WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Scientists working with the Naval Historical Center (NHC) in conserving Civil War Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley will soon begin a detailed examination of a wallet found aboard the vessel.
This event coincides with the 139th anniversary of the disappearance of H.L. Hunley. Excavations to date have revealed the technology Hunley embodied was ahead of its time, but now the excavation and on-going research is revealing more personal details of the crewmen aboard the vessel. The wallet may hold clues to the personal life of the crewmen, as well as pictures, documents and other artifacts from the Civil War era.
"There are endless possibilities on what kind of information this wallet may hold," said Paul Mardikian, senior conservator on the Hunley project. "It is just too difficult to imagine that someone would carry a wallet with nothing in it." In the past, Mardikian has worked on wallets recovered from the Titanic which held documents, currency and business cards.
The wallet was found near a crew member's shoulder bone, which means he possibly carried it in his jacket pocket. Any information the wallet may hold will add to personal details about the crew, which are starting to emerge as a result of ongoing forensic and genealogical research.
One of the main goals of the Hunley recovery and conservation partnership is to learn as much as possible about the history of the crew before they are laid to rest at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, S.C. The crew will be buried alongside 13 other men who lost their lives while operating the world's first modern submarine in 1863.
First located in 1995 by the author Clive Cussler's National Underwater Agency, the hand-cranked submarine was raised in 2000 by a partnership of historical organizations lead by the NHC. A trio of Center experts, Dr. Robert Neyland, Hunley project director, Dr. Dave Conlin, archeological field manager, and Claire Peachey, assistant archeological field manager and conservator, has worked on the project since the submarine's discovery.
Because of their efforts, the NHC was presented with the prestigious National Preservation Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation last year for its public and private partnering to successfully raise the Confederate submarine from the ocean floor.
H.L. Hunley is currently located at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center on the former Charleston Navy Yard, S.C.
For related news, visit the Naval Historical Center Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/navhist.