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Shomette, Donald G. 1943-

SHOMETTE, Donald G. 1943-

(Donald Grady Shomette)

PERSONAL: Born October 25, 1943, in Washington, DC; son of Grady Frederick (a general contractor) and Margurite Lois (Simmons) Shomette; married Carol Ann Genziano (a park planner and designer); children: Kyle Patrick. Education: Pratt Institute, B.F.A., 1965. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, diving, international travel, reading, genealogy.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—10525 Ward Rd., Dunkirk, MD 20754.

CAREER: Freelance writer and graphic designer, 1961–65; Washington Post, Washington, DC, graphic designer, 1965–69; Earle Palmer Brown and Associates, Inc., Washington, DC, senior art director, 1969–72; Compton Jones Associates, Inc., Bethesda, MD, executive art director, 1971–72; Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, visual information specialist, 1972–77; Library of Congress, Washington, DC, visual information specialist, 1977–90, director of graphics arts services, 1990–93; Cultural Resource Management, chief executive officer, 1993–2005. Has also worked as a project director, principal investigator, contractor, and consultant for historical and archeological studies.

MEMBER: North American Society for Oceanic History, Society for Historical Archaeology, Maryland Historical Society, Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company of Baltimore, Filey Bay Initiative, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Hazelwood Preservation Society, Forum of Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museums.

AWARDS, HONORS: Outstanding performance award, Government Printing Office, 1977; Outstanding Public Service Award, Calvert Marine Museum, 1980; Blue Pencil Award for outstanding government publication visual design, National Association of Government Communicators, 1984; outstanding performance award, Library of Congress, 1987; Calvert Prize, State of Maryland, 1987; outstanding service award, St. Clements Island-Potomac River Museum, 1988; superior achievement award, Library of Congress, 1989; named honorary citizen of Little Rock, AR, 1990; named Arkansas Traveler, 1990; mark of excellence, Underwater Society of America, 1990; Best of the Best award, Government Computer News, 1993; special achievement award, Library of Congress, 1993; John Lyman Book Award for best U.S. maritime history, 1994, for The Hunt for the H.M.S. De Braak: Legend and Legacy,; St. George's Day Award, Prince George's County Historical Society, 1996; honorary D.H.L., University of Baltimore, 1997; recipient of File City Crest (Filey, England), 2002.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Shipwrecks of the Civil War: The Encyclopedia of Union and Confederate Naval Losses, Donic Ltd. (Washington, DC), 1973.

Londontown: A Brief History, Londontown Publick House Commission, Inc. (Londontown, MD), 1978.

(With Fred W. Hopkins) War on the Patuxent 1814: A Catalog of Artifacts, Nautical Archaeological Associates, Inc./Calvert Marine Museum Press (Solomons, MD), 1981.

Flotilla: Battle for the Patuxent, Calvert Marine Museum Press (Solomons, MD), 1981.

Shipwrecks on the Chesapeake: Maritime Disasters on Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries, 1608–1978, Cornell Maritime Press (Centreville, MD), 1982.

The Othello Affair, Calvert Marine Museum Press (Solomons, MD), 1985.

Pirates on the Chesapeake: Being a True Account of Pirates, Picaroons, and Raiders on the Chesapeake Bay, 1610–1807, Tidewater Publishers/Cornell Maritime Press (Centreville, MD), 1985.

(With Robert D. Haslach) Raid on America: The Dutch Naval Campaign of 1672–1674, University of South Carolina Press (Columbia, SC), 1988.

The Hunt for the H.M.S. De Braak: Legend and Legacy, Carolina Academic Press (Durham, NC), 1993.

Tidewater Time Capsule: History beneath the Patuxent, Tidewater Publishers (Centreville, MD), 1995.

Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay and Other Tales of the Forgotten Chesapeake, Tidewater Publishers (Centreville, MD), 1996.

Lost Towns of Tidewater, Maryland, Tidewater Publishers (Centreville, MD), 2000.

Maritime Alexandria: The Rise and Fall of an American Entrepôt, Heritage Books (Bowie, MD), 2003.

Contributor to books, including The Encyclopedia of Underwater Archaeology, edited by James Delgado, Garland (New York, NY), 1997. Contributor of articles and book reviews to periodicals, including Calvert Country, Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Country Life, Journal of Military History, and National Geographic.

OTHER

(And executive producer and director) Turtleshell and Toothkey (documentary), Yellow Cat Productions, 1980.

SIDELIGHTS: Donald G. Shomette is an internationally recognized expert in maritime history and underwater archeology. A former staff member at the Library of Congress, Shomette has participated in more than twenty archeological research projects in both the United States and Europe, working with such organizations as the Maryland Historical Trust and the National Geographic Society. He is also the author of a number of books, including Pirates on the Chesapeake: Being a True Account of Pirates, Picaroons, and Raiders on the Chesapeake Bay, 1610–1807 and The Hunt for the H.M.S. De Braak: Legend and Legacy.

An amateur diver, Shomette developed an interest in maritime history at New York City's Pratt Institute, where he was a student during the 1960s. While diving in a New Jersey river, he encountered the remains of ships dating from the Revolutionary War. Over the years, Shomette has garnered a reputation as a tireless researcher, specializing in the history of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay area. As pioneering underwater historian Gordon Watts, Jr., told Jon Hall in the Boston Globe, "If [Shomette] can't find it, or hasn't already, especially as it relates to the Chesapeake Bay, it's not there. As a historian, he is absolutely dogged in ferreting out material."

Shomette's 1981 book, Flotilla: Battle for the Patuxent, resulted from his survey of flotilla remains from the War of 1812, and his 1982 title, Shipwrecks on the Chesapeake: Maritime Disasters on Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries, 1608–1978, documents wrecks in the Chesapeake Tidewater. In Pirates on the Chesapeake he "skillfully weaves scholarship and storytelling in this … narrative of Chesapeake Bay's stormy history," observed Sidney E. Dean in Hampton Roads Military History. Shomette describes the exploits of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, William Kidd, and other brigands who roamed the coastal waters during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. After reading of an incident from 1807, when French pirates were apprehended after stealing cargo from a merchant ship bound for Baltimore, Shomette decided he had to bring this little-known aspect of history to light. "This was from the records that have always been there, and no one wrote it," he told Hall. Dean called Pirates on the Chesapeake "solidly researched and well documented," and added, "Fast-paced and reader-friendly, Shomette paints a vivid picture of the wild and dangerous life on the wet frontier. A novelist as well as a scholar, he brings characters to life."

In the award-winning The Hunt for the H.M.S. De Braak Shomette reports on the damage treasure hunters inflicted upon that 1798 shipwreck. As the author told Hall, the De Braak was "a remarkable time capsule full of history" until it was nearly ruined. A strong proponent of shipwreck-preservation efforts, Shomette was influential in the passage of the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987, which designates wrecks foundering in U.S. waters as historic resources.

Shomette told CA: "I pick a subject, topic, person, or field that has been little investigated and is of interest to me, and research it to death. If I decide to proceed, I organize my notes. I then write from start to finish, trying to get a minimum of one thousand words a day down on paper. Then I rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite again, sometimes as many as fifty times or more, before submitting the final text to my publisher. I rarely make author's alterations in proof form, and seldom reread a published work unless it is being republished.

"My favorite of my books is always my most recent because the process of discovery, whether it be in the archives or beneath a seabed, is always exciting and is still fresh in my mind."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Boston Globe, April 3, 2000, Jon Hall, "A Deeper Look at Piracy's Past," p. A3.

Hampton Roads Military History, October 25, 2001, Sidney E. Dean, review of Pirates on the Chesapeake: Being a True Account of Pirates, Picaroons, and Raiders on the Chesapeake Bay, 1610–1807, pp. 18, 20.

Washington Post, March 23, 1987, Susan Okie and Philip J. Hilts, "Reading Tales of Shipwrecks," p. 3.

Yachting, March, 1983, Chris Caswell, review of Shipwrecks on the Chesapeake: Maritime Disasters on Chesapeake Bay and Its Tributaries, 1608–1978, p. 146.

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