About Brendon Baillod's Great Lakes Shipwreck Research

I started this website in 1994 primarily as a link collection for my personal use. It was one of the first pages on the internet detailing information about Great Lakes shipwrecks. At that time, I had been actively researching Great Lakes maritime history for about ten years, but the internet immediately and dramatically improved my network of colleagues and access to information. In the ensuing years the website has grown modestly, had several facelifts and is now a principal resource for Great Lakes wreck divers and maritime historians. I do not actively add new content to the site very often due to time constraints, but I do maintain it and respond to inquiries.

I became interested in Great Lakes maritime history early in life, growing up on the Keweenaw Waterway in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I dived many local wrecks in the Keweenaw and began searching for and surveying new area wrecks in the Keweenaw Underwater Preserve, which I was active in starting and whose website I host. After moving to Wisconsin, I continued and enlarged my interest in Great Lakes maritime history, building a large collection of archival research and reference materials. Today, my collection contains over 3000 individual books, maps and articles of ephemera related to Great Lakes history. For an overview of the collection's contents click here.

I am active in many regional historical organizations. In 1999, I co-founded the Great Lakes Shipwreck Research Foundation and Milwaukee's Ghost Ships Festival. I served as a director of the GLSRF until 2003. Since 2002, I have served as a Director-at-Large for the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History (AGLMH), an umbrella organization comprised of all the major museums, historical societies and organizations in the Great Lakes historical community. I am also the current president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archeology Association and I founded and chair their Annual Wisconsin Underwater Archeology and Maritime History Conference, now in its 5th year. I am an active member of the Great Lakes Historical Society, the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, the Wisconsin Underwater Archeology Association, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society, the Underwater Archeology Society of Chicago, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, the Houghton County Historical Society and the Keweenaw County Historical Society and I am an affiliate of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates. I regularly contribute archival materials and research resources to these groups.

I have published nearly 100 articles and papers in several regional journals and publications, including Inland Seas, Soundings, Anchor News, Underwater Heritage and many others. I have also published a book on the historical shipwrecks of the Port Washington, Wisconsin area and have books in preparation on the shipwrecks of the Pentwater, Michigan area and ships lost in Wisconsin waters between Kenosha and Port Washington. I have appeared in documentaries on the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, on the History Channel's Deep Sea Detectives series, on Michigan Public Television, Wisconsin Public Television, in DVD and VHS documentaries and on numerous evening newscasts regarding Great Lakes shipwrecks and maritime history. I have been frequently quoted in the regional and national media regarding historic shipwrecks and preservation and I maintain an active and extended correspondence with other researchers and historians.

I frequently present papers at maritime history conferences and have appeared at Duluth's Gales of November Conference, Milwaukee's Ghost Ships Festival, Minneapolis/St. Paul's Dive Into the Past, the 2006 NASOH Conference, and several others.

I have developed an expertise in appraising Great Lakes maritime antiquities and am frequently consulted to appraise individual items and collections of Great Lakes historical books, artifacts, art and ephemera. I have also developed expertise in the restoration and conservation of archival Great Lakes books, ephemera and maps. I actively watch the market for archival Great Lakes maritime materials and frequently acquire rare and unusual items. I also sell items.

I am a certified scuba diver with several certifications, but I no longer dive below 60 ft due mostly to the infrequency of my dives. I currently do only a handful of dives a year, most very shallow.

I have many current areas of interest and research in Great Lakes history. I frequently do primary historical research using many different archival sources and I have an extensive collection of news micro clips and other copied and original primary references. I do most of my research at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, one of the largest and best archives in the country.

In the 1990s, I assisted the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society in transcribing the massive Herman Runge Vessel Card index into a searchable, relational database and I assisted them in placing their 44,000 record Great Lakes vessel enrollment database online behind a powerful search engine, which I developed. I have also digitized many rare, archival maritime history resources, including the J.W. Hall Marine Scrapbook from the C.Patrick Labadie Collection, Mansfield's epic two volume History of the Great Lakes, which was placed online, and my run of US Life Saving Service Annual Reports (1875-1914). I consulted on the development of the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Online Vessel Database and also developed the Great Lakes Maritime History Research Portal on the website of the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History, which provides researchers a central access point to thousands of online resources, both searchable and digitized. I developed a user friendly search interface to the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society's Online Vessel Data, and most recently, I created a Great Lakes Vessel Enrollment search engine and portal, the centerpiece of which is the Dr. Charles E. Feltner Great Lakes Enrollment Abstract Database.

I also actively collect archival Great Lakes marine accident lists, insurance registers and other rare and unique references for the purpose of transcription and digitization. I have spearheaded an effort to collect and transcribe all the registers of the Board of Lake Underwriters/Inland Lloyds (1855 - 1907) and all the known actuarial Great Lakes marine accident lists of the 19th century, of which all have been transcribed and I have placed online in my 19th Century Great Lakes Vessel Accident Database. I also worked with fellow marine historian Mike Spears to collect and digitize all the pre 1884 editions of the Annual Lists of Merchant Vessels of the United States, which are now available in digital form on CD-ROM. I have placed fellow marine historian Dave Swayze's authoritative shipwreck database into a relational database which can be searched on my website and I also host several other searchable historical Great Lakes databases.

I frequently search for specific shipwrecks with a number of Great Lakes wreckhunters, generally serving as an historical consultant and researcher. I also actively track all new discoveries and claims of discovery for Great Lakes shipwrecks.

I work closely with State and Federal efforts to preserve shipwrecks and I am an advocate of responsible public stewardship of historic Great Lakes wrecks. I also follow the legal cases involving challenges to State wreck ownership and am well versed in the history of successful challenges to the Abandoned Shipwreck Act. I am not an advocate of private ownership of truly historic Great Lakes shipwreck remains, but I do advocate limited and responsible recovery of historical shipwreck remains for public conservation and display. I don't believe it makes sense to leave important artifacts on the bottom for zebra mussels and other forms of natural weathering to destroy them. I do believe that all such recovery should be done only with proper legal authority and due diligence. Along these lines, I am happy to work with both State agencies and private professional salvors and wreckhunters, provided they recognize and follow the currently existing State laws. I have contributed over 100 new historical Wisconsin wreck entries from my personal database to the State Historical Society's Wisconsin Shipwrecks Database. I also actively work to nominate historic shipwreck sites to the National Register of Historic Places in order to ensure their legal protection and have co-authored two NRHP nominations with Wisconsin underwater archeologist Keith Meverden for the steamer Marquette and the schooner Moonlight, respectively.

I have a day job and work professionally as a Software Engineer/Architect, specializing in cross platform systems integration and financial transaction processing. I have a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Bachelors Degree in Management Information Systems from UW-Milwaukee. I have been a professional Java developer, designing, building and managing enterprise software systems for over ten years, working first as a consultant for AE Business Solutions and Stratagem Consulting. For the past five years, I have worked for a regional financial services corporation specialising in educational loan services, where I develop, maintain and support systems that perform financial transactions totaling hundreds of millions of dollars per year. I currently live in rural Dane County, east of Madison, Wisconsin. I can be reached at brendon@baillod.com or telephoned at 608.438.7246.