NGS Banquet – The Great Storms of the Great Lakes

April 7th, 2018 by National Genealogical Society Blog Editor

Diving for Details: Researching the Great Storms
TIME & DATE: Ambassador Ballroom, Friday, 04 May 2018, 7:00 p.m. (Registration Required)

PBS producers must dive into libraries and genealogies nearly as much as they dive into the Great Lakes for details on shipwrecks. Finding survivor stories often requires tracing family histories to discover not only what happened to people, but locating the rare photos and home movies that tell the story in video. The rewards in finding these heirlooms is powerful and emotional. Come and learn about this hunt and how techniques and dumb luck have produced the most famous shipwreck documentaries of the Great Lakes.

Join Great Lakes shipwreck researcher Ric Mixter as he explores the worst storms to ever hit the lakes. Often called ‘the Gales of November’, these Midwest storms are usually found in the autumn months, when cool Arctic air descends down into the lakes and is fed from the warm water temperatures from the summer months. Ric dives into lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie to visit ships that succumbed to intense wind and waves from storms from 1905 to 1966. Witness the gales through the eyes of the men who survived, including a rare interview of a wheelsman who made it through the “King of Storms” in 1913.  Also hear how 17 sailors were saved by three local fishermen who dared to venture out into the Armistice Day Storm of 1940.

Researchers will be amazed at how Ric digs for details and family histories to add a human element to his stories of rescue and survival. Over a dozen ships are covered in this unique program, which includes rare storm footage and commentary.

ABOUT: Ric Mixter is a former TV reporter who has written and produced over 30 programs for television. Noted for his archival video and rare interviews with shipwreck survivors and rescue personnel, he has been featured on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, PBS, and the Outdoor Channel. His unique video contributions to maritime history were honored with the 2009 Award for Historic Interpretation from the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History. Ric is current president of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, a group dedicated to preserving our lake beacons and the stories associated with them. He has been published in Michigan History Magazine, The Beacon, and his book The Wheelsmen. Find out more at and