New historical book explores North Carolina’s maritime industry

RALEIGH — North Carolina has long sustained strong maritime industries of major consequence, including shipbuilding and boatbuilding.

A new book from the N.C. Office of Archives and History examines that maritime and shipbuilding heritage.

“Shipbuilding in North Carolina, 1688–1918,” by William N. Still Jr. and Richard A. Stephenson, documents a comprehensive and authoritative history of maritime industries that dotted the Tar Heel coast.

Their book examines the history of boatbuilding and shipbuilding in North Carolina through the early 20th century, a span of 230 years. The authors document for the first time a bygone era when maritime industries thrived along the coast.

Coastal North Carolinians have a proven maritime expertise. The work of shipbuilding craftsmen and entrepreneurs contributed to the colony’s and subsequently the state’s economy from the era of exploration through the age of naval stores to World War I. The book includes an inventory of 3,300 ships and 270 shipwrights.

The book is available for purchase from UNC Press at

Mr. Still is professor emeritus in the Thomas Hariot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University. He was associated with the Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology Program at ECU from its inception until his retirement and is author of “Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads” (1985) and “Crisis at Sea: The United States Navy in European Waters in World War I” (2006).

Mr. Stephenson is professor emeritus in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at ECU. He was associated with the Maritime History and Underwater Archaeology Program at ECU from its inception until his retirement and is author of numerous archaeology and maritime history monographs and articles in professional journals.

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

 NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship.

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