Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Lynwood Montell, Burt Feintuch, Albert Petersen

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Kent Narrows is one of the many small fishing areas located along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. The fishing industry located there concentrates on the harvesting and canning of Chesapeake Bay shellfish, specifically oysters, crabs, and clams. This study is concerned with the collection of the traditional elements of the three occupations comprising the oyster harvest at Kent Narrows: (a) handtonging, (b) oyster shucking, and (c) blacksmithing of the oystermen's tools. Although the Kent Narrows oyster industry has developed since the 1930s, many of the traditional tools and work situations were borrowed from other fishing areas of the Bay. Generally they have remained unchanged since that time. An attempt was made to isolate the influences either causing change or stabilizing the traditional elements of the oyster occupations. It was found that the completion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952 stimulated the fishing industry at Kent Narrows by improving transportation. Other influences, such as Maryland State Law limiting harvests, have kept the occupations traditionally stable, exemplified by the continued use of handtongs, shucking knives, and other traditional tools.


Anthropology | Folklore | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology