African American Watermen Project

Architectural Survey
Building Documentation and Scanning
Community Engagement
Historic Resource Documentation
National Register Nominations
Oral Histories and Community History Days

African American Watermen Project


Chesapeake Bay : Multiple Sites


National Trust for Historic Preservation

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Project Goals

The African American Watermen Project served as the Virginia component of a larger, three-state project, the Chesapeake Bay Initiative.

CPG served as the lead consultants in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to achieve the larger goal of documenting sites of significance to African American history in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Project Design

CPG’s survey involved documenting resources in multiple locations across the state including the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, Peninsula, Southside, and Eastern Shore.

In addition to survey, CPG developed a Multiple Property Document (MPD) and National Register Nomination, completed archival and digital research, recorded and transcribed oral histories, and conducted other significant public engagement.

Challenges & Accomplishments

The project launched during the COVID-19 pandemic which made conducting public engagement and collecting oral histories challenging.

Many previously unrecognized sites associated with African American Watermen in the Virginia Chesapeake Bay were identified and documented, and a historic context was developed that recorded the contributions of African American watermen and waterwomen from the 18th century to the present. The final MPD aims to promote the future identification and nomination of resources to the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places.