Celebrating 10 years of History Bites

A woman and man sitting back-to-back
Wisteria Perry and Eric Jeanneret, “Battle of the Ironclad Chefs/History Bites” March 2012 The Mariners’ Museum and Park

It is amazing how a tiny conversation can turn into something big and delicious! Two words…History Bites!

What’s History Bites, you ask? It is a fabulous food event that has served as the finishing touch of the Museum’s annual Commemoration of the Battle of Hampton Roads for the past 10 years! Local restaurants and caterers show off their culinary talents by recreating historical dishes from the time period. The evening is topped off with awards like Best Entree, Best Dessert, People’s Choice, and of course, the crowning honor of the night, the Ironclad Chef Award for Historical Accuracy.   Read more

Spirits on the USS Monitor: A Daily Dose of Grog

Commander Catesby ap Roger Jones, ca. 1863-64, Courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 48723.

Drinking and fighting always seem to have some type of connection. On the early morning of  March 9, 1862, the CSS Virginia prepared to destroy the remaining Union fleet in Hampton Roads. Its success the day before gave the crew confidence that they would secure a complete victory over the wooden federal fleet. Catesby ap Roger Jones, the Confederate ironclad’s acting commander, thought to give the men even greater encouragement. “We began the day with two jiggers of whiskey,” an elated William Cline wrote, “and a hearty breakfast.” [1] The crew was now truly ready for combat!

Grog was first introduced in the 18th century, eventually a mix of rum, gin, or whiskey with water, sugar, and lime or lemon. It was a boost to sailors fighting the doldrums suffered on long sea voyages or to give a surge of instant courage when preparing for battle. Enlisted men could only drink when their grog ration was issued or when they were on liberty. Officers, however, drank without care and were only punished when their intoxication got in the way of performing their duties. USS Monitor’s paymaster William Keeler fought to do away with the grog ration stating that drinking was the “curse of the navy.”[2] It was true: many Civil War sailors and soldiers were all too often plagued by whiskey, whiskey, and more whiskey.   Read more

The fruitful earth: A brief tale of the talented Janet Taylor

Behaim’s globe (replica)
Behaim’s globe (replica), ca 1908. This globe, originally produced in 1492, during the Age of Discovery, is one of the first models of earth as a round planet. The map printed on the globe, however, is inaccurate with only three, misshapen continents (Photo credit: The Mariners’ Museum).

In mid-February, we shared the amazing story of American mathematician Dr. Galdys B. West and her important contributions to modern navigation. Dr. West created the geoid, an accurate mathematical model of the earth that laid the foundation for the technology of the Global Positioning System (GPS). 

Today we are continuing this mini-series featuring women who shaped the world. Let’s go back in time and learn more about the mathematician and “Jane of all trades” named Janet Taylor.     Read more

He was, above all, a Mariner

Yankee Tar anchored in Bora Bora, French Polynesia
The Mariners’ Museum and Park Collection

Hal Holbrook (1925—2021)

Most everyone knows Hal Holbrook as a quintessential actor of television, movies, and the stage. I guess the roles that stuck out for me were his portrayal of Deep Throat in the 1976 film All The President’s Men, as Commander Rochefort in Midway that same year; as Lt. Briggs in the 1973 film Magnum Force; and, of course his portrayal of Jeremiah Denton in the 1979 film, When Hell Was in Session. Hal’s stage and screen career was as incredible as it was diverse.

And for all of that, one of Hal’s greatest passions was sailing.    Read more

Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey, 1887-1940, photographed August 5, 1924. (from Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection)

Some time ago, I wrote a post about a black entrepreneur in the Baltimore area whose name was Capt. George Brown. As a young man he experienced the degradations of the Jim Crow system while riding the rails, vowing that one he would create a first-class transportation experience for black people. And he did it! He also built a memorable pair of amusement parks where black citizens of Baltimore could go and be safe and enjoy themselves. Today, I want to write about Marcus Garvey, a black man whose dreams for  his people were much larger, who was much more complex, and who was far more controversial than Captain Brown.

Marcus Garvey, like George Brown, believed in the power of ships and transportation to change the lives of black people all over the world. He founded the company, the Black Star Line, as an embodiment of that dream to link the 400,000,000 people of color around the globe with the continent of Africa. But his story did not end up quite so well as George Brown’s.   Read more