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Mariners' Museum seeks to tell the stories of African Americans identified through 'Hidden Histories' campaign

All 21 men from the original archived photograph have been identified through research and the public's help.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Mariners' Museum in Newport News wants to add a chapter to its story of uncovering local African American history.

In 2021, the museum sought to identify 21 previously unidentified African American men from an archived photograph, depicting men who had helped construct the museum.

Launching the "Hidden Histories" effort during Black History Month, researcher Winston Favor was able to successfully identify all 21 men in the photo in a matter of months.

“At first the people were apprehensive, unknown number giving them a call," Favor laughed. "The second call went a lot easier, I'll say."

Because of recent grant funding from the organization Virginia Humanities, the museum is expanding that effort. 

Favor says the museum plans to record an oral history with the families of the identified workers, to create a more firsthand recount of their lives and help capture the history of Newport News.

“Recorded audios of the family members, stories about them, the community in which the museum is located," Favor said.

“Finally been acknowledged what they did for the museum. No one thinks about the origins, who worked on it, but now they’ve been credited," Lisa Boone said, the granddaughter of Albert Cary, one of the men identified from the archived photo.

The museum is also working to now identify other unidentified African American individuals from their archived photographs, including oyster farmers and soldiers.

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