GLDD Donates Archives To Bowling Green State University Jerome Library
GLDD's Publications Manager Richard Adams and Archive Assistant Katie Adams sort photos by the hundreds for the donation to the Historical Collection of the Great Lakes. Katie will begin her studies at DePaul University this fall as an oboe performance major. Richard has been associated with Great Lakes since the late 1980s, and "has never had such a great employer."
Though some of the work on the straightening was done by hydrdaulic dredge, some was also done by bucket. GLDD also has motion footage of the Mayor of the city, Big Bill Thompson, controlling this dredge at the end of the project. The original caption r
The collection, according to Richard Adams, publications manager for the company, includes hundreds of photos from the turn of the last century through the 1940s, when Great Lakes was active in the region from which it derives its name.
"The company has kept these photos in files over the last two decades, and it seemed a good idea to place them in an active archive, where they would be accessible to students of marine infrastructure on the Great Lakes and available to authors looking for illustrative materials on this interesting period of American technology and history," Adams said. "The Bowling Green State University Library has already amassed a significant collection of similar materials from others. Their Historical Collections of the Great Lakes are intended to be the most comprehensive on the subject. We are proud to add our collection to this well-run and carefully gathered archive. Robert Graham, the collection's archivist, has accepted the collection on behalf of the Jerome Library. The collection will be conveyed to the library as the prints are cleaned and cataloged by Great Lakes over the next two to three years.
"When we celebrated our centennial year in 1990, we discovered that there were many historic resources available," said Adams. "It was my job to compile the company's history in cooperation with the late author Paul R. Dickinson, then a retired corporate officer, and publish Paul's book, A Century of Experience, as part of that celebration," Adams continued. Many of the photos in the company's archive found their way to the company's Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters at that time.
"At the company's South Chicago Yard, we found not only a rich trove of old project and equipment photos, but a collection of black-and-white 35-mm motion picture film footage from the late 1920s and early 1930s. The film depicts the launching of several pieces of large equipment, the company's work on the enlargement of Lincoln Park, and the straightening of the Chicago River.
In one scene included in the footage, 'Big Bill' Thompson, then the mayor of Chicago, operates the controls of one of the company's dipper dredges to open the new, straightened river channel. In another scene, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is shown dedicating the Outer Drive Bridge, built by Great Lakes and at the time the world's largest bascule bridge," Adams continued. The footage will be included in the material conveyed to the Jerome Library.
Progress photos for work on a number of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Cleveland projects are included in the collection, as well as photos of all types of equipment owned and operated by the company, which was then, as now, the largest private fleet of dredging equipment in the U.S.
The company became aware of the BGSU Library and its Great Lakes collection through its association with Thomas J. Lutz, a Chicago historian whose ancestor, T.C. Lutz, was a key Great Lakes executive during the first decades of the twentieth century.
"It's not the first time that descendants of our late and former employees have played a role in helping us remember our heritage," said Adams. "Retirees and the children of late Great Lakes employees have also made their personal collections of materials available for the Bowling Green archives," said Adams.
Retiree Tony Bocconcelli had accumulated a number of boxes of photos from various sources, which he generously donated to the GLDD archive with the expectation that it would also find its way into the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at BGSU.
"Tony's collection includes volumes of progress photos on the construction of Chicago's bascule bridges," said Adams, "as well as a number of other projects ranging from as early as the turn of the last century through the early 1970s. Also, the family of the late Andrew Rafaelowski -- many will remember him as the 'Captain Andy' of the dredge Alaska -- sent to the company a number of still photos, as well as Andy's collection of 8-mm color motion picture footage which he shot while working on a number of projects on the Great Lakes, including the dredge's work on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
"The company is grateful to receive the Anthony Bocconcelli and Andrew Rafaelowski Collections," said Adams. "We invite any others who may have photos, charts, maps, or drawings of the company's equipment or projects to contact the company if they have historic materials they'd like to see included in the archive, and are interested in having their names associated with this corporate archival program. Though the materials will be kept by the university library in perpetuity, we and other donors will always have free access to them for editorial or promotional purposes," Adams concluded.
This summer, the collection is being cleaned and cataloged by Archive Assistant Katherine Adams in preparation for transmittal of the first installment of materials to the library in the fall. Additionally, many of the images are being scanned for electronic retention at Great Lakes' offices in Oak Brook, Illinois. Interested persons may access the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes online at http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/hcgl/hcgl.html .