Collections Resources

Great Lakes Maritime History


  1. Association for Great Lakes Maritime History

    • The Association for Great Lakes Maritime History is an international organization of museums, historical societies, libraries, archives, and individuals interested in preserving Great Lakes maritime history. The AGLMH holds an annual meeting and encourages research and the dissemination and exchange of information among members.
  2. Alpena County Public Library Great Lakes Maritime Collection

    • Searchable vessel database with historical photographs incorporating the maritime history collections of C. Patrick Labadie, Kenneth Thro, and Leonard J. Barr II. M
  3. Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at Bowling Green State University

    • Includes searchable databases for vessels, ports and maritime personnel that contain detailed historical information and images. Strongest for later 19th and 20th century vessels.
  4. Maritime History of the Great Lakes

    • Massive database includes historical documents, newspaper transcriptions, ship lists, shipwreck info, articles, an image database and more.
  5. Carferries of the Great Lakes

    • Includes information on various car ferry fleets and historic photographs.
  6.  Milwaukee Public Library Catalog

    • Search nearly 10,000 vessel files in the Milwaukee Public Library’s Online Catalog.
  7. Lake Superior Maritime Collection

    • The Jim Dan Hill Library at University of Wisconsin-Superior has over 7,000 ship files and large collections of blueprints like the Fraser Shipyard Collection.
  8. Great Lakes Maritime History Project

    • A searchable digital collection featuring materials from the collections of Milwaukee Public Library/Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, Wisconsin Historical Society, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, University of Wisconsin – Superior, and the Door County Maritime Museum.
  9. ShipIndex

    • A better way to research ships and vessels. simplifies vessel research. Whether you’re a genealogist, a maritime historian, a researcher, or just curious, we can help you learn more about the ships that interest you. We tell you which books, journals, magazines, newspapers, CD-ROMs, websites, and online databases mention the ships that interest you. We enhance these references by noting which ones include illustrations or crew and passenger lists, and where you can find or purchase the resource.



  1. Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Shipwrecks

    • A joint project of the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Historical Society. The site allows for exploration of Wisconsin’s shipwrecks through underwater video, historic photographs, archaeological data, interactive activities and information on diving.
  2. The Great Lakes Shipwreck File: Total Losses of Great Lakes Ships 1679-1999

    • Compiled by Dave Swayze. A database of shipwrecks organized alphabetically by ship name.
  3. Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society

    • Includes information about shipwreck preservation, access, ethics and education.

Submarines, US Navy, and World War II


  1. The Home Front: Manitowoc County in World War II

    • A searchable digital collection that features materials from the collections of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Manitowoc County Historical Society, Manitowoc Public Library, Lester Public Library and others. Includes photographic images, oral histories, published sources and documents, artifacts, and other resources which help to document and explain the history of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin during the period from 1939 to 1947—both the more universally shared home front experiences and activities as they played out in this specific county, and those more unique activities which especially defined the area during the War.
  2. Historic Naval Ships Association

    • A database of historic naval ships
  3. U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum and Submarine USS Nautilus

    • Website includes virtual tours of the Submarine Force Museum and USS Nautilus.
  4. San Francisco Maritime National Park Association and Submarine USS Pampanito

    • Visit the historic vessels at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and USS Pampanito submarine museum & memorial at Fisherman’s Wharf.
  5. NavSource Naval History

    • Photographic History of the U.S. Navy, submarine photo archives.
  6. World War II American Submarine List

    • Website includes what should be a complete list of the American submarines that saw service during World War II.

    • German U-Boat history, including information on Allied forces in both the Atlantic and Pacific
  8.  The Sub Report

    • Current information and news on submarines around the world

    • Naval weapons, technology, and reunions



  1. Downward Bound: Honoring Those who Served on the Great Lakes

    • USGenWeb, MIGenWeb, Downward Bound, help to unravel records of ancestors working in the Great Lakes Shipping Industry.
  2. Great Lakes Maritime Personnel Database

    • The Historical Collection of the Great Lakes has a Maritime Personnel Index assembled from annual resources like Great Lakes Red Books and ISMA directories. Mainly focused on the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  3. Shipmate Search

    • American Merchant Marine in War, emphasis on World War II. Includes: Shipmate Search, U.S. Maritime Service training, Naval Armed Guard, information for veteran mariners, African-American seamen, lists of ships, Other Wars
  4. Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Genealogy

    • Assembled by volunteers, this website is a treasure trove of genealogy information for Manitowoc County, including birth, death, cemetery, history, marriage and military records.
  5. Wisconsin Historical Society Genealogy

    • The Wisconsin Historical Society provides a number of useful tools for those researching genealogy.
  6. 1930 Census of Merchant Seamen

    • The first and last U.S. census to include seamen on U.S.-flagged merchant vessels. Includes name of vessel, home port, name of crewman, occupation on board, age, home state, and next of kin. If you have access to (or a local library that offers it), you can also view the original record. (Link to Ancestry 1930 Census of Merchant Seamen)
  7. Manitowoc County Historical Place & Name Index

    • Compilation of tens of thousands of individual names from a partnership between the Manitowoc County Historical Society, Manitowoc Public Library, and Lester Public Library.
  8. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping

    • Use the “Information Search” to aid in locating information regarding a particular individual.



  1. Lighthouses of the Western Great Lakes

    • Researched and written by Terry Pepper. Includes information about lighthouses on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
  2. Lighthouse Postcards

    • Searchable database of lighthouse postcards in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.
  3. Lighthouses Guiding Ships to Safety

    • Compilation of resources related to the history of lighthouses compiled by HMY Yachts.
  4. The Ultimate Chart of 100 Lighthouses of the United States

    • The ultimate chart of 100 of the most interesting, beautiful, and historic lighthouses that can be found all across the US. It highlights not only the amazing architecture of the lighthouse tower, but also of the lightkeeper’s house attached or adjacent to it.

Other Repositories with Great Lakes Maritime History Collections


  1. Dossin Great Lakes Museum, Detroit, MI

    • Managed by the Detroit Historical Society, the maritime collection includes extensive vessel files and thousands of photographs, objects, and ephemera in their digitized online collection.
  2. Door County Maritime Museum

    • Explore the nautical history of Door County, Wisconsin including Cana Island and Gill Rock.
  3. National Museum of the Great Lakes, Toledo, OH

    • Operated by the Great Lakes Historical Society, formerly based in Vermilion, Ohio, as a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Great Lakes history. Most of the archival material held by GLHS can now be found at the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at BGSU.
  4. S.S. City of Milwaukee National Historic Landmark, Manistee, MI

    • The National Landmark Steamship City of Milwaukee is the last traditional Great Lakes railroad car ferry. The 75 year-old vessel is permanently moored and open to the public in Manistee, Michigan.
  5. Chicago Maritime Museum

    • The Chicago Maritime Museum houses the largest collection of Chicago-area maritime historical artifacts, photos, and documents on the Great Lakes.
  6. Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, Milwaukee, WI

    • The Wisconsin Marine Historical Society is devoted to discovering, collecting, recording and preserving materials related to Great Lakes maritime history. The collection contains online databases, a vast store of printed material as well as ship models, half hulls, house flags from shipping lines, ships artifacts, and nautical art.
  7. Lake Superior Maritime Collections at the Jim Dan Hill Library, University of Wisconsin-Superior

    • Online collection includes vessel data, shipping statistics, log books, charts, maps, ship record books and much more.
  8. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Alpena, MI

    • Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was established to protect a nationally significant collection of over 100 shipwrecks, spanning over a century of Great Lakes shipping history.
  9. Port of Ludington Maritime Museum, Ludington, MI

    • Opened in 2017, the museum focuses on the Port of Ludington in Lake Michigan history, especially the role of carferries.

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