All posts by Erik Nordberg

Historical Collections Now Searchable

A group of new online search tools has enhanced the search and discovery of historical records in the collections of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in Houghton, Michigan. The improved access is the result of a two-year project to improve description of the Archives’ extensive holdings of regional manuscript material. The initiative was funded through a $167,600 grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration.

During the project, Archives’ staff conducted a box-by-box survey of its entire collection, totaling more than 7,000 cubic feet and including personal papers, diaries, organizational records, business materials, mining company records, maps, newspapers, and other historical documents. The project identified more than 700 discrete collections and created standardized descriptions providing information about the size, content, and dates of coverage for each collection.

These descriptions have been revealed to potential researchers throughout the world via a number of online tools.  A full listing of the collections, including collection number, title, and brief description, is now available on the Michigan Tech Archives blog: http://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/nhprc-cataloging-project/collection-registers/.

Catalog records for each collection are also available on the Voyager catalog at Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library: http://ils.lib.mtu.edu/vwebv/searchAdvanced. Visitors may limit their searches by the location “Archives Manuscript Collection.” These records allow searches of collection names, keywords in their brief descriptions and histories, and also using standardized subject headings.

Versions of these catalog records are also searchable through WorldCat, an international bibliographic database maintained by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a global cooperative of libraries, archives, and museums. The general public can search the main WorldCat catalog: http://www.worldcat.org/. Participating OCLC member institutions may also search these records through the FirstSearch version of WorldCat which allows researchers to limit type to “Archival Materials” and limit availability to library code “EZT” for Michigan Tech archival collection records.

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or at copper@mtu.edu


Archives Seeks Two Archivists for Grant Project

The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections seeks two temporary full-time archivists to work on an NHPRC grant-funded project to arrange, preserve, and describe to current archival standards 92 manuscript collections that document the lives and residents of Michigan’s “Copper Country,” a four-county region in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Collections to be processed are primarily paper-based and include diaries, personal papers, organizational records, and corporate documents relating to Michigan’s historic Keweenaw copper mining district.

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SENIOR PROJECT ARCHIVIST
24 months / $33,075 annual

The Senior Project Archivist will supervise the arrangement and description of 92 collections comprising 1,329 feet of manuscript material. This position will develop and implement a processing plan and will supervise and participate in the hands-on aspects of the project. This includes organizing and arranging textual and non-textual materials according to professional archival standards, developing and maintaining written finding aids, inventories and databases, and assisting in the development of metadata for collection management software. The Senior Project Archivist will also have responsibility for updating/correcting subject and authority records for MARC output, production and correction of standardized EAD output (including the use of style sheet templates in oXygen, an XML authoring and editing software), transfer of EAD and MARC records to web servers, OCLC WorldCat, and the library’s local catalog. Descriptive work will provide links from catalog records, registers, and the collection guide to stable URLs for the web-based EAD finding aids.

Further details about this position, including required and desirable education and skills, are available on the Michigan Tech jobs site at https://www.jobs.mtu.edu/postings/274

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PROCESSING ARCHIVIST
21 months / $30,000 annual

The Processing Archivist will work with other project staff to develop and implement a processing plan, organize and arrange textual and non-textual materials according to professional archival standards, develop and maintain written finding aids, inventories and databases, identify materials needing further treatment, and assist in the development of metadata for collection management software.

Further details about this position, including required and desirable education and skills, are available on the Michigan Tech jobs site at https://www.jobs.mtu.edu/postings/272

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Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled.

TO APPLY:

Please visit https://www.jobs.mtu.edu/ and look under Staff Job Openings. Questions concerning this opening should be directed to the Michigan Tech Human Resources Department at jobs@mtu.edu.  Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer.



November 17: Tuberculosis in the North Woods

The current Houghton County Medical Care Facility was originally built in 1951 as the Copper Country Sanatorium. It replaced an early building which was described as a "disaster hotel housing the sick." The history of tuberculosis treatment in the local area will be the topic of a November 17 presentation at Michigan Tech. Herman Gundlach construction photograph, courtesy Michigan Tech Archives. Click image for additional information.

The Michigan Tech Archival Speaker Series will feature visiting scholar Dr. Jennifer Gunn at 6:00pm on Thursday, November 17 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Tech campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Gunn’s presentation, entitled “Tuberculosis in the North Woods: Public Health and Social Implications in the Early Twentieth Century.” will exmaine the history of tuberculosis in the Upper Great Lakes region, particularly the impact of the disease in Michigan’s historic Keweenaw copper mining district. In 1938, the Houghton County tuberculosis sanatorium had a 60% death rate—much higher than the tuberculosis mortality for Michigan as a whole. This talk will explore the intersections of occupation, geography, and poverty in the incidence of tuberculosis in the Copper Country and the strong efforts of the state and the Houghton-Keweenaw Health District to control the disease.

Dr. Jennifer Gunn is Associate Professor and Director of the Program in the History of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She earned her Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation examined the history of graduate medical education in the United States. Currently researching a book regarding rural health and medicine in the Upper Midwest, 1900-1950, Professor Gunn’s interest in mining communities and rural health disparities in an urbanizing society is informed by her experience as a coal miner in Alabama.

Gunn’s presentation is supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant program has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the Archives.

For more information call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505, e-mail to copper@mtu.edu, or visit them on the web at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/


November 7 Open House Celebrates Completed Cataloging Project

Army cadets in the military-mining course at the Michigan College of Mines visited the Quincy mine in 1918. Image #MTU-166-03-0001, Michigan Tech Archives.

The public is invited to an open house at the Michigan Tech Archives at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, November 7, 2011. The event will mark the completion of a two-year project to improve description of the Archives’ extensive holdings of regional manuscript material. The initiative was funded through a $167,600 grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration

During the project, Archives’ staff conducted a box-by-box survey of its entire collection, totaling more than 7,000 cubic feet and including personal papers, diaries, organizational records, business materials, mining company records, maps, newspapers, and other historical documents. Conservation and preservation assessments were made and some donations merged together into larger, single collections. 

The project identified more than 700 discrete collections and created standardized descriptions providing information about the size, content, and dates of coverage for each collection. These descriptions are now accessible to researchers through the Archives’ web site, the online catalog of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, and OCLC WorldCat, an international online resource for printed materials. Through this work, the holdings of the Michigan Tech Archives have been revealed to potential researchers throughout the world. 

The November 7 event is open to the general public and refreshments will be served. A small display will highlight interesting materials discovered and described during the project. These include the June 1853 journal of civil engineer L.L. Nichols describing construction of the ship canal and locks at Sault Ste. Marie, a 1915 beer delivery log book from the Bosch Brewing Company, coded telegrams from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company,  illustrated weekly reports showing military-mining courses at the Michigan College of Mines during World War I, printing samples from the Keweenaw Printing Company, and original fieldnote books from the ongoing wolf-moose ecological study on Isle Royale. 

The event will also introduce Elizabeth Russell, recently hired as a full-time archivist at the Michigan Tech Archives.  Russell was the primary cataloger on the two-year grant project and has accepted a regular position with the Archives. 

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu 


Archives Welcomes New Archivist (well, sort of)

Elizabeth Russell begins the position of full-time Archivist at the Michigan Tech Archives Tuesday, November 1, 2011. She was selected from a pool of candidates following a national search. Although new to this professional archivist position, Russell has been employed with Michigan Tech as project cataloging archivist on a two-year grant-funded initiative to complete collection-level descriptions of the department’s manuscript collections. The project, funded by the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, was completed on October 31.

“Beth has contributed significantly to the success of the NHPRC grant as well as being a highly regarded member of the service team in the Archives,” noted Ellen Marks, University Librarian and Library Director. “She has an interesting background in different types of archives, sailing and cooking that has led her to her new, permanent home in the Copper Country.”

Russell’s hire into this position continues efforts to improve description of the Archives’ manuscript collections. “Beth’s experience is perfect for the types of cataloging and collections work at hand,” indicates Erik Nordberg, University Archivist. “She has extensive direct experience with cataloging archival material and is closely familiar with software and standards such as MARC, OCLC, and LCHS.”  Her two years’ cataloging work in Houghton has also provided her with a detailed knowledge of local history and local cataloging rules which will be essential to the Archives’ future success.

Before moving to Michigan, Russell was collections cataloger for Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Art History from Providence College and a Master of Library and Information Studies with a concentration in special collections, manuscripts, and archives from the University of Rhode Island. She has completed training from the Society of American Archivists in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS).

Russell fills the position of Archivist which became vacant when Julia Blair accepted the position of Strategic Initiatives Librarian for the J.Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library.


Archives Exhibit Travels to Eastern U.P.

An immigrant to Michigan’s copper mining district poses for a portrait in J.W. Nara’s Calumet studio. The work of this early Twentieth Century photographer is featured in a travelling exhibit at the Brimley Area Schools Library from October 21 through December 16. Image Nara 42-121, courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives (click image for additional details).

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be hosted by the Brimley Area Schools Library from October 21 through December 16, 2011. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and will be open to the public during the library’s regular hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The Library is located in the Brimley Area Schools complex at 7134 South M-221 in Brimley, Michigan.

The Library will host an exhibit opening program on Friday, October 21. Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Technological University, will give an illustrated presentation, “Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara” featuring dozens of historical photographs of the Upper Peninsula. The presentation is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in the Library, with the exhibit open extra hours that evening 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for the opening event.

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads.

The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, draws upon historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection.

The exhibit will remain on display in Brimley through December 16. For more information on the exhibit, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu or the Brimley Area Schools Library at 906-248-3217, extension 529 / ewaters@eup.k12.mi.us


Archives Moves Toward New Technologies

Working on mark-up of an EAD file during Michael Fox's recent archival description workshop.

The Archives was closed Thursday-Friday, September 8-9, 2011, so that staff could be  trained in several new software tools.

Michael Fox, recently retired from the Minnesota Historical Society, spent three days with staff of the Michigan Tech Archives (as well as some other friends). Fox reviewed some basic elements of how manuscript collections differ from museum and library collections. It is important to realize that unlike other item-level collections, archives have complex inter-relations within their manuscript collections. Very few archives catalog material to the item level. Instead, they gather descriptive data at the collection level, as well as information about groupings of documents in folders or within collections as records series. The hierarchical relationship between individual documents, the folders they reside in, the series of which they were created, as well as the overall collections which hold them require complex systems of description.

Encoded archival description (EAD) is a standard which has emerged in recent years to help archivists create and hold this type of hierarchical descriptive information. It uses extensible mark-up language (xml)  to take previous types of written inventories and finding aids and turn them into a standardized data format (it also relies on a descriptive standard called “describing archives: a content standard,” or DACS, to ensure that the contents of individual fields is consistent across the board). With information about our collections held in EAD format, the Michigan Tech Archives will be able to export information to web sites and other places where potential researchers might discover our collections.

This work is not for the faint of heart, however, and will involve many changes in the way that we do our work at the Michigan Tech Archives. One of these changes will be the migration of collections information to a new open source archival collections management software tool called Archivists’ Toolkit. AT will allow us to gather a variety of information about our collections, including both descriptive information and internal administrative notes about preservation and processing. From AT, we’ll be able to output descriptive information compliant to the EAD standard. We’ll also be able to export catalog records compliant to the library world’s MARC standard.  In these formats, we’ll be able to update and share information through sites like OCLC’s Worldcat and ArchiveGrid.

Although this may sound like technical mumbo-jumbo to some of our non-archivist researchers, it will mean a dramatic improvement to the variety and level of information that researchers may discover about our holdings.

We were pleased to have Fox’s training workshop supported through grant monies from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission. Over the course of the last two years, NHPRC’s funding of our current ‘basic archives’ grant has provided the first steps in this move toward better and more standardized description. During this period, we have already created collection-level records for each of the manuscript collections held at the Michigan Tech Archives (you can read some of these on our blog over here). With NHPRC funding for Michael Fox’s visit, we made the first steps toward implementation of Archivists’ Toolkit, EAD, and the next steps in our program.

Look for additional updates here.


Recent Graduate Projects Utilizing the Michigan Tech Archives

The railroad engine roundhouse at the Quincy Mine has been the topic of two recent graduate projects at Michigan Tech. Image No Neg 2010-01-01-01 (click image for full descriptive information)

One of the strengths of the program at the Michigan Tech Archives is the close collaboration with the University’s Social Sciences Department. In addition to support for coursework and the use of historical collections by the department’s faculty, significant research is completed by students in the Social Sciences graduate programs

The Social Sciences Department now offers four graduate degrees: master’s degrees in both Industrial Archaeology and Environmental Policy, and doctoral programs in Environmental and Energy Policy as well as Industrial Heritage in Archaeology. Across these 4 programs, the department supports more than 20 graduate students.

Many of these students undertake thesis or dissertation projects on local topics – and use the collections of the Michigan Tech Archives in their research.  Print copies of their graduate products are kept permanently in the Archives and most of these are also available as downloadable .pdf files through the online catalogof the J.R. Van Pelt and John and Ruann Opie Library (access to some of these document may be limited to on-campus researchers).

Here are a selection of some recent projects that have drawn from our collections. Links are given to the catalog records.

Preserving and interpreting the mining company office: landscape, space and technological change in the management of the copper industry / by Renee M. Blackburn. Thesis, 2011 . Click here for catalog record.

Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad engine house facility management and interpretive plan / by Dennis H. Leopold.  Thesis, 2011. Click here for catalog record.

Fish contaminants through the tribal perspective: an ethnography of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s tribal fish market / by Valoree Sherick Gagnon.  Thesis, 2011 . Click here for catalog record.

Lighthouses as an overlapping boundary between maritime and terrestrial landscapes: how lighthouses served to connect the growing industries of the Keweenaw Peninsula with the world market / by Lisa M. Gillis.  Thesis, 2011. Click here for catalog record.

From ruin to museum: preserving and interpreting the Quincy and Torch Lake railroad engine house / by Craig P. Wilson.  Thesis, 2010. Click here for catalog record.

More favorable combination of circumstances could hardly have been desired: a bottom to top examination of the Pittsburgh and Boston Mining Company’s Cliff Mine / by Sean M. Gohman. Thesis, 2010. Click here for catalog record.

Reflection, refraction, and rejection: copper smelting heritage and the execution of environmental policy / by Bode J. Morin.  Dissertation, 2009. Click here for catalog record.

Arctic network builders : the Arctic Coal Company’s operations on Spitsbergen and its relationship with the environment / by Cameron C. Hartnell  (used photographs from Michigan Tech mining engineering alumni who worked for Arctic Coal). Dissertation, 2009. Click here for catalog record.


Copper Harbor Hosts Exhibit about Keweenaw Photographer

J.W. Nara photograph of the Peoples' Auto Co. bus line, ca. 1910. Image Nara 42-025 Michigan Tech Archives. Click on photograph for more information.

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, has moved to the Visitor’s Center in Copper Harbor, Michigan. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and will be open to the public during the center’s normal hours: Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Fridays 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m., Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sundays 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.  The installation is sponsored by the Copper Harbor Improvement Association.

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads. 

The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, works from historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight J.W. Nara’s experiences and include material the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection. 

The exhibit will remain on display in Copper Harbor through October. For more information on the exhibit, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu or the Copper Harbor Improvement Association at 906-289-4274 / chwelcome@gmail.com

Here are some photographs from the installation (click on individual images for larger version):