Why Newport News? Why 1930? Building a Museum and Park

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Today, Newport News is over 119 square miles and has a population of over 179,000 people, making it the fifth most populous city in Virginia. That is certainly nothing to sniff at, but, in 1930, Newport News did not extend southeast from Skiffes Creek. It was a concentrated area – only 4 square miles – centered around Newport News Point. The rest of the area that is now Newport News was various villages in Warwick County. Personally, I care most about Morrison (the area where the Museum and Park are), but Hilton, Stanely, Denbigh, ya know all those neighborhoods that still exist, were there, too   Read more

Shipwreck Survivors

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SS Norman Prince

It is no surprise that many ships were torpedoed during WWII and that many soldiers passed away as the ships went down. Today, however, I came across a few photographs of groups of men who managed to survive. Thankfully, the notes on the back of the prints are detailed and told their stories:

These dapper seaman were on the English ship SS Norman Prince which was torpedoed on May 28, 1942 off St. Lucia. They were rescued by the French ship SS Angouleme, but kept as prisoners in Martinique for over four months. They were finally released in an exchange of prisoners and came aboard this ship, the SS Goethals. Uboats.net adds that all but one survivor drifted on the lifeboat for 26 hours, 40 miles before they were able to get the attention of the SS Angouleme.   Read more

A Look Inside Camp Patrick Henry

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According to Major W. R. Wheeler in A Road to Victory, Camp Patrick Henry (CPH) was formally activated on December 2, 1942 as a staging area for troops heading overseas and returning home. Between this time and January 31, 1946, an estimated 1,412,107 people passed through the camp. CPH was divided into regimental areas, many with their own mess halls. There was also a post office, hospital, chapel, and theaters. But what did it actually look like?

We have come across many photos of buildings within the camp. Here are five that give good insight into the types of buildings one could find there. Their locations in CPH are noted on the map above using corresponding numbers.   Read more

Way Back Wednesdays

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Library Interior January 15, 1935

Instead of Throw Back Thursdays, here at The Mariners’ Museum we have decided to do Way Back Wednesdays (we have too many Thursday events to do the former).  I posted several photographs last month that showcased our objects and park, so most of my photos this month (all but one) will show you what the interior of our great institution used to look like.

These first two images show what our library used to look like.  The one on the left shows the general library space in January 15, 1935 with tables for researchers in the center among the books.  The setup is a bit different now as visitors to the library can no longer do research among the general collection, but in the research room outside of the collection.  Our library is also no longer located on our campus, but about a mile away on the Christopher Newport University Campus, which helps it to be a great resource for researchers and students.  The second image is from 1953 and shows the card catalog room (with ladies that have so obviously been staged, hah!).  Our library is a fantastic resource as it holds the largest maritime history collection in the Western Hemisphere.  Click HERE to check out more about the library.   Read more

"Death to Bourbonism!": The Wedge

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The Library has in its collections a very unique and rare newspaper: The Wedge.  This newspaper is not only an interesting piece of local history, but it also is an artifact from a little-known, but highly-important time in Virginia history.

The Wedge is generally understood to be the first newspaper published inNewport News,VA.  It was also the local organ for the short-lived Readjuster Party, a state-wide organization made up of disaffected Democrats, Republicans and African-Americans that coalesced in opposition to the “Bourbon” Democrats during the late 1870s and early 1880s.   Read more