A native of Crisfield, James Lane has, for much of his life, doggedly pursued an interest in the history and traditions of African Americans and their work in the seafood industry. Over the years, he has focused on the occupational culture of seafood workers in the Chesapeake. Currently he is involved in oral history fieldwork, heritage tourism, and museum development. He has participated as a community scholar in several public folklife initiatives, including the American Folklife Center/Library of Congress and Salisbury University’s 2003 Summer Folklife Field School, the Delmarva Folklife Project, the Smithsonian Community Scholars Program, and the Chesapeake Bay Conference. In October 2002 he was selected as one of five community scholars from across the nation to attend the American Folklore Society’s annual meeting in Rochester, New York, as guests of the Society. He has studied at Salisbury University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the University of Maryland, and the University of Dakar (Senegal). He is chairman of the board for the Crisfield Heritage Foundation and the Governor J. Millard Tawes Museum in Crisfield. In addition to his work as a community scholar, Lane is a gospel singer and a storyteller who delights listeners with his accounts of Chesapeake Bay life.
In the face of major transitions within Crisfield, Lane is a vocal supporter of the needs of the community in relation to the town’s living traditions and culture. He is a strong supporter of local heritage initiatives within Crisfield, and a tireless advocate for the cultural traditions of the area’s citizens.