Western Chapter of Michigan History Alliance to be Hosted by Michigan Tech Archives

MHAEach regional alliance meets at least twice a year to bring together representatives from HSM member historical organizations in several counties. The gatherings will feature a speaker to address a topic of interest and allow for conversations among each region’s historical organizations. Attendance at the Michigan History Alliance networking sessions is free of charge for current member organizations of HSM. Membership is required for participation.Michigan History Alliance Districts

 

 

Alliance meetings will also offer separate three-hour History Skills Workshops led by authorities in the field. Lindsay Hiltunen, University Archivist at Michigan Tech, will facilitate a workshop and brainstorming session on All-Ages Archives. The workshop will discuss collaboration with community partners in order to plan, develop, implement, and assess creative outreach and primary source research instruction to K-12 students and community groups. The session will utilize examples to show the power of teamwork and good planning and will showcase successes and address challenges that come up in the planning process. There is a fee to attend the History Skills Workshops.

For more information about the program, contact Assistant Director for Education Programs and Events Robert Myers at (517) 324-1828 or myers@hsmichigan.org.


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Allison

Allison at the 41 North Film Festival, Houghton, November 2016.
Allison at the 41 North Film Festival, Houghton, November 2016.

First Name: Allison
Title: Archivist
Where are you from? Born and raised in the Twin Cities (Minnesota), but have spent the majority of my adult years in Madison, Wisconsin.

Where did you work before coming to Michigan Tech? I first cut my teeth in the archives field as an intern with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. Prior to coming to the Michigan Tech Archives in July 2016, I worked as a cataloger at the Minnesota Historical Society, working primarily with audio-visual collections. I have to give credit to the Wisconsin Historical Society, University of Wisconsin-Madison Oral History Program and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for my early career experience in archival work, providing me with the practical experience and knowledge that I’m excited to bring to Tech.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives? My favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives is seeing our patrons leave the archive with a smile on their face. Whether it’s an academic researcher who found a crucial piece of information for their research or a genealogist who was able to find a tangible connection to their ancestors, the joy on our patron’s faces makes everything worthwhile.

At the Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette, August 2017.
At the Lakenenland Sculpture Park, Marquette, August 2017.

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here? I feel that I make a new discovery every week, which is why it is hard to narrow it down. I would have to say the most interesting thing I’ve recently learned is that the Atlas Powder Company powerhouse whistle resides on the top of the Central Heating Plant of the Michigan Tech campus. Not only that, but the whistle has been used to mark the beginning of K-Day (Keweenaw Day) on campus. The names of several employees that were working at Atlas when the plant closed in 1960s are engraved on the whistle. What an obscure, but fascinating story, full of local and campus history!

What is your favorite collection? Picking a favorite collection among so many great ones to choose from is hard, but I would have to say the John T. Reeder Photograph Collection (MS-042). It was the first collection at the Michigan Tech Archives that I became acquainted with even before I came to work here. I think I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the beautiful photographs Reeder took of the Copper Country and its people.

Allison2

What is your favorite photograph in CCHI? So many to choose from! I’m partial to a lot of the animal photos in CCHI, particularly the 1957 photo from the Daily Mining Gazette (DMG) of “Paddy” the deer and “Pudgy” the cat nuzzling each other. Just such a sweet photo!

Allison after a Zumba class at the SDC, May 2017.
Allison after a Zumba class at the SDC, May 2017.

What is one interesting fact about you? One interesting fact about me is that while I’m an archivist by day, by night I’m a certified Zumba instructor for the HuskiesFit program. Come check out my class at the Student Development Complex!

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you? For me, the archives represents a place where the past and present intersect. It’s a place where Copper Country residents can discover their personal family stories and learn how those stories have both been shaped by and have influenced the history of the region. While my story doesn’t have roots here, as a new community member it is an important place for me where I can learn about the history of the land and the community that I’m now a part of.


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Georgeann

Georgeann snowshoeing at the shores of Lake Superior, McLain State Park.
Georgeann snowshoeing at the shores of Lake Superior, McLain State Park.

First Name: Georgeann
Title: Library Assistant (Resource Access and Discovery Services and Archives)
Where are you from? I grew up in Chassell, just down the road from Houghton, MI.

Where did you work before coming to Michigan Tech?
I worked for the Chassell Township School as the librarian.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives?
I learn something new everyday. It has given me a greater appreciation for how special this area is and why it is so important to remember the things that have happened here.

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here?
I’ve always been drawn to lighthouses, so it was great to learn about the Stannard Rock lighthouse. It’s a tiny lighthouse out in the middle of nowhere on Lake Superior. It was named for Captain Charles C. Stannard who was the first to discover the highly dangerous rock reef. Stannard Rock has been called “The Loneliest Place in the World” because all you can see is water for miles around.

What is your favorite collection?GeorgeannFavPhoto
The Postcard Collection. It’s very interesting to see the wide range of postcards that were produced. Some of them even have original written messages on the back and it’s fascinating to read what people were writing about the area.

 

A zentangle ornament that Georgeann made.
A zentangle ornament that Georgeann made.

What is your favorite photograph in CCHI?
This adorable baby beaver taken by John T. Reeder. 

What is one interesting fact about you?
I enjoy drawing Zentagle Inspired Art to relax and unwind.

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you? There are records here relating to my family and the various businesses they have owned in the area and it’s great to know those histories will be preserved for the younger generations.


A Visit to the Copper Country Sanatorium: Images from the Brenda Papke Photograph Collection

Women residing at the Copper Country Sanatorium pose with the reminder that “You can beat TB!”
Women residing at the Copper Country Sanatorium pose with the reminder that “You can beat TB!”

The following post was researched and authored by Emily Riippa, Assistant Archivist.

For most Americans of today, the word “tuberculosis” carries little weight. It might mean a needle prick to the forearm before being approved for a hospital volunteer position or a warning offered to vacationers bound for China, Brazil, or Kenya, three of the countries where the disease maintains a foothold. Those living in the United States now might forget a time in this country when tuberculosis (TB) was a dreaded scourge called the “white death.”

In those days, the Copper Country was at the epicenter of Michigan’s tuberculosis problem. By 1930, the death rate among those suffering from the disease was higher in Houghton and Keweenaw counties than anywhere else in the state and nearly double the statewide average: 117 deaths per 100,000 people in these two counties, according to data collected by contemporary public health officials, compared to 60 deaths per 100,000 statewide. Dr. James Acocks, a physician who spent most of his career treating TB patients in the Upper Peninsula, recalled that public health officials advanced many potential explanations for the apparent epidemic in mining country but never definitively determined its cause.

Even if the origin of the plague remained a mystery, the need for tuberculosis care in the Keweenaw was plainly apparent. In 1910, Houghton County voters approved a bond measure to construct a sanatorium on a plot of civic land near Houghton Canal Road, not far from the county’s residential facility for the indigent. In keeping with the prevailing treatment philosophies of the time, which called for ample fresh air and natural light, the wood-frame building of the Houghton County Sanatorium featured a large screen porch to which patients were escorted on days when the weather was nice. The sanatorium was intended to house just twelve people at first, but the large local TB population quickly overwhelmed this small capacity, even with assistance from outpatient clinics. In 1915, the sanatorium was enlarged to house thirty-six patients; a second expansion two decades later added another twenty-nine beds–removing the much-heralded screen porch–and a 1940 WPA grant allowed for various other upgrades to the facility, now called the Copper Country Sanatorium. Just a few years after the WPA improvements, however, a state inspection found the tuberculosis hospital to be “an obvious fire trap” and unfit for continued use. Construction began soon after on a modern brick building in Hancock, not far from what was then St. Joseph’s Hospital; the new facility would open in 1950.

A view of the new Copper Country Sanatorium, built in 1950 and pictured here in 1955.
A view of the new Copper Country Sanatorium, built in 1950 and pictured here in 1955.

These twilight years of tuberculosis treatment at the Houghton Canal Road building, however, yielded a truly rare gem, one recently donated to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. In 1950–the last year the original sanatorium operated–a resident patient apparently smuggled a camera into the hospital and captured snapshots of experiences there. Thirty-three of those photographs are now part of MS-963: Brenda Papke Photograph Collection, a newly-processed collection just made available for research. The images are a look behind the scenes, so to speak: a unique and sometimes furtive glimpse into the lives of people whose fight against a devastating, deadly illness had taken them away from home and family.

Although no information about the individual who took the sanatorium pictures has come down to us, it seems likely that the photographer was a woman. Many of the images depict women lounging in what appears to be a female ward of the sanatorium. Seemingly relaxed and content, for one photograph the ladies propped their legs on the bedside tables, rolled up their pajamas or bathrobes, and flashed views of their ankles and thighs that vaguely remind the viewer of 1940s pinups. For another picture, two women hopped into bed beside an open window and threw their arms around each other, beaming out at the camera in a manner that seems almost carefree. One of the women had decorated the area above her bed with a calendar, an image of a puppy and a kitten, an advertisement with a child’s picture, and two wishbones–presumably for good luck in the face of tuberculosis. In several other images, a large contingent of female patients assembled for a group shot, all dressed in their best bathrobes or house dresses and with hair neatly curled. Tall women, short women, women whose wrinkled faces testified to many years already lived, women whose youthful appearance bespoke a hope that their whole lives still lay ahead of them–vastly different women all, part of a sisterhood forged by the scourge of tuberculosis.

A group of women being treated for tuberculosis at the Copper Country Sanatorium in 1950 pose for the camera in bathrobes and house dresses.
A group of women being treated for tuberculosis at the Copper Country Sanatorium in 1950 pose for the camera in bathrobes and house dresses.

While many of the pictures show female camaraderie in the sanatorium wards, other images show the mingling and mixing that took place across the hospital. The photographer captured two men hard at work at some sort of machine, perhaps a kitchen tool or a shop instrument. Another young man was apparently a favorite model, repeatedly striking dramatic poses inside and outside the building while wearing his monogrammed pajamas. The women who had been pictured relaxing in bed crowded onto a bench with their male counterparts, squinting against the light of the sun as the photographer captured a group shot. In other cases, sanatorium staff got in on the action: the collection includes two pictures of nurses, both candid and posed. Then there were moments of pure absurdity, with one individual donning an outrageous mask and pushing a bookshelf in a wheelchair through the hallway. Despite the serious threat of tuberculosis hanging over their heads, fellowship and fun obviously persisted among the sanatorium’s residents.

A masked person at the Copper Country Sanatorium takes the bookshelf for a spin.
A masked person at the Copper Country Sanatorium takes the bookshelf for a spin.

The Brenda Papke Photograph Collection is a trove of visual treasures, of which the photographs presented in this piece are only a part. The thirty-three sanatorium pictures truly take the researcher into the heart of the hospital, helping one to glimpse what life was like for those who found themselves on the front lines of the fight against tuberculosis. Interested in investigating the collection for yourself or finding out more about the treatment of TB in the Copper Country? Feel free to stop by the Michigan Tech Archives during our normal business hours, give us a call at (906) 487-2505, or e-mail us at copper@mtu.edu.

 

 


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Lindsay

With my Weimaraner, Otto, on top of Brockway Mountain. July 4, 2017.
With my Weimaraner, Otto, on top of Brockway Mountain. July 4, 2017.

First Name: Lindsay
Title: University Archivist
Where are you from? Tamarack City, Michigan

Where did you work before coming to Michigan Tech? I started my career as a Librarian with the District of Columbia Public Library in 2007. My first job in academic libraries was as the Gifts Coordinator at George Mason University from 2010-2011. After leaving the DC metro area, I worked as a graduate specialist at the Western Illinois University Archives before coming to the Michigan Tech Archives in May 2014. I’ve held various archivist positions here before becoming the UA in May 2016.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives?
My favorite thing about working here is the opportunity to meet interesting people. You never know who will walk in the door, send an e-mail, or who you will meet at a conference. My colleagues in the library are also top notch! We assist patrons from all over the world.

Working here has also allowed me to travel to participate in professional development, so I’ve enjoyed networking with fellow archivists and public historians all over the place. In the past year I’ve chaired panels and presented papers at conferences in Calumet, Traverse City, Indianapolis, Omaha, and Helsinki, Finland. I wake up happy to come to work everyday because I love the people I work with and the places I can go.

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here?dave
The history of my house, which was built in the late 1890s. We’ve learned some neat things, especially about the possible reason the house has a trap door and a secret room.

What is your favorite collection?
MS-134: Verna Grahek Mize – Save Lake Superior Campaign Collection, which was the first collection I processed here. May we always remember the First Lady of Lake Superior!

What is your favorite photograph in CCHI?
My grandpa, David T. Halkola, in his office at Michigan Tech. He was a history professor and also wrote the centennial history of the university, although I wish he would have used better citations!

A selfie at 12 Tonar, an awesome record store in Reykjavik, Iceland, November 2016.
A selfie at 12 Tonar, an awesome record store in Reykjavik, Iceland, November 2016.

What is one interesting fact about you?
It is perhaps no surprise and not all that interesting that I am a collector! I have collections of books, Bosch breweriana (a local brewery), Thomas W. Benton, Hunter S. Thompson and Gonzo art, and vintage horror and sci-fi movie posters. However, the collection that brings me the most joy is my record collection. I lovingly maintain and build an eclectic collection of vinyl, with close to 4000 LPs and 500 45s. The bulk of my collection is punk, hardcore, classic rock, garage, surf, grunge, alternative, indie, rap and hip hop, funk, soul and old school blues. Some pop from the 1950s-today is mixed in. I also have an assortment of novelty records and soundtracks, from the (im)practical (Guy LaFleur’s Instructional Hockey Disco Record) to the bizarre (It’s Monster Surfing Time by the Deadly Ones).

Treating myself after presenting at the International Oral History symposium. Standing in front of Levykauppa Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, a record store in Helsinki, Finland.
Treating myself after presenting at the International Oral History Symposium, November 2016. Standing in front of Levykauppa Keltainen Jäänsärkijä, a record store in Helsinki, Finland.

I really enjoy traveling and I try to hit up a record store in every city I visit. I’ve been to record stores all over to build my collection, from Santa Cruz to New York City, from Toronto, Canada, to Cleremont-Ferrand France, from Reykjavik, Iceland to Helsinki, Finland. When record hunting on a vacation, I always try to pick up a few local bands to learn about the local music scene. Pretty much the first thing I do when I get home from work everyday is spin a record.

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you?
The Michigan Tech Archives are important to me because they help preserve and provide access to significant histories and memories. As a native of the local area and a Tech alum, I’m very grateful to preserve and share these amazing collections. I learn something new everyday!


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Allyse

Allyse and her cat, Mr. Basil.
Allyse and her cat, Mr. Basil.

First Name: Allyse
Title: Archives Public Services Intern
Where are you from? I’m straight-up local.

What is your major:  Psychology, with a mix of everything else.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives? Besides the delightful crew we have here? We connect our patrons with their long-lost relatives. The excitement they feel when discovering information about their families is so heartfelt to me!

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here? There is always something new and neat to learn! Never a dull moment.

What is your favorite collection? The Vertical Files – we go way back! 😉

What is one interesting fact about you? I’ve been fortunate to be a member of the Michigan Tech Archives team since 2010. I give a shoutout to all my colleagues and supervisors who’ve put up with me over the years: “Thank you!”

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you? The fact that we aim to maintain Copper Country and Michigan Tech historical resources, and that we share these resources with the public, is very important! I’m happy to be a part of such a great and community-minded repository.


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Jeremy

Jeremy Staff Spotlight PhotoJeremy is our next staff member to be featured in the Staff Spotlight for American Archives Month!

First Name: Jeremy
Title
: Student Assistant – Copper Range Railroad Exhibit
Where are you from? Cadillac, MI
What is your major? Mechanical Engineering

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives?
Regularly handling historical documents and artifacts from the Upper Peninsula.

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here?
The Bill Nichols Snowmobile Trail follows the route of the former Copper Range Railroad Company

What is your favorite collection?
The Copper Range Company/Railroad Collection.

What is your favorite photograph in CCHI?
A photo of the Copper Range Roundhouse in action.

What is one interesting fact about you?
I am a big stock car racing fan, and attended over 35 races during 2017.

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you?
They help preserve the history of the Copper Country, and allow residents to access these pieces of history of the region they live in.

Copper Range Roundhouse, date unknown.
Copper Range Roundhouse, date unknown.

Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Emily

ArchivesMonthEmily
Emily visiting with Kermit the Frog at the National Museum of American History.

Emily is our next staff member to be featured in the Staff Spotlight for American Archives Month!

First Name: Emily
Title: Assistant Archivist
Where are you from? I was born and raised downstate in Grand Rapids, but my family roots in the Keweenaw stretch back many generations.

Where did you work before coming to Michigan Tech? My last job before coming to Michigan Tech was as a student worker in the curation division at the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor. I also had internships at Keweenaw National Historical Park and the Ada Historical Society.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives? I’d have to say that my favorite part of working here is getting to help people discover new parts of the local story or their family history. That moment when a patron lights up with irrepressible joy makes me just as happy as they are!

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here? I can’t count all the fascinating tidbits I’ve picked up since I started here. As a genealogist, the most interesting knowledge would probably be the kind that has filled in gaps in my family history. Thanks to our collections, I now know exactly when my maternal ancestors came over from England, for example, and I can also tell you that all the stories about my moonshining paternal relatives were true! In fact, I wrote a blog post about my family’s Prohibition hijinks back in March.

What is your favorite collection? Choosing my favorite collection is a tall order! I think it’s a tie between Brockway Diary Collection (MS-010) and the employment cards from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Companies Collection (MS-002).  

The Riippa Lumber Company sawmill near Winona in January 1977.
The Riippa Lumber Company sawmill near Winona in January 1977.

What is your favorite photograph in CCHI? Picking a favorite photograph is another challenge! One of my top choices is a winter picture of my family’s sawmill in Winona–it really drives home just how much snow we get around here.

“Jeopardy!” publicity photograph taken just before filming the episode.
“Jeopardy!” publicity photograph taken just before filming the episode.

What is one interesting fact about you? When I was twelve, I appeared on “Jeopardy! Kids Week” and won.

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you? The Michigan Tech Archives are important to me because of my love for the Copper Country; there’s nowhere like it and nothing quite so interesting as the story of its past. I’m proud to be part of an organization that helps to keep the history of this remarkable place alive.