About the Lighthouse Research Catalog

Candace Clifford in front of the National Archives
Candace Clifford in front of the National Archives

From its inception, the U.S. Lighthouse Society has maintained an Archive of lighthouse data including photos, documents, and many other items. Each year, data was collected, and it quickly became a primary source of lighthouse information for our members and for lighthouse researchers and writers. However, the Archive required any user to physically travel to the Society Headquarters to access and use the data.

Starting in 2016, Candace Clifford, our Historian, and Thomas Tag, our Technical Advisor, began researching how to make the Archive more easily accessible. Candace spent many months looking at available software packages and other access tools, but nothing really fit our needs. It was then decided to create our own design for a highly accessible database where the Archive data could be stored and accessed online by our members.

We have now completed the initial development of "The J. Candace Clifford Lighthouse Research Catalog," named in honor of Ms. Clifford who passed away in August 2018. Currently, there is over 3 terabytes of information available. This is an ongoing project that will be improved and expanded over the next several years as we refine the data and collect additional information.

The data is divided into four major categories: Places (Lighthouses, Depots, Lightship Stations, etc.), People (Keepers, Lightship and Tender Personnel, and other Lighthouse related people), Objects (Fresnel Lenses, Dwellings, Fog Signals, etc.), and Vessels (Lightships, Tenders, Utility Vessels, etc.). The data are further defined by Collections/Donors such as data from the National Park Service, the USCG Historian’s Office, Individual Researcher’s Collections, the National Archives, etc.

The data within our Catalog are free for all to use and accessible over the internet.  This is made possible through generous donations, and the support of our members. It is the largest collection of U.S. Lighthouse information currently available on the Internet. We hope you will like using it.

Nothing of this magnitude could be built by a single individual, and our project required the input of several Society personnel along with summer interns, volunteers, and others. 

Contributors to the Catalog include but are not limited to:
Candace Clifford, Thomas Tag, Thomas Wheeler, Kraig Anderson, Jeremy D’Entremont, Donna Suchomelly, Linda Keenan, Benjamin Shields, Aidan Kolenik, Jack Del Nunzio, and Aislinn Rubinic. Note: Many others contributed photos and information for the Catalog.


Note about the data: Just above the main lighthouse photograph is a data field named “Source.” This is the source of the data used in the main lighthouse description and is usually from a Light List such as LL-1908 meaning Light List for the year 1908. Many lighthouses had multiple towers in the same location with varying construction such as wood, then later a brick tower, then later an addition to make the tower taller, etc. The data we show is from a specific time, the year of the Light List or other source. If there were other tower configurations you will see photographs of those other towers by pressing the “Document” button near the bottom of the page. The main lighthouse photograph shown is the lighthouse as it currently looks or as it last was before being destroyed.