Richard J. Wright Marine Collection

Identifier: GLMS-0113

Collection Overview


The collection contains publications, correspondence, and manuscript materials both collected and written by Dr. Richard J. Wright, founder of the Center for Archival Collections.


  • 1790-1986


14.65 Cubic Feet (11 legal manuscript boxes, 10 letter manuscript boxes, 3 record storage cartons, 1 card box, 1 flat box, and 5 volumes)


Scope and Contents

As the founder the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes (formerly known as the Northwest Ohio-Great Lakes Research Center, then Institute for Great Lakes Research), Dr. Wright's personal materials relating to Great Lakes maritime history formed the core of what would eventually become the largest repository related to that subject matter. Notes, narratives, papers, and notes written by Wright are present, as are a wide range of like materials produced by others. Wright's correspondence and research inquiries offer insight into the development of the collection. Correspondence between other researchers and various libraries and archives is also present.

The largest series in the collection is manuscript material. It contains manuscripts, originals and photocopies of historical records, maps, research notes, corporate records, and government records. The largest part of this series is a set of 24 journals (Boxes 6-7) written from 1895-1918 by Charles B. Calder , who served in various managerial positions at Dry Dock Engine Works (Detroit), Detroit Shipbuilding Company, and Toledo Shipbuilding Company. Other large portions of this series include a set of marine newspaper scrapbooks compiled by Captain Frank E. Hamilton and Dr. Wright's Reading Files for 1977-1980.

Biographical Sketch

Richard Wright was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1935. Wright’s interest in lake shipping found its origins in the many summers which, as a boy, he spent at Conneaut, Ohio, then was a very busy port. His interest took him aboard the steamers of the M. A. Hanna Co. fleet where he labored for five summers as a coalpasser and fireman.

Specializing in the study of history, Wright earned bachelor's and masters degrees from the Uniersity of Akron and a doctoral degree from Kent State University. His graduate and dissertation work focused on the history of American Ship Building Company and its predecessor companies. In 1968, he began a position as an assistant professor of history at Bowling Green State University, and as such he found himself in a position to take an active part in the preservation of the history of lake shipping. He was founder and director of the Northwest Ohio – Great Lakes Research Center, which is now as the Center for Archival Collections, and was editor of BGSU’s maritime newsletter Lake Log Chips.

One of Dr. Wright's major achievements was his book Freshwater Whales, published in 1969, which fleshed out his dissertation on the history of the American Ship Building Company and its numerous predecessors. The history of the various lake shipbuilders was one of his prime interests over the years. He was a member of numerous marine historical societies and was named Historian of the Year in 1978 by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.

Wright suffered a massive heart attack early in September 1986 and, on September 17, underwent quadruple bypass surgery at University Hospital in Bowling Green. He passed away that evening.

Conditions Governing Access

No known access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers using this collection assume full responsibility for conforming to the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright, and are responsible for securing permissions necessary for publication or reproduction.

Language of Materials


Separated Materials

Books, pamphlets, and photographs in the collection were separated at the time of donation. Publications were cataloged and added to the library catalog. Individually cataloged items originally part of this collection contain the field "Wright Marine Collection" as part of the catalog record. Photographs were interfiled into the Main Photograph Collection.

A large amount of manuscript materials were separated to form GLMS 1 - Chicago Ship Building Company Records and GLMS 8 - Ship Owners' Dry Dock Company Records. Records of American Shipbuilding Company and its subsidiaries were added to GLMS 75 - American Shipbuilding Company and Predecessors Records.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the repository in 2011 by Wright's widow, Martha Wright-Moon.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Archivist Mark Sprang in January-February 2022.

Guide to the Richard J. Wright Marine Collection
Mark Sprang
February 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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