Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation During World War I

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The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Systems, Newport News, VA, ca. 1913. The Mariners’ Museum P0001.008/01-424#PH804

The Virginia Peninsula was already engaged in wartime work when President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany on April 6, 1917. Local military bases, shipyards, air fields, ports, and people turned their faces toward the nation’s crusade to make the world safe for democracy.

Headquarters, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation

The US Army, in anticipation of America’s entry into the war, surveyed the Hampton Roads area in early 1917 to ascertain where to establish a port of embarkation. Newport News was selected over Norfolk as headquarters for the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation. Several geographical reasons influenced that decision. Norfolk was a congested port and already the center for many naval activities. Newport News offered good port facilities, a large harbor, excellent railroad connections, ship repair opportunities, and an abundance of available land.   Read more

A Snapshot of Love from our Collection, to Celebrate Engagement Season!

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Wedding photo of whaling captain C.H. Becker and Barbara E. Klock. P0001.016-01–PP2613

Ah, engagement season: that magical time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day (“Wedding Christmas” according to wedding vendors) when 40% of annual engagements occur. Couples use the holidays to officially pop the question, put a ring on it, and then begin planning their dream wedding – probably the biggest event they will ever throw.

Of course, due to Covid, weddings look a little (OK, a lot) different this year – and probably will into 2021 as well. The Mariners’ Museum and Park is part of people’s nuptials as a private event venue, and I can tell you straight up that we miss our engaged couples terribly.    Read more

The Emancipation Proclamation: What did it actually say and mean for African Americans in the 1860s?

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Abraham Lincoln. The Mariners’ Museum MS0311/-01#005

Do a Google search for important documents in US history and you get lists that include the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and of course, the Emancipation Proclamation.

Going to school in the mid to late 80s in the panhandle of Florida, it was constantly being drilled into my head that the Emancipation Proclamation, written in 1863, freed all slaves in the United States of America. Having studied the Emancipation Proclamation document for various positions that I have held over the years, I have come to understand the significance of this important document so much more.    Read more

The Hazards of Bottom Peeping

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The Yacht Haze 87-tons Built by George Steers, New York by Currier & Ives. Image from Library of Congress. Control number: 2002698872

While working on a blog post about the pilot boats of George Steers (coming next week!) I ran across a particularly funny story that occurred on board the pilot boat Haze and thought you guys would enjoy it.

Haze was a schooner built in 1853 by George Steers and William Hawthorne for William Butler Duncan, a member of the New York Yacht Club. Between 1853 and 1867 she was owned by several members of the club and was regularly entered in the club’s racing regattas. Haze was well known for her “staunchness, speed and good sea-going qualities.”   Read more

The Spanish Flu in Hampton Roads  

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King Alfonso XIII of Spain, ca. 1916. Kaulak, photographer. Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Public domain.


I had a little bird,   Read more