The Ultimate Maritime History Resource

Whether you’re a student, history buff, or simply interested in nautical topics, here’s a list of all the resources you’ll need to satisfy your desire for maritime history. There are many great links here about all types of nautical nonsense, from underwater artifacts to famous ships, museums to maritime education. We’ve collected only the most reputable sites, so you’ll know you’re reading valuable information. We hope you enjoy learning about this interesting part of human civilization that occurred over and under the sea.

Notable Maritime Museum Websites and Online Collections

  • Maritime Museum of San Diego: The San Diego Maritime Museum has both permanent and travelling collections of artifacts of nautical history. It houses a world-class collection of historic ships, including the Star of India, the world’s oldest functioning ship.
  • Columbia River Maritime Museum: Located in Oregon, this is one of the finest maritime museums on the West Coast. It was renovated in 2002 and hosts many interactive exhibits.
  • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum: This museum has the nation’s best collection of Chesapeake Bay artifacts and water craft. There are also exhibits on the history of the area, including Native American life and white settlement there.
  • Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: Lake Champlain houses an astounding amount of shipwrecks, and one of the museum’s missions is to explore them and to build replicas of the downed vessels. The museum houses these full-sized copies of historic ships.
  • National Maritime Museum: Located in the United Kingdom, the National Maritime Museum is actually made of three sites: the Maritime Galleries, the Royal Observatory, and the Queen’s House. The museum discusses not only the importance of ships and the sea, but also the place of the stars and astronomy in nautical navigation.
  • Mariner’s Museum: You can take a virtual tour of this museum and its collection and “lose yourself in 500 years of seafaring adventure.” The Virginia museum houses over 30,000 objects of nautical importance.
  • Ship of the Sea Maritime Museum: You can view this museum’s collection of ship models and maritime artifacts online. The online exhibits put ships in the context of important historical events.
  • Kodiak Maritime Museum: Here you can find artifacts of maritime history from the state of Alaska. Currently, the museum is entirely virtual, with all its exhibits online.

Nautical Archaeology

  • The Nautical Archaeology Digital Library: Hosted by Texas A&M University, this online library gathers documents pertinent to nautical archaeology. The library also gathers and catalogues artifacts and ship remains for easy access.
  • Naval History and Heritage: The Underwater Archaeology branch of the Naval History and Heritage command is responsible for finding, classifying, and preserving the Navy’s sunken ships. They also maintain a database of sunken vessels.
  • National Maritime Sanctuaries: The National Marine Sanctuaries are responsible for maritime heritage preservation inside the 13 national maritime sanctuaries. The group preserves not only shipwrecks and archaeological sites, but also the knowledge of indigenous seafaring cultures and oral histories.
  • Centre for Maritime Archaeology: The Centre for Maritime Archaeology preserves important archaeological sites off the coast of Ireland. They focus on coastal and nearshore archaeology.
  • Maritime Archaeological and Historical Society: This organization is dedicated to promoting the awareness of underwater wrecks and other submerged cultural artifacts. Its members dive in voluntary underwater expeditions around the world.
  • Institute of Nautical Archaeology: This non-profit research organization is associated with Texas A&M University. The institute hopes to increase knowledge of civilizations through nautical excavations.
  • Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology : This international group offers advice on preservation and other issues of managing underwater artifacts. There are lots of great resources about underwater archaeology on the site.
  • Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research: This site has links to databases of archaeological sites in Florida. The organization manages the state’s nautical artifacts.

Maritime Education

  • East Carolina University: Learn about this college’s program in Maritime Studies. You can also view an online exhibit of maritime studies in Bermuda and learn about the program’s conservation efforts.
  • University of West Florida: University of West Florida’s Maritime Studies program has focuses in anthropology, biology, environmental studies, government, and history. You can read about the program’s shipwreck projects and potential internships.
  • Texas A&M University: The Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M grants both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. You can read about the different facets of the program here.
  • University of North Texas: The UNT Department of Nautical Studies and Archaeology page has lots of links to great maritime resources. You can also learn about their degree-granting programs here.
  • Plymouth State University: PSU has an Institute for New Hampshire Studies which investigates the state’s nautical history. The school has studied famous shipwrecks in the area.

Resources on Famous Ships

  • Titanic: A Tragic Destiny: Here you can find all sorts of info about what is arguably the world’s most famous sunken ship. Learn about the passengers, lifeboats, and artifacts from the wreck.
  • The Titanic Historical Society: This organization runs a museum dedicated to the Titanic. You can read articles about the ship and browse passenger lists on their site.
  • Secrets of the Dead: This PBS site details the sinking of the famous Andrea Doria. There is a blow-by-blow account of what happened during the sinking.
  • Old Ironsides: The U.S.S. Constitution Museum has history about one of the oldest functioning naval vessels in the U.S., the U.S.S. Constitution. Built in 1797, “Old Ironsides” has become a national symbol of perseverance.
  • The RMS Rhone: This site has information about the RMS Rhone, a British ship that sunk in the Caribbean during a hurricane in 1867. There are drawings of the original ship and photos of the wreck.
  • The Mary Rose: One of the favorite ships of King Henry VIII, the Mary Rose sank in 1545. It was raised and its remains are housed in its own museum. 
  • Remembering the General Slocum: On this NPR radio clip, you can hear a historian discuss the disaster of the General Slocum. In 1904, the ship caught fire and sank of the coast of New York City, killing over 1,000 people on board.
  • The U.S.S. Monitor: The Monitor was the Navy’s first ironclad ship. After fighting in the Civil War, the ship wrecked and sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras.
  • The Lusitania: In 1915, this ocean liner was shot down by a German torpedo. You can read about the disaster that took over 1,200 lives on this PBS site.

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