Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Winter Speaker Series to focus on tomato canning

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., will begin its Winter Speaker Series on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and continue on select dates through Thursday, March 1. All sessions take place in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium, and advance registration is required.

The theme of the upcoming speaker series is “Picked, Packed and Shipped: Tomato Canning in the Chesapeake.” Long before refrigeration made crabs the juggernaut of the summer canning season, the tomato was the warm-weather king of Chesapeake packing house — and the counterpart to the mighty wintertime oyster harvest. In this four-part series, participants will explore the fascinating ways that canning transformed the Chesapeake’s industry, culture, community, and agricultural landscape of the 19th and 20th centuries through lectures, objects, films, and community conversations.

At 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, CBMM Chief Curator Pete Lesher and Collections Manager Jen Dolde will discuss the Eastern Shore’s produce packing past with a panel of community members in “How Produce Shaped a Community.” Selected images and objects from CBMM’s extensive collections will be used to generate conversation, and audience participation is encouraged.

A screening of Tilghman Watermen’s Museum’s film, “Til-Made: Remembering the Tilghman Packing Company,” will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15. The film provides a history of the Tilghman Packing Co. on Tilghman Island, as told by island residents and those who worked there. A facilitated community conversation by Tilghman residents who remember the packing company’s heyday will follow.

Canning in Chesapeake Communities at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, invites guests to join former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture and author of the book “Saving Our Harvest: The Story of the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Canning and Freezing Industry,” Ed Kee, for a discussion of the Chesapeake’s once-mighty canning industry and the ways it impacted life in Chesapeake communities, both large and small, over its 100-year peak.

The series’ final offering, “Turning the Camera on Child Labor: The Photography and Legacy of Lewis Hine,” will be presented at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 1. In this session, UMBC chief curator emeritus Tom Beck will discuss the remarkable photography of children’s labor law reformer Lewis Hine. As a photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, Hine documented and exposed the unethical working conditions experienced by children in early 20th century Maryland canneries. Beck will explore UMBC’s collections of Hine’s groundbreaking photography and the importance and legacy of his work for social justice.

The cost per session is $6 for CBMM members, $8 for non-members, or register for all sessions and save: $20 for members, $28 for non-members. To register, and for more information, visit

Image by Lewis Wickes Hine, 1909. Collection of the Library of Congress