GLMS 71 - Loudon G. Wilson Collection
|Title||GLMS 71 - Loudon G. Wilson Collection|
The files of Loudon G. Wilson were transferred to the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes after the signing of the instrument of gift on March 24, 1989.
Literary and property rights have been dedicated to the public and duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and scholarly research. Final processing was completed with the assistance of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant by Mark J. Barnes and Monica Manny in June 1991.
Loudon Guthrie Wilson was born on September 29, 1903 in Kilsyth, Scotland. The Wilsons lived near the River Clyde and it was here that Loudon Wilson first developed his interest in water transportation. Wilson's mother, Agnes Loudon Dykes Wilson, shared her admiration for the fleet Clyde steamers with him and helped foster the seed of his lifelong enthusiasm for such vessels.
The year 1910 marked several momentous events in Loudon Wilson's life. Agnes Wilson died in that year. This shock was followed by the failure of Loudon's father's business. Enough money was available to fund the emigration of the Wilsons to Canada.
The Wilsons headed west in Canada to settle in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here Loudon began sketching vessels on the lakes and rivers. These boats of the Red River trade provided material for a budding artist to paint and draw. These Red River vessels appear frequently in the photographs compiled later in life by Wilson.
In 1923 Wilson left Winnipeg for Detroit, Michigan to pursue his career in commercial art. Remaining a Michigan resident until retiring to California in the 1970s, Wilson worked for such advertising firms as Brigdon's, Evans and Brisbois, and the Handy Organization. A service providing pictorial images to Great Lakes researchers was begun by Wilson that led to the development of this collection.
In 1926 Loudon Wilson married Grace Florence Harrington. The Wilsons raised four sons: Alan L., Craig H., Gary A., and Thomas J. Wilson.
As a correspondent with numerous Great Lakes experts such as Herman Runge, John Thurston, Ed Carus, William Shea, and Louis McLeod, Loudon Wilson developed an information network for sharing research results regarding Great Lakes shipping topics. In refining his knowledge of lake vessels, Wilson built numerous models and a 12-foot scow, the GRACE ANNE, in his Royal Oak, Michigan basement. This expertise permitted Wilson to publish in Model Craftsman, Steamboat Bill, and other literary sources pertaining to marine issues.
Loudon Wilson continued his interest in marine art into his retirement at Santa Paula, California. Illness in the last years before his death on November 19, 1988 prevented additions to his wonderful legacy to marine researchers.
|Scope and Content|
Loudon G. Wilson's lifetime fascination with marine vessels and art has produced a unique collection of pictorial images documenting changes in vessel design from the Vikings to the present. This mixture of photographs, clipped painting reproductions, and Wilson's original artwork offer the viewers an opportunity to study the technical aspects of vessel design from hull construction to rigging specifications. The manner in which ships have been depicted in marine art has also been chronicled by a practicing marine artist.
The 14 cubic feet of Wilson materials cover in terms of subject matter the period from 1000 A.D. to 1988. This should not be taken to mean that documents are as old as the subjects to which they refer. Material on the Viking era is in the form of articles clipped from publications. The compiled articles and illustrations permit comparison of 16th century vessels with the sailing fleets of the 19th century to afford insights into transportation developments on the Great Lakes and the ocean. Sail vessels predominate in the collection, but steam ships are also well represented. Rather than measure pictorial images present by individual items, one can measure them by cubic feet.
Maritime historians, model builders, and anyone interested in the history of maritime transportation would delight in examining Loudon G. Wilson's perspective on marine art and vessel technology.
Two principal series are of the most interest. The Annual Log is a subject file of developments in sail and steam vessels that can be accessed through a chronological index. Comparison of rigging from the 1770s to the 1870s can easily be accomplished. The subject notebooks filled with photographs and research notes on vessel design offer a wealth of information, often of a detailed and technical nature, compiled by Wilson in pursuit of preparing paintings and ship models.
Smaller nuggets also appear in the form of the negative file. Nearly 500 negatives of photographs, most not appearing in the Annual Log or Notebook subject file, are awaiting researchers to examine them. The vessel traffic in the Province of Manitoba is documented in the Red River Negatives on vessels operating on the Red River and the lakes near Winnipeg and Selkirk.
Publications have been separated from the collection for inclusion in the Institute's main catalog. One sound recording, Treasures of the Great Lakes Vol. I, contains ballads regarding the Great Lakes and has been added to the Institute's audio visual materials. Also separated are the preserved sails used for Wilson's model, the HURON BELLE.
Series 1 - Correspondence (Boxes 1-2), c. 1932-1985
Series contains subject correspondence of Loudon G. Wilson regarding maritime art and events regarding the Great Lakes. Of particular interest are sketches of sailing vessels included in the file on Capt. John Thurston compiled by Wilson for research purposes in building a model sailing vessel named the HURON BELLE. Thurston's critiques of Wilson's sketches offer information on the history of sailing vessel design. Arrangement is alphabetical for Band G-W.
Series 2 - Subject File -Annual Log of Marine History (Boxes 3-16), c. 1000-1980
Series contains original photographs, clippings extracted from publications, copies of articles, and occasional samples of original artwork by Loudon G. Wilson. Each item has been placed into a 5" x 7" card format. These "cards" are dated by the events described and not necessarily by publication dates. For example, under the year 1000 one finds an article on Viking explorations in North America and not a document dating from the period in question. Coverage is sporadic until c. 1770. Wilson's collection of information on development in ship design and marine art becomes more systematic from the late 18th century. An index that covers most of the cards located in Box 13. Box 14 contains information Wilson compiled on artistic technique, offering a glimpse into the technical side of his work as an artist. Arrangement is chronological by the event described on each card. Researchers should consult the index before using this series.
Series 3 - Subject File -Notebooks (Boxes 17-21), c. 1890-1977
Series contains subject oriented notebooks regarding Great Lakes history, vessel design, and marine art. The notebooks have been disbound and placed in folders. The notebooks are organized in six main categories:: I. Clippings, II. Great Lakes Survey (Geographic Places & Histories), III. Literary Works (Loudon G. Wilson published and unpublished), IV. Models, V. Photography, VI. Vessels. Each category generally contains clippings, Wilson's research notes, photographs, artwork, maps, and occasional publications. Original artwork and photographs have been separated from the files for conservation purposes and are located in Boxes 20 and 21. Photocopies have been left in the place of separated items. Arrangement is alphabetical by subject heading and chronological thereunder.
Series 4 - Clippings (Boxes 22-23), c. 1822-1988
Series contains clippings from newspapers, magazines, and other publications regarding both Great Lakes and ocean vessels. This file is in certain respects a truncated form of the Annual Log (see series 2). Arrangement is chronological by date of events discussed in the clippings and not necessarily by publication dates.
Series 5 - Financial (Box 24), 1853-1857, 1919
Series contains wage records and account ledgers for the vessels BAY CITY and FOREST for 1853-1857 and an article book for the vessels DELAWARE and NELLIE REDINGTON for 1919. Arrangement is alphabetical by vessel and chronological thereafter.
Series 6 - Paintings/Drawings (Boxes 25-26), scattered dates, many are undated
Series contains reproduced paintings of ocean and Great Lakes vessels. Some of the items are from wall calendars. One such item is a reproduction of Wilson's painting from 1940 of the HMS NANCY. An original drawing by Wilson of the Lake Winnipeg sidewheeler AURORA is included. Reproduced are drawings by Wilson entitled "The Lonely Vigil" and "Vessels at Mill, Ludington, Michigan." Another item of interest is a drawing entitled "Purdy's Basin." The artist's signature reads: Lionel Barrymore.
Series 7 - Photographic Materials (Boxes 27-31, 34), c. 1870-1984
Series contains loose photographs not filed in the Annual Logs or Notebooks, 320 color slides, postcards, and negatives.
The loose photographs (44 items) are alphabetically arranged by vessel or person's name. Scenes depicted range from the 1870s to 1984. Of particular interest are photographs of the OLIVEBANK and the Manitowoc, Wisconsin harbor.
The slides in Box 27 are also arranged by vessel name and are in color. The other color slides are in Box 34 and are arranged in groups by locations depicted, with the last set including unarranged images of vessels from around the Great Lakes and connecting waterways.
The postcards are categorized as Lake Postals and Miscellaneous Postals. The Lake Postals are oriented to Great Lakes Vessels and are alphabetically arranged. The Miscellaneous Postals include vessels on inland rivers as well as lake vessels. A subject arrangement for the miscellaneous postcards is as follows: Barges, Great Lakes Historic, Great Lakes Government Vessels, Great Lakes Groups, Great Lakes Sailing Vessels, Inland, Lakes - Seaways - Foreign, Model Ships, Miscellaneous Sizes, Yachts, and Small Fry.
Negatives are arranged alphabetically by Great Lakes vessels and by Wilson's Red River file. The latter refers to vessels using the Red River of the North in Manitoba and the Saskatchewan River. Many of these negatives document transportation on Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba near Winnipeg and Selkirk, Manitoba.
BOX 17: Subject File Notebooks
BOX 18: Subject File Notebooks
BOX 19: Subject File Notebooks
BOX 20: Photographs
BOX 21: Artwork
BOX 22: Clippings
BOX 23: Clippings
BOX 26: Oversize
BOX 27: Photographs
BOX 28: Postcards
BOX 29: Postcards
BOX 30: Negatives
BOX 31: Negatives
Slides of various locations and vessels around the Great Lakes.
30 blistered negatives removed from Box 31