Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

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Salvage Association (London) - GLMS 36

Introduction | Agency Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


This 11 cubic foot collection contains records from a company that surveyed damage to Great Lakes and ocean vessels for insurance purposes. Files from 1919 to 1982 document the types of accidents commonly occurring within maritime fleets. The economic impact on shipping companies is detailed in the repair cost estimates presented in survey reports.

Agency Sketch

In 1856 Lloyd's of London Underwriters, five marine insurance companies based in London and several transport lines created the Association for the Protection of Commercial Interests as respects wrecked and damaged property. This predecessor to the Salvage Association was formed to provide marine transportation companies with the means to systematically survey damage to their vessels scattered around the world. A Royal Charter was issued in 1867 for the Association to incorporate as a non-profit making body.

The Salvage Association began opening branch offices following the establishment of a hull survey unit at Cardiff, Wales in 1895. Staff engineer surveyors were posted at each branch to expedite the collection of data regarding vessel damage. Surveys conducted by Association engineers were widely regarded as thorough, accurate, and impartial. Insurance companies continue to rely on them when settling accident claims.

The files in this collection were obtained from several of the 27 branch offices of the Association. Hull damage from groundings, collisions, fires, and other accidents is analyzed to establish potential repair costs. Just as the case in 1856, the Association is an integral component in the marine transportation industry.

Scope and Content

The records of the Salvage Association, London document investigative activities involved in assessing repair costs for damage done to or by Great Lakes vessels. The files in this 11 cubic foot collection date from 1919-1982.

The largest type of record consists of reports. Vessel survey reports (5.5 cubic feet) record circumstances under which vessels were damaged for 1949-1980. Costs estimates for repairs are included. Vessel casualty reports (4 cubic feet) for 1963-1972 were completed at the time vessels were damaged to give preliminary information to surveyors before completing the survey inspections. Vessel movement reports (1 cubic foot, 1972-1982) track the location of vessels to be surveyed so that appointments for damage inspections could be set.

A series of subject file correspondence (.5 cubic feet, 1919-1981) completes the collection. Lists for winter moorings are included. The items provided locations for vessels that needed to be surveyed for damage assessments.

Series Description


Boxes 1-6
Arranged alphabetically by vessel name
Series contains 5.5 cubic feet of reports regarding assessment surveys for damage to Great Lakes and ocean vessels. The reports describe the vessel and the circumstances under which it was damaged. The extent of repairs needed to bring the vessel into service in included in some files.

Boxes 7-10
Arranged alphabetically by vessel name
Series contains 4 cubic feet of reports filed to document the circumstances surrounding how damage occurred to vessels being assessed by the Salvage Association, London for possible repair work. Correspondence, notes, and copies of survey reports also appear.

Box 11
Arranged chronologically.
Series contains primarily telex messages noting movements of vessels involved in accidents for which surveys of damage are scheduled. These messages provided Salvage Association staff with information needed to set appointments for surveys. Log sheets appear in some files that chronologically plot arrivals and departures for Great Lakes ports for these vessels.


Box 12
Arranged alphabetically
Series contains correspondence and forms regarding documenting vessels. Annual shipping and mooring lists appear to provide the Salvage Association staff with data and where ships can be found on the Great Lakes when damage surveys need to be conducted.



  1. Reports: Vessel Surveys, A-C, 1958-1978
  2. Reports: Vessel Surveys, D-I, 1954-1979
  3. Reports: Vessel Surveys, J-M, 1958-1978
  4. Reports: Vessel Surveys, N-R, 1949-1978
  5. Reports: Vessel Surveys, S-V, 1959-1980
  6. Reports: Vessel Surveys, W-Z, 1958-1980
  7. Reports: Vessel Casualties, A-MA, 1965-1975
  8. Reports: Vessel Casualties, MC-O, 1965-1970
  9. Reports: Vessel Casualties, P-SC, 1963-1972
  10. Reports: Vessel Casualties, SE-Z, 1965-1971
  11. Reports: Vessel Movements, A-Z, 1972-1982
  12. Correspondence: Subject File, A-Z, 1919-1981

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