All posts by Erik Nordberg

Visiting Scholar Discusses Economic Development in Lake Superior Iron Mining Towns

 

As the mining insdustry experienced boom and bust cycles, groups like the Copper Country Vacationist League encouraged tourism and other 'new' industries to help stabilize local economies. Image MS050-008-002, Harold Putnam Photograph Collection.
As the mining insdustry experienced boom and bust cycles, groups like the Copper Country Vacationist League encouraged tourism and other 'new' industries to help stabilize local economies. Image MS050-008-002, Harold Putnam Photograph Collection.

The ups and downs of iron mining around Lake Superior will be the topic of a public presentation at 7:00pm on Tuesday, July 20, Room 102 of the Chemical Science Building at Michigan Tech. The presentation is part of the “Archival Speakers Series” and is free and open to the public.

Jeff Manuel, assistant professor of history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, will discuss his research into mining communities and their response to economic challenges in the second half of the twentieth century.

The economic fate Lake Superior iron mining has long been tied to volatile global markets in the iron and steel industry and residents in the region have experienced a roller coaster of booms and busts during the last 60 years. At the same time, politicians, community leaders, and economists have pushed various plans to develop local economies and ensure a stable economic base for the region. A review of different approaches to development in past decades reveals the good (and bad) of economic development efforts throughout the region.

Manuel’s research is supported by a Michigan Tech Archives travel grant, with funding provided by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant has assisted more than 25 scholars advance their work through research in the department’s varied historical collections.

 For more information on the July 20 presentation, call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505,or visit them on the web at www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives.


Eagle Harbor is next stop for Archives Exhibit

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. Photograph by J.W. Nara, Image # Nara 42-220.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. Photograph by J.W. Nara, Image # Nara 42-220.

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 visit the Keweenaw County Historical Society in Eagle Harbor. The exhibit, which will be installed in the Society’s Fishing Museum building, explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through July 10 through August 14 during the museum’s regular hours.  

On Sunday, July 11, the Society will host a public reception and program at 2:00 p.m.  in conjunction with the exhibit installation. Erik Nordberg from the Michigan Tech Archives will provide introductory comments about the life and photography of J.W. Nara.

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 travelling 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 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 J.W. Nara exhibit will remain on display at the Keweenaw County Historical Society  through August 14.  More informaton about the exhibit is available here, including details on hosting the exhibit at your location.  J.W. Nara photographs are online as part of the Keweenaw Digital Archives — now at 9,000 images and still growing!


Coming at Ya: The Copper Country in 3D!

An example of a historic stereoview photograph, depicting the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company.
An example of a historic stereoview photograph, depicting the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company.

Tired of viewing the Keweenaw’s fascinating history in only two dimensions? Join Erik Nordberg of the Michigan Tech Archives and Jack Deo of Marquette’s Superior View studios as Copper Country people and places ‘back in the day’ jump off the screen with amazing 3D effects! This special event will occur at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 5, at the Calumet Theatre at the corner of 6th and Elm in historic Calumet, Michigan.

Using special digital technology, more than 100 historic stereoview photos will be projected on the giant screen of the historic Calumet Theatre where audiences will see them in eye-popping three dimensions using special 3D glasses.  See local towns, mines, railroads, and scenery as you’ve never seen them before.

This event is a fundraiser for the Michigan Tech Archives, with proceeds supporting the Keweenaw Digital Archives and preservation of historic photographs in the Copper Country Historical Collections.  The College Avenue Vision Clinic in Houghton is providing the special 3D glasses for this event. Additional sponsors include Superior View studio, The Daily Mining Gazette, The Book Concern, Copper World, The Michigan House Cafe, and Cranking Graphics.

Tickets are only $15 for adults and $7 for children and may be purchased in advance from the Calumet Theatre or at the door. Admission includes your own set of 3D glasses. For further information contact the MTU Archives at 906-487-2505, via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu, or visit them on the web at www.lib.mtu.edu/archives.

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Archives Exhibit Moves to Lake Linden

Calumet & Hecla Smelters, Lake Linden & Hubbell, ca. 1910. Photograph by J.W. Nara, image #Nara 42-017.
Calumet & Hecla Smelters, Lake Linden & Hubbell, ca. 1910. Photograph by J.W. Nara, Image #Nara 42-017.

People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara, a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, is currently hosted in the main museum building of the Houghton County Historical Society in Lake Linden. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through July 6, 2010 during the museum’s regular hours.  

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 travelling 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 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 J.W. Nara exhibit will remain on display at the Houghton County Historical Society  through July 6, 2010, and will then move to the Keweenaw County Historical Society in Eagle Harbor.  More informaton about the exhibit is available here, including details on hosting the exhibit at your location.


Archives Closed Some Days This Summer

The Michigan Tech Archives will be closed on the following days: 

Monday, May 31, in observance of Memorial Day.
Tuesday, June 15, for a staff retreat.
Monday, July 5, in accordance with the University’s Independence Day Recess.

Otherwise, the Archives’ summer hours for public research are:
Monday-Thursday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Please call 906-487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu with any additional questions.


Online access to Calumet & Hecla Collection Finding Aid

Archives’ staff continue work on a project funded by the National Historical Records and Publications Commission to create collection descriptions for each of our manuscript collections.  Although this will provide researchers with a better understanding of the breadth and coverage of our holdings, it won’t initially provide much detail about the contents of individual collections. It is our plan, over time, to continue to create detailed inventories and “finding aids” for each collection which will provide detailed information about the contents of the boxes and folders within each collection.  With a collection of more than 7,000 cubic feet of material, however, this will take a little time.

That said, we do have finding aids available for some of our collections. Researchers may visit our finding aids web page for links to a grouping of some of the more established inventories. During our cataloging project, we’ll also be posting announcements about newly cataloged collections to this blog site.

We’ve recently added a version of the finding aid to Collection MS-002, Calumet & Hecla Mining Companies Collection.  Many thanks to researcher and scholar Eric Nystrom for taking an awkward set of word processing files made years ago in WordPerfect and converting them into a usable web-readable document.


Library Hosts Book-Signing Events

Company housing and Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Agent Street near Calumet, Michigan. The background is dominated by smokestacks, shafthouses, and other industrial workings of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company.
Company housing and Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Agent Street near Calumet, Michigan. The background is dominated by smokestacks, shafthouses, and other industrial workings of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. Image MS042-039-T-045 (Detail A), Collection MS-042 Reeder Photographic Collection.

Two new publications about the history of the Copper Country will make their debut on April 16 and 20 at Michigan Tech.

Professor Larry Lankton of Michigan Tech’s Social Sciences Department will premiere Hollowed Ground: Copper Mining and Community Building on Lake Superior, 1840s-1990s, at 4 p.m., Friday, April 16. In the book, published by Wayne State University Press, Lankton tells the story of Lake Superior copper mining, including the full life-cycles of the Calumet and Hecla, Copper Range, Quincy and White Pine mines, their influence over their mining locations, and the lives of thousands of immigrant workers. Lankton traces the interconnected fortunes of mining companies and communities through times of bustling economic growth all the way through to periods of decline and closure. Author-signed copies of Hollowed Ground will be available for purchase at the event.

Kim Hoagland, professor emeriti at Michigan Tech, presents Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 20. In this study of domestic life in Copper Country communities during the boom years of 1890 to 1918, Hoagland uses the architecture of the region to understand the complex relationship between mine managers and their employees. Published by University of Minnesota Press, the book examines houses, churches, schools, bathhouses, and hospitals to understand the nature of everyday life in this mining region. Author-signed copies of Mine Towns will be available for purchase at this event.

Both events will be held in the East reading room of the J.R. Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Tech campus and will include remarks from the authors about their research and writing processes. Lankton’s and Hoagland’s work draws heavily from the historical records of the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, a department within the Library. The events, which are open to the public with free refreshments, are sponsored by the Library, the Michigan Tech Archives and the Michigan Tech Department of Social Sciences.

For further information contact the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu, or visit the website at www.lib.mtu.edu/archives.

Update: Photos from the Lankton book signing, which attracted a crowd of about 100 people.

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Consortium Meeting Held in Ishpeming May 22, 2010

Underground miners at the Cliff iron mine in Ishpeming, ca. 1890s.  Image #MTU012-008-032, Collection MTU-012 Mining Engineering Photo Collection
Underground miners at the Cliff iron mine in Ishpeming, ca. 1890s. Image #MTU012-008-032, Collection MTU-012 Mining Engineering Photo Collection

The Northland Historical Consortium held its Spring 2010 meeting on Saturday, May 22, 2010, at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum in Ishpeming, Michigan.

The meeting featured a presentation by Dr. Terry Reynolds on the history of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company and the Iron Cliffs Company, their activity in Ishpeming and at the Cliffs Shaft site, and their role as predecessors of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company on the Marquette Iron Range.

The day was rounded out with tours of the Cliffs Shaft museum’s buildings, grounds, and interpretive exhibits. Many thanks to Mary Skewis and the volunteers from the museum for a great day!

The Michigan Tech Archives serves as coordinating organization for the Northland Historical Consortium, an informal association of local historical societies, archives and historians in Northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Central and Western Upper Peninsula.  Questions about the group’s activities can be directed to Erik Nordberg at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at enordber@mtu.edu

Here are a few photographs from the event:

The Cliff Shaft Mining Museum was host for today's meeting of the Northland Historical Consortium.
The Cliff Shaft Mining Museum was host for today's meeting of the Northland Historical Consortium.

 

Michigan Tech history professor Terry Reynolds speaks to the consortium attendees about the history of iron mining in Ishpeming.
Michigan Tech history professor Terry Reynolds speaks to the consortium attendees about the history of iron mining in Ishpeming.
Joanne "Josie" Olson was selected for the Harold and Marcia Betnhardt Award, given by the Northland Historical Consortium for her work in the local heritage community. Josie is active with a number of initiatives and groups, particularly the Ontonagon County Historical Society and the Rockland Historical Society.
Joanne "Josie" Olson was selected for the Harold and Marcia Betnhardt Award, given by the Northland Historical Consortium for her work in the local heritage community. Josie is active with a number of initiatives and groups, particularly the Ontonagon County Historical Society and the Rockland Historical Society.
 
Attendees at the meeting had a wonderful guided tour of the buildings and exhibits operated by the Cliffs Shaft mining museum. The Cliffs company built two reinforced concrete shafthouses early in the Twentieth century. They have a unusual Egyptian obelisk architecture.
Attendees at the meeting had a wonderful guided tour of the buildings and exhibits operated by the Cliffs Shaft mining museum. The Cliffs company built two reinforced concrete shafthouses early in the Twentieth century. They have a unusual Egyptian obelisk architecture.
 
The museum includes three shaft houses. The B shaft is a mirror duplicate of the reinforced concrete A shaft. This photographs shows the more modern C shaft, which operated in the mid-Twentieth century.
The museum includes three shaft houses. The B shaft is a mirror duplicate of the reinforced concrete A shaft. This photographs shows the more modern C shaft, which operated in the mid-Twentieth century.
 
Our tour took us through underground tunnels connecting the "dry" to the C shaft. Tunnels provided nice protection from the harsh winter climate.
Our tour took us through underground tunnels connecting the "dry" to the C shaft. Tunnels provided nice protection from the harsh winter climate.

 

Right near the shaft entrance was a small room which housed a safety man and this rack of brass tags. As the men headed underground they took their numbered tag with them. As they finished their shift and came to the surface they returned their tag to this rack. During an emergency this was the easiest way to note any missing men.
Right near the shaft entrance was a small room which housed a safety man and this rack of brass tags. As the men headed underground they took their numbered tag with them. As they finished their shift and came to the surface they returned their tag to this rack. During an emergency this was the easiest way to note any missing men.

 

 

 

Touring "the dry" building - where miners changed clothes (and left their work clothes to dry until their next shift). Baskets on pulleys were used to store clothes amongst the rafters.
Touring "the dry" building - where miners changed clothes (and left their work clothes to dry until their next shift). Baskets on pulleys were used to store clothes amongst the rafters.

Archives Exhibit Travels to Marquette

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J.W. Nara Self-portrait, Image #Acc-05-097A-012

People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara, a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, is currently hosted at the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center, located on the campus of Northern Michigan University. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through May 21, 2010 during the center’s regular hours.  

On Friday, April 30, the Beaumier will host a public reception and program in conjunction with the exhibit installation. Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Technological University, will give an illustrated presentation, “Michigan¹s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara” featuring dozens of historical photographs of the Keweenaw. The reception will begin at 2:00 p.m., with the program to start at 3:00 p.m.

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 travelling 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 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 J.W. Nara exhibit will remain on display at the Beaumier Heritage Center through May 21, 2010.  Future stops for the exhibit include the Houghton County Historical Society in Lake Linden and the Keweenaw County Historical Society in Eagle Harbor.  More informaton about the exhibit is available here, including details on hosting the exhibit at your location.

Update:  Here are some photographs of the exhibit installation at the Beaumier Heritage Center.

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Collections Highlight: Store Ledgers

Henry Opal Store, Hubbell (MTU Neg 03596)
Henry Opal Store, Hubbell (MTU Neg 03596)

We’ve been working with a graduate student researcher seeking references to the Bammert Farm which was active 1880s-1920 between Phoenix and Gratiot Lake in Keweenaw County.  She is thinking that store records may indicate the Bammerts as customers — or maybe even selling farm products for sale through local stores.

We compiled the following list of some obvious collections which include records relating to stores. In some cases, these records are called “blotters” or “merchandise ledgers,” but researchers should to be careful because mining companies may also use these phrases to mean other things. Not all of these relate to opeations in Keweenaw County – many are for stores in Houghton, Ontonagon and Baraga counties as well.

——————————-

“The Roy Drier Collection” (MS-020) includes two store ledgers from Keweenaw County:
Item 4065: Day book of the Foley and Smith store, Eagle, Harbor, 1886
Item 4066: Foley and Smith store ledger, Eagle Harbor, 1884-1890

The “Keweenaw Historical Society Collection” (MS-043) includes several good leads, too:
Box 32, Item 481: Houghton Ledger
Box 32, Item 482: Blotter of C. Kibbee
Oversize Box 45, Item 483: Caren and Shelden Day Book
Oversize Box 45, Item 484: Day Book  
Oversize Box 45, Item 485: Order Book 1873
Oversize Box 45, Item 486: Minnesota Mine Store Blotter
Oversize Box 45, Item 487: Merchandise Ledger
Oversize Box 46, Item 488: Day Book 1873
Oversize Box 46, Item 489: Blotter 1856
Oversize Box 46, Item 490: Blotter S. D. North 1861         

Seth North (“S.D. North”) also operated a well-known store on Quincy Hill.
Some relevant records in “The Quincy Mining Company Collection” (MS-001) include:
Item 434- Quincy Store — Merchandise Ledger, May 1865 – Apr 1866
Item 435 – Quincy Store — Merchandise Ledger, May 1866 – Aug 1866
Item 436 – S. B. Harris account book with S. D. North and Son, Jul 1898 – Jan 1899
Item 437 – Quincy Store — Day Book, Nov 1864 – May 1865
Item 885- Quincy Store — Day Book, Aug 1864 – Feb 1865
Item 438 – Quincy Store — Day Book, Feb 1865 – May 1865
Item 439 – Quincy Store — Day Book, May 1865 – Aug 1865
Item 440 – Quincy Store — Day Book, Sep 1865 and Christmas 1866 & 1867
Item 441 – Quincy Store — Day Book, May 1866 – Aug 1866
Item 442 – Quincy Store — Day Book, May 1866 – Aug 1866

“The Daniel Brockway Family Collection” (Collection MS – 016) includes records from several stores operated by the Brockway family. Upon his return to the Lake Superior district in 1872, Daniel Brockway entered a mercantile business with his son, Albert.  The partnership lasted for twenty-five years, with formal dissolution and division of assets occurring on December 24, 1896 when Daniel retired to Lake Linden.  It appears that the store moved locations with some regularity; the records indicate operations at Cliff Mine (Mar.-Jul. 1872), Eagle River (Feb. 1875), Phoenix (1877-1883), and again at Clifton (1883-1895).  Entries for the year 1896 are made for Lake Linden.  The collection includes half a dozen boxes of store records:
Box 13: Records of Brockway & Perry Store, 1865-1866
Boxes 7-9, 12, 13: Records of D.D. Brockway & Son Store, 1872-1901

Entry from November 1873 detailing sales from Brockway Store to the Cliff Mine.
Entry from November 1873 detailing beef sales from Brockway store to the Cliff Mine. (The Daniel Brockway Family Collection, MS-016, Box 9, Item 1)

The “Perkins Burnham Collection” (Collection 01-103A) includes store information from Eagle Harbor.

A collection titled “General Store Daybooks” (Collection 236) includes photocopies of two store daybooks with various types of entries.  Donor file says one appears to be from L’Anse area, and the other is unidentified.

The Archives also holds small collections entitled “Personal Store Account Books (Collection 01-015A and Collection 98-137A) which record the purchases and monthly settlements that individual customers had stores including the Harris Seeber store in Ripley, Graham Pope’s store in Houghton, and Hendrickson & Mantta Company in Hancock.  Several others stores are included in these smaller collections.

This is not intended to be a comprehesive listing of all store records at the Michigan Tech Archives, but does provide some starting points for such research. Please contact the Archives for additional assistance.

Oh, and although this isn’t a great photo, we did find reference to Jonas Bammert (spelled Bommert in this document) buying a plow from the Brockway store on June 20, 1881. He paid $20.00 cash for a #20 Dodge Plow Complete, with extra “points, wings, and bolts.”

The Brockway Family Collection, MS-016, Box 9, Item 9.
June 20, 1881, entry for Bammert's purchase of a plow from the Brockway store. (The Daniel Brockway Family Collection, MS-016, Box 9, Item 4)