All posts by Lindsay Hiltunen

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.


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Becky

 

This photo was taken at the lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa this past summer. Becky said that while it was a long and steep hike, the view from the top was more than worth it!

For American Archives Month, in addition to offering all of our regular services, we will also be posting special content on our social media platforms. We had a busy day yesterday for #AskAnArchivist Day and we hope to keep fresh content on our Facebook, Twitter, and blog all month long. Archives Month Staff Spotlights are one such example of archives-themed content for the blog, and here is our first one!

First Name: Becky
Title: Student Assistant
Where are you from? Mukwonago, WI
What is your major? Biomedical Engineering
What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives? My favorite thing about working in the archives is being able to interact with the history of the UP.
What is your favorite collection? My favorite collection isn’t really a collection, but rather a part of a collection. I find the employment cards really cool because a single card can hold so much information for someone.
What is your favorite photograph in CCHI? My favorite photograph is the one where a snow statue appears to be eating a child.
What is one interesting fact about you? One interesting fact about me is that I traveled to South Africa this past summer.
Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you? The archives are important to me because they offer a glimpse into a past we might not get to know if it weren’t for the archives.
2014 Winter Carnival Contest
Becky’s favorite photograph, which was the first place winning photograph for the 2014 Winter Carnival Photo Contest. The photograph was taken by Michigan Tech student, Connor Wlodarczak. This statue is titled, “Chilled Delight.”

 


Keynote to Celebrate 25 Years of Industrial Archaeology at Michigan Tech: Preserving Legendary 20th Century Sites in Detroit

keynote

Please join us for a keynote presentation by guest scholar Krysta Ryzewski at 4:00 pm on Friday, September 22 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus. This event is part of A Celebration: 25 Years of Industrial Heritage and Archaeology, an anniversary of the founding of the Industrial Archaeology program, and is made possible through the Visiting Women and Minorities Lecture and Scholar Series at Michigan Tech. This event is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Keynote speaker, Krysta Ryzewski.
Keynote speaker, Krysta Ryzewski.

In this presentation, Ryzewski will discuss Ethnic Layers of Detroit (ELD) and Unearthing Detroit, two interdisciplinary heritage projects in metro Detroit. ELD is an urban-focused digital humanities project engaging faculty and student researchers in creating, documenting, and sharing multimedia narratives of Detroit’s ethnic histories. Unearthing Detroit is a project that involves both academic research and public archaeology in its focus on the urban historical archaeology collections housed in the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology at Wayne State University. The project’s research and outreach team is comprised of archaeology faculty and graduate students from Wayne State’s Department of Anthropology, as well as a number of volunteers from the local community. Ryzewski’s talk will address challenges, successes, and implications of the projects that will be of interest to a diverse audience.

Krysta Ryzewski, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University and is the Director of the Digging Detroit project, an investigation of industrial and post-industrial urban communities in the Motor City. She is a leading researcher in historical and contemporary archaeology and the digital humanities.

Ryzewski’s research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Institutional Equity and Inclusion office’s Visiting Women and Minority Series. Additional arrangements and refreshments are made possible by the Social Sciences Department and the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections.

For more information about this program or the Industrial Archaeology program’s 25th anniversary, feel free to call the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505, email at copper@mtu.edu, or call the Social Sciences department at 906-487-2113.

logos


Secret Societies of the Copper Country

“First regular communication of Quincy Lodge U.D. [under dispensation] F. & A. M. [Free and Accepted Masons] held at Lodge room in Village of Hancock, June 6th A.D. 1861 A.L. [Anno Lucis: ‘In the Year of Light’] 586. Present, Charles L. Wheeler W.M. [Worshipful Master], Jacob Hougton Jr. S.W. [Senior Warden], Alexander Pope Jr. J.W. [Junior Warden], J.A. Close S.D. [Senior Deacon] pro tem, J.P.M. Butler J.D. [Junior Deacon] pro tem, J.A. Hubbell Secty pro tem, S.S. Robinson Treasr pro tem, A.F. Leopold Tyler pro tem, & Brethern Lodge opened in due form in 3rd degree of Masonry The worshipful Master then read the dispensation granted by the G.M. [Grand Master] of the State of Michigan On Motion a committee of Three consisting of the W.M., S.W., & J.W. was appointed to draft the By Laws for the government of the lodge and report at next regular communication. On Motion Bro. Berd was allowed to occupy the preparation room till first of Sept. 1861. The W.M. appointed Tuesdays & Friday Evenings of each week as stated communications for instruction. On Motion the Lodge closed in harmony. Jay A. Hubbell Secty -pro tem-”
“First regular communication of Quincy Lodge U.D. [under dispensation] F. & A. M. [Free and Accepted Masons] held at Lodge room in Village of Hancock, June 6th A.D. 1861 A.L. [Anno Lucis: ‘In the Year of Light’] 586. Present, Charles L. Wheeler W.M. [Worshipful Master], Jacob Hougton Jr. S.W. [Senior Warden], Alexander Pope Jr. J.W. [Junior Warden], J.A. Close S.D. [Senior Deacon] pro tem, J.P.M. Butler J.D. [Junior Deacon] pro tem, J.A. Hubbell Secty pro tem, S.S. Robinson Treasr pro tem, A.F. Leopold Tyler pro tem, & Brethern Lodge opened in due form in 3rd degree of Masonry. The worshipful Master then read the dispensation granted by the G.M. [Grand Master] of the State of Michigan On Motion a committee of Three consisting of the W.M., S.W., & J.W. was appointed to draft the By Laws for the government of the lodge and report at next regular communication. On Motion Bro. Berd was allowed to occupy the preparation room till first of Sept. 1861. The W.M. appointed Tuesdays & Friday Evenings of each week as stated communications for instruction. On Motion the Lodge closed in harmony.
Jay A. Hubbell Secty
-pro tem-”
Please read on for a blog post from our summer inter, Steve Moray, on fraternal organizations in the Copper Country. ______________________________________________________________________

The Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias…secret societies. Many people find them fascinating, but many may also have a misunderstanding of exactly what these secret societies are or what they do. Most “secret societies” are more mundanely referred to as fraternal organizations. Organizations such as these may have a variety of purposes, including social or charitable goals, or insuring the financial well being of members or their families in case of accidents or hard times or any combination of these or related goals.

 

List of Signatures of the first Masonic Lodge in the Copper Country, including Jay A. Hubbell (about halfway down).
List of Signatures of the first Masonic Lodge in the Copper Country, including Jay A. Hubbell (about halfway down).

Since very early on in the history of the Copper Country these organizations have had a presence. Thanks in large part to their portrayal in popular culture, the most well known fraternal organization is likely the Freemasons. And, indeed, they were one of the first secret societies in the Keweenaw. The first chapter of Free and Accepted Masons, the Quincy Lodge No. 135, was established here in the summer of 1861, just after the beginning of the Civil War. That’s less than 20 years after the Treaty of La Pointe ceded the land in the Keweenaw Peninsula to the United States, 15 years after the Quincy Mining Company was established, and just 2 years after the city of Hancock was founded.

 

Some of the Quincy Lodge’s founding members included some names that may sound familiar. The first “Senior Warden” (second in command) of the Lodge was Jacob Houghton Jr., brother to State Geologist Douglass Houghton (Douglass had passed away in 1845). Jacob accompanied his brother on his famous geological survey, and contributed to the report that was responsible for the copper rush in the Keweenaw. The first Secretary (pro tem) was Jay A. Hubbell. Both the town of Hubbell, and Michigan Tech’s now demolished Hubbell Hall were named for the Mason. At the time Hubbell was a Houghton County attorney, and would later be a U.S. Congressman, State Senator, and district court judge. He was instrumental in helping to establish the Michigan School of Mines, which later became Michigan Technological University.

Hubbell Hall - From Copper Country Historical Images
Hubbell Hall – From Copper Country Historical Images

Members of the Freemasons were very often pillars of the community, and membership in such fraternal organizations could be used to make useful political and social connections, as well as to increase one’s social standing. The Michigan Tech Archives has an extensive collection on the Masons in the Copper Country. MS-035, The Copper Country Masonic Lodge Collection consists of 66 boxes related to the Quincy (later Copper Country) Lodge No. 135, Houghton Lodge No. 218, Keweenaw Lodge No. 242, Calumet Lodge No. 271, John Duncan Lodge No. 373 in addition to various other associated groups such as the Order of Molay, the Michigan Grand Lodge, the Royal Arch Masons, and material related to Masonic buildings such as the Houghton Masonic Temple and the Union Building in Calumet (now the headquarters of Keweenaw National Historical Park).

This certifies that the named sister was a member of a Rebekah Lodge that closed, and can be admitted into any new lodge as a member in good standing.
This certifies that the named sister was a member of a Rebekah Lodge that closed, and can be admitted into any new lodge as a member in good standing.

While most people are familiar with the Freemasons, some of the other fraternal organizations operating in the Copper Country may be a little more unfamiliar. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), for example, were very popular, and in fact, a larger organization than the Masons for much of their existence.The Independent Order of Odd Fellows were formed in Baltimore in 1842, an offshoot of the British Oddfellows organization. The IOOF dedicates itself to charity, it’s purpose to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan”. Of course, the Odd Fellows also used the organization, much like the Freemasons, for fellowship and socialization.

Portrait of an unnamed “Daughter of Rebekah”.
Portrait of an unnamed “Daughter of Rebekah”.

Despite the name, however, “fraternal” organizations weren’t just limited to men. The Odd Fellows became the first of its kind in the United States to admit women in 1851 when the Daughters of Rebekah were created as the Odd Fellows women’s auxiliary organization (both groups would eventually admit both men and women). The archives has a wide variety of records related to the Odd Fellows, including from the Hecla Lodge 90, the Mystic Lodge 109, the Holly Rebekah Lodge, and the Ivy Rebekah Lodge, and many items such as photographs spread throughout our collections. 

By 1890 the Knights of Pythias also had a presence in the Copper Country, despite the organization not even existing until the end of the Civil War, a quarter century earlier. The Knights were similar in organization and purpose to the Masons and Odd Fellows, but while those groups were brought over from Europe, the Knights were originally founded in the U.S. The “F.C.B.” initials you can see in the emblem on the cover of the by-laws stands for the Pythian motto: Friendship, Charity, Benevolence.

A pocket copy of the by-laws of the Lake Superior Lodge, No. 109 of the Knights of Pythias, printed in 1890. From the Wilbert Salmi Collection, MS-601.
A pocket copy of the by-laws of the Lake Superior Lodge, No. 109 of the Knights of Pythias, printed in 1890. From the Wilbert Salmi Collection, MS-601.

The Daughters of the Eternal City were an Italian/Italian American women’s mutual benefit society located in Calumet, but in addition to providing aid to members in need, the Daughters partook in their own share of secret society traditions. While I don’t speak Italian, I am an avid Google Translator. With a little help from Google, my colleague Allison, and a bit of judicious interpretation, part of the ritual described in their rulebook includes this tidbit regarding latecomers: “The sisters who are late, when the meeting is already open, will knock at the door with one distinct stroke and three consecutive strokes. The doorkeeper opens the door saying ‘Rome’. The sister outside will answer ‘Eternal’.” You can’t have a secret society meeting without a secret password.

As you can see, the Copper Country has a long and rich relationship with fraternal organizations, and the Michigan Tech Archives contains a variety of records related to those organizations. Unfortunately this blog post has barely scratched the surface of the wealth of information that could be mined from our various collections. Who knows, maybe this blog post may inspire some current or future historian to enlighten about what the records of these “secret” societies can tell us.


Summer Intern Update

Steve is hard at work assisting a patron with some genealogical research.
Steve is hard at work assisting a patron with some genealogical research.

Here is an update from our summer intern. He’s learned a lot and we are keeping him busy!


Hi everyone, it’s me again, with an update on my first few weeks in the archives. Although it’s only been a short period of time, I’ve seen a lot of friendly faces, both new and familiar. Not only have many visitors come from all over the country to stop in and research their family during their travels, there have even been a few professors stopping in to work on projects (yes, they work during the summer). One of my primary goals when I applied to this internship was to gain a lot of practical experience, and I think that goal is certainly being fulfilled. My first week was spent learning about the archives, and about the different collections that are here, how to locate them, and how they might be useful to patrons. I was also tasked with performing some remote research for a patron, using the digital microfilm reader to collect newspaper articles on the Northern Copper Country professional baseball league from 1907, which included many teams from the Keweenaw and surrounding areas. Seeing other articles from the time, referencing President Theodore Roosevelt, ships wrecking in the Great Lakes, or even articles about how much the locals love ice cream and soda provides an engaging context to what was happening at the time.

Much of my time has been spent shadowing archivists at the reference desk. That means I watch and learn about the procedures and techniques of interacting with patrons and helping them with their inquiries or research. Sometimes I will even take the lead to help patrons understand some of the procedures of the archives’ reading room and getting started searching through some of our databases and collections. Soon I will be taking my own reference shifts. My favorite part of working here is helping patrons with their genealogical research. When we can show someone the house their ancestor lived in on a Sanborn fire insurance map, or an employment card from the mining company that shows exactly how much they were paid, or just hearing the excitement in their voices or the joy on their faces as they uncover information they never knew before.

In the work room, preparing some collections for relocation and cleaning.
In the work room, preparing some collections for relocation and cleaning.

I have also begun to do some of the archives work that goes on behind the scenes. I have performed the accession process for a number of small donations from the Michigan Tech Registrar’s Office. Accessioning is the first step in adding donations to our collections, to establish and record exactly what they are and where they’re located physically in the archives. These donations included a set of Michigan Tech Commencement Programs (including from my own commencement ceremony!) that will likely be my first processing project. Processing a collection includes digging deeper to make sure the items are arranged in an orderly manner and described in order that the material is easily findable and accessible to the public. I recently finished writing up a plan for Lindsay, the University Archivist, to approve so I can get started on the processing procedure. I’m looking forward to working on that, and on helping the archives process a number of other small collections during my time here.


Welcome to Summer Intern Steve Moray

Steve Moray assesses a map of Isle Royale in the archives stacks.
Our new summer archives intern, Steve Moray, assesses a map of Isle Royale in the archives stacks.

On behalf of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, in partnership with the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library, we hope you will help us welcome our new archives intern for summer 2017. Steve Moray was selected as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Archives Intern after a competitive national call for applicants. While in Houghton, Steve will be assisting with research support services and behind-the-scenes tours in the Michigan Tech Archives, particularly during the busy summer season. He will also be responsible for arrangement and description of several small manuscript collections and assist with developing new processing workflows for our ArchivesSpace implementation. We are very excited to have him on board! Below, please take a moment to get to know Steve as he introduces himself in his own words.


Hello everyone! My name is Steve Moray and I am a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s coordinated MA History/MLIS degree program, concentrating in Archives. I graduated from Michigan Technological University in 2012 with bachelor’s degrees in Archaeology and History. I am thrilled and honored to return to my Alma Mater for this incredible internship opportunity at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. As an alumnus, I am already familiar with the archives and have used the collections in multiple classes during my time at Michigan Tech, including for a research paper on amusement parks in the Keweenaw Peninsula and for my undergraduate thesis on the history, archaeology, and GIS mapping of a historic copper mine on Isle Royale (Island Mine). In addition, my archaeology field school at Cliff Mine and History of the Copper Country classes both contributed to my in depth historical knowledge of the local area.

In 2013 I moved to Milwaukee and got a job as a field archaeologist working all over Wisconsin at a small archaeology firm. The nature of the job kept me away from home during the work week for nine months of the year. After three years, and much soul-searching, I came to the realization that my chosen profession was not fulfilling my passion. I wanted to find a way to incorporate my long time hobby, genealogy, and my love of historical research into a new, stable career that would allow me to come home every night, while also igniting that missing passion in me. I was lucky that Milwaukee had one of the best MLIS programs in the nation, and after some research, I applied for, and was accepted into, the Coordinated MA History/MLIS program.

My professional interests include collections digitization, MPLP (More Product, Less Processing), and history and genealogy reference. The final paper for my Introduction to Modern Archives Administration class at Milwaukee discussed the use of MPLP in digitization projects to balance issues of backlog, access, preservation, authenticity, and constraints of time and funding. This is a subject I am eager to explore further as I continue to develop as a professional. In my History program at UWM I have also taken Research Methods in Local History, which entailed conducting an in depth research project specifically focused on utilizing the March on Milwaukee digital collection and various physical collections of the UW-Milwaukee archives. After graduating from my master’s program I would like to pursue a career as an archivist at a local or state history archival institution, or as an archivist for the National Park Service at a National Historical Park.

I am also a seasoned genealogist with 20 years of research practice and am experienced in a wide variety of records located in both physical and digital repositories. I am currently working on becoming a Certified Genealogist and I would like to use my extensive knowledge and experience not just personally, but in a professional capacity as well.

When I’m not at school or work my hobbies include photography, doing genealogy for myself and friends, exploring the outdoors (especially the waterfalls of the Keweenaw), and reading authors such as Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson, among many others.

I will be here until the beginning of the Fall semester, so stop in and say hi, and let me help you with your historical or genealogical research!


For more information on the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Internship Program or to set up a time to say hello to our new intern, please call Lindsay Hiltunen at (906) 487-2505 or e-mail us at copper@mtu.edu. The Michigan Tech Archives can also be found on Twitter: @mtuarchives.