and thousands of loyal alumni share the “Builders” spirit.

Attendees are welcome to join author and special guest speaker Bill Fox after the lecture for a book signing.

 

RSVP Here

Author: William A. Fox


Purchase your copy of The Apprentice School: Celebrating a Century online or in the Museum shop!


29 FEB

Henry E. “Eddie” Huntington

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

Saturday, February 29, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

Henry Edwards Huntington was the nephew of railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington. He worked with his uncle to create the Southern Pacific Railway, which helped to expand the port of Los Angeles. He created the Pacific Electric Railway which contained 1,300-miles of track and enabled the development of suburban communities like Huntington Beach in Southern California. When Eddie’s uncle died, he assumed leadership of the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company until his death in 1927. A major collector of art and books, his home in San Marino, California, is now the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Both Southern California and the Virginia Peninsula benefited immensely from Henry E. Huntington’s leadership and wisdom.

Attendees are welcome to join John Quarstein after the lecture for a signing of any books he has written, which can be purchased online or in the Museum’s gift shop.

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Henry E. “Eddie” Huntington


18 APR

The Jamestown Exposition and Other ‘Lost’ Attractions

Presented by Nancy E. Sheppard, special guest speaker

Saturday, April 18, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

In 1907, the grounds of Tidewater’s only World’s Fair, the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, opened its gates in Norfolk. In the months that followed, the Exposition hosted dignitaries, famous figures, and was a wondrous playground that launched the Great White Fleet from its piers.

Join author and historian, Nancy E. Sheppard, as she takes you on a tour of this grand fair, learn more about its vital role in American history, its successes and failures, and what happened to the Exposition’s legacy.

Attendees are welcome to join special guest speaker Nancy E. Sheppard after the lecture for a book signing.

RSVP Here

Author: Nancy E. Sheppard


Purchase your copy of Lost Attractions of Hampton Roads online or in the Museum shop!


27 JUN

War of 1812 and Battle of Craney Island

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

Saturday, June 27, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

When the British invaded the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812, they set their sights on Hampton Roads and made a major effort in June 1813 to capture Norfolk, Gosport Navy Yard, and the USS Constellation. The Americans prepared defense on Craney Island which protected the entrance to the Elisabeth River. The British attacked on June 22, 1813, and were repulsed with heavy losses. While defeated at Craney Island, the British then sacked Hampton, Virginia. The invaders continued to raid and blockade the Chesapeake until the end of the war; however, it was at Craney Island where the Americans first witnessed “the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air.”

Attendees are welcome to join John Quarstein after the lecture for a signing of any books he has written, which can be purchased online or in the Museum’s gift shop.

RSVP Here

Credit: USS Constellation, courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command


22 AUG

Founding of Newport News

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

Saturday, August 22, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

The place “Newport News” first appeared on a Dutch map, circa 1617. The name is believed to be based on Captain Christopher Newport’s five trips from England, beginning in 1607, to the New World, bringing settlers, supplies, and ‘news’ to Jamestown Colony. Newport News became internationally famous as from there, soldiers and citizens watched the first battle between ironclad ships. This site, where the James River flows into Hampton Roads, was recognized by railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington as ideal for industrial development. Huntington then began the creation of the city of Newport News, Virginia, which quickly became a leading port city, railroad center, and home to the largest private shipyard in the United States.

Attendees are welcome to join John Quarstein after the lecture for a signing of any books he has written, which can be purchased online or in the Museum’s gift shop.

RSVP Here


26 SEP

Airship ROMA: A Forgotten Tragedy

Presented by Nancy E. Sheppard, special guest speaker

Saturday, September 26, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

On February 21, 1922, the U.S. Army dirigible, ROMA, crashed in Norfolk. Killing 34 of the 45 brave officers, crew, and civilians on board, this was the single deadliest disaster of a U.S. hydrogen airship. Despite the bravery of the crew and the notoriety in American history, this disaster has been forgotten to history.

Join author and historian, Nancy E. Sheppard, as she takes you on ROMA’s harrowing journey to failure and get to know the men that served on board in this story filled with heroism, intrigue, love, and loss.

Attendees are welcome to join special guest speaker Nancy E. Sheppard after the lecture for a book signing.

RSVP Here

Author: Nancy E. Sheppard


Online book sale – Coming Soon!


7 Nov

The Virginia Peninsula and the Birth of Military Aviation

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

Saturday, November 7, 2020 • 2:30 – 3:30 PM

Gas and hot air balloons were first used for military purposes in America during the Civil War. The first launching of an observation balloon was made on July 31, 1861, by aeronaut John LaMountain who had travelled from New York to Fort Monroe, Virginia. LaMountain wanted to get a closer look at Confederate fortifications defending Norfolk. He turned USS Fanny into the first aircraft carrier when he lofted from the ship’s deck on August 3, 1861, rising to a height of 2,000 feet.

Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe created the US Balloon Corps and supported the Army of the Potomac during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Balloons could be seen daily during the siege of Yorktown. Not to be outdone, the Confederates fabricated their own hot air craft at Lee Hall Mansion on April 17, 1862. Although cumbersome to move and challenging to operate, these balloons were effective intelligence tools when properly used.

Just over 60 years later, the Hampton Roads region would become home base for several lighter-than-air military craft, including Lee Hall Balloon School and the Norfolk Naval Air Station. While balloons would be replaced by planes and jets, the Virginia Peninsula was the site of both the beginning and end of the balloon era.

Attendees are welcome to join John Quarstein after the lecture for a signing of any books he has written, which can also be purchased online or in the Museum’s gift shop.

RSVP Here

Image: Courtesy of the Library of Congress