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Fraser Shipyard collection available for research

More than 9,000 technical drawings for over 200 different ships are now available for research in the Fraser Shipyards Collection in the Special Collections of the Jim Dan Hill Library at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

A searchable online index for these drawings is available at A National Maritime Heritage Grant from the National Park Service made processing and indexing of Fraser Shipyard drawings possible.

The Fraser Shipyards Collection, donated to UW-Superior in 2013, contains over 2,500 large format technical drawings, as well as over 6,700 technical drawings digitized from 35mm slides. The drawings were used at Fraser Shipyards in Superior between the 1950s and the 1980s, though some drawings date back to the 1890s. Projects at Fraser included repairs to propellers and hull plating, conversions to self-unloaders, lengthening of vessels and repowering from coal to oil or diesel. Many drawings also relate to the building and launch of vessels. These include lines, general arrangements, profiles, propulsion systems and details of piping and minor fittings.

Many of the drawings in the Fraser Shipyards Collection are not available elsewhere.

The new online index allows researchers to access information about drawings for many famous Great Lakes vessels, including the five ships of the Fraser Class, the 16 Maritimer vessels, the Edmund Fitzgerald and the William A. Irvin. The collection also includes drawings for lesser-known vessels, like the supply boat Ojibway, the tug Frances A. Small, the research vessel Silas Bent, and the tanker Cross Keys.

Fraser Shipyards has been active in Superior for more than 125 years. Beginning as a shipbuilding company, it launched many of the famous whaleback steamers before the beginning of the 20th century. Fraser has contracted for repairs on hundreds of vessels, and has more recently branched out to projects including Lake Assault Boats, machining and welding work, and vessel engine repair.

In addition to thousands of technical drawings, the Fraser Shipyards Collection contains project files, correspondence, photographs and heritage catalogs. This collection will be of interest to model builders, maritime history researchers, maritime archeologists, and naval architects and engineers working on similar vessels.

A guide to the complete collection can be found online at

Researchers may access the collection in a number of ways. To schedule a visit to the Special Collections to view materials, contact the archivist, Shana Aue, at (715) 394-8359 or email With limitations, records and drawings can be scanned and delivered electronically for a fee.