Dr. Charles E. and Jeri Baron Feltner Great Lakes Maritime History Collection, 1978, 2018, and undated
Using These Materials
- Dr. Charles E. and Jeri Baron Feltner Great Lakes Maritime History Collection is open for research.
- Feltner, Charles E.
- Collection of research materials (mostly photocopies) of Dr. Charles E. Feltner. The collection’s focus is Great Lakes diving, maritime history (both American and Canadian), shipping history, and shipwrecks. Other major topics include 1905 and 1913 storms, insurance, marine casualties, merchant vessels, sailing, shipbuilding/construction, and underwater logging.
- 17.5 cubic ft. (in 30 boxes, 3 Oversized Folders)
- Collection processed and finding aid created by J. Lincoln, Marian Matyn
- Scope and Content:
Dr. Charles E. and Jeri Baron Feltner Great Lakes Maritime History Collection, 1978, 2018 and undated, 17.5 cubic feet in 30 boxes and 3 oversized folders contains the research materials (mostly photocopies) of Dr. Charles E. Feltner. The collection’s focus is Great Lakes diving, maritime history (both American and Canadian), shipping history, and shipwrecks. Other major topics include 1905 and 1913 storms, insurance, marine casualties, merchant vessels, sailing, shipbuilding/construction, and underwater logging.
The photocopies are from numerous historical collections and/or research institutions housing the collections, almost always identified in detail by Dr. Feltner. If the source information was on or in the folder, it was retained during processing. Of particular note are copies from the Louden G. Williams collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University.
The contents includes: articles, bibliographies, copies of manuscripts, correspondence, essays, geological surveys, information on diving on shipwrecks, rigging and masting, marine vessel enrollments, insurance, legislation, maritime genealogy bibliographies (American and Canadian), newspaper clippings, Old Mariners’ Church, Detroit, photographs (some of which are originals), reports, ship salvage, shipwrecks, vessel inspections, underwater archaeological surveys, underwater heritage research, U.S. Lighthouse and Life-Saving services, and Dr. Feltner’s original notes, correspondence and essays. Boats of particular interest in this collection include the Calypso, the Challenge, the Chicora, the Daniel J. Morrell (built in 1906, sank in 1966), the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Huron Brave (a fictitious ship), and the Lady Elgin. Included are also materials concerning Dick Race, Jacques Cousteau, and Peter Elias Falcon. Materials from corporate authors include Association of Canadian Lake Underwriters, Board of Lake Underwriters, Bureau of Navigation, Inland Lloyds, Institute of Marine Engineers, Lake Underwriters (this is the American underwriters), U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Lake Surveys, U.S. National Archives, and U.S. War Department Corps of Engineers. Many locations are documented in this collection. Major, but not inclusive, locations include Buffalo, NY, Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI, Mackinaw City, MI, Milwaukee, WI, Ontario, Canada, Port Huron, MI, Presque Isle, MI, Sandusky, OH, Sault Saint Marie, MI, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and Thunder Bay.
Of particular note, rare insurance materials are included in the collection. Also of special interest are diving educator’s materials, a single slide of an artist’s drawing of the Daniel J. Morrell breaking up in 1966 (See Box 28 Wreck files…), meteorological wreck charts and shipwreck locations, ship model plans/ building, and notes on how to conduct research.
This collection is likely one of the top ten marine history research collection in the United States, complied from research collections in national and international historical institutions. Original variant spellings were retained in the box and folder listing.
The Photographs folder includes one image each of a Northern Line vessel, the Edmund Fitzgerald, and Goderion.
All items in Oversize Folder 1 measure 11x17 inches. All items in Oversized Folder 2 measure 11x15 inches. The contents of Oversize Folder 3 have varying measurements as noted in the box and folder listing.
Arrangement: Collection materials are organized by size, then alphabetically and chronologically within original order.
Cataloging Note for Marine Historians: Please note that pre-existing Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) do not match normal maritime designations, especially for ship designations ex. Chicora of 1895 (Steamship). Also, Enrollments is not an official LCSH. The Archivist provided the most descriptive finding aid and best cataloging possible for this collection, in consultation with Professor Jay Martin.
Processing Note: Duplicate copies and peripheral non-Michigan materials, both primary and secondary sources, and miscellaneous notes were withdrawn from the collection during processing, a total of 1 cubic foot. Acidic materials and poor quality photocopies were photocopied and the originals were withdrawn. All withdrawn materials and duplicates were returned to the donor as per the donor agreement, amounting to 9.5 cubic feet. 70 titles were separately cataloged. 17 items were added to the Michigan Vertical Files.
- Biographical / Historical:
Dr. Charles E. “Chuck” Feltner was born in North Carolina and earned a Ph.D. (1963, summa cum laude) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. As a boy, Chuck lived on the Outer Banks, a strand of islands off the coast of North Carolina that is strewn with shipwrecks. A PADI Divemaster, he has searched for, dove on, and documented numerous wrecks around the Great Lakes. He married Jeri Baron Feltner in 1975 and has three sons and five granddaughters.
In 1978, the Feltners dove on a shipwreck previously believed to be The Northwest. The wreck ignited a research interest in the Feltners who eventually identified the wreck in 1980 as The Maitland. This began their lifelong interest in documenting and researching shipwrecks. The Feltners were the first or among the first to document many Great Lakes shipwrecks. Due to their dive films on the wrecks, ongoing damage and deterioration over the years is well documented. This documentation is very important for Great Lakes marine history. Dr. Feltner served as the first Public Member-at-Large on Michigan’s Underwater Salvage Committee (1981-1983).
Dr. Feltner is widely known in the Midwest marine historical and scuba diving communities for his published articles and presentations on shipwrecks, and courses on How to Research Great Lakes Shipwrecks. He is best known for his book Great Lakes Maritime History: Bibliography and Sources of Information (1982). Generations of fledgling amateur and professional maritime historians used this book to learn about the sources from which maritime information can be extracted. It’s his single most significant accomplishment in this field, with his documentation of newly found shipwrecks a close second.
In the mid-1980s, Dr. Feltner wrote several in-depth articles on Straits of Mackinac shipwrecks published in a Midwest serial by Rec Diving called Diving Times of which his wife Jeri was the Editor. Diving Times is the only Michigan serial about diving on Michigan shipwrecks.
Dr. Feltner received the 2006 Award for Historic Preservation from the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History for his dedicated efforts and contributions to preserving Great Lakes maritime history since 1977. He also co-authored, with his wife, Jeri, the book "Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinac" published in 1991.
The DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society received the Governor's Award in 2005 due to his extensive involvement with and contributions towards restoring the lighthouse.
Also, Dr. Feltner is cofounder, and was chairman for the first five years, of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival, an annual event sponsored by the Ford Seahorses Scuba Diving Club of Dearborn, Michigan. He, along with his wife Jeri, is also instrumental for the establishment of the Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum in Mackinaw City with their donation of over 50 shipwreck artifacts from the Straits of Mackinac. He retired from Ford Motor Company after 32 years in engineering and corporate management. (This biographical information was taken from Chuck and Jeri Feltner, Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinac by Charles E Feltner and Jeri Baron Feltner, communications with Dan Friedhoff, Dr. Jay C. Martin and Ron Bloomfield.)
Jeri Baron Feltner was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan, lived on Drummond Island, Michigan, for 25 years and currently resides in Plymouth, Michigan. She attended Wayne State University. Jeri worked at Ford Motor Company as an Executive Administrative Assistant for ten years. Involved with several volunteer organizations, and is owner and President of Seajay Publications, a firm dedicated to the publication of high-quality material on Great Lakes maritime history.
Jeri was an enthusiastic diver since 1976 and PADI Divemaster with over 25 years of dive experience throughout the Great Lakes and the Caribbean. She photographed and filmed many Great Lakes shipwrecks. Her underwater films of the Eber Ward and Sandusky shipwrecks in the Straits of Mackinac received acclaim at underwater shows in Chicago, Detroit and Toronto. She and her husband Dr. Charles E. Feltner were instrumental in the establishment of the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum with their donation of over 50 shipwreck artifacts from the Straits of Mackinac.
Jeri spent countless hours in libraries around the Midwest and the National Archives in Washington DC researching shipwrecks and lighthouse history. She is co-author with her husband Dr. Charles E. Feltner of the books Great Lakes Maritime History: Bibliography and Sources of Information (1982), and Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinac (1991). In mid-1980s she was Editor of Diving Times, a Midwest dive publication.
Jeri is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS.com) since 1998. Her key responsibilities have been the establishment of the DRLPS as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, and the development and executing of the grant, membership, marketing, historical and administration programs. She was responsible for obtaining and preparing State and Federal grant applications for over $1.2 million for restoration of the DeTour Reef Light. She prepared and presented the following papers at State of Michigan Lighthouse Conferences including: Building a Successful Lighthouse Preservation Society (1998), Building and Operating a Volunteer Nonprofit (501c3) Lighthouse Preservation Organization – A Case History: DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (2001), Building and Sustaining a Volunteer Nonprofit Lighthouse Organization (2004), and Sustaining Volunteers: Recruiting, Guiding, Motivating and Retaining the Lifeblood of the Organization for Continued Success in Lighthouse Preservation (2014). She also compiled (1998-present) an in-depth manuscript about the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society entitled The DRLPS Story: History, Restoration, and Preservation of the DeTour Reef Light Station.
Both she and her husband Chuck received the Drummond Island Outstanding Citizen Award in 2004 for their work with the restoration and preservation of the DeTour Reef Light Station. In 2016 at the Michigan Lighthouse Alliance Conference in Traverse City, Jeri received the Beacon Award for her work with the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society and the Michigan lighthouse community. Along with remaining involved with lighthouse preservation, her current hobbies include exercising, photography, cooking, and enjoying long walks with her Golden Retriever Jaysea-Star. (This biographical information was taken from Chuck and Jeri Feltner, Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinac by Charles E Feltner and Jeri Baron Feltner, communications with Dan Friedhoff, Dr. Jay C. Martin and Ron Bloomfield.)
Richard T. Race, (d. February 4, 2002) earned his living for many years as a Great Lakes hydrographic surveyor. Even after a medical discharge due to lung damage, He served in World War II in the Pacific, repairing radar equipment and teaching servicemen how to use it, and continued this work during the Korean War for the Army and the Air Force. Race founded the Hydrographic Survey Co., which mapped erosion, salvaged, photographed underwater for insurance companies, and searched for lost ships and planes. He did much of the diving himself, in places like Caribou Shoals, the Straits of Mackinac, Thunder Bay and Saginaw Bay. Race designed his own boat, the R/V Neptune. "It was a beautiful ship. Every captain on the Great Lakes would know Dick Race's Neptune," said Tom Farnquist, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. Although Race had military training and took courses at several colleges, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was largely self-taught as a hydrographic surveyor. According to Farnquist, he had no fear. "Way back in 1966, when the Cedarville sank in the Straits of Mackinac, he was diving all by himself from his boat," Farnquist said. "He was one of those very independent guys." (This biographical information is from Race’s obituary in the Chicago Tribune.)
Peter Elias Falcon (1822-1906) was an inventor who constructed and patented many inventions to aid underwater divers and shipwreck salvagers. Some of his patented inventions include a process for raising sunken vessels (patent #37438), a device for unloading vessels, and a device for breaking the suction between sunken vessels and the soft bottoms of lakes and rivers (patent #49342). He also jointly invented an underwater lantern with George W. Fuller. With his son, Falcon invented the Falcon Centrifugal Pump to throw anything not too large to pass through flexible fans that was patented in 1886. Falcon also worked to salvage shipwrecks himself. (This biographical information is from Peter Elias Falcon’s Autobiography).
- Acquisition Information:
Arrangement is by size, alphabetical and chronological.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Masts and rigging.
Merchant mariners--Great Lakes (North America)
Michigan publishers and publishing.
Navigation--Great Lakes (North America)--History.
Ship registers--United States.
Ship registers--Great Lakes (North America)--History.
Ships--Registration and transfer--United States.
Shipwreck victims--Great Lakes (North America)
Underwater archaeology--Great Lakes (North America)
Underwater archaeology--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Daniel J. Morrell (Ship)
Edmund Fitzgerald (Ship)--History.
Lady Elgin (Steamboat)
United States. Custom Service.
United States. Department of the Treasury. Bureau of Navigation.
United States. Life-Saving Service--History.
United States. War Department. Corps of Engineers.
U.S. Lake Survey.
American Bureau of Shipping.
Association of Canadian Lake Underwriters.
Institute of Marine Engineers.
Mariners'Church of Detroit (Detroit, Mich.)
Feltner, Jeri Baron.
Feltner, Charles E.
Feltner, Jeri Baron.
Cousteau, Jacques Yves.
Falcon, Peter Ellis, 1822-1906.
Race, Richard T., d. 2002.
Great Lakes (North America)--Surveys.
Mackinaw City (Mich.)--History.
Port Huron (Mich.)--History.
Presque Isle (Mich.)--History.
Sackets Harbor (N.Y.)
Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Sault Sainte Marie (Mich.)--History.
Thunder Bay (Mich.)--HIstory.
Using These Materials
Dr. Charles E. and Jeri Baron Feltner Great Lakes Maritime History Collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Many materials in the collection are copyrighted.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Dr. Charles E. and Jeri Baron Feltner Great Lakes Maritime History Collection, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University