Welcome from the Board Chair

The maritime cultural landscape of North Carolina is truly remarkable. Throughout prehistory, native inhabitants utilized dugout canoes to maintain lines of communication, trade, and relied on the marine environment for subsistence. Ships of exploration and colonial craft of every description plied coastal, sound, and riverine waters. Vessels of piracy and warfare, legendary shipwrecks, heroic rescues, and enduring maritime mysteries combine to create an incredibly rich maritime heritage, one which only now is beginning to be understood in its broadest context.

Indeed, for more than 200 years, the economic and social development of North Carolina depended on creeks, rivers, sounds, and sea. The production of lumber and naval stores (tar, pitch, and turpentine), kept national and international shipping afloat and constituted a major economic engine for the fledgling colony and burgeoning state. It is, in fact, why we are called “Tar Heels”.

In order to preserve and promote this extraordinary legacy, The North Carolina Maritime History Council was founded in 1988 and became a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation in 1990. The mission is simple:

"to identify and encourage historical and educational projects that have as their purpose the enhancement and preservation of the state's maritime history and culture, and that create public awareness of that heritage." The Council can already claim many accomplishments including:

  • Purchasing of the Edwin Champney drawings - a collection of fifty-nine sketches of Civil War coastal North Carolina scenes. The acquisition was funded by the Frank Stick Trust and other nonprofit groups.
  • Serving as a principal supporter for the Queen Anne's Revenge shipwreck project.
  • Publishing Tributaries, North Carolina's only maritime history journal, since 1991.
  • Organizing and hosting the only annual conference on North Carolina maritime heritage.
  • Creating a register of North Carolina historic vessels.

Council membership is open to all individuals and institutions interested in North Carolina maritime history and culture. Members are encouraged to combine resources, share information, and discuss issues in fulfillment of the Council’s mission. We invite you to join us in what has proven to be a voyage of discovery.

Joseph Karl Schwarzer, II