Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection

Managed jointly by the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Alpena County George M. Fletcher Public Library, the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection (TBRC) is a large and unique archival collection dedicated to Great Lakes maritime history. The heart of the collection was amassed over more than forty years by historian C. Patrick Labadie. Labadie and his wife June contributed the collection to the sanctuary in 2003. Since that donation, dozens of other donors have fortified the collection and a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Superior has enhanced the collection’s twentieth century holdings.

A National and Regional Resource 
The strength of the collection is nineteenth-century Great Lakes shipbuilding technology, but it also includes information about Great Lakes ports and waterways, cargoes, ships, owners and fleets, shipwrecks and twentieth-century vessels.
The growing collection is comprised of:

  • 80,000 photographs

  • Over 1,000 published works

  • 56 linear feet of vertical files

  • 40 feet of periodicals

  • Several hundred nautical charts and shipbuilding plans

  • Manuscripts and ephemera

  • Microfilm

  • Files on more than 20,000 Great Lakes watercraft

Collection Use 
The TBRC is housed at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library and is open to the public. In an effort to make the collection more accessible, a $235,000 grant from the Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries, nearly $160,000 from NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program and dozens of volunteers made possible the creation of an online database of vessels and related photographs.

Search the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection

Collection hours are: Monday through Thursday 10:00-8:00; Friday and Saturday 10:00-4:00; closed Sundays.  Please call 989-356-6188 ext. 17 before your visit to confirm these hours.  You may also set up and appointment with the collection archivist.



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wreck coordinates Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center