New Art Piece On Display

Donor Jane Libby and Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen pose with the framed portrait of Christeen M. Shelden, daughter of local historic figure Ransom B. Shelden. The painting was donated to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections on Monday, June 20.
Donor Jane Libby poses with the framed portrait of Christeen M. Shelden, daughter of local historic figure Ransom B. Shelden. The painting was donated to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections earlier this week.

 

Pherissa Jane Libby recently made a pilgrimage to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections to donate a painting of her great grandmother, Christeen M. Shelden. Christeen was the daughter of Ransom B. Shelden, patriarch of the well-known and highly respected Shelden family of Houghton. Ransom Shelden is credited with being one of the original founders of Houghton and the Shelden family was very active in local business, politics and social affairs in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Mrs. Libby remarked that “Christeen has come home,” and was delighted that the staff at the Van Pelt and Opie Library shared in her enthusiasm. The painting was gifted to Libby by her grandmother in the 1940s, although little is known about when the painting was completed or who the artist was. The donor has heard anecdotal evidence that it was done by an itinerant artist sometime prior to 1880. After securing the gift, the art piece was installed prominently in the reading room of the Michigan Tech Archives where it can be enjoyed by researchers and visitors.

If you are interested to view the painting, please visit the archives during normal business hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about the Michigan Tech Archives or to inquire about donating a collection, please e-mail copper@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-2505.

Research Orientations and Hands-On Workshops

Students from SS 3540, History of Michigan, conducting research during a hands-on research workshop on June 2, 2016.
Students from SS 3540, History of Michigan, conducting research during a hands-on research workshop on June 2, 2016.

In addition to preserving and providing access to a wide variety of historic print, graphic and digital material, the staff of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections also offer research support services to meet the unique research needs of students, faculty, staff, and community members. Research support services within the Archives can be tailored to the specific needs of researchers, curricula, or one class. During the summer, our research orientations, tours and hands-on research workshops are particularly popular with undergraduate students and genealogical researchers.

Research orientations and tours
Research orientations and tours for small groups and class visits are designed to give participants an overview of policies, resources, and research methods. These sessions may appeal to faculty from many areas of the university to find ways to use, or promote the benefits of primary source materials in their courses. Research orientations and tours are designed for groups no larger than 20 participants and typically last 45-60 minutes; these are available to members of the university as well as to the community.

Hands-on research workshops
The newest service that the Archives has initiated is a hands-on research workshop. These sessions are built around a specific course objective, assignment, or research project. Workshops involve an in-depth discussion about research as it pertains to a specific topic or material type. These sessions include a hands-on research activity and worksheet customized to give participants a deeper understanding of a specific aspect of archival research. Research workshops typically last 45-60 minutes and they are available to all faculty, staff and other research groups.

In addition to these services, the department also offers research consultations for individual researchers. Please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505 or at copper@mtu.edu to learn more about how our research support services may benefit your archival research project.

Black Voices in the Copper Country Project Reception

BVPosterDRAFT3

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is pleased to invite the community to our project reception for the “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project. The presentation and social hour will take place on Tuesday, May 31 at 6 p.m. in the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s East Reading Room. This event is free and open to the public. Assorted hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments will be served.

Please join us for a reception to celebrate the work of the “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project, which has been a year-long effort to explore African-American social history in the northwestern Upper Peninsula. Lindsay Hiltunen and Martin Hobmeier will discuss their research findings and provide a preview of content that will be a part of the online exhibit, which is scheduled to launch in June 2016.

For more information, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505 or copper@mtu.edu.

This reception is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

MHC Publicity

Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project – Part 2

Here is the second installment of our student assistant written blog entry about our Mine Memories Oral History Project.

Part two out of two:

 

After we figured out how we could best set up our interview space, we were able to start recording interviews. Of course, I was nervous, but at the same time I was excited to hear what our interviewees had to say about their experiences. Our first interview went smoothly, there were no interruptions and next to no unwanted sounds on the recording. Our first interviewee was a historian, so it was really very interesting hearing things from both his personal and historical perspective. Our next interviewee, who actually worked for a local mining company, provided a completely different point of view on the time.

 

We have interviewed seven people so far, and no two stories are the same. It has been an amazing journey, hearing all of these different perspectives on the same topic, and a topic that has had such a huge impact on the local region. Hearing people tell these stories is one thing, but to hear them and to realize how huge of an impact working in or around the mines has caused in their lives, is kind of mind blowing.

 

The other day I was walking down along the portage by the Portage Lake District Library, and saw a mural of what Houghton could have looked like back in the mining days. There were also depictions of one of the mines that I’ve heard so much about and an image of a possible housing situation for the miners. It was incredible to be able to point out what I’ve heard during the interviews and be capable to look at these images and tell some of the stories that I’ve been hearing. It has been an incredible opportunity to work on this project and with all of these wonderful people, I can’t wait to come back from my summer break and continue working on these interviews.

 

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project

This is the first of two articles written by one of our student assistants, Andrea Dubs, who is working with us on the Mine Memories Oral History Project as our Audio Technician. She is responsible for much of the recording that we do during our interviews and refining audio files for clarity.

 

Part one out of two:

 

I have been working with the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections as a student assistant for a little over a month now, and I must say that it has been quite interesting. Even though I’ve only been here a short amount of time, I feel like I’m part of the family. Everyone is always smiling and has a happy greeting for you when you walk in. I am currently working as the audio technician on the Mine Memories Oral History Project.  This project is really very interesting, listening to people telling their stories and realizing that it is their history has had a huge impact on me.

 

When I first joined this project, I had no idea what to expect. I was in new territory but I was also prepared to learn new things. As the audio tech for this project, I had to first learn how to use the recorder that had been purchased. The recorder we are using is a Zoom H5. I watched several YouTube videos and skimmed through the user manual to work out the best ways to use the equipment in an interview setting. After learning how to use the recorder, I learned how to edit audio files in Audacity, a free open source audio editing software. To do this, I watched several tutorial videos.

Andrea Dubs,  editing audio files with Audacity
Andrea Dubs, editing audio files with Audacity

After familiarizing myself with the Zoom5 and Audacity, I started to think about how we would be using the recorder specifically in an interview setting. I worked out the optimal location for the recorder so that it could pick up the both  interviewee and interviewer voices. We started asking questions such as: how can we minimize the effects of people tapping on the table? How can we minimize drastic sound shifts caused by coughs or sneezes? How can we equalize voices that are speaking at very different volumes, so the audio recording is easier to listen to for researchers?

 

In order to answer these questions, Sawyer Newman (Communications and Research Assistant), a graduate student volunteer and I sat down to record several mock interviews. In these interviews, the interviewee and interviewer did different things that could occur during the actual interviews. For example, they did some table tapping and covered their mouths with their hands or spoke particularly loudly or softly.

The Archive's Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
The Archive’s Zoom H5 Handy Recorder

From these tests, we were able to determine the optimal location and input volumes for the recording equipment, which gave us a good idea about how much space we would need to conduct an interview. We also determined that we should use a muffler over the microphone, and place the recorder on a tissue box or stack of newspapers in order to minimize the effects of distracting sounds, such as tapping.

Stay tuned for the second installment, which will be posted later this week. 

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

Mine Memories Oral History Project Update

We are currently in the thick of the interview portion of our Mine Memories project. The Michigan Tech Archives’ oral history team has successfully completed interviews with six community members and has another interview schedules in the upcoming weeks. There are many more who have expressed interest in participating, though there is still room for more participants.

Even more work has been going on behind the scenes, as we transcribe and digitally process the resulting audio files from our interviews.

Keep an eye out for more blog updates about this project – as well as an upcoming student assistant’s accounts of working on the team.

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

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Michigan Tech Archives Seeking 2016 Summer Intern

The Michigan College of Mines library reading room,  1920s or 1930s.
The Michigan College of Mines library reading room, 1920s or 1930s.

 

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is currently seeking applicants for the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Graduate Internship for summer 2016. The archives provides a high level of service to scholars, students and a wide range of visitors, especially in the summer through our role as part of the Keweenaw Heritage Site network, a partnership with the Keweenaw National Historical Park, a member of the National Park Service. Areas of emphasis include manuscripts, maps, print and digital images which document the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula (U.P.) and university history. Partnerships with faculty and collaborative initiatives within the Van Pelt and Opie Library expose archivists to leading edge projects. Current projects include the Keweenaw Digital Archives migration to Preservica, implementation of a new oral history program and a research study and exhibit of African American social history in the U.P.

The intern selected will receive substantial experience in both public service and collections handling. The intern will assist in (day-to-day) public service activities, including greeting and assisting researchers, retrieving and shelving collections, and assisting university and community patrons with use of materials and equipment. The intern will also gain experience in organizing, describing, and processing archival collections. This includes researching people or events covered by a collection, cleaning, arranging, boxing and creating finding aids.

Preference will be given to applicants currently enrolled in a graduate archival studies program, but consideration may be given for equivalent education and experience. The following skills are required:

  • Knowledge of contemporary archival practices, policies, and procedures, including arrangement and description, and familiarity with DACS, MARC, LCSH and AAT.
  • Demonstrated analytical and research skills.
  • Ability to work independently and exercise initiative, discretion and judgment.
  • Ability to work collegially and effectively in a team-based environment.

This is a 35 hour per week, part-time summer position to span seven weeks. The preferred start date is June 27, to coincide with the university’s second summer session. There are no benefits included with this position and the successful candidate will be expected to cover travel expenses to Houghton, Michigan. The intern will be compensated in the form of a $5000 stipend to be paid out biweekly throughout the duration of employment. Offers of employment are contingent upon and not considered finalized until the required background check has been performed and the results received and assessed. Housing options in the Copper Country include independently requesting a single occupancy dorm room and included meal plan (depending on availability) or making off-campus housing arrangements. In addition to a great working environment you will enjoy exquisite scenery, moderate temperatures and outdoor activities near the shores of Lake Superior!

To learn more about us, please visit our website: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/

Applications are due by May 1, 2016. Direct any questions, or submit your cover letter and resume to:

Lindsay Hiltunen, Senior Archivist
Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
Attn: Graduate Student Summer Intern Position
Van Pelt and Opie Library
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
copper@mtu.edu
(906) 487-2505

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. 

“Oral Histories and Archives” Talk to be Held at the Calumet Public Library

The Friends of the Calumet Public Library is sponsoring a presentation next week by Sawyer Newman, Communications and Research Assistant at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections.

During this talk, Newman will discuss the value that archives can have as active members of their respective communities and the benefit that oral histories add to archival collections. The talk will utilize examples of oral history from the current Mine Memories project and other oral history collections held by the Michigan Tech Archives.

The talk will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at 6:30 P.M. at the Calumet Public Library (located on the C-L-K campus, 57070 Mine Street, Calumet). The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission. 

 

Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection
Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection

African American History Presentation to be Held on March 2

Dr. Michelle S. Johnson, a Community Historian with the Michigan Historical Center, will be presenting a talk on African American history in Michigan on Tuesday, October 27 at 4:00 p.m. at the Van Pelt and Opie Library. This photograph is courtesy of Kzoo Uncaged. See there website for a great interview with Dr. Johnson.
Dr. Michelle S. Johnson, a Community Historian with the Michigan Historical Center, will be presenting a talk on African American history in Michigan on Wednesday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. at the Van Pelt and Opie Library. This photograph is courtesy of Kzoo Uncaged. See their website for a great interview with Dr. Johnson.


As part of the “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project, the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections will be hosting a talk by Dr. Michelle S. Johnson, a Community Historian with the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing.

The talk will be held at 4pm on Wednesday, March 2 in the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s East Reading Room. The presentation, “Exhibits for a New Century: Researching the African American Experience in Michigan from the Copper Country to the Capital,” will explore the historical center’s Exhibits for a New Century project, which is an interpretive exhibit documenting the African American experience across the state. Johnson will also discuss the methods and meaning behind the exhibit as well as a statewide research initiative to uncover and share African American narratives in Michigan history, such as the grant-funded project taking place at the Michigan Tech Archives.  This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Johnson has executed extensive work on securing and promoting spaces where socially marginalized people express their autonomous and authentic selves. As co-founder and executive director of Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative, she collected and oversaw the collection of numerous oral histories around issues of place, community, race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and history. Johnson served as the Freedom Trail coordinator for the State of Michigan from 2000-2008 and consults on 19th century history projects in the state and the mid-west region, especially the Underground Railroad. She researches, writes and lectures for academic and public settings on aspects of African American culture in Michigan. Her scholarship includes a community project in Loughman, Florida researching, interpreting and performing the work of Zora Neale Hurston. Named WIDR’s “most beloved DJ,” Johnson has appeared as a weekly host for Slip Back Soul for 9 years as DJ Disobedience.

This talk is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

MHC Publicity

Michigan History Day District 1 Competition to be held at Michigan Tech this Saturday

Michigan History Day 2016

The Michigan Technological University Department of Social Sciences and the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections are pleased to announce that the Michigan History Day district 1 competition will be held at the Memorial Union Building at Michigan Tech, Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 9am to 1pm.

Five secondary schools from MI-District 1 (the 6 western counties of the UP) will be sending nearly 100 students with over 40 History Day projects to Michigan Tech for a district competition. Top entries in each category — exhibits, documentaries, websites, papers, and performances — will be eligible to go to State competition in April. Winning entries will also be on display in May at the Carnegie Museum on Houghton.

History Day is a competition for middle and high school students who develop historical research projects based on an annual theme that highlight people, events, and ideas in history.  This year’s national theme is “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History” and projects are on local, state, national, and even world history.  Michigan History Day is sponsored and coordinated by the Historical Society of Michigan, which coordinates 13 state districts.  Each school in the district has initial competitions and sends up to three entries (individual or group) in each category to a district competition, which then sends on top projects in each category to state finals in May.

ABOUT MHD-district 1: Assistant Professors Steven Walton and Jonathan Robins, both historians in the Dept. of Social Sciences, and Senior Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen of the Michigan Tech Archives are the coordinators for Michigan District 1 (Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagan, Iron and Gogebic counties). The Department of Social Sciences offers a B.A. degree in history with particular strength in industrial and environmental history and archaeology.  The Michigan Tech Archives holds unparalleled historical resources on the Copper Country and its mining history. Michigan Tech has been hosting the district conception each February or early March for nearly a decade.

Website: http://www.mtu.edu/social-sciences/undergraduate/history/mhd.html

For more information, contact: Steven Walton, 906-487-3272 (office) or 906-370-3877 (cell) or sawalton@mtu.edu