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Grant number: BH-50647-14

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Maritime Museum Association of San Diego (San Diego, CA 92101-3309)
Raymond Ashley (Project Director: March 2014 to present)

Empires of the Wind: American Pacific Maritime Beginnings

Two one-week workshops for seventy-two teachers on the role of the Pacific in American history.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego (MMSD) offers a workshop on historical developments in the Pacific, and on the role of science, technology, geography, oceanography, and climate across civilizations and cultures. Locating San Diego as the first city of European settlement on the West Coast, the program underscores the importance of this region in early American history. Lectures and discussion explore 1) European voyages and contacts between Europeans and native peoples, and consider how period maps revealed early understandings of geography, diverse cultures, and the science of navigation; 2) evidence of prehistoric Native American seafaring; 3) the founding of California as an outpost of New Spain; and 4) Spanish mission life and how Americans entered the Pacific. The last day of the workshop takes place aboard the state's official tall ship, Californian, with demonstrations of early explorers' arts and tools for navigation, cartography, and music. Led by project director Raymond Ashley (MMSD), visiting lecturers include Steve Colston (history, San Diego State University), Jim Cassidy (U.S. Navy), David Ringrose (history, University of California, San Diego), Iris Engstrand (University of San Diego), and Kevin Sheehan and Bruce Linder (both MMSD), among others. Key landmark sites to be studied include the Cabrillo National Monument, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and the San Diego Mission de Alcala. In addition to the museum's collection of historic ships, primary sources also include maps, archaeological evidence collected from recent excavations in the California Channel Islands, and materials recovered from an actual galleon, as well as European and native accounts of exploration and first encounters. A local Kumeyaay teacher engages participants in a hands-on cultural activity centered on the question, Who are the Kumeyaay? Additional topics include the dynamic and wealthy economies of sixteenth-century China and India, as well as the links between American silver and the financing of Europe's battles beyond 1650. Participants also examine America's ascendance to Pacific power through maritime geo-strategic influences and how a national policy that set the Pacific as its highest strategic priority exerted far more influence than is commonly recognized.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Landmarks of American History

Education Programs

Total amounts:
$172,610 (approved)
$171,410 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2014 – 12/31/2015