Institute of Museum and Library Services Funds N.C. African American Heritage Commission Project to Research Shipwreck of 18th Century Slave Trading Vessel


 The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission has received a $100,386 federal grant (MH-249108-OMS-21) from the national Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for its follow-up project "A Tale of Two Ships Part Deux: Developing a Research & Interpretation Plan for Revealing Hidden Histories of One Ship with Two Identities.” The project will launch targeted archival research to learn more about the still-hidden histories of the North Carolina shipwreck (31CR314) of an early 18th century slave trading vessel.

In March 1717, the slave ship, La Concorde (LaC), departed Nantes, France for its voyage to Africa and the New World. In November 1717, near the end of the Middle Passage, it was captured by the notorious pirate Blackbeard off the shores of Martinique and renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR), becoming the flagship of Blackbeard’s pirate flotilla. When the ship was taken, some of the crew and captive Africans went with the pirates (some voluntarily, some forced), and others returned to Martinique. French crewmembers that eventually found their way back to Nantes included the captain and his second in command. From their depositions, which are still in the archives in France, researchers learned this tale of one ship that had two names and two very different identities – a slave ship and a pirate ship. LaC/QAR eventually shipwrecked off the coast of North Carolina where its remains are still laying under the Atlantic Ocean.

The research completed by the NC African American Heritage Commission under the initial 2018 IMLS grant confirmed the identity of the shipwreck as LaC that originated from Nantes, France. The 2008 research was largely based on studying artifacts already collected from the shipwreck site, and the translation of Ducoin’s (2001) transcripts from French archives regarding LaC. The transcripts revealed new insight into the daily life of this slave-trading-vessel-turned-pirate-ship. These discoveries yielded new, critical questions. What happened to the nearly 300 captive Africans that were eventually transported to Martinique? What happened to the Afro-descended crewmen who were forced to join Blackbeard’s crew? And where were captive Africans aboard the ship from?

The 2021 grant award will allow the African American Heritage Commission to return to France – as well as new travel to Martinique and Guadaloupe – to conduct additional archival research and explore how Afro-descended people aboard LaC moved about the Atlantic World. Additionally, this project will investigate, through site visits and intellectual exchanges with scholars and public humanities professionals, how spaces and places deeply connected to the history of the Transatlantic Slave Trade share, commemorate, and interpret this history.

“We so look forward to continuing the Tale of Two Ships project,” said Angela Thorpe, director of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission, which is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and

Cultural Resources. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue exploring this little-known history and sharing our findings. This project will address numerous gaps in the La Concord, Queen Anne’s Revenge story.”

About the N.C. African American Commission
Created in 2008, the African American Heritage Commission is a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The commission works across the department to preserve, protect and promote the state’s African American history, art and culture for all people. Its endeavors include the identification of heritage sites, compiling resources for educators, extending the work of national programs such as the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Underground Railroad, and independent initiatives including Oasis Spaces: Green Book Project.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

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