Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Library & Collections

Oyster Can CollectionAbout our Collections

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum collects and preserves the nation's most comprehensive assembly of material culture relating to the Chesapeake's tidewater region. To learn more about our collections, click on the links below:
Chesapeake Bay Watercraft
Maritime Objects
Historic Structures

About our Library

The Museum's Library is located at 109B Mill Street in St. Michaels. It is primarily a research library for scholars and researchers of maritime history and related fields. Although that is its principal function, the library's doors are open to both members and non-members of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum who have a serious interest in maritime history. The library is open by appointment only. All visitors wishing assistance from the curator are advised to call ahead before planning to use the library. All visitors are required to sign in at the visitor's log.

For questions regarding research, the Library, or the Museum's collections, send your e-mail to

Personal Research Requests
Personal research requests must be made in writing to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, P.O. Box 636, St. Michaels, MD 21663. There is a $25 research fee for all personal research requests. (Museum members receive a discounted price of $20) Payment may be made by check and sent with the request to the address above or by credit card by calling 410-745-4971. Requests are processed in a first-come, first-served order. Please allow approximately four to six weeks for a response to a research request. Rush orders can be arranged for a fee.

Commercial Research Requests
Commercial clients who require image research and/or need to license images must contact the Museum to quote current rates at A commercial client is a company, person or persons that will use requested materials for any form of publication including printed pieces, CDs or DVDs, film or documentaries, online use, or in any project where Museum images or objects will be used for anything other than personal interest. Research requests that do not seek images will be charged at $25 per request for up to thirty minutes.

Ongoing Research

The Museum conducts and promotes original research, exhibitions, and public programs on the history of the Bay with a focus on the interrelationships of culture and nature. Through oral histories, photography, and documentary scholarship, the Museum has recorded and preserved endangered Chesapeake maritime and work traditions and translated this research into permanent exhibitions and programs.

Library Use and Circulation
The Research Library and Archives are open to the public free of charge. Materials do not circulate and books are not available through interlibrary loan.

  • Books
    The library's nearly 10,000 volumes relate to maritime and naval history, Maryland and Virginia state and local history, exploration and sea travel, regional maritime fiction, waterfowl hunting, marine engineering, navigation and seamanship, boat and ship design and construction, and yachting and recreational boating.
  • Periodicals
    The library maintains 117 regional and maritime periodicals including extensive runs of American Neptune, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Chesapeake Skipper, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, The Mariners' Mirror, The Rudder, Wooden Boat, and Yachting.
  • The Weather Gauge/WaterWays
    See copies of the Museum's previously published quarterly magazine, WaterWays, and it's most current magazine, The Chesapeake Log.
  • Ships' Plans
    The library's nearly 1,000 boat and ship plans detail the construction of modern pleasure craft, schooners, steamboats and other vessels on the Chesapeake. Cataloged on a custom database, they can be searched by boat type, boat name, designer, draftsman, and other defining features. The museum's catalog is not yet available on the Internet and can only be searched by Museum staff.
  • Manuscripts
    The 110 manuscript collections of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum consist of business records, personal papers, drawings and photographs which document various facets of the history of the Chesapeake Bay region and in particular the Eastern Shore. This guide provides access to the manuscript collections by subject matter, personal name, or collection number and provides short descriptions of the individual collections. More detailed descriptions and folder lists of the contents may be found in individual finding aids, which are by collection number in the manuscript collection notebook.
  • Oral History Tapes
    The Museum has 890 taped oral histories.
  • Photographs
    The library houses some 45,000 historic and contemporary photographs including works by such noted photographers as Howard I. Chapelle, Robert de Gast, Herman Hollerith, Jr., and Constance Stuart Larrabee. Copies may be made of any photos in the collection in public domain or to which the Museum owns the copyright.

Reproduction services are conducted out-of-house and usually take 14 days. There are many prints in the collection to which the Museum does not own the copyright. Indications of other copyright holders may be found on the back of the prints and in the database. For these images, it is the responsibility of the researcher to contact the appropriate institution for reproductions.

PDF Information about Reproduction Rates

PDFCBMM Manuscript Collections Listing

PDFCBMM Oral Histories List

For further information about the Library/Collections, send e-mail to or call
(410) 745-4971 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Images and texts may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663.




Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
213 N. Talbot St.
P.O. Box 636
St. Michaels, MD 21663

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