Category Archives: Grants Received

Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project

This is the first of two articles written by one of our student assistants, Andrea Dubs, who is working with us on the Mine Memories Oral History Project as our Audio Technician. She is responsible for much of the recording that we do during our interviews and refining audio files for clarity.

 

Part one out of two:

 

I have been working with the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections as a student assistant for a little over a month now, and I must say that it has been quite interesting. Even though I’ve only been here a short amount of time, I feel like I’m part of the family. Everyone is always smiling and has a happy greeting for you when you walk in. I am currently working as the audio technician on the Mine Memories Oral History Project.  This project is really very interesting, listening to people telling their stories and realizing that it is their history has had a huge impact on me.

 

When I first joined this project, I had no idea what to expect. I was in new territory but I was also prepared to learn new things. As the audio tech for this project, I had to first learn how to use the recorder that had been purchased. The recorder we are using is a Zoom H5. I watched several YouTube videos and skimmed through the user manual to work out the best ways to use the equipment in an interview setting. After learning how to use the recorder, I learned how to edit audio files in Audacity, a free open source audio editing software. To do this, I watched several tutorial videos.

Andrea Dubs,  editing audio files with Audacity
Andrea Dubs, editing audio files with Audacity

After familiarizing myself with the Zoom5 and Audacity, I started to think about how we would be using the recorder specifically in an interview setting. I worked out the optimal location for the recorder so that it could pick up the both  interviewee and interviewer voices. We started asking questions such as: how can we minimize the effects of people tapping on the table? How can we minimize drastic sound shifts caused by coughs or sneezes? How can we equalize voices that are speaking at very different volumes, so the audio recording is easier to listen to for researchers?

 

In order to answer these questions, Sawyer Newman (Communications and Research Assistant), a graduate student volunteer and I sat down to record several mock interviews. In these interviews, the interviewee and interviewer did different things that could occur during the actual interviews. For example, they did some table tapping and covered their mouths with their hands or spoke particularly loudly or softly.

The Archive's Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
The Archive’s Zoom H5 Handy Recorder

From these tests, we were able to determine the optimal location and input volumes for the recording equipment, which gave us a good idea about how much space we would need to conduct an interview. We also determined that we should use a muffler over the microphone, and place the recorder on a tissue box or stack of newspapers in order to minimize the effects of distracting sounds, such as tapping.

Stay tuned for the second installment, which will be posted later this week. 

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

Mine Memories Oral History Project Update

We are currently in the thick of the interview portion of our Mine Memories project. The Michigan Tech Archives’ oral history team has successfully completed interviews with six community members and has another interview schedules in the upcoming weeks. There are many more who have expressed interest in participating, though there is still room for more participants.

Even more work has been going on behind the scenes, as we transcribe and digitally process the resulting audio files from our interviews.

Keep an eye out for more blog updates about this project – as well as an upcoming student assistant’s accounts of working on the team.

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

ohg flyer 12-4

Michigan Tech Archives Installs New Exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw

Image of the Michigan Tech Afro-American Society, 1973.
Image of the Michigan Tech Afro-American Society, 1973.

 

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections recently partnered with the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw to launch a photograph installation documenting moments in local African American history. This exhibit is part of the Black Voices in the Copper Country project, a research and outreach series developed by the Michigan Tech Archives. This project was designed to illuminate black social history in Michigan’s northwestern Upper Peninsula, especially Houghton and Keweenaw counties. The primary goal of this project will be to inform and engage the public about the existence of historic black residents in the Copper Country and to explore how themes of community, belonging and identity evolved and changed over time, from the late 1800s into the present day. These themes are being explored in both a historical context and a modern context, with sights set on exploring the region generally as well as on activities and student life at the Michigan Technological University campus.

A reception and presentation to discuss the exhibit, the project and the mission of the Michigan Tech Archives will take place at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, in downtown Houghton, on Tuesday, February 23 starting at 6:30 p.m. A short reception will be immediately followed by a presentation at 7:00 p.m. in the museum’s downstairs Community Room. Refreshments will be served.

The Black Voices exhibit is curated by Lindsay Hiltunen, Senior Archivist at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. This project is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about the project or the Michigan Tech Archives, please contact Lindsay Hiltunen at (906) 487-2505 or by e-mailing copper@mtu.edu.

For more information about other programs and exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, please contact Elise Nelson at (906) 482-7140 or by e-mailing elisen@cityofhoughton.com

 

MHC Publicity

Michigan Tech Archives Seeking Temporary Project Assistant

This photograph was taken at a barbershop in Calumet, Michigan by J.W. Nara (date unknown, but presumed early 1900s). It depicts three barbers standing ready and an African-American gentleman seated in the rear of the shop with a broom. The Michigan Tech Archives is currently seeking a project assistant to help us better understand  what collections we have that might shed light on his story and that of many others.
This photograph was taken at a barbershop in Calumet, Michigan by J.W. Nara (date unknown, but presumed early 1900s). It depicts three barbers standing ready and an African-American gentleman seated with a broom. The Michigan Tech Archives is currently seeking a project assistant to help us better understand what collections we have that might shed light on his story and that of many others.

 
The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is currently seeking applicants for a temporary Project Assistant position to begin in September 2015. This position is part of a grant-funded research project called “Black Voices in the Copper Country: Exploring Community and Michigan Tech Campus Life, 1870-Present.” The Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, and the Michigan Historical Center are partners on this project. This project is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Project Assistant is responsible for researching archival collections, including manuscripts, census records, newspapers, photographs, and other materials to help document resources pertaining to African-Americans in the Copper Country. Secondary responsibilities include assisting with research planning, presenting in public forums, assisting with outreach, writing blog updates, and developing a historical narrative for a future online exhibit. Preference will be given to applicants with some college history coursework and demonstrated research experience.

Characteristic Duties and Responsibilities:

  1. Efficiently and effectively provides in-depth historical research using a broad range of primary and secondary sources.
  2. Assists with simple archival organization and descriptive work such as arranging historical papers in chronological order, re-foldering materials for preservation when necessary, creating indexes, drafting research guides, and shelving.
  3. Assists with planning and executing public programs and outreach to present findings.
  4. Performs other assigned duties as appropriate for a project assistant.

This is a 20 hour per week, temporary part-time position. This position will report to the Senior Archivist. The preferred start date is Monday, September 14 and the project ends in May 2016. There are no benefits included with this position. The Project Assistant will be compensated with an hourly wage of $10.00 per hour. To learn more about us, please visit our website: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/

E-mail applications are preferred and are due by August 21. Submit your cover letter and resume to:

Lindsay Hiltunen, Senior Archivist
Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
Attn: Project Assistant Position
Van Pelt and Opie Library
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
copper@mtu.edu
(906) 487-2505

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

MHC Publicity

The Risks of Radicalism

The following letter, discovered in MS-080, Copper Range Company Records, shows the close connection between the copper mining companies and local government.

Unfortunately, the I. W. W. book was not included with the letter. The context for this letter (given below), derived from various sources in the Michigan Tech Archives, demonstrates the value of having an array of different sources at the same research facility.

  • D. L. Robinson: Member of the prominent law firm Rees, Robinson, and Petermann.
  • I. W. W.: The Industrial Workers of the World were a radical left labor union that was, at the time of this letter, growing in strength across the United States.
  • Mr. Slagg: Milo J. Slagg was the principal of the agricultural school from 1915 to 1919.
  • Agricultural School: The Otter Lake Agricultural School in Tapiola (renamed the John A. Doelle Agricultural School in 1922).
  • Alex Pohja: Probably the same person as the Alex Ponja listed by the 1916-1917 Polk directory as a resident of Trimountain and laborer in the Trimountain Mine.
  • John A. Doelle: Longtime superintendent of the Houghton and Portage Lake public schools.
  • Bill: William H. Schacht, the new general manager of the Copper Range Company and Alex Pohja’s boss.

We don’t know if Schacht took any action on this matter, but it is easy to see the potential risks of expressing radical opinions if your job could be threatened by the actions of your child.

This project is supported with a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.

NHPRC

A Retro Copper Country Halloween

NHPRCResearchers can find a trove of ghoulish retro Halloween photographs in the Daily Mining Gazette Photograph Collection. The Daily Mining Gazette photograph collection contains photographs documenting people and events in the Copper Country. Most of the photographs were taken between 1952 and 1979. This collection was able to be fully processed during the NHPRC grant funded Detailed Processing Project.

Young trick-or-treaters inspect their loot on the sidewalk
Halloween in the Copper Country, original image from an October 1954 issue of the Daily Mining Gazette
Another group of trick-or-treaters
More trick-or-treaters from a November 1954 issue of the Daily Mining Gazette

And Now for Something (not) Completely Different

For the first NHPRC project blog posting after the October fire, I felt it would be appropriate to take a look at a much more unfortunate case.

In 1917, the resident agent of the St. Mary’s Canal Mineral Land Company, F. W. Nichols, was trying to find some early land records.  He wrote to Richard S. Harvey, who was the son of Charles T. Harvey, the land agent for the company’s predecessor.

The following image is the second page of a response from Harvey.  Take a look at the second paragraph.

And his fourth office burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp.

Look for more about the (surviving) records of the St. Mary’s Canal Mineral Land Company (part of the Copper Range Company Records) in a future blog post.

This project is supported with a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.

Painesdale Hosts Labor History Exhibit

Company houses at Osceola location. The role that company-provided houses played in the 1913 Michigan Copper Strike will be the topic of a presentation at the Jeffers High School Library at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Photograph courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Image #MTU Neg 05670.

Labor and and management conflict in the Keweenaw Peninsula is explored through a traveling exhibit in Painesdale during the month of April. “Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be on display through May 1. The exhibit is hosted by the Sarah Sargent Paine Historical Research Center in the Jeffers High School Library in Painesdale.

A special open house will take place Wednesday, April 10.  Michigan Tech Archivist Erik Nordberg will present an illustrated talk entitled “Company Houses Along the Picket Line” exploring the role of company-owned houses in the 1913 strike. The event is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the exhibit will be open to visitors. Support for this event is provided by the Sarah Sargent Paine Historical Research Center.

On July 23, 1913, members of the Western Federation of Miners took to the streets over grievances about pay and working conditions. The strike was marked by violence and tragedy, including the deaths of more than 70 people, mainly children during a Christmas Eve party at Calumet’s Italian Hall. Local mining companies refused to recognize the union, however, and the strike finally ended in April 1914. The confrontation between organized labor and mining companies affected local residents from all walks of life, created headlines across the nation, and continues to resonate in Michigan’s Copper Country today.

The “Tumult and Tragedy” traveling exhibit consists of 12 panels and includes photographs, excerpts from newspapers, documents, and songs from the strike era. A free giveaway brochure contains links to related web content about the 1913-14 Michigan copper strike online here.

The exhibit was made possible through a $14,500 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by Michigan Technological University, Cranking Graphics, and Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara.

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.eduor 906-487-2505, or the Jeffers High School Library at 906-487-0599.

1913 Strike Exhibit in L’Anse

“Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be on display from March 4 to March 27 at the L’Anse Area School Public Library, located in L’Anse High School. The library will be open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

A special open house will take place on Sunday, March 17. Jane Nordberg, managing editor for The Daily Mining Gazette, will present “Pulp and Propaganda: Newspapers in the Strike Era” at 1:00 p.m. The event and exhibit are free and open to the public.

The exhibit explores a turbulent period in Michigan’s historic copper mining district. On July 23, 1913, members of the Western Federation of Miners took to the streets over grievances about pay and working conditions. The strike was marked by violence, including the deaths of more than 70 people, mainly children during a Christmas Eve party at Calumet’s Italian Hall. Local mining companies refused to recognize the union, however, and the strike finally ended in April 1914. The conflict, sorrow, and tragedy of this confrontation between organized labor and mining companies affected local residents from all walks of life, created headlines across the nation, and continues to resonate in Michigan’s Copper Country today.

The “Tumult and Tragedy” traveling exhibit consists of 12 panels and includes photographs, excerpts from newspapers, documents, and songs from the strike era. A free giveaway brochure contains links to related web content about the 1913-14 Michigan copper strike online here.

The exhibit will remain on display at the L’Anse Area School Library Wednesday, March 27 and then tour to two other locations in Houghton and Baraga Counties.  The exhibit was made possible through a $14,500 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by Michigan Technological University, Cranking Graphics, and Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara.

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or 906-487-2505, or the L’Anse Area School Public Library at 906-524-6213.

Exhibit and February 9 Event in Houghton Highlight 1913 Strike

Dr. Larry Lankton, professor emeritus from Michigan Technological University, will discuss “Mine Safety Issues in the 1913 Strike Era” during a special open house at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, in conjunction with a special exhibit at Houghton’s Carnegie Museum. The event is free and open to the public.

The exhibit, “Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike,” created by the Michigan Tech Archives, is currently on display through February 28 at the Carnegie Museum at the corner of Huron and Montezuma in downtown Houghton. The museum is open to the public Tuesday: 12 noon – 5:00 p.m., Thursday 12 noon – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday 12 noon – 4:00 p.m.

On July 23, 1913, members of the Western Federation of Miners took to the streets over grievances about pay and working conditions. The strike was marked by violence and tragedy, including the deaths of more than 70 people, mainly children during a Christmas Eve party at Calumet’s Italian Hall. Local mining companies refused to recognize the union, however, and the strike finally ended in April 1914. The confrontation between organized labor and mining companies affected local residents from all walks of life, created headlines across the nation, and continues to resonate in Michigan’s Copper Country today.

The “Tumult and Tragedy” traveling exhibit consists of 12 panels and includes photographs, excerpts from newspapers, documents, and songs from the strike era. A free giveaway brochure contains links to related web content about the 1913-14 Michigan copper strike online here.

The exhibit will remain on display at Houghton’s Carnegie Museum through Thursday, February 28 and then tour to three other locations in Houghton and Baraga Counties.  The exhibit was made possible through a $14,500 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by Michigan Technological University, Cranking Graphics, and Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara.

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or 906-487-2505, or the Houghton Carnegie Museum at 906-482-7140.