Professional, ‘armchair’ historians invited to maritime conference

BEAUFORT, N.C. — A group dedicated to the state’s maritime history is readying for its annual conference and invites members of the general public who share a similar interest to join them.

The North Carolina Maritime History Council will meet Nov. 7 to 9 at the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center in Kinston for a series of talks related to this year’s theme, “Inland Waterways.” Registration for the full conference, which is open to the public, is $125 ($75 for full-time students or teachers in grades kindergarten through 12). Single-day registration fees are $20 for the welcome reception on Nov. 7; $45 for the Nov. 8 presentations; $45 for the Nov. 8 reception and keynote dinner; and $25 for the Nov. 9 presentations.

The council’s secretary, Frances Hayden, said she is looking forward to this year’s lineup.

“There’s quite a few topics that sound really good,” Hayden said. “I’m anxious to hear Mackenzie Mirre.”

Mirre, who is pursuing her master’s in maritime studies, is the first presenter on the final day of the conference. Her topic is “Runaways, Shad Fishers and Steamboat Passengers: Capturing African American Presence on the Tar Riverscape.”

“The topic is so interesting,” said Hayden, who also singled out Andrew Duppstadt, the education and interpretation supervisor for the North Carolina Division of State Historic Sites, based on her interest in the Civil War. Duppstadt, who also teaches history at UNC-Pembroke, Coastal Carolina Community College and Craven Community College, will discuss “Lt. Frances Lyell Hoge, CSN: ‘An Able and True Officer.’”

“Andrew is a good presenter,” Christine Brin, the council’s treasurer, said. “That’s the thing — a good portion of our presenters are professors who are used to giving good presentations.”

Writers, professors, students, archaeologists and historians are among those scheduled to speak; and other presentations include John Lawson’s Delicious Country; A Futile Endeavor: Examining a Derelict Antebellum River Lock in Greenville, N.C.; Bad Luck All Around: The North Carolina Built Ironclads; An Archaeological Examination of Washington’s Nineteenth Century Waterfront; New Discoveries at Brunswick Town; and more.

Brin said the speakers are well-known and popular within the maritime community, such as Ben Still, who along with Richard Stephenson will give the keynote: The Importance of the Shipbuilding Industry to North Carolina.

“Still’s a local niche legend,” she said. “I’ll fan-girl over him, but people outside the area may not be familiar with him.

“This gives him a place to be appreciated.”

Brin said the council has been hosting the conference since 1994, and it draws professional and “armchair” historians from throughout the southeast.

“It’s so we can come together and support each other,” Brin said, noting the conference fees also include membership in the Maritime History Council.

“We’re not a large organization by any means,” she said, explaining that is by partially by design. While the subject matter is a niche one that in itself limits the potential pool of members, the organization size allows for a real connection and networking among its members.

“We like to keep it small, keep it intimate,” Brin said. “You don’t get lost in that crowd. You get to meet all these people.”

For more information on the council or the conference, including the full agenda, visit, email or call 252-504-7763.

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