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Welcome from the Executive Board

What is North Carolina's maritime history?

The maritime 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, warfare, and commerce led to legendary shipwrecks, heroic rescues, and enduring maritime mysteries. Maritime industries flourished adjacent to and within the resource rich waters of the Tar Heel State. All this combines to form an incredibly profound maritime heritage, one which only now is beginning to be understood in its broadest context.
To preserve this enduring legacy, the North Carolina Maritime History Council was founded in 1988 when a group of individuals involved in the maritime history field began meeting informally to share information and to discuss issues of mutual concern. In 1990 the North Carolina Maritime History Council was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.
Council membership is open to any individuals and institutions interested in the maritime history of our region. We encourage this membership to seek ways to pool resources, share information, and discuss issues to benefit the dissemination of our mutual maritime heritage. It is our hope that you will join with us or continue to support the Council as we encourage and learn from more diverse scholarship in our field to widen our understanding of North Carolina's maritime past. No story is too small, no voice left unheard.

Please consider joining the Council, renewing your membership, or otherwise contributing to our mission.

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Our mission is 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 to create public awareness of that heritage.


  1. 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.

  2. Serving as a principal supporter for the Queen Anne's Revenge Shipwreck Project.

  3. Publishing Tributaries, North Carolina's only maritime history journal, since 1991.

  4. Organizing and hosting the only annual conference on North Carolina maritime heritage.

  5. Creating a register of North Carolina historic vessels.

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