Historic Images · News · Research

Supporting Lighthouse History & Research

For this “Giving Tuesday” we are reprinting a recent column from The Keeper’s Log asking you to support lighthouse history and research.

As you know, a large part of the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s mission is to support lighthouse preservation, history, education, and research. Creating an accessible historical archive has long been part of the Society’s strategic plan.

Cleveland (08) Side Elevation, Section AA NA RG 26 OH copy
Side Elevation for Cleveland Lighthouse, Ohio. As part of their effort to expand the Society’s digital archives, the Society recently scanned the 43-volume finding aid of the main collection of lighthouse plans at the National Archives.

The Society has been collecting lighthouse-related material since its inception in 1984. Society President Wayne Wheeler created the original collection based, in part, on material used in articles for The Keeper’s Log and in planning Society tours. In 2000, Tom Tag, the Society’s technical expert, donated his large collection of lighthouse records. He has been digitizing the Society’s holdings since 2007. This vast digital collection contains photos, postcards, architectural plans, publications, and textual documents. At last count, there were over 184,000 photos and documents. The Society has named this collection “The Tom and Phyllis Tag Lighthouse Historical Archives.”

Some of this material is already available online thanks to the efforts of Society volunteer Gary Riemenschneider. In addition to providing photos and architectural drawings, Gary also created a site devoted to the published Light Lists where the researcher can see data pulled together (with some gaps) for an individual light station between 1839 and 2004.

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The Society’s online Catalog will include documents relating to PLACES, PEOPLE, OBJECTS, and VESSELS. Here is an example of an OBJECT — the Anacapa Lighthouse Lens before it was shipped to California. Photo from the USCG Historian’s Office.

Under Tom Tag’s direction, the Society supported the creation of an inventory of surviving lenses and lamps in the U.S. Tom created an extensive technology section about the complex technology developed for lighthouse optics and fog signals since the early 19th century. Society Historian Candace Clifford hopes to create similar sections for Keepers, Lighthouse Construction, and Lighthouse Administration.

Since coming on board in June 2016, Candace has supplemented the Society’s holdings with plans, photos, publications, and documents from National Archives Record Group 26, the primary depository of federal lighthouse records. With the help of her assistant, Linda Keenan, they have digitized U.S. Light-House Board (USLHB) clipping files relating to light stations (both existing and no longer existing), lightships, lighthouse depots, and lighthouse tenders. The clipping files are primarily extracts from the USLHB Annual Reports. Copies of lighthouse plans from the main collection of RG 26 have also been scanned.

Eagle Bluff, WI Clippings NA RG 26 E 13 1
The Society has scanned the National Archives “Clipping Files” that include excerpts from the Annual Reports of the USLHB. This example features Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Wisconsin.

In the summer of 2017, with the assistance of web developer Tom Wheeler, the Society began the design of an online catalog to share the Society’s Archives. The Library of Congress catalog of digital collections was chosen as a prototype in that it organizes its material by collections that are all part of a searchable database with various filters.

We have organized our Catalog according to PLACES, PEOPLE, OBJECTS, and VESSELS and the relational database interconnects these four categories. In other words, a light station (place) relates to its keepers (people) or lens (objects). A lightship (vessel) relates to its crew (people) and its station (place).

Our initial focus has been on existing light stations that comprise the bulk of the material for the PLACES category. We loaded the National Park Service “Inventory of Historic Light Stations” so we would have a record for each surviving light station. Now we are creating a system of relationships between the PLACES, PEOPLE, OBJECTS, and VESSELS as well as creating the initial framework for those records. We are creating data for light-houses that no longer exist. Eventually we will include in the PLACES section, material on depots, lightship stations, museums and other stewards, as well as minor aids to navigation. Next we will focus on lighthouse keepers and other Lighthouse Service personnel, inventors, engineers, builders, architects, etc., for the catalog’s PEOPLE section; then OBJECTS—lenses, lamps, fog signals, and other technology used by the Lighthouse Service. Finally a VESSELS section will primarily feature lightships and lighthouse tenders.

Thomas Point MD keeper letter NA RG 26 E3
This letter would be associated with both a PLACE, Thomas Point Shoal Light Station, and a PERSON, D.A. White, its keeper. National Archives RG 26, Entry 3 (NC-63) Field Records of 5th Lighthouse District.

Kraig Anderson, creator of LighthouseFriends.com, will be helping us gather data on lighthouse keepers and other service personnel. You may have noticed on his site the keeper lists Kraig put together at the bottom of each station’s page. Tom Tag is developing the data for the OBJECTS section.

We hope to sponsor an intern to help Candace in the National Archives. Candace will also be processing any donations such as the large historic postcard collection recently donated to the Society by the family of Herb Entwistle. The Society is not able to house many large collections, but we appreciate donations of digital photos or documents.

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Bear Island, ME. Postcard from the Herb Entwistle postcard collection.

We hope to have the PLACES section of the Catalog “live” in the summer of 2018. We will gather and upload more documents as funding permits. Candace has applied for a maritime heritage grant for which the Society has to provide a match. A special Archives Fund has been set up to support these activities. If you would support this undertaking, please make a tax-deductible donation to our Archives fund. Any amount will help us in this huge endeavor.

Submitted by Candace Clifford, November 28, 2017.

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please join the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member. If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to candace@uslhs.org.

Historic Images · News · Research

Early Aerial Photography Digitized

At first glance you might not think early Air Force photography would be useful for lighthouse research, but when you start looking at photos taken of large port cities, you start noticing lighthouses.

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Note the Jones Point Lighthouse on the Potomac River in the center foreground of this 1921 aerial photograph of Alexandria, Virginia. National Archives RG-18-AA-127-24

The National Archives recently announced “The Digitization of 18-AA,” a Record Group 18 entry entitled “Airscapes” of American and Foreign Areas, 1902-1964. These images are arranged by geographical location, so you must search according to the city where the station is located. Even if you don’t find images of lighthouses, you will find interesting historical perspectives of waterfront areas when they were still primarily industrial.

Submitted by Candace Clifford, October 24, 2017

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please join the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member. If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to candace@uslhs.org.

Historic Images · Keepers · News

Little River Light Station Images Donated to Society Archives

The U.S. Lighthouse Society is pleased to receive a generous donation of these digital images of Little River Light Station, Maine, from Tim Harrison, editor of Lighthouse Digest.

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Lighthouse Digest has an amazing collection of historic images in its archives that have been gathered over the past 25 years. According to Harrison, “The Lighthouse Digest archives are not open to the public; however, low resolution images of many, but not all, of the Lighthouse Digest historic images can be found on their web site at www.LighthouseDigest.com. Depending on the reason, high resolution images can be requested via email, but there may be a small charge to cover the time involved.”

Little River ME 1892 USCGHO (6) copy
This scan of a 1892 photo of Little River Light Station is already part of the Society’s Digital Archives.The original print is part of the USCG Historian Office collections.

The Society has begun developing a database for their growing digital archives of photographs, architectural drawings, and historic documents. This catalog, comprised of a number of different collections, will eventually be available online. In the meantime items from the catalog are available to Society members  for preservation or educational purposes.

We are very pleased that these Little River Light Station images from the Lighthouse Digest will be included in this repository.

Submitted by Tim Harrison and Candace Clifford, May 18, 2017. 

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member. If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to candace@uslhs.org.

Event · Historic Images · News

Nighttime Photography workshop with Pete Lerro: May 22, 2017 Cape Hatteras

USLHS is pleased to announce a special event on May 22, 2017 with professional photographer Pete Lerro (www.lerroproductions.com). 

Lighthouses were made to illuminate the night sky so why not photograph them in their natural environment? Peter Lerro has been photographing lighthouses at night for over 15 years. He will teach participants how to take great lighthouse pictures at night by utilizing the light from the moon and stars as well as use a mix of fill flash. Participants will also learn how to photograph lighthouses with the milky way and star trails.

Pete Lerro III is a college graduate of Temple University in Pennsylvania where he studied video audio and photography. Lerro is currently a full-time professional photographer and owner at Lerro Productions. When Lerro is not on assignment, he organizes photo shoot tours, workshops across the country and more. His photography expertise includes family, portraits, commercials, products, landscapes, wedding and sports. Throughout his career he has shot for many major establishments including the Department of Homeland Security, NFL, NBA, NHL, USA Gymnastics, IRL and Spartan Race.

May 22 Schedule:

7:00pm:  The group will meet at The Inn on Pamlico Sound, Buxton, NC, which is a short distance from the lighthouse, and enjoy an introduction to night time photography with Pete.

7:30pm – 9:00pm:  Sunset through Dusk. Photos of the lighthouse, keepers home and lighthouse keeper in uniform with his/her trusty lantern setting up for the evening. Learn to balance between ambient light, camera and independent strobe flash.

9:30pm – 11:00pm: Night Session.  Same scenario as Sunset through Dusk,  learning to balance in moon light for added effect.

2:00am – 3:30am:   Milky Way. Photograph the tallest light in the US, balancing night lighting and time exposures with the brilliance of the Milky Way in the background!

Photographers registering will need their own transportation and a camera (DSLR style – digital single lens reflex), cable release and tripod.  Also, you’ll need a flashlight with a red lens if possible (headlamps are ideal for hands free operation of  equipment.)

Photography workshop is $150 per person. Call today to reserve at 415-362-7255 or email Nancy@uslhs.org.

 

Event · Historic Images · News

Old Baldy Celebrates 200th Birthday

BIRTHDAYFLYERThe folks at the Old Baldy Foundation are hosting a party on Saturday, April 15, 2017, to celebrate the anniversary of the construction of their 200-year-old tower. The tower has undergone numerous repairs to make her look her best for this important event (see Old Baldy Prepares for 200th Birthday published in November 2016).

The oldest lighthouse in North Carolina, the current Bald Head Lighthouse was constructed in 1817 at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. It replaced an earlier tower that was lit on December 23, 1794, to guide shipping into the port of Wilmington via the Cape Fear River. The earlier tower was lost to erosion.

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Bald Head Lighthouse in 1893. National Archives photo 26-LG-26-9
18160715
Daniel S. Way offered to construct the proposed brick and stucco tower for $14,700. The Connecticut builder received the contract. Letter from Daniel Way to Commissioner of the Revenue Samuel H. Smith found in National Archives Record Group 26

Bald Head NC 2001 by JCC (3)

Bald Head NC 2001 by JCC (16)
This plaque above the entrance recognizes Daniel S. Way as the builder. The R. Cochran Foundry most likely provided the lantern. Photos by Candace Clifford, 2001

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member. If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to candace@uslhs.org.

Historic Images · News · Research

Large National Archives Collection of Lighthouse Photographs Now Available Online

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Morris Island Light Station, South Carolina. National Archives 26-LG-70-73

A huge thank you goes out to the National Archives for making their main collection of lighthouse photos available online! Over 1100 folders of lighthouse images taken between 1855 and 1933 can now be viewed and downloaded from the National Archives digital catalog. A project started several years ago appears to be complete.

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Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota. National Archives 26-LG-89-54

According to the catalog’s description:

Photographs show views of the structures, surrounding areas, shorelines, and depict the living conditions of keepers, their families and of maintenance personnel. There are views showing construction of the buildings and installation of lights; . . .  light structures at forts, . . . memorial lights, lightships; and portraits of keepers (box 69). Most of the photographs are black and white and cyanotypes scattered throughout. They vary in size and most are mounted on cards. . . .  Photographs of miscellaneous and foreign lighthouses are in boxes 69 through 71A.

Those who have worked with 26-LG at the Still Pictures Branch at Archives II, College Park, Maryland, may remember that the condition of the photos prevented scanning of the prints or taking them out of their protective mylar, so having them available online is a real boon to lighthouse researchers. It also protects the originals from continued handling and exposure to harmful light.

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Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, Florida, with lighthouse tender in distance. National Archives 26-LG-69-55

The images are organized geographically so the first box starts with Maine in the 1st Lighthouse District and goes through each district, ending with Alaska and Hawaii in the 19th Lighthouse District. After that there are a number of boxes of miscellaneous photos that include unidentified lighthouses, some of which, our Facebook fans have been helping to identify. Finally a number of foreign lighthouses are filed at the end of the collection.

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1890s construction of the San Bernardino Island Lighthouse in the Philippines. The 26-LG collection includes a number of Philippine lighthouses. National Archives 26-LG-71A-189
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An unidentified light station that most likely does not survive. National Archives 26-LG-70-43

Submitted by Candace Clifford, February 22, 2017

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U.S. Lighthouse Society News is produced by the U.S. Lighthouse Society to support lighthouse preservation, history, education and research. Please consider joining the U.S. Lighthouse Society if you are not already a member. If you have items of interest to the lighthouse community and its supporters, please email them to candace@uslhs.org.