Great Lakes Marine Collection-MPL/WMHS

Who We Are

Founded in 1959, the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society is a self-supported, nonprofit organization <a href="/About/MissionStatement">devoted</a> to collecting, preserving, archiving and making materials related to Great Lakes marine history accessible to the public. The Society, with its 150 members, is affiliated with the Milwaukee Public Library. <br><br> The group maintains the extensive <a href="/Resources/Resources">Great Lakes Marine Collection</a> at the Library, one of the most important repositories of Great Lakes marine materials in existence. The collection contains more than 11,000 vessel files, 32,000 vessel index cards, and over 50,000 photographs and graphic images, along with books, nautical charts, manuscripts, journals, nineteenth century newspaper stories, and ship artifacts. <br><br> WMHS emphasizes collecting and archiving materials involving commerce and industry of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway with a focus on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, and the Upper Mississippi River System, as well as the lakes and rivers within Wisconsin. Included are records of shipwrecks, nautical charts, diving discoveries of “lost ships,” lighthouses, shipbuilding, storms, ports, and power- and sail-driven vessels, some going back to 1679. <br><br> WMHS publishes a quarterly newsletter, <a href="/Newsletter/Newsletter"><i>Soundings</i></a>, and offers programming and events for its members. Programming includes guest speakers on all aspects of marine activities, including authors and historians, military commanders, divers, folklorists, geologists and environmentalists, and commercial and pleasure vessel operators. The Society also sponsors events involving vessel, shipyard and lighthouse tours, river and lake excursions, and historical ship seminars. <br><br> The Society gives its members opportunities to research marine history and help preserve that history. WMHS volunteers do valuable work organizing, updating and computerizing the Societyʼs and Libraryʼs historical maritime records. <br><br> The Society is headquartered at the Milwaukeeʼs central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI, 53233. Maritime files are available for use in the Libraryʼs Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Reading Room. Carl Eisenberg, M.D., is president of the Society; Suzette Lopez is executive director.