Two Chesapeake history websites to get lost in

I can remember, as a graduate student, how we were warned away from using the internet as a research tool. “It’s a fad!” my professors said. “The sources are questionable, take everything you see with a grain of salt.” While bad at predicting the future, they were certainly right about the latter point: while there’s plenty of information online, how do you know where to go for reputable, reliable content? Often, it’s just a matter of combing through different sites until you hit on those that are winners.

This is where I come in. Consider the loss of hours of my time combing through the farthest, most cobwebby edges of the internet in the search for reputable resources your gain! I have a few that I consistently recommend through my educational work at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and come back to use over and over again. The two I’ll share today are especially good at explaining a pretty broad overview of Bay history without it being too dry, too dense, or just plain boring, while still offering well-researched historical facts and stories.

One is the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia, who has an online exhibit, “The Chesapeake Bay, Our History and Our Future” that you can visit here:

It gives a wonderful, broad-strokes view of what happened in the Bay, from the time period of the Indians onward. I’ve used it many times myself and consider it to be one of my favorite tried-and-true sites. The historical narrative jumps around a bit, and mostly hits the big-picture Chesapeake stories (for example, it makes a huge leap from “colonial era” to “Oyster Wars”), but for the themes it explores, it’s a wonderful place to start learning.

The second is a site I’ve used for six years now (an absolute eternity for internet content!), since my days as an outreach educator at Sultana Projects. Part of the Jamestown 400th anniversary celebration, this is an exhaustively researched and innovatively compiled Pandora’s box of content relating to the early days of Chesapeake colonization called “The Chesapeake- Then and Now”.  Contrasting the accounts of John Smith, Christopher Newport, and Gabriel Archer with snippets from today’s Chesapeake residents, this site paints a picture of an unspoiled, tumultuous Bay while contrasting it with the troubled, still controversial one we know today. Be warned- you can easily lose a few hours of your life while falling down this Chesapeake history rabbit hole:

Enjoy dipping into these great websites, and definitely consider ‘bookmarking’ them for quick reference!