All posts by akdoll

Grace United Methodist Church records

Part of my summer internship here at the Michigan Tech Archives has been processing the Grace United Methodist Church records.  ‘Processing’  generally entails inventorying a collection, organizing it, and writing a finding aid that provides an overview of the contents.  Usually a finding aid will also give a brief history or background of the people or organizations that created the material.  Processing the Grace United Methodist Church records involved all of the above, and since the collection was about 25 linear feet (archives-speak for 25 boxes) it was no small project.

The most difficult step proved to be thinking of a way to arrange the material, but with a little advice from my mentors Erik Nordberg and Beth Russell I was able to come up with an organization that will be easy for researchers to use and understand. For example, sacramental records (birth, marriage, death, etc.) are located at the beginning of the Grace United Methodist Church records, as they are likely to be used most by genealogists and other researchers interested in the collection.  While the sacramental records only made up a small portion of the collection, Grace United Methodist Church is the oldest standing church in Houghton, MI and these are some of the oldest records in the collection, dating back to the mid 19th century.

Many finding aids also include portions that provide a background on the people or organizations that created the collection.  For the Grace United Methodist Church records I wrote a brief organizational history, which proved to be a fairly simple  task thanks to the efforts of Terry Reynolds, a retired history professor at MTU and a member of the church.   Reynolds completed a comprehensive history of Grace United Methodist Church in 2004, so after inventorying the collection it was easy to emphasize major events and include others that were present in the records.  In many ways, the history of Grace reflects the history of the Copper Country as a whole, which made writing the organizational history an enjoyable part of this project.

Margaret Elaine Reduchel and Roy Vernon Zimmerman married on July 22, 1930 at Grace United Methodist Church in Houghton, MI.

Here is the finding aid (as it appeared on November 22, 2011):  MS-866 Grace United Methodist Church Records  It is probable that additions will be made to this collection in the future; researchers should contact Archives staff to seek subsequent updated versions of this document.

Some photographs of the collection, rehoused in dark grey acid-free archival boxes.


Stories from the Reference Desk

Here at the MTU Archives we help people with a wide variety of research topics.  As a recent graduate and summer intern in the Archives, working at the reference desk has been a great learning experience.  I didn’t quite know what to expect when I started here, but one thing my education prepared me for was the range of knowledge of what an archive is among patrons.   Not everyone that enters the archive knows exactly what the rules are in the reading room, the kinds of collections we have, or even what an archive is.  But that’s ok!  In fact, one of the most rewarding parts of working the reference desk has been helping people who are new to the process of doing research in an archive.  Oftentimes, they are amazed at the kinds of material they are able to find, touch, and learn from.

For example, we recently had a couple come in who were trying to start a family history.  Their ancestors had been miners in the Copper Country, as is often the case with any family that lived here from the mid 19th – mid 20th centuries.  The MTU Archives has employment cards from two major copper mining companies of the area, Quincy and Calumet and Hecla, so  I was able to find the employment cards for several of their relatives.  When I brought them out, the couple was amazed that we had this material.  The cards usually contain a ton of valuable information for genealogists, as well as signatures of the miners themselves.  This last fact was noted by the pair with a certain amount of sentimentality, and they were so in awe of the piece of paper that they double checked that they were able to handle the material.  It was great to be able to help these people, who were a little clueless as to how to begin their research, make a personal connection with history and show them how to get started on their project.  That is, after all, what we’re here for!

However, things at the reference desk don’t always go smoothly.  Occasionally patrons will forget to write down a collection name and box number for the material they were looking at, and come back later hoping we’ll remember.  Since the MTU Archives does not take extensive notes on the material patrons use, it is sometimes impossible to think back and remember exactly which little blue box is needed out of thousands.  Fortunately, through asking questions about the type of research a person is doing and the topics involved there is often a happy ending to these stories, even if there is a delay.  When situations like this occur it definitely serves as a reminder that I need to be vigilant about educating new researchers of the importance of keeping track of their sources.

So far this summer I have found that some patrons, both new and veteran researchers alike, do not know about the Keweenaw Digital Archives, our online image data bank that holds over 10,000 images from the collections of the MTU Archives.  I love it when people come in expecting to spend hours looking for a useful image, but with a quick introduction to the KDA website are able to find what they need with one keyword search.  Recently, a descendant of the man who opened the first Dairy Queen in the Upper Peninsula came into the Archive and had such an experience.  She was looking for a photograph of that first store, which was located in Houghton.  Low and behold, the KDA contained one image that proved to be exactly what she was after.  I hope she enjoyed a beautiful summer afternoon in the Copper Country with all the time she saved!

First Dairy Queen in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Cheers to the MTU Class of 1961

As the summer intern in the Michigan Tech Archives I’ve been tasked with a variety of projects, one of which I just finished in time for the Class of 1961’s 50th reunion.  I compiled a list of interesting Michigan Tech facts and notable happenings from that year (full list below) and if there’s one thing I can say about the Class of ’61, it’s that they experienced a lot of ‘firsts’!

By searching through the Keweenawan (Tech’s yearbook), and the Lode (Tech’s student newspaper), as well as a number of other resources, I learned that Winter Carnival of 1961 saw the first official broomball game on campus.  For those unfamiliar with broomball, it’s a hockey-like sport played with brooms, or sticks resembling brooms.  Any student on campus today can testify to the fact that this sport has turned into quite a phenomenon in the last 50 years.  This Winter Carnival also featured a candle-lit dinner before the annual Sno-Ball dance.

It was an exciting time for varsity sports during the 1960-1961 academic year as well.  Michigan Tech started its first varsity wrestling team, with Bob Gunner as the coach.  The hockey team was also pleased to find out that team captain Gerald Fabbro was pictured on that year’s cover of the “Official NCAA Ice Hockey Guide”.  It was the first time a Tech man had appeared on the cover.

As the class of 1961 is admitted into the “Golden M Club”, which honors alumni who have passed the 50-year milestone in their alumni lives, they can also look back and note that 1961 was the year that this prestigious club was formed.  Congratulations to all the new Golden M Club members!

Michigan Tech during the 1960-1061 Academic Year

1960 marked the 75th anniversary of what was then known as the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, though it was named the Michigan Mining School when it was founded in 1885.  Even during 1960-1961, it was widely known as “Michigan Tech.”

It was during the spring of 1961 that the Alumni Association created the “Golden M Club” to honor alumni who have passed the 50-year milestone in their alumni lives.  Lou Haga, president of the Alumni Association, noted that there would be no dues and no officers in this exclusive club, but said that “any time two or more of you are together will constitute a meeting.”

The campus yearbook was known as the Keweenawan.

The president of Michigan Tech was Dr. John Robert “Bob” Van Pelt.  Part of our current library complex is named in honor of him.  He was the first alumnus to serve as president here, having received the E.M. and B.S. in 1922.  Van Pelt toured the state regularly, speaking on the topic “Expanding Horizons in Science and Engineering.”

The College’s academic year consisted of three “terms” – fall, winter, and spring.  Classes were also offered in the summer.

Buildings on campus included:

  • Hotchkiss Hall, electrical and mechanical engineering.
  • McNair Hall, not the current residence hall, but the old home for mineral dressing and metallurgical engineering
  • Shops Building
  • Hubbel Hall, math and physics
  • Sperr Hall, mining
  • Koenig Hall, chemical engineering and the Michigan State Health Department
  • The Civel-Geological Building, now known as Grover C. Dillman Hall.
  • The Library and Administration Building
  • Memorial Union Building
  • The former Clubhouse and Gymnasium, recently converted for use as the ROTC building at the time.
  • Sherman Gymnasium, later converted into the Walker Arts and Humanities Center
  • Douglass Houghton Hall, the campus’ original residence hall.
  • Wadsworth Hall, the main residence facility for students.  An expansion was complete in September of 1958.

Some may also remember the Hubbell School, Denton House, Smith House, and the on-campus “Engineer’s Field” athletic field.

Several “neighborhoods” of wooden army houses and Quonset huts still stood on the east end of campus.  This area, known as Woodmar, was erected to house the influx of married men (many with small children) who came to Tech to spend their GI Bill money.

The fall of 1960 saw the opening of the Sheldon Heights housing development for married students.  This housing development replaced wartime housing that married students had previously used and offered 150 new units.

The 1960 academic year was also the year the Young Republicans Club formed on campus. The group supplied the student body with absentee ballots.

The fall of 1960 saw an enrollment record for Michigan Tech, with 3,192 students enrolled.

Tuition for the 1960-1961 year totaled $1,047 for room, board, and additional expenses.

The College also owned the Dee Stadium, site for the Michigan Tech hockey games. The first artificial ice was installed over the fall of 1953, so the 1960/61 season was only the eighth year on the artificial ice.

John MacInnes was in his fifth year as head hockey coach.  Hockey captain Gerald Fabbro was pictured on the cover of the 1960-1961 “Official NCAA Ice Hockey Guide,” the first time that a tech man ever appeared on the cover.

In 1960 Michigan Tech formed its first varsity wrestling team, with Bob Gunner as the coach.

The Tech basketball team joined the Northern States College Conference in 1958-1959.  In this third year of competition the team ended with a 2-8 conference record – 5-15 overall.

Tech also had varsity teams in swimming, rifle, skiing, track, tennis, golf, and bowling.

Omar LaJeunesse was the football coach.  Games were played on campus at Engineer’s Field.  The football team ended with a 5-3 record.  Bill Wiljanen, Jim Bovard, Orvo Watia, and Jack Boldt received all-conference honors.

Homecoming featured a parade where student organizations built floats.  The winning float, built by Phi Kappa Tau, featured an enormous animated skunk, complete with “deadly fumes.”  The event had a “hobo” theme.  Nancy Boardman was crowned homecoming queen.  Tech football lost the homecoming game to Mankato 16-0.

The winter of 1960-1961 saw somewhat lighter than average snowfall.  The Keweenaw only received 174 inches of snow.  Record snowfall at that time was the winter of 1950-1951, with a snowfall of 257 inches.
The theme for Winter Carnival was “75 Years of Progress,” and festivities included skits at Hancock’s Kerredge Theater, an ice show at the Dee Stadium, the annual snow statue competition, and for the first time, a candle-lit dinner before the traditional Sno-Ball dance.  The Independents took first place in the Class A snow statue competition, though Theta Tau came out ahead overall.

Lynnda Schirmer was crowned Winter Carnival queen.

Winter Carnival of 1961 also marks the beginning of a Michigan Tech phenomenon that survives to the present day.  This was the first year that broomball was played as part of the festivities.

1961 was also the first year that Winter Carnival featured a jazz concert in the Michigan Union Cafeteria.

The College operated the “MCMT Ski Area” above Ripley, which it had acquired in 1947.  It included four electric tows, three full ski runs, and two ski jumps. Before the current chalet was constructed, skiers used the “Huskie Hut” as a warming shack.

In 1961 Tech won the 10th annual State of Michigan Skiing Championship for the 7th time out of only 8 years of competing.

Some of you may also remember the skating rink that was created for the first time off the east side of Wadsworth Hall on the tennis courts.  Noise had to be kept at a minimum and hockey was not allowed.

The 74th Commencement was held on Sunday, June 17th 1961 at the Dee Stadium.  James Boyd, president of the Copper Range Company, delivered the commencement address.

With many married veterans coming to Tech, the “Tech Wives” club was very popular.  They organized the first nursery school on campus, called the Michigan Tech Cooperative Nursery.  It was located in the barracks behind the Institute of Mineral Research.

Businesses in the Houghton/Hancock area included Northwoods Sport Store, Stern and Field (men’s clothing and furnishings), Gino’s Restaurant, Bond’s Clothing and the Douglass House Hotel.

In 1960 the Houghton/Hancock Lift Bridge had only been in use for one year.

The School Newspaper, The Lode, brought campus news to students and even included ads for slide rules.

The “Sault Branch” of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology had recently celebrated its 12th anniversary.  The campus offered first-year curricula in metallurgical and mining engineering, and two-year curricula in a variety of other courses.  It later became a separate institution and is now known as Lake Superior State University.

Instead of the type of orientation week we pride ourselves on these days, the incoming freshman in 1960 would have experienced something called “frosh week.”  Can anyone here tell me what that was about, and in particular – what the heck is a “flag pole rush?”

There were numerous student organizations across campus, including fraternities, sororities, and club.  Many of these survive on the modern Tech campus 50 years later, while others are gone to history.

Some active clubs on campus included the Forestry Club, Newman club, Alpha Sigma Mu, and Gamma Delta.

Does anyone here recall the Radio Wadsworth club? Perhaps you can tell us about it?

Paul Hainault, class of ’42, and instructor in Mechanical Shops, was producing cast iron Michigan Tech bookends.  Does anyone here still own a pair?  They were painted gold and silver with a large M with “Engineering and Science” across the center.  He sold them for $5.00 a pair and also offered a solid bronze version which sold for $25.00.


Staff Profiles

Sawyer Newman is a student assistant in the Archive and is in her 3rd year at MTU.  She is majoring in Anthropology and is a member of both WMTU and the Photo Club.  Sawyer also enjoys broomball and tennis, and has a Samoyed (a fluffy white dog breed) named Monty.

Jamie Jarvi

Jamie Jarvi is also a student assistant in the MTU Archives and is majoring in Computer Network and System Administration.  He is in his 2nd year and enjoys taking part in any type of computer-related activities.  Jamie is also a Star Wars and Star Trek fan.

Annelise Doll

Annelise Doll is a summer intern for the Michigan Tech Archives.  As a Hancock, Michigan native, she is excited to be working for MTU after completing her education at the University of Michigan.  Annelise loves to snowshoe during the long UP winters and enjoys picking berries for homemade jam in the summer.

The Mariner – Beth is a former captain of this lovely craft.

Beth Russell is with the MTU Archives as part of a two year NHPRC grant to catalog the archive’s hidden collections.  She is originally from Wickford, Rhode Island and though she misses the ocean, Beth is happy to be living near the picturesque shores of Lake Superior.  In her free time Beth enjoys knitting and sailing.

Erik Nordberg, University Archivist

Erik Nordberg is the University Archivist for the Michigan Tech Archives and has been with the archives since 1994.  He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland and went on to complete master’s degrees at both Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  Erik enjoys woodworking, brewing his own beer, and camping.  He is also a doctoral student in the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program at MTU.