Category Archives: About the Archives

This category is used for posts that talk more about the people, services, and operation of the archives as a department.

Summer Intern Update

Our Friends of the Michigan Tech Library intern, Ryan Welle, has been a great asset during our busy summer season. Here is Ryan conducting some research into university reports from the 1890s to fulfill an important research request.
Our Friends of the Michigan Tech Library intern, Ryan Welle, has been a great asset during our busy summer season. Here is Ryan conducting some research into university reports from the 1890s to fulfill an important research request.

 

Thanks to the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library, we have been able to host a summer intern again this year. Ryan Welle has been a wonderful addition to the team and has been instrumental to summer research support services and collections processing. He’s been gaining experience in public service, collections support and research. If you wish to learn more about what Ryan has been up to so far, please read his update report below.

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It’s hard to believe that I am already on my third week here at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. Time has been going by so fast, and I am really earning a lot of valuable experience. In the short time that I have been here, I have been able to help patrons at the reference desk, pull and re-shelve collections, learn how to navigate Archivists’ Toolkit, fulfill research requests, and work on processing a collection.

Some of the reference help that I have been able to provide is helping patrons with their genealogical research, by providing and assisting patrons with plat maps, the extensive employee records from the major copper mining firms in the area, Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, Quincy Mining Company, and Copper Range Mining Company, using the microfilm readers to look at newspapers from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and helping navigate HeritageQuest to find US Census records. I also enjoy the opportunity to use the state records collections that are housed here, particularly the naturalization records for Gogebic and Keweenaw counties.

I have also had the opportunity to gain valuable experience processing a collection when I am not at the reference desk. The collection that I am working on is the Carl Patterson papers, and it has been like a giant puzzle to find the main themes and put the pieces together. I am happy to say, however, that the picture is getting more and more clear every time I see it. The focus of the collection is quite different than what I anticipated at the start, but the focus turns out to be something that will add to the holdings in a very valuable way, which is a pleasant surprise.

On a more personal note, I would like to thank the rest of the staff for being so welcoming and answering all of the questions that I have. It truly is a pleasure to be in the archives. They have really been very kind and strive to make this experience great. I have even gotten some recommendations for things in the area to see and experience. I have taken some of the suggestions and have really been enjoying my time exploring the beautiful nature in the area. I have hiked on several different trails and found some of the waterfalls in the area to be spectacular. I especially enjoyed my trip to see the Hungarian Falls and had some great photo opportunities while I was there. I can not wait to see what other treasures I can find during my time here in the UP over the next couple weeks.


Black Voices Online Exhibit Launches

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The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections recently launched an online exhibit to showcase some of the findings from the Black Voices in the Copper Country project. The exhibit examines the African American experience in the Keweenaw, showcasing historic documents and photographs available for research use at the Michigan Tech Archives. The online exhibit, created by project director Lindsay Hiltunen and project researcher Martin Hobmeier, is intended to highlight materials that explore underrepresented individuals and narratives in Michigan history and serves to encourage researchers to consider more inclusivity when telling regional and state history. Information can be found about the early mining era, the student experience at Michigan Tech and the Richey family, who were prominent Houghton residents in the late 1800s. Although the exhibit features interpretive content, project staff were most interested in uncovering materials available at the archives so they could be better equipped to help future researchers wanting to explore the topic.

The exhibit launch is the final piece of the yearlong project, which included substantial archival research, public programming and exhibits. A social media campaign took place during the month of February in which the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Michigan Tech partnered with project researchers to share historic images of black students and community members. Another project event was a photograph exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw which was installed during Black History Month. These are just a few examples of programs and outreach that took place over the course of the project. The project was funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To view the exhibit, please visit the following link: http://blackvoices.lib.mtu.edu/

For more information about the Black Voices project or the Michigan Tech Archives, please e-mail copper@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-2505. The Michigan Tech Archives is open to the public Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome!


Happy (Vintage) Fourth of July Weekend!

Fireworks over Lake Superior and the small-town treetops, parades and campfires, cold beer and family get-togethers are some favorite, time-honored traditions of a Copper Country Independence Day weekend. While red, white, and blue are the hallmark colors of the holiday, we found some festive advertisements in black and white newsprint from our historic newspapers collection. Please note, the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections will be closed on Monday, July 4th in observance of the holiday. We resume normal business hours on Tuesday, July 5. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

A Miller's Department Store advertisement for savings on menswear. Daily Mining Gazette, June 28, 1910.
A Miller’s Department Store advertisement for savings on menswear. Daily Mining Gazette, June 28, 1910.

 

A Bosch Beer advertisement, "Reach for Bosch Instead of..." from the Daily Mining Gazette, June 27, 1940.
A Bosch Beer advertisement, “Reach for Bosch Instead of…” from the Daily Mining Gazette, June 27, 1940.

 

A "Burst of Bargains" from Central Super Market of Downtown Houghton. Daily Mining Gazette, June 29, 1961.
A “Burst of Bargains” from Central Super Market of Downtown Houghton. Daily Mining Gazette, June 29, 1961.

 

"Get Set for the 4th" with ladies fashions from O'Donnel-Seamens. Daily Mining Gazette, June 27, 1940.
“Get Set for the 4th” with ladies fashions from O’Donnel-Seamens. Daily Mining Gazette, June 27, 1940.

 

Montgomery Ward, located in the Huron Building in Houghton, offered great deals on radios during a pre-holiday sale. Daily Mining Gazette, June 27, 1940.
Montgomery Ward, located in the Huron Building in Houghton, offered great deals on radios during a pre-holiday sale. Daily Mining Gazette, June 27, 1940.

Welcome to Summer Intern Ryan Welle

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Ryan Welle, our Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Intern for summer 2016, is already at home in the stacks. Ryan will be working with us on various projects and research support services until mid-August.

 

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 intern for summer 2016. Ryan Welle was selected as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Intern after a competitive national call for applicants. While in Houghton, Ryan 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 a recent manuscript acquisition to the Michigan Tech Archives. We are very excited to have Ryan on board. Below, please take a moment to get to know Ryan as he introduces himself in his own words.

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My name is Ryan Welle, and I am very grateful to have been selected as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Intern for the summer of 2016. A little about myself, coming from Minnesota I have always felt a connection to the Great Lakes region. I decided to pursue a life-long passion for history by graduating with a BA in History and Philosophy from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. While deciding what I wanted to do with that degree, I spent some time serving with AmeriCorps tutoring children in early literacy skills. I found that I also had a passion for helping others, and a close friend of mine suggested that I look into working for historical societies or museums. I decided to take them up on the offer and enrolled in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where I recently graduated with a focus in archives and records management.

I am hoping that my time at Michigan Tech will allow me the opportunity to learn more of the history related to the Great Lakes, specifically the mining industry that established the Keweenaw Peninsula. I am also excited to gain valuable experience working in an archive while I am here. When I am not working, I can often be found on a hiking trail, on the lake, or touring historic landmarks. The landscape and natural beauty of the area is wonderful for all these activities and I hope to enjoy all that I can this summer. Feel free to stop by to say hello, and also use any of the wonderful collections that are housed at the Michigan Tech Archives.

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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.


New Art Piece On Display

Donor Jane Libby and Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen pose with the framed portrait of Christeen M. Shelden, daughter of local historic figure Ransom B. Shelden. The painting was donated to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections on Monday, June 20.
Donor Jane Libby poses with the framed portrait of Christeen M. Shelden, daughter of local historic figure Ransom B. Shelden. The painting was donated to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections earlier this week.

 

Therissa Jane Libby recently made a pilgrimage to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections to donate a painting of her great grandmother, Christeen M. Shelden. Christeen was the daughter of Ransom B. Shelden, patriarch of the well-known and highly respected Shelden family of Houghton. Ransom Shelden is credited with being one of the original founders of Houghton and the Shelden family was very active in local business, politics and social affairs in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Mrs. Libby remarked that “Christeen has come home,” and was delighted that the staff at the Van Pelt and Opie Library shared in her enthusiasm. The painting was gifted to Libby by her grandmother in the 1940s, although little is known about when the painting was completed or who the artist was. The donor has heard anecdotal evidence that it was done by an itinerant artist sometime prior to 1880. After securing the gift, the art piece was installed prominently in the reading room of the Michigan Tech Archives where it can be enjoyed by researchers and visitors.

If you are interested to view the painting, please visit the archives during normal business hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about the Michigan Tech Archives or to inquire about donating a collection, please e-mail copper@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-2505.


Research Orientations and Hands-On Workshops

Students from SS 3540, History of Michigan, conducting research during a hands-on research workshop on June 2, 2016.
Students from SS 3540, History of Michigan, conducting research during a hands-on research workshop on June 2, 2016.

In addition to preserving and providing access to a wide variety of historic print, graphic and digital material, the staff of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections also offer research support services to meet the unique research needs of students, faculty, staff, and community members. Research support services within the Archives can be tailored to the specific needs of researchers, curricula, or one class. During the summer, our research orientations, tours and hands-on research workshops are particularly popular with undergraduate students and genealogical researchers.

Research orientations and tours
Research orientations and tours for small groups and class visits are designed to give participants an overview of policies, resources, and research methods. These sessions may appeal to faculty from many areas of the university to find ways to use, or promote the benefits of primary source materials in their courses. Research orientations and tours are designed for groups no larger than 20 participants and typically last 45-60 minutes; these are available to members of the university as well as to the community.

Hands-on research workshops
The newest service that the Archives has initiated is a hands-on research workshop. These sessions are built around a specific course objective, assignment, or research project. Workshops involve an in-depth discussion about research as it pertains to a specific topic or material type. These sessions include a hands-on research activity and worksheet customized to give participants a deeper understanding of a specific aspect of archival research. Research workshops typically last 45-60 minutes and they are available to all faculty, staff and other research groups.

In addition to these services, the department also offers research consultations for individual researchers. Please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505 or at copper@mtu.edu to learn more about how our research support services may benefit your archival research project.


Black Voices in the Copper Country Project Reception

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The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is pleased to invite the community to our project reception for the “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project. The presentation and social hour will take place on Tuesday, May 31 at 6 p.m. in the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s East Reading Room. This event is free and open to the public. Assorted hors d’oeuvres and other refreshments will be served.

Please join us for a reception to celebrate the work of the “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project, which has been a year-long effort to explore African-American social history in the northwestern Upper Peninsula. Lindsay Hiltunen and Martin Hobmeier will discuss their research findings and provide a preview of content that will be a part of the online exhibit, which is scheduled to launch in June 2016.

For more information, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505 or copper@mtu.edu.

This reception is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

MHC Publicity


Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project – Part 2

Here is the second installment of our student assistant written blog entry about our Mine Memories Oral History Project.

Part two out of two:

 

After we figured out how we could best set up our interview space, we were able to start recording interviews. Of course, I was nervous, but at the same time I was excited to hear what our interviewees had to say about their experiences. Our first interview went smoothly, there were no interruptions and next to no unwanted sounds on the recording. Our first interviewee was a historian, so it was really very interesting hearing things from both his personal and historical perspective. Our next interviewee, who actually worked for a local mining company, provided a completely different point of view on the time.

 

We have interviewed seven people so far, and no two stories are the same. It has been an amazing journey, hearing all of these different perspectives on the same topic, and a topic that has had such a huge impact on the local region. Hearing people tell these stories is one thing, but to hear them and to realize how huge of an impact working in or around the mines has caused in their lives, is kind of mind blowing.

 

The other day I was walking down along the portage by the Portage Lake District Library, and saw a mural of what Houghton could have looked like back in the mining days. There were also depictions of one of the mines that I’ve heard so much about and an image of a possible housing situation for the miners. It was incredible to be able to point out what I’ve heard during the interviews and be capable to look at these images and tell some of the stories that I’ve been hearing. It has been an incredible opportunity to work on this project and with all of these wonderful people, I can’t wait to come back from my summer break and continue working on these interviews.

 

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.


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.

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