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Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection
L.E. Block
Tioga - Starboard bow view, 1890s.
Henry B. Smith preparing for unloading.
Philip D. Block
Christopher Columbus - Partial front view about c.1893 Note "snout" detail.
Christopher Columbus
Ralph S. Caulkins
Iosco - Starboard bow view looking aft, note crew and passengers. Poles along the hull are called "fenders", they keep the ship's wooden hull from scraping on docks and lock walls.
Q. A. Gilmore
William C. Moreland 1916 rebuilding with new bow and mid-body, stern not yet refurbished with J & L logo still on stack.

The Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection, which was donated to the University of Detroit Mercy in 1993, is considered one of the most complete private collections of information on the subject of Great Lakes marine history.  The collection consists of close to 58,000 photographs, plastic and glass negatives, postcards, color plates, sketches, and paintings, as well as detailed information on nearly every commercial ship that sailed the Great Lakes since 1850.

The collection also contains 52 notebooks filled with more than 70 years worth of compiled data on virtually every steamship (about 10,000) of more than 100 tons that has navigated the Great Lakes.  The data includes the years of which the ships were built, their owners, the ships’ dimensions, type of equipment used on them, final disposition and other data.  In addition, the collection has details on almost every fleet navigating the Great Lakes.

The collection contains ship models, several objects salvaged from sunken vessels, and memorabilia, such as company pennants. Approximately 1600 books and 41 journals and newsletter titles which document Great Lakes Marine history round out the collection.

This digital database provides a sampling of the print images in the historical collection.  The number of online images will continue to grow as the Libraries/Instructional Design Studio work to make more of this unique collection available to the general public.

If you have questions about this collection, please contact Pat Higo (

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