All posts by Lindsay Hiltunen

District 1 Michigan History Day Competition To Be Held This Saturday

Michigan History Day 2017

 

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, March 4, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Several secondary schools from MI-District 1 (the 6 western counties of the UP) will be sending over 40 students for the competition. Top entries in each category — exhibits, documentaries, websites, papers, and performances — will be eligible to go to state competition in the spring. Winning entries will also be on display in May at the Carnegie Museum in 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 “Taking a Stand 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 districts statewide.  Each school in the district has initial competitions and sends up to three entries (individual or group) in each category to the district competition, which then sends on top projects in each category to state finals. History day is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

ABOUT MHD-district 1: Associate Professor Steven Walton and Assistant Professor Jonathan Robins, both historians in the Dept. of Social Sciences, and University Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen of the Michigan Tech Archives are the coordinators for Michigan District 1, which includes Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagon, 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 contest each February or early March for nearly a decade.

For more information, contact: Steven Walton, 906-487-3272 (office) or sawalton@mtu.edu, or visit the District 1 Michigan History Day website.

Vintage Valentine’s

Envelope and exterior of the above card, sent from Tom to Lily on her own stationery, Box 3, Folder 1
Envelope and exterior of the above card, sent from Tom to Lily on her own stationery, Box 3, Folder 1

 

“Ten o’clock on Tuesday night, back in the Soo. And in case you can’t imagine what I am wanting at this hour, it is the sight of a golden haired lady with an unfailing smile. Believe it or not–I do, I always have, and I always must–love you.”  –December 30, 1941

Thomas Rowe Ford and Lily Orvokki Siren probably met in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she was working as a registered nurse at the University of Michigan Hospital and he was studying for his bachelor’s degree in education. Lily was the daughter of Finnish immigrants who had settled near Mass City; “Tom” was born in Illinois. Lily found herself besotted with the tall and serious man in his mid-twenties. Tom considered Lily the sweetest and most remarkable woman he had ever met. The two married in Ann Arbor on October 6, 1934.

 

Image #MTU Neg 00141--Mass City from Depot.
Image #MTU Neg 00141–Mass City from Depot.

 

For several years, the newlyweds resided together in Ann Arbor. Lily’s nursing career thrived. Although Tom earned a master’s degree in 1935, the Great Depression stymied his attempts to succeed as a teacher and writer. In late 1940 or early 1941, Tom took a job with Michigan’s State Tax Commission and was assigned to the Upper Peninsula; Lily remained at work in Ann Arbor through the following summer. The two kept in contact by writing each other nearly daily.

“I stayed awake until four o’clock this morning, thinking and worrying about your pleurisy and your cough. Do you know what I thought about most? It was about a room at 204 Forest, with a magic door without a lock, which by tacit house-consent shut the place into a firm retreat.” –February 20, 1942

The letters the couple exchanged during their time apart are the heart of MS-427, Thomas R. and Lily S. Ford Correspondence. Some handwritten on hotel stationery, others typed on State Tax Commission letterhead, Tom’s letters–the bulk of the collection–document the difficulties created by their separation, their ongoing struggles to have a child, their desire to relocate to a wooded retreat, dubbed Metsala, near Mass City. Through the obstacles, however, endured Tom and Lily’s deep love and respect for each other, which played out intensely and sometimes teasingly in their correspondence.

World War II tested the Fords further. In June 1943, the United States Army discovered a need for Tom; his service, which included fighting in Germany, concluded in October 1945. Any letters he and Lily–who returned to the University of Michigan to further her knowledge of public health in 1944–exchanged during this war have not come down to us.

“One thing about the time in Ann Arbor I shall always I appreciate. It may not have given us–or me–very much of a push toward fame, but whatever else it did or didn’t do, it kept me within five minutes walk of the dearest lady in the world. And I made that walk several hundred times, always with the deepest satisfaction any man can know–the satisfaction of going home to the one he loves.” –March 12, 1941

After demobilization, Tom and Lily Ford found the world suddenly full of possibility. Tom received a job offer from what would become Michigan State University and joined its faculty as a teacher of English. He also became deeply involved in improving the curricula of junior colleges, particularly what is now Gogebic Community College. Lily took a position as a public health nurse in Lansing that found her offering educational lectures to fellow professionals.

On May 22, 1953, Lily stood at the front of a room in Grand Rapids, preparing to deliver just such a lecture to a gathering of doctors and nurses. Suddenly, she collapsed. While those present hurried to her aid and rushed her to the nearest hospital, it was too late. Lily Siren Ford was forty-five years old.

There have been no perfect days without you, and the end of every day is dull and savourless. I love you, dear lady. I need you.” –February 6, 1942

Eventually, Tom Ford remarried. His new wife was Mabel Cosby, a teacher and native of Kentucky. Tom’s last years, however, were consumed by poor health, which forced him to leave his long-sought teaching position in Lansing. Illness eventually claimed his life on October 15, 1961. He, like Lily, was cremated and buried in Ontonagon County. But both Fords–and their hopes, sorrows, and dreams–remain forever alive in their letters, freely open for research at the Michigan Tech Archives.

“And always–whatever–my dear, you will be respected, and loved, and–my God–wanted.” –June 12, 1941

By Emily Riippa, Assistant Archivist

2017 Travel Grant Program Call for Proposals

Historic photograph of the Calumet & Hecla Library in Calumet, Michigan. Date unknown.
Historic photograph of the Calumet & Hecla Library in Calumet, Michigan. Date unknown. The photograph is courtesy of Copper Country Historical Images.

 

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is currently accepting applications for its annual Travel Grant Program, which brings scholars and researchers external to Michigan Technological University to work with the archives’ collections. Financial support for the Travel Grant Program is provided by the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library, a support organization for the library and archives of Michigan Tech. Grants are awarded for up to $750 to defray the costs of travel to visit and conduct research in Houghton, Michigan.

The Michigan Tech Archives houses a wide variety of historical print, graphic and manuscript resources related to the Copper Country and Michigan Technological University. Subject coverage includes university and campus life, regional towns and cities, local industries and businesses, as well as social organizations, events and personalities of the Copper Country and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Primary topical research areas include the western Upper Peninsula, industrial history, particularly copper mining and its ancillary industries, social history, community development along the Keweenaw Peninsula, transportation and the environment. Finding aids for some of the collections can be found here: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/collections/.

To apply for funding through the Travel Grant Program please visit the program website: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/programs-and-services/travel-grants/

Applications are due on March 31, 2017. Award recipients will be notified by mid-April. The successful candidate must complete their travel by December 8, 2017. Electronic submission is preferred.

For further information, please contact:

Lindsay Hiltunen, University Archivist
Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI  49931
Phone: (906) 487-2505
E-mail: copper@mtu.edu

 

Holiday Blog Post 2016

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A sparkling tree in an elegant family room.

 

The Carpenters and Perry Como tell us that “there’s no place like home for the holidays,” since it is here that we gather family and friends around us to share the joy of the season. How were people in the Copper Country celebrating with their loved ones and neighbors a hundred years ago? Perhaps one of these parties or events sounds like one you would enjoy–or maybe like one that’s already on your schedule!

 

A holiday sleigh party.
A holiday sleigh party.

 

In December 1911, the Calumet Woman’s Club had a “fine Yuletide Program” featuring “opening and closing numbers by twelve little girls” clothed in German Christmas apparel. Members of the club sang German carols and received “a little Christmas gift, direct from Berlin” as they enjoyed a luncheon of sandwiches, cookies, and gingerbread.

On Christmas Eve in 1909, the Scots of the Calumet area gathered in Laurium for “a musical and literary program” to be followed by dancing. Guests were guaranteed to find something to get their toes tapping, since the party promised to include “all of the popular old time dances interspersed with waltzes and two-steps.”

 

From the Calumet News on December 21, 1910.
From the Calumet News on December 21, 1910.

 

Ice skating was a centerpiece of many parties organized by groups of coworkers. Calumet & Hecla Mining Company (C&H) machinists gathered at the Palestra in Laurium in December 1910 for their outing, while the Calumet telephone operators hired the C&H band in December 1916 for their skating party at the Colosseum Rink.

 

Ice skating on a frozen Portage Canal, image #MS042-034-999-G137J
Ice skating on a frozen Portage Canal, image #MS042-034-999-G137J

 

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Children enjoying a skating party.

 

In 1916, the Ladies of St. Vincent de Paul of Keweenaw County prepared 1,000 bags of candy and nuts to give away to local children at a party in Ahmeek. A decorated Christmas tree, with toys and other gifts adorning it, and an appearance by Santa Claus were the centerpieces of the gathering.

 

A festive tree overflowing with gifts.
A festive tree overflowing with gifts.

 

Residents walking through Red Jacket (Calumet) the night before Christmas in 1909 were greeted with the sweet sound of carols, courtesy of the Cornishmen in the Laurium Male Choir, who had commandeered the sidewalk before the Red Front store to share their music.

On December 25, 1911, the Jewish ladies of Calumet hosted a splendid “Chanika [Hanukkah] ball… for the benefit of the Jewish cemetery” just outside town. Tickets to the event sold like hotcakes.

Chassell celebrated its Christmas in 1916 with a pageant and present distribution at its Knights of Pythias Hall. “All nationalities, creeds, and social orders” in the village “joined enthusiastically” in the jubilee, coming together with unity to share the peace and harmony of the season.

 

Festive dancing!
Festive dancing!

 

We at the Michigan Tech Archives hope that your holiday celebration, whatever form it may take, offers you the same joy and togetherness! Please note, the Michigan Tech Archives will be closed from Monday, December 26 – Friday December 30 for the holidays. We reopen at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 2. You may contact us via copper@mtu.edu over the holiday break. Happy holidays!

By Emily Riippa, Assistant Archivist

Presentation – Red Sports on Lake Superior: The Labor Sport Union in the Upper Peninsula, Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, 1928-1935

Gabe Logan LSU

 

Please join us for a presentation by travel grant recipient Gabe Logan at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, November 15 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus. This event is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

In this presentation, Logan will discuss the Labor Sport Union and its influence in the iron ranges of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. From 1928 through 1935 the United States Communist Party developed the Labor Sport Union. This athletic organization united left wing politics and athletics in an alternative vision of sport and society. The LSU drew much of its membership from the urban cities whose immigrant populations sought recreation beyond the schools and company teams. However, the LSU also found an appreciative audience in the rural iron ore region of Lake Superior. This presentation explains the significance of the LSU in the region and how its members embraced the “red sports” ideology.

Gabe Logan, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of History and the Director for the Center of Upper Peninsula Studies at Northern Michigan University. Logan’s research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library. Since 1988, the Michigan Tech Archives has partnered with the FMTL to help scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the archives.

For more information, feel free to call the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505, email at copper@mtu.edu, or visit on the web at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/.

Presentation – The Strength of Steel: Life, Labor, and Politics at the Rouge, 1941-1991

Ford's Alberta complex in Baraga County, Michigan.
Ford’s Alberta complex in Baraga County, Michigan.

 

Please join us for a presentation by travel grant recipient Gordon Andrews at 4:00 pm on Thursday, November 3 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus. This event is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

In this presentation, Andrews will discuss unionization efforts at the Ford Motor Company’s Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford Motor Company was the last of the “Big Three” automakers to unionize. There were serious attempts to organize beginning in the 1930s, but it was not until the workers at the Rouge plant organized a sit-down strike in 1941 that they were successful. The “Industrial Colossus on the Rouge” employed over 100,000 workers, and once organized, it became the largest local in the nation. The presentation will address the parameters of UAW Local 600’s history, from its leadership role in organizing the successful unionization of Ford Motor Company, to the myriad ways in which Local 600 impacted the quality of life, and also the politics of its membership over a half-century. An integral part of that story is understanding the relationships among labor and resources from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the way those affiliations inform what we know about the organization of Ford, especially as employees confronted a brutally oppressive system in the hopes of establishing democracy in the workplace.

Gordon P. Andrews is an associate professor in the Department of History at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan. He has taught at the secondary and post-secondary levels since 1986, and his research fields include history education, modern United States history, and 20th-century labor history. His recent publications include, Undoing Plessy: Charles Hamilton Houston, Race, Labor and the Law, 1895-1950 (Newcastle upon Tyne, London: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014), Collaboration and the Future of Education: Preserving the Right to Teach and Think Historically, New York: Routledge, 2015, co-authored with Wilson Warren, and James Cousins.

Andrews’ research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library. Since 1988, the Michigan Tech Archives has partnered with the FMTL to help scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the archives.

For more information, feel free to call the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505, email at copper@mtu.edu, or visit on the web at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/.

Michigan Tech Archives and HKCGS to Present a Family Papers Workshop

Documents from a family papers collection being rehumidified at the Michigan Tech Archives, 2015.
Documents from a family papers collection being rehumidified at the Michigan Tech Archives, 2015.

 

The Houghton-Keweenaw County Genealogical Society is teaming up with the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections to present a home archiving workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Portage Lake District Library.

Lindsay Hiltunen, university archivist at the Michigan Tech Archives will discuss tips and tricks for taking care of family papers and photographs. Topics will include proper handling techniques, storage solutions, digitization and preservation concerns.

The meeting is free and open to the public. For further information, contact the HKCGS at 369-4083 or email. You can also contact Michigan Tech Archives at 7-2505 or email.

Michigan Tech Archives Wins State History Award for “Black Voices in the Copper Country”

BlackVoices Blog Piece

The Historical Society of Michigan has named the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections winner of its 2016 Special Programs/Events Award, for its “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project. “Black Voices” was recognized for its “dynamic series of programming, exhibits and social media campaigns relating to African American social history in the Copper Country.” The award will be presented at the historical society’s annual State History Conference in Alpena, Michigan, Sept. 23-25, 2016. The project team consisted of University Archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen, Project Researcher, Martin Hobmeier, and Graphic Designer, Mike Stockwell of Cranking Graphics.

University Archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen presenting the Black Voices project at the National Council on Public History Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD, March 2016.
University Archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen presenting the Black Voices project at the National Council on Public History Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD, March 2016.

The society presents the State History Awards every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history. The awards are the highest recognition from the Historical Society of Michigan, the state’s official historical society and oldest cultural organization. There were 15 other awards in categories including a lifetime achievement award, distinguished volunteer service, books, magazine articles, media and restoration projects.

Project Researcher, Martin Hobmeier discussing the Black Voices project for TV6 news in May 2016.
Project Researcher, Martin Hobmeier discussing the Black Voices project for TV6 news in May 2016.

For more information about the award please visit the Michigan Tech News site.

For more information about “Black Voices in the Copper Country” or the Michigan Tech Archives, e-mail copper@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-2505. Find us on Twitter @mtuarchives.

Announcing Saturday Research Hours This Fall

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In an effort to provide more options as you make your research game plan, the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections will be open the second Saturday of each month starting on September 10, 2016. The reading room will be open to the public from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the full range of research support services and genealogy assistance will be available during Second Saturday hours.

The Michigan Tech Archives is also offering prizes for the inaugural Second Saturday. Simply visit us on Saturday, September 10 and answer the following question:

The Michigan Tech football coaches were busy planning strategy in early September 1958. What team were the Huskies preparing to play on Saturday, September 13, 1958?

Second Saturday at the Michigan Tech Archives fall semester dates: September 10, October 8, November 12, and December 10.

For more information about Second Saturday or the Michigan Tech Archives please call (906) 487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @mtuarchives!

Welcome To Our New Assistant Archivist

Our new team member, Emily Riippa, poses in the stacks at the end of her first week.
Our new team member, Emily Riippa, poses in the stacks at the end of her first week.

 

On behalf of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, a department of Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library, we hope you will help us welcome the newest member of the team, Emily Riippa. Emily is our newest assistant archivist which is a one year term position to help us with special projects and various public services and outreach initiatives. Below, please take a moment to get to know Emily as she introduces herself in her own words.


My name is Emily Riippa, and I’m delighted to join the staff of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections as Assistant Archivist for the next year. I am twice a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning degrees in history (bachelor’s, 2014) and archives and records management (master’s, 2016).

You’ve heard the term “dream job,” and that’s exactly what working at the Michigan Tech Archives is for me. While I was born and raised downstate in Grand Rapids, my family’s roots in the area are very deep: my ancestors first arrived in the 1870s, and my parents grew up in Winona and Hancock. Little did they know what they had started when they brought me to visit the Keweenaw at three weeks old! I fell in love with the Copper Country and its remarkable history during annual childhood vacations, which prompted me to write my undergraduate honors thesis on women’s experiences in the region between 1880 and 1930. Last summer, I was an archives technician intern at Keweenaw National Historical Park, which I enjoyed tremendously. I have also worked part-time at the Bentley Historical Library and the Ada Historical Society in the Lower Peninsula for the past several years, learning more about how to keep history alive through our documents and artifacts.

When I’m not at work, you’ll find me engrossed in my own genealogical research, respectfully exploring local cemeteries and historic sites, enjoying a frigid swim in Lake Superior, biking around the Copper Country, or with my nose buried in a good book. I also intend to learn a little Finnish, a language of my heritage, while I’m here.

I’m thrilled to give back to this community I love in my new role and to experience my first Keweenaw winter. Please feel free to come by the archives and say hello. I hope you’ll find what we have to offer as exciting as I do.


Welcome aboard Emily! We are so happy to have you join our team at Michigan Tech!

For more information about the Michigan Tech Archives please call (906) 487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu. You can find us on Twitter: @mtuarchives