May 30, 2024
Annapolis, US 58 F

Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park: 2023 Winter Lecture Series

The Annapolis Maritime Museum holds its annual Winter Lecture Series over eight consecutive Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. from mid-January through early March. You will be challenged to question and to learn by engaging speakers on diverse topics, including maritime history, local history, science, and maritime art.

The 2023 series will be held in person at the Museum Campus (723 Second Street, Annapolis, MD 21403). Registration fee of $10 per person at the door – first come, first served. No pre-registration is available, and space is limited. Free admission for First Mate members ($150) and above.

Want to attend this year’s series for free? Become a member today!

The 2023 Winter Lecture Series is presented by JP Morgan Private Bank and Homestead Gardens.

Complete Schedule:

 January 12 | 7 pm | Growth of City Dock and the Surrounding Marketplace


Dr. Ritterbush’s talk will cover the evolution of the Annapolis Harbor, the City Dock, and the surrounding marketplace over 150 years as it went through one major change after another, shifting from a working waterfront to a community of pleasure boats. He will also discuss how these changes were intimately connected to the broader history of the Chesapeake Bay.

For years, the marketplace at the foot of the City Dock was the city’s commercial heart. At its core the Market House was a beehive of activity as customers from throughout the city frequented meat markets, seafood processors, vegetable stands, and other vendors. Ritterbush will discuss his experience working there in the 1950s and how the Market House has long served the city.

Presenter: Dr. Stephen Ritterbush | Author

 January 19 | 7 pm | Stronger Than Steel: Civil War Voices of Eastern Shore Women

Mothers, daughters, sweethearts and wives on Virginia’s Eastern Shore had a remarkable Civil War adventure vastly different from their mainland sisters.  The Chesapeake Bay was a major player in their story and defined their experience of war.  From the doyenne of Onancock Harbor to an enslaved child living on the waterfront, leadership. loss, and complicated loyalties pepper their extant narratives and anchor historian Kellee Blake’s lecture.

Shore women fearlessly and cleverly ran the blockade, submitted to retaliation for John Beall’s raids and stealthily supported others. They were imprisoned for refusing the oath of allegiance and uniquely defied the infamous General Benjamin Butler who found them “abettors of treason.”   The presence of thousands of Federal soldiers allowed them new professional opportunities—and encouraged some to the oldest. Teenagers like Maggie LeCato too quickly matured as childhood friends fell in faraway fields and freshly minted widows found themselves doing “tasks they had never known.” Freedom was presented and grasped in myriad ways, even while some women were socially banished for their husbands’ decisions.  These women from “across the Bay” proved themselves intrepid and “stronger than steel.”

Presenter: Kellee Blake | Author

 January 26 | 7 pm | Tradition and Innovation: Chesapeake bay Sailing Log Canoes 


Chesapeake Bay sailing log canoes have their origins as oystermen’s boats but have also been raced competitively since the eve of the American Civil War and after more than a century and a half, the competition is as stiff as ever. Over the years, the spread of sail has grown and with them, the crews, delicately balanced over the side to keep the canoes upright. This illustrated lecture will show how these boats remain rooted in tradition despite decades of innovation to increase their speed and performance.

Presenter: Pete Lesher | Chief Curator, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum 

February 2 | 7 pm | Annapolis 1942


The first full year of World War II brings a rush of productivity to the previously sleepy Annapolis waterfront. As air raid drills, war bond sales, and an expanded Naval Academy define the day-to-day, Dr. Robert Goddard and his small team are quietly posted at the North Severn Experiment Station. They are directed to bolt a rocket engine on a massive seaplane and attempt to fly it. The need is urgent. Within weeks of the start of the project, a young naval aviator flies the hybrid plane, taking off, landing, and, eventually, crashing on the Severn River.

President Franklin Roosevelt insists that Army and Navy continue their iconic football rivalry despite the war. The game is played at Annapolis, under most unique circumstances, on the shores of the Severn River. Meanwhile, the Annapolis Yacht Yard hires hundreds of workers in Eastport, sets up Detroit-inspired production lines, and begins mass-producing wooden warships. The rush of productivity occurs alongside the ruins of the Schooner AMERICA which had been brought to the Yacht Yard for a refit that was permanently delayed by the start of the war. Annapolis sailor, historian, and author David Gendell has conducted extensive research into this period, including interviews with those on the scene. His presentation includes a variety of first-hand accounts, unique images, original maps.

Presenter: David Gendell | Author & Sailor 

 February 9 | 7 pm | Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay: The Oyster Wars


It has been over 150 years since the establishment of Maryland’s “Oyster Navy,” a forerunner of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police. It was a necessary establishment for dealing with a lucrative, competitive, and sometimes deadly industry.

In the early-19th century, Maryland and Virginia began passing a series of laws to regulate and limit oyster catching. Anyone who violated these oyster laws became known in the press and the public as “oyster pirates.” Many dared to thwart the government’s attempts, like the women of the Dancing Molly, the crew of the Palo Alto, and the notorious Cannon Family led by patriarch H.P. “Pirate Chief” Cannon.

The Oyster Wars took a final deadly turn in April 1959 with the murder of Berkeley Muse, a well-respected community leader in Colonial Beach, Virginia (located on the border of Southern Maryland).

Presenter: Dr. Jamie L.H. Goodall | Historian & Author 

February 16 | 7 pm | Cartoonist at Sea: Two Years Sailing the World Through Photographs and Cartoons


For over twenty years, Jim Toomey has been bringing the sea into the homes of millions of newspaper readers through his comic strip Sherman’s Lagoon. Jim will discuss what inspired him to draw a comic strip set under the sea, and with a live-drawing demonstration, he’ll demonstrate how he creates his comic strip.

In the second part of his talk, Jim will discuss his experiences living on a sailboat for two years with his wife, Valerie, their two kids and the family dog, and how he managed to continue publishing a daily comic strip about the ocean while living on the ocean.

Presenter: Jim Toomey | Writer & Cartoonist 

February 23 | 7 pm | Deadly Gamble: The Wreck of the Levin J. Marvel


The 128’ schooner Levin J. Marvel foundered in Herring Bay in southern Anne Arundel County on August 12, 1955. The three-masted ship was a carrier converted to a passenger cruiser. The captain was returning to Annapolis from an Eastern Shore cruise with 23 passengers and four crew aboard when he encountered the wind field of Hurricane Connie. With no auxiliary power and canvas aloft, the captain decided to run before the wind to anchor off Fairhaven.

The old ship was in poor condition, to begin with, and the wind and waves of the storm proved fatal to it. There was no lifeboat, so 27 people fought for their lives after being swept from the vessel about a mile offshore. They struggled for several hours, and finally, the first survivor raised the alarm in North Beach. The community set into motion a dramatic and daring rescue response. In the end, over half were killed in the wreck.

The incident was shocking. An inexperienced captain took a decrepit ship with unwitting passengers into a hurricane. Manslaughter charges against the captain were soon filed. Coast Guard and Capitol Hill speedily drafted legislation that regulates small passenger vessels to this day.

This presentation features dramatic slides outlining the story, the heroism and the aftermath of the tragedy.

Presenter: Kathy Bergren Smith | Author & Photo-Journalist

MARCH 2 | 7 pm | Sea Turtles and Their Hunters in the Caribbean: Lessons on Sustainability from the Cayman Islands to the Chesapeake Bay

A century ago, sea turtles were once an extraordinarily desirable commodity for food and decoration worldwide. In this lecture, participants will learn why the Caribbean turtle fishery ended and how efforts to save turtles reveal important lessons about sustainability for other waterscapes, including the Chesapeake Bay.

Presenter: Dr. Sharika D. Crawford | Professor of History, U.S. Naval Academy

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