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G. Victor Chamberlain Collection - GLMS 68

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


This one-half cubic foot collection was donated to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes by Captain G. Victor Chamberlain on February 8, 1983. An instrument of gift was signed at the time of transfer.

Literary and property rights were dedicated to the public. Photocopying is permitted for purposes of conservation and research.

Biographical Sketch

Captain G. Victor Chamberlain was born in about 1916 at Delaware, Ohio. His first sailing was for the Wilson Line in 1934. In 1935 Captain Chamberlain joined the fleet of the Hanna Mining Company as a deck hand. After 1935, Chamberlain's Great Lakes career was spent with the Hanna fleet. On obtaining his original license in 1941, Chamberlain served as the third mate on the DAVID M. WEIR.

Captain Chamberlain was granted a leave of absence from the Hanna fleet during World War II. He attended and graduated from the US Maritime Officer's School at New London, Connecticut. Chamberlain served on transport convoy vessels in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific theaters of operations. Captain Chamberlain completed his military service in 1945 as the chief mate of the troopship JOHN BLAIR.

Chamberlain again sailed for the Hanna fleet in the post-war years as a third mate. His first temporary command came with an assignment in 1962. In 1967 he became a permanent master with a command on the MATTHEW ANDREWS. Captain Chamberlain served as captain on the PAUL H. CARNAHAN, LEON FALK, JR., E. E. WEIR, and the GEORGE M. HUMPHREY. Captain Chamberlain's last command before retiring in 1981 was on the GEORGE A. STINSON.

Victor and Margaret Chamberlain live in Sandusky, Ohio. Their two sons have both pursued marine careers as a Great Lakes sailor and as a marine geologist.

Retirement activities have included transporting yachts to the Mackinac Island races and staying active in the Cleveland Lodge of the International Shipmasters' Association. Captain Chamberlain has maintained his Lodge 4 membership since 1943.

Scope and Content

This one-half cubic foot collection is composed of material acquired by Captain G. Victor Chamberlain during his career on lake vessels from 1940-1981. Small series of correspondence (1958-1977), charts/maps (1927-1974) and printed matter (1952-1978) provide insights into issues of concern ot a veteran Great Lakes vessel captain.

Safety issues are frequent topics within the correspondence series. Information on fellow officers in the lake fleet of the US Steel Corporation appears in personnel lists attached to correspondence.

Navigation issues are reflected in the various logs for vessels retained by Chamberlain. The sinking of the EDMUND FITZGERALD in 1975 is covered in many of the clippings Chamberlain acquired.

Practical matters involved in completing trips between ports are covered through charts retained for study of navigational difficulties in river and harbor channels. Weather related charts are also available.

Assorted printed items regarding a captain's interests in equipment purchases and safety issues are present.

This collection is not large, but does present material useful in understanding what Great Lakes vessel captains were responsible for accomplishing in their careers. Routine matters appear in the correspondence and log books. Some of their worst nightmares can be seen in the clippings Captain Chamberlain saved regarding the fate of his colleagues on the WILLIAM B. DAVOCK in 1940 and the EDMUND FITZGERALD in 1975.

Series Description


Box 1, Folder 1
Arranged chronologically
Series contains scattered documents received by Captain G. Victor Chamberlain during his years commanding lake vessel crews. Many items are informational circulars from the Lake Carriers' Association. Many officer lists for the US Steel Corporation Great Lakes fleet are included. A copy of the Lake Carriers' Association response to the Coast Guard's findings in the investigation of the EDMUND FITZGERALD sinking is present.


Box 1, Folders 2-9
Arranged chronologically
Series contains assorted log books acquired by Captain G. Victor Chamberlain during his career on Great Lakes vessels. Extensive radar log information for the J. A. HATFIELD (1949-1975) document the process of stabilizing cargo in vessel holds to satisfy the captain's safety concerns for sailing the vessel.


1940, 1954, 1964, 1975-1977
Box 1, Folders 10-12
Arranged chronologically
Series contains news clippings primarily taken from Great Lakes region newspapers. Most items are concerned with the sinking of the EDMUND FITZGERALD.


Box 1, Folders 13-14
Arranged chronologically
Series contains miscellaneous charts and maps regarding navigation in the Great Lakes region. River channels are the subject of many of these items.


Box 1, Folders 15-20
Series contains scattered printed items in the form of informational cards, tables, documents related to Great Lakes vessels and to marine oriented companies. Specific vessel files with licenses and certificates are present for the PAUL H. CARNAHAN, GEORGE A. STINSON, and the JOSEPH H. THOMPSON.


Box 1


  1. Correspondence, 1958-1977
  2. Radar Log for the J. A. HATFIELD, 1949-1975
  3. Radar Log for the JOHN HULST, 1949-1969
  4. Vessel Lists, 1960-1979
  5. Loading Books for the WILLIAM A. IRVIN and the B. F. AFFLECK, 1973-1975
  6. Lake Weather Bulletins, 1975-1976
  7. Fuel Savings Log, 1985
  8. Log--Hanna Mining Company Soo River Speed Sheet, n.d.
  9. Log--Pittsburgh Fleet Magnetic Compass Deviation Book, n.d.
  10. News clippings, 1940, 1954, 1969
  11. News clippings, 1975
  12. News clippings, 1976-1977
  13. Charts/Maps, [1927-1974]
  14. Charts/Maps, undated, C-S by location
  15. Printed Matter re: PAUL H. CARNAHAN, 1971, n.d.
  16. Certificates, 1957, 1976
  17. Instruction cards from Companies, G-W, 1952, 1955, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1976
  18. Printed Matter re: GEORGE A. STINSON, 1978
  19. Tables, n.d.
  20. Printed Matter re: JOSEPH H. THOMPSON, 1962, 1974

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