Online Learning

Black History Book List

In honor of Black History month, Portsmouth Public Library created a book list. From famous men and women, STEM leaders, trail blazers and activists, this comprehensive list covers some of the best fiction and non-fictional stories.

PACC Early Aviators
Charles Wesley Peters

Prior to World War II, opportunities in aviation and the dream of flight evolved separately for Blacks than it did for Whites. 

Charles “Mule” Peete and Portsmouth’s Charles Peete Little League

By all accounts, Franklin-born, Portsmouth-raised Charles Peete had everything it took to be a standout major-league ballplayer.

Granville T. Woods Activity: Can You Hear Me Now?

Granville T. Woods was born on April 23, 1856 and was sometimes referred to as “The Black Edison.” He dedicated his life’s work to developing a variety of inventions, many relating to the railroad industry. Woods’s most important invention was an apparatus that combined a telephone and a telegraph.

Garrett Morgan Art Activity: Traffic Lights

Garrett Morgan was born in Paris, Kentucky, on March 4, 1877, and was the seventh of 11 children. He invented the three position traffic signal. After witnessing an accident on a roadway, Morgan decided a device was needed to keep cars, buggies and pedestrians from colliding.

George Grant Art Activity: Golf Ball Painting

The next time you reach into your pocket or the zippered lining of your golf bag for a wooden tee, think of Dr. George F. Grant, an African American dentist from Boston. The process of teeing the ball up involved pinching moist sand to fashion a tee. 

Celebrate Black History’s Inventions

Black inventors are among history’s most revered geniuses, known for their relentless inquisition,
passionate research and their desire to push the envelope. Scientists, engineers, and inventors find the solutions to the world’s problems.

for a Dreamer

Part of tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., presented in collaboration with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and HARMONY Project.

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Explore the inspiring book that captures the spirit and struggle to find freedom through the Underground Railroad. This unique video pays tribute to an important part of African-American history.

First Baseman Buck Leonard

The “Classiest First Baseman in Organized Baseball” passed through Portsmouth twice on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bright Star Touring Theatre Presents: Jackie Robinson

The Children’s Museum of Virginia is continuing with “Black History Now” programming by bringing Bright Star Touring Theatre, a national professional touring theatre company, to you! The 45-minute play is targeted to audiences in Pre-K to 5th grade and family audiences.

Honor the Achievements of Black Artists

Black artists have provided insight, conversation starters, entertainment, and influence on our culture. Here we are highlighting a few familiar names.

Lt. Col. Howard Baugh and The Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee Airmen Lt. Col Howard L. Baugh was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron where he flew P-40 and P-51 aircraft. On January 27, 1944, he was part of a mission of 16 fighter aircraft over the Anzio beachhead when the group spotted 15 German FW190’s.


The 99th Fighter Squadron Commander Major George “Spanky” Roberts reads a telegram of Congratulations” from General John Hawkins to eight Tuskegee Airmen pilots.

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman, 1892 – 1926, was a legendary aviation pioneer of mixed African and Native-American ancestry.

Remembering Coleman’s Winter Wonderland

Take a walk down memory lane with stories about the founder and all that went into creating the displays.

Wayward Souls: United States Naval Vessels under the Rising Sun

Learn about the defensive struggles Naval vessels faced in the Pacific during the early days of the Second World War.

Ironclads! A Program for Students and Adults

Students learn about ironclad ships from the Battle of Hampton Roads.

Uniforms of the United States Army Infantryman from the Civil War to the Gulf

Take a visual journey through time to see how the average American Soldier was outfitted from the Civil War through the Gulf, with special glimpses at artifacts in our Collection not on public display.

Portsmouth’s German Village

It is a pleasant spring day in 1916 Portsmouth, Virginia. In one of the more bizarre episodes of Hampton Roads history, interned German sailors constructed a “village” complete with a church, windmill, houses, shops, fences, and gardens on a stretch of riverfront property at the Navy Yard adjacent to their hulking ships.

Remarkable Portsmouth

Learn about Portsmouth’s waterfront buildings and the country’s oldest naval hospital.

Historical Resource Lists

Get helpful resource guides to books and websites related to various topics and time periods.

Talking About Race

National Museum of African American History & Culture provides tools and guidance to inspire conversation.

Nano Days

The Children’s Museum of Virginia has partnered with Norfolk State University (NSU) staff and students to bring their expertise in Materials Science, Biology, Chemistry and more to make S.T.E.M. activities fun for our visitors.

Meet the Crew

Get a glimpse into the life of the LIghtship Crew By Diane Cripps, Curator of History, Portsmouth Museums.

Virtual Tour

“Walk” through history by taking an interactive virtual tour of the Lightship PORTSMOUTH.

March is Women’s History Month

We celebrate women’s history to honor the struggles and achievements of those that came before us, and to give examples to our future changemakers. It is important to highlight where we came from to make a better future.

Dynamic Earth

On Thursday, April 22 people all over the world will take some time to show respect to their Mother Earth. One of our traditions at the Beazley Planetarium is to show the feature Dynamic Earth. This presentation is made in cooperation with our partner Spitz Incorporated. 

First of Many:
The Aircraft Carrier USS Langley

By Ross Patterson II, Assistant Curator, Portsmouth Museums

Raise the Squalus

The Loss, Rescue, and Resurrection of a Submarine
By Ross Patterson II, Assistant Curator, Portsmouth Museums

Speed Before Safety

The Tragedy of the USS Saturn
By Ross Patterson II, Assistant Curator, Portsmouth Museums

A Balloon Oddity

The Story of the USS Wright in 1922
By Ross Patterson II, Assistant Curator, Portsmouth Museums

The Hiker Monument

The story of the Hiker statue on Crawford Parkway and North Street.
By Diane Cripps, Curator of History, Portsmouth Museums

Divine Wind and Tortured Metal

The Kamikaze Attack on USS Sangamon
By Ross Patterson II, Assistant Curator, Portsmouth Museums

“A Native of this Place”

The Richard Dale Monument, Portsmouth, Virginia
By Diane Cripps, Curator of History, Portsmouth Museums

LV-101’s Most Famous Crewman

Seaman Ervin Maske and the Wreck of the Pendleton
By Ross Patterson II, Assistant Curator, Portsmouth Museums