Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

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Bibliography: Safety on the Waterways

GLMS-20 Point Betsie Life Saving Station Records
Frankfort, Michigan
The Point Betsie Life Saving Station, built in 1876, housed a captain and a crew of seven surfmen for a season that coincided with the Great Lakes shipping season. Their duties included the rescue of crew, passengers, and cargo of ships in disasters as well as assisting in salvage operations. The collection consists of yearly supply inventory records and incoming correspondence for the period from 1883 to 1919. The majority of the correspondence is from the U.S. Treasury Department. Outgoing letters from the station which would provide a more complete picture of the operation and its crew are not available. 1 reel of microfilm.

GLMS-23 Government Weather Station
Alpena, Michigan
This collection consists of the daily records of the Weather Station at Alpena, Michigan for the years 1872-1882 and 1885-1917. The journals include weather information such as storms, temperature readings, aureole and lunar halo sightings, sunset predictions, barometer readings, and additional information on visitors and vessel movements. The collection is valuable for the study of early efforts to systematically record weather in the U.S. 1 reel of microfilm.

GLMS-24 Marine Board of Investigation: Sinking of the EDMUND FITZGERALD
The collection contains transcripts, exhibits, and supplementary items from the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation convened on November 18, 1975, eight days after the EDMUND FITZGERALD sank in Lake Superior with her entire crew of twenty-nine men. The purpose of the inquiry was to determine the causes of the tragedy and to examine safety procedures. Indexes are available for exhibits and testimony in addition to an index for each of the seven volumes of the transcript. 5 reels of microfilm.

GLMS-25 U.S. Customs Records: Oswegatchie District
The Customs District of Oswegatchie, New York was established on April 1, 1811. This collection contains one volume of vessel abstracts, 1836-1841, which provides information on date registered, rig and name of vessel, port of departure, tonnage, and officers and crew. Two additional volumes of detailed wreck reports, 1874-1900 and 1902-1925, are indexed by vessel name. 1 reel of microfilm.

GLMS-31 U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service
Cleveland, Ohio
Present are 23 volumes containing copies of inspection certificates retained at the Cleveland, OH office of the U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service following examination of steam vessels. These annual inspections permitted vessels to operate on the Great Lakes. The certificates date from 1876-1910. The compiled information focuses on hull materials, boiler tests, recommended crew sizes, and maximum passenger limits for freight vessels, passenger vessels, and yachts. 5.0 c.f.

GLMS-32 Paul J. Ranahan
Cleveland, Ohio
This collection contains records of vessel damage surveys conducted by Paul J. Ranahan in his career as a marine consultant. Ranahan, a marine engineer, surveyed damage done to vessels involved in accidents to assess the cost of repairs. These records, along with correspondence regarding marine salvage operations, provide a view of the role surveyors like Ranahan played in identifying revenue sources for repair facilities and the expense such accidents caused for vessel owners. The collection contains approximately 730 cases spanning the years 1946-1980. 4.0 c.f.

GLMS-33 Marsh and McLennan Marine Underwriters
The Marsh and McLennan Marine Underwriters company provides insurance for a number of Great Lakes vessels and fleets. The files in this collection document the procedures followed by Marsh and McLennan when investigating damage claims filed by vessel owners, showing the cost of vessel insurance and of the repair of damaged vessels. In addition, the collection contains a short series of files on personal injury claims, one of hull loss records for individual vessel owners, and an analysis of claims paid from 1967-1972 which provides a profile of accident types and monetary damages claimed. 26.5 c.f.

GLMS-35 U.S. Steamboat Inspection Service
Toledo, Ohio
Present are records of the Toledo, OH office of the Steamboat Inspection Service for the years 1870-1931. Included are tensile strength test reports for boiler plate samples (1900-1931), lists of licensed assistant engineers (1890-1907), and lists of licensed pilots (1870-1908). 1.0 c.f.

GLMS-36 Salvage Association, London
The records document investigative activities involved in assessing repair costs for damage done to or by Great Lakes vessels. The files include vessel survey reports, damage reports, and movement reports from 1919-1982. 11 c.f.

GLMS-41 C. Patrick Labadie
This collection contains information on the operation of Great Lakes vessels from 1848 to 1980. Enrollment data for 40 vessels registered between 1848 and 1942 reflects efforts to standardize licensing procedures. Log books for the WILLIAM P. PALMER, the HENRY PHIPPS and other vessels record daily activities during voyages. Meeting minutes are present for the annual meeting of the Masters and Chief Engineers of the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of the United States Steel Corporation for 1956 and 1957. 4.0 c.f.

GLMS-42 U.S. Coast Guard, 9th District
Documented are activities of the U.S. Coast Guard, 9th District office in Cleveland, OH for the years 1911-1971. These files cluster most heavily for the period 1935-1965. Commercial inspection functions are detailed with enrolled license files on 109 vessels. Lifesaving duties are discussed in correspondence files from 1969-1970. The investigative nature of some assignments is reflected in the transcript of the hearing analyzing the collision of the CEDARVILLE and the TOPDALSFJORD in 1965. 4.0 c.f.

GLMS-46 Henry N. Barkhausen
The Henry N. Barkhausen Collection contains subject files, newsclippings, and architectural drawings documenting the maritime history of the Great Lakes. The Barkhausen files date primarily from c.1879-1940. Items of note are architectural drawings of 14 schooners built for the Great Lakes trade from 1867 to 1918. Numerous sail plans are included to document this aspect of marine technology. Clippings regarding vessel sinkings in the 1930s and 1940 offer views of reactions to these tragedies in the newspapers of the Great Lakes region. .6 c.f.

GLMS-48 Alice Hass Schultz Marblehead Collection
The focus of this collection of photographs and printed items is the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Marblehead, Ottawa County, OH on Lake Erie. Few items are dated, but they fall in the period from c. 1905-1930. In the collection are 163 black and white photographs and three printed items. .5 c.f.

GLMS-60 WLC Marine Radio Company
Rogers City, Michigan
Included in this collection are 11 cubic feet of daily log books from the marine radio station WLC in Rogers City, Michigan for the years 1923-1930. Vessels traveling in Lake Huron received weather data and other navigational assistance from the radio telephone operators at WLC. The daily entries over an eight-year period provide a detailed account of how such a station operated. This time capsule is of interest to researchers studying the development of aids to navigation and safety on the Great Lakes. 11.0 c.f.

GLMS-68 G. Victor Chamberlain
This collection contains items accumulated by Captain G. Victor Chamberlain during his career on lake vessels from 1940 to 1981. A file of correspondence reveals the importance of safety issues, while radar logs and loading logs record operations aboard the ship. News clippings, particularly ones covering the sinking of the EDMUND FITZGERALD, provide insight on events of interest to Captain Chamberlain. Navigational and weather-related charts illustrate another area of the captain's interest. The collection is small but does present material useful in understanding the responsibilities and worries of Great Lakes vessel captains. .5 c.f.

GLMS-84 U. S. Customs Service
Port Huron Customs Records, Port Huron, Michigan
This collection documents activities of the United States Customs Service office at Port Huron, MI from 1866 to 1958. Bills of sale and enrollment information appear in largest quantities. The issuance of licenses to individual officers on boats and to boats following inspections is documented. Records of harbor entrances and clearances by vessels reflect patterns of vessel traffic at Port Huron. This collection is available on microfilm only. 36 reels of microfilm.

GLMS-91 U.S. Customs Service
Ludington, Michigan District
The sale of vessels recorded at the Ludington, MI office of the U.S. Customs Service for 1864-1949 are presented here. Bills of sale, conveyance records and mortgages include the names of vessels and sale participants and the terms of agreement. In these the researcher can find information on vessel histories and the economic aspects of vessel purchases. The financial and legal files included in the records partially document the regulatory duties of the U.S. Customs Service. 19 reels of microfilm.

GLMS-93 National Weather Service Station
Cleveland, Ohio
Included are 84 bound volumes of meteorological observations recorded from 1870 to 1948 at the Cleveland, OH office of the National Weather Service. Observations appear as handwritten notes on printed forms and as extensive notebook commentaries. Information recorded includes wind direction and speed, temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, cloud conditions, and other weather data. 13.5 c.f.

GLMS-104 Chart Collection
Included are c.2,600 navigational charts for the years 1849-1991. The charts in this collection were primarily published by the governments of the United States and Canada, with occasional examples from state and provincial sources. General charts of the Great Lakes region appear along with those for individual lakes. Connecting rivers and canals are also represented. Although most charts apply to waterways in the Great Lakes basin, a number of charts for the Atlantic Coast and the Mississippi Valley are present. 142 c.f.

GLMS-107 National Weather Service Office
Toledo, Ohio
Includes meteorological observations recorded at the Toledo, Ohio office of the National Weather Service from 1870-1994. 30 c.f.