About Shipwreck Database
A diver inspects multiple wrecks at Pilot Island in Door County. This site is marked with a Society mooring buoy.
The people behind the database
The vast majority of the Society's shipwreck database was compiled under the supervision of former Wisconsin State Underwater Archaeologist David Cooper, beginning in 1988 with an inventory of Door County shipwrecks. The database draws enormously on work done by Dr. Walter M. Hirthe and Mary Hirthe, whose early contribution prompted Society staff to fondly refer to the database as "Walt." Dr. Richard Boyd and Thom Holden also generously shared their research and insight on Lakes Michigan and Superior shipwrecks respectively. In 2002, Great Lakes historian Brendon Baillod kindly agreed to supplement the Society database with his personal cache of historic research and casualty data, resulting in the addition of over one hundred new entries.
Former State Underwater Archaeologists John Jensen and Jeff Gray also contributed countless hours of historic research. Specifically, with the help of Dave Berwick and funding from the Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, John Jensen assembled the database's Mississippi River component. Jeff Gray guided the database through several digital conversions and ultimately made the decision to put the information online. State Archeologist Robert Birmingham supported and guided the project from its inception, and numerous other Society staff, researchers, and divers contributed vital information to the project.
The task of converting the database to an online version was considerable. The current online shipwreck database was made possible chiefly by the technical expertise of Paul Hedges, Pete Oemichen, Dan Williams, and the Society's Information Technology staff. Dan Williams in particular must be credited with taking an archaeologist's "wish list" of features and functionality and making it a reality. Creative work, layout, and navigation was done by an exceptionally accommodating design team at Digital Design Services. The Society's shipwreck database online conversion and Web design was accomplished with funds from the Federal Highway Commission's Transportation Enhancement Program, administered through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
The shipwreck database project is a collective effort, its scope and accuracy reflecting the careful work of the individuals mentioned above and those who assisted them. It is an ongoing effort and more data will be added as it becomes available. Underwater and historic images will be uploaded periodically, with the ultimate aim of getting all of the Society's best images online.