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Search Thunder Bay Research Collection

The Thunder Bay Research Collection began with the partnership with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS) and the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library to steward C. Patrick Labadies’s collection on 19th-century Great Lakes Shipping. This collection has grown to include photographs, newspaper clippings, and other archival materials that aid in the understanding of maritime cultural heritage within the TBNMS’ boundaries.

The Great Lakes Maritime Database is an extensive source of information on approximately 14,000 19th Century ships that sailed the Great Lakes.  Each vessel record may include build & owner info, a brief historical timeline, and photographs.

The database was compiled from the collection of C. Patrick Labadie.  As a child, Mr. Labadie was fascinated by his grandfather’s sailor stories.  The love of those stories inspired Pat to begin his maritime research collection in the 1960s.  Over the next 40 years, he worked in numerous maritime museums, during which time he continued to a to his collection and research. By the time he retired, Pat had amassed one of the largest private collections of 19th Century Great Lakes maritime history in existence.

In 2003, Pat and his wife, June, donated the collection to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and it is currently managed and housed in the Special Collections area of the Alpena County Library.  In 2006, the library received, through the Library of Michigan, a special digitization grant of $234,000 to create this database. 

Other Maritime Collections

S.S. City of Alpena Logbook Transcription Project
Thunder Bay Island & Middle Island Transcription Project
40 Mile Lighthouse Station