Howard I Chapelle (1901-1975). 8888.0001

About the Library and Collections Center

The Howard I. Chapelle Library is a special collections library named for the renowned naval architect and CBMM benefactor. It houses books, periodicals, photographs, media, manuscripts, ships plans and other materials focusing on the history, environment, and culture of the Chesapeake Bay region, and the maritime history of the Atlantic Coast.

Reading Room in the Norman and Ellen Plummer Center for Museum Collections, 2022.

Renovated and expanded in 2022 as part of the Norman & Ellen Plummer Center for Museum Collections, the Library boasts an expanded reading room for researchers and fulfills CBMM’s commitment to preserving and providing access to these unique resources.

The Library is located at 109B Mill Street in St. Michaels, Md., and is open by appointment only and free of charge. Click here to fill out a Research Request form and/or to request an appointment.

Prepare for your visit and explore more than 80,000 items in CBMM’s collections through our online collections portal.

Library Collections

A wide variety of unique and rare volumes and primary source materials are available at CBMM’s library during your research appointment. Materials are non-circulating. On site in the reading room, users can also access information about CBMM’s artifact collection, listen to oral histories and view media. Access to objects in storage can be arranged, under special circumstances, in advance.


Books include nearly 10,000 volumes related to maritime and naval history, Maryland and Virginia local and regional history, exploration and sea travel, regional maritime fiction, waterfowling history and collecting, marine engineering, navigation and seamanship, boat and ship design and construction, and yachting and recreational boating. About 50% of our library collection is cataloged online with a goal of 100% of the collection being listed online by 2025.



Periodicals encompass more than 100 regional and maritime publications, including extensive runs of The American Neptune, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Decoy Magazine, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Chesapeake Skipper, The Mariners’ Mirror, Motorboating, The Rudder, WoodenBoat, and Yachting.


CBMM publications include original research and feature articles from CBMM’s magazines The Weather Gauge, WaterWays, and the current publication, The Chesapeake Log.


Chesapeake Log Fall 2020 cover


More than 4,000 boat, sail and ship plans detail the construction of steamboats, schooners, modern pleasure craft, and other Chesapeake Bay vessels, including designs and documentation by Howard I. Chapelle, John Earle, Thomas Gillmer, C. Lowndes Johnson, Josef Liener, Owens Yacht Company, John Trumpy & Sons, and Ernest Tucker (Dickerson Boatyard). The plans can be searched in the collections portal by boat type, boat name, designer, draftsman, and other defining features. Most of these plans are not yet digitized, but are generally described in detail.



Crabbing bateau, Wingate Md., c. 1942. Drawn by Howard I Chapelle. 1976.0042 


CBMM houses more than 150 manuscript collections, including a variety of boatbuilding and maritime shipping records, advertisements, drawings, yacht club and racing class documents, ships’ record books, historical and scientific research materials and boat manufacturer and marine engine literature. These unique collections document the many facets of the fishing and maritime industries, and community life in the Chesapeake Bay region. Manuscript collections can be searched through the online collections portal by subject, personal name, or other keywords; complete finding aids are attached to the search results.



MS 79 Owens Yacht Company Collection, 8888.0079 


Recorded oral histories from the 1970s to the present are available as transcripts and audio files on site. Narrators include boatbuilders, watermen/waterwomen, packing house workers, waterfowl gunners/guides, folk artists, and people from underrepresented groups, as well as topics like steamboating, yachting, tugboats, boat design, recreation on the Bay, religion, foodways, and more. CBMM actively collects oral histories as a Regional Folklife Center under the Maryland Traditions Program of the Maryland State Arts Council.









From left to right:
Linda and Charles Hutson, 2002. Photo by Shelly Drummond. CBMM.0000.0338
Joyce Fitchett, 1999. Photo by Kelly Feltault. CBMM.0000.0135 
Sam Turner, 2000. Photo by William C. Kepner. CBMM.0000.0148 



More than 60,000 historic and contemporary photographic images comprise one of CBMM’s richest collections, including works by such noted photographers as Bob Grieser, John C. Whitehead, Robert de Gast, and Constance Stuart Larrabee, as well as historic Chesapeake Bay photographs by Thomas Sewell, Herman Hollerith, Jr., and Robert Burgess. Digitization of CBMM’s photographic collections is ongoing and may be scanned upon request and for a fee if the image is in the public domain or CBMM owns the copyright.



From left to right:
Group of Black women and children aboard bugeye Thomas Blades 1910. 1051.0014 
Ice skating in St. Michael’s Harbor, c. 1900. Photo by Thomas H. Sewell. 0695.0007 



Sailmaker Downes Curtis lithograph by Ruth Starr Rose, 1935. 1965.0051.0001

Photograph and Material Reproduction Requests: Commercial and Personal

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

Except as defined as “fair use” under the Copyright disclosure below, commercial and individual users must formally request CBMM materials for any other uses including publication, printed pieces, films or documentaries, online use, or any other mode of public communication or reproduction. Fees for digitization services and rights may apply. For assistance with image research and/or to request permission to use an image, contact CBMM via the Research Request form.