African Americans and the Newport News Port of Embarkation in World War I

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Corporal Benjamin Harrison Splowne, Museum Collection

He stands there, tall and proud, gazing into the camera, a backdrop of the United States Capitol behind him.  Dressed in a high-collared wool uniform with a corporal’s rank insignia sewn on his right sleeve, Benjamin Harrison Splowne had reason to beam.  Drafted in June 1917 into the National Army, he was promoted to the rank of corporal within a few months of his induction.

Exactly where and when this photograph was taken is subject to speculation.  It is conceivable that it was taken in Newport News, as Benjamin Harrison Splowne was stationed at Camp Hill, Virginia for a brief while in 1917.  In fact, he was promoted to corporal on November 16, 1917 at Camp Hill, shortly before shipping overseas.  The Museum is fortunate to have his promotion certificate, along with his studio portrait, for they help document the often-overlooked role of African American soldiers during World War I, both in Newport News as well as abroad.   Read more

Treasures from the Archives

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Abraham Ortelius, Septentrionalivm regionvm descrip., c. 1609-1612, MSM1– 0125

The Museum’s archives are full of wonderful and seldom seen objects that span over 500 years of maritime history. As the archivist, I derive infinite pleasure from discovering such items and making them accessible to the public.  Some of my favorite discoveries have been in the collection of maps and atlases, including the map illustrated above.

This map of Northwest Europe was originally printed in the 1570 edition of Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum orbis terrarium (Theatre of the World), which is widely considered as the first modern atlas.  Between 1570 and 1612, thirty-one editions of the Theatrum orbis terrarium were printed.  The Library owns a 1592 edition of the atlas, in addition to a number of separate maps by Ortelius that once graced the many editions of Theatrum orbis terrarium.   Read more

Calling former library and archives interns and volunteers

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If you previously volunteered or interned at The Mariners’ Museum Library and have gone on to work in the museum or library field, we would love to hear from you.  Please send a brief email to Bill Barker  (bbarker@blog.marinersmuseum.org) with an update on your career.  Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.