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.

2016 Travel Grant Program Call for Proposals

Arthur Edmund Seaman, former head of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy at the Michigan College of Mines (now Michigan Tech), conducting some research, circa 1905. Photograph is courtesy of the Keweenaw Digital Archives.
Arthur Edmund Seaman, former head of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy at the Michigan College of Mines (now Michigan Tech), conducting some research, circa 1905. Photograph is courtesy of the Keweenaw Digital Archives.

 

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is currently accepting applications for its annual Travel Grant Program, which brings in 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 February 29, 2016. Award recipients will be notified by March 31. The successful candidate must complete their travel by December 9, 2016. Electronic submission is preferred.

For further information, please contact:

Lindsay Hiltunen, Senior 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


Guest Post from Travel Grant Researcher Phil Hartmeyer – Research Recap on the Pewabic

A watercolor painting of the Pewabic (artistic credit to Robert McGreevy.)
A watercolor painting of the steamer Pewabic (artistic credit to Robert McGreevy.)

 

The shores, clad in perpetual verdure, rising upon the vision and receding in the distance, stir up the mind with their grandeur and mellow it with their beauty, creating an intense harmony that may be felt and enjoyed but cannot be described. There was the wildness of nature as it presents its rugged front as a barrier to the footsteps of all, conquering the art, and there too was the foothold art had made from which to take up her march… And now, when we know the richness, the fertility, the beauty, the hidden and the exposed wealth of the great Western and Northwestern country that is and must ever be tributary to this lake, we are more sanguine than ever of the growth of the new towns of Lake Superior (Bayfield 1858:14).

Since the beginning, the “big lake” and the vessels that ply her have been the primary facilitators of the Copper Country’s economic and cultural development during the nineteenth century. From the earliest voyageur canoes that brought early Keweenaw explorers to its shores to the palatial cruise vessels that offloaded scores of visitors to its docks middle-late in the nineteenth century, the Copper Country relied on the marine highway during its most important years.

Getting to the Keweenaw, however, was never as easy as “well, send a boat”. As the region experienced economic ebbs and flow, so too did the demand for lake boats. The passenger/package freight propeller was one such vernacular craft that embodied the economic and social needs of the Copper Country in the middle nineteenth century. Often reduced to “package steamers”, “wooden steamers”, or “wooden propellers”, these vessels were Keweenaw’s quintessential multiple-purpose supply ship.

The Lake Superior passenger/package freight propeller was largely brought about by the 1855 completion of the Sault Locks that bypassed the rapids on the St. Mary’s River. As was the case with the Erie and Welland Canals, the physical dimensions of the Sault Locks dictated the size of the vessels that would pass through it. To no coincidence, ship builders were quickly contracted to build hulls specifically for the Lake Superior market. As the iron ore industry wouldn’t boom until some decades later, copper was the primary market for entrepreneurial fleet owners. JT Whiting was one owner of note who had begun acquiring vessel interests in anticipation of the Sault Locks’ opening.

By summer of 1855 Whiting controlled all steam-powered vessels on Lake Superior except four (Julia Palmer, Traveler, Sam Ward, and Manhattan). Nine years later, Whiting had interests in two-thirds of maritime commerce on Lake Superior including regular visitors Meteor and Pewabic: the flagships of Whiting’s Pioneer Lake Superior Line. These passenger/package freight propellers were built with an elegant first-class deck on top of the main deck that housed the package freight and steerage passengers.

The first-class accommodations of Pewabic and Meteor emulated the changing American social agenda and the emergence of the middle-class. Membership to this expanding American group was no longer restricted to the self-employed. Salaried employees of growing America in the late 1850s and 1860s began to use recreation, travel, and leisure to distinguish themselves from members of the working class (Aron 1999:93). Vessels like Pewabic and Meteor became an arena for this emerging social group to experiment with newly founded middle class behaviors like flirting, dancing, drinking, and jazz.

The staterooms were in two rows that ran bow to stern on each side of the vessels. They faced outboard to the lake and inboard to the central saloon that served as the dining room and dancing hall. These vessels made few stops on their way to the Great White North, and, besides swimming ashore, guests had no option but to partake in the daily dances, late-night parties, and social mingling.

Pewabic cargo invoice from the Keweenaw Historical Society Collection housed at the Michigan Tech Archives.
Pewabic cargo invoice from the Keweenaw Historical Society Collection housed at the Michigan Tech Archives.

Just twelve inches of white pine separated the first-class experience from steerage. In the enclosed main deck miners, labor contractors, and others traveling on the cheap were sprawled between the boxes, barrels, and bags of package freight that was also Houghton-bound. Fare was calculated by the mile, with no meals included, and most times steerage passengers were confined to the dark main deck. One can imagine the muffled conversations in different languages among the boats’ creaks and moans. Life downstairs was a staggeringly different experience than life upstairs.

It is without question that the iconic passenger/package freight propeller had tremendous impact on the survival and development of the Copper Country during the middle-late nineteenth century. Before the railroad, they were the sole means of bringing copper to market while returning with provisions, tourists, and fresh labor. Over the past few years I have focused on studying the years 1855-1880 through the proverbial porthole of these important craft.

The University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections at the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Technological University possess some incredible primary sources that have, and will continue to round out this study. During my recent visit I focused on three collections: the Roy Drier Collection, Keweenaw Historical Society Collection, and Earl Gagnon Photograph Collection. Ship invoices, smelter receipts, contemporary photographs, local store daybooks, and secondary recollections of Copper Country’s maritime heritage were among my favorite, and most revealing sources.

In one of the Keweenaw Historical Society Collection’s folders, I came across a receipt written by JT Whiting that acknowledges payment of $412 dollars from JR Grout for freight charges on float and barrel copper from Central, Rockland, and Superior mines as well as seven barrels of flint steel delivered by Pewabic to Detroit on August 1st, 1865. This document is significant for several reasons. First, it’s evident that in this case, and others from similar documents in the collection, that ship masters primarily dealt with agents from the smelters for both smelted material and mass copper transactions. This business model has implications that vessels could load most, if not all their downbound cargo at the smelter docks. Second, the receipt includes specific weight, freight charge, and container type for each cargo entry. This information sheds light on specific weight carried downbound, and possible main deck organization. Generally speaking: what did the main deck look like on a typical downbound trip from Houghton to Detroit. Third, this routine receipt was the last ever signed by JT Whiting for Pewabic.

Pewabic left Detroit the very next day for its seventh trip of the season, and on its return trip downbound collided with Meteor off Alpena, Michigan killing dozens and sending a valuable copper cargo to its final resting place, 165 feet beneath the surface. Even though this receipt is exactly that, a receipt, it’s value to my research in studying the maritime landscape of Copper Country is unmatched. Coupled with the hundreds of other primary sources I am still processing, my trip to the Archives was an incredible success. The data will be used in future papers, presentations at archaeology conferences, and to educate the public primarily through the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena which has a considerable collection of Pewabic artifacts and exhibits. It is an absolute pleasure to partner with Lindsay Hiltunen and the rest of the Archives staff to discover, explore, and reveal Copper Country’s maritime identity through primary source research. Feel free to contact me at phil.hartmeyer@noaa.gov with any questions or comments.

——————————————————————————————————
This is a guest blog post from visiting scholar Philip Hartmeyer, a maritime archaeologist with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan. His research trip was made possible by the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant Program, which is generously funded by the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library.

Sources Cited

Aron, Cindy S. 1999, Working at Play: A History of Vacations in the United States. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Bayfield City 1858, Bayfield, Lake Superior: Early History, Situation, Harbor, Ocean Commerce, Mineral & Agricultural Resources, Rail Roads, Stage Roads, Lumber, Fisheries, Climate of Lake Superior, Pre-Emption Lands, Invitation to Settlers: An Account Of A Pleasure Tour to Lake Superior. Philadelphia, PA.


Thanksgiving Closure

Daily Mining Gazette Photograph Collection
Daily Mining Gazette Photograph Collection

 

The archives will be closed Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27 for Thanksgiving break. Normal hours of operation will resume on Monday, November 30.

This year (and every year, honestly) we are thankful for the Keweenaw Digital Archives. The image featured above shows workers from the Calumet Division’s Ahmeek Number 3 posing with the turkeys they had received for safety awards. Under the Calumet Division’s safety award program, this means the men worked for 21 months without a disqualifying compensable accident.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 


Campus Traditions and Collective Meaning-Making: Exploring Student Life and Memory Building from Michigan Tech and Beyond

In his upcoming talk, visiting scholar David Brown will discuss campus traditions and their meaning, such as Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival. The photograph features Winter Carnival Queen Candidates from 1959.
In his upcoming talk, visiting scholar David Brown will discuss campus traditions and their meaning, such as Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival. The photograph features Winter Carnival Queen Candidates from 1959.

 

Please join us for visiting scholar David Brown at 4:00 pm on Monday, November 16 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, Brown will discuss his dissertation research which focuses on historical accounts of student life and the ways in which those accounts can inform scholarship and teaching in the modern era. He is especially interested in collective experiences and instances where student life has taken on distinctive character and expression, such as in the case of Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival. In addition to meaning, methodology will also be an important component of the talk. Brown will show how archival research is a valuable tool for studying college student life and provide an example of an exercise that challenges students to consider campus history and their place in it.

David Brown is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky. Under the guidance of noted historian of higher education Dr. John Thelin, Brown’s research focuses on historical and contemporary accounts of college student life and students’ meaning-making activities during their college years. In addition to his research, he also teaches at the University of Kentucky; last year he was a recipient of one of UK’s Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Brown’s research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1988, the Michigan Technological University Archives Travel Grant program has helped 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 athttp://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/.


Happy Halloween from the Archives

Here are just a few photographs to get you ready for whatever your Halloween festivities might be this weekend! These images have all been scanned from the Michigan Technological University Lode Photograph Collection.

Have a happy Halloween!

MTU168-03-03-006 small
McDonalds shake and fries, a pre-Twilight vampire, a couple of swashbuckling pirates and choker necklaces abound.
MTU168-03-03-005 small
An eclectic bunch of 1960s and 70s kids.
MTU168-03-03-004 small
Classic sheet togas re-purposed into Princess Leia, flower child and other Halloween costumes.

 


Preservation or Petrification? Creepy Archived Jack-O’-Lantern Images.

These jack-o’-lanterns were carved by Michigan Tech students in 1989 and photographed by Michigan Tech Lode staff. A couple of them look more traditional, but others use creepy and creative add-ons.

Current students, why not glean some “hallowed” inspiration from Tech generations gone by? Consider using a sliver of orange pumpkin rind for a devilish tongue, rubber gloves made to look like eerie pumpkin feet, or give your hollow headed friend some head gear, like a mop wig or a felt hood.

 

MTU168-03-03-001-small
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.
MTU168-03-03-002-small
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.
MTU168-03-03-003-small
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.

Autumn Leaves, Past and Present

A scenic view in the Copper Country, taken by the Michigan Tourist Council in 1958.
A scenic view in the Copper Country, taken by the Michigan Tourist Council in 1958.


One of the best things about color photography is being able to capture the changing leaves of autumn. While the staff in the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections love a good historic photo, black and white photographs simply do not do justice to the breathtaking landscapes and fall vistas of the Copper Country. The bright and dark greens of the trees slowly morph into reds, oranges, and yellows. Many will remark that the Upper Peninsula is never more beautiful than in the fall, with warm, vibrant colors blanketing the hillsides and the cool, crisp air rustling the leaves.

This weekend you can enjoy these fall colors for yourself from one of the best vantage points around: Mont Ripley. Take a ride on the chairlifts and delight in the stunning views from the top of Mont Ripley. Tours run Friday from 3 pm – dusk and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am – dusk. An additional tour will be offered on Wednesday, October 14, 4 pm – 7 pm. The Wednesday tour is hosted by the Michigan Tech Graduate Student Government and the Keweenaw Alumni Association Chapter.

 

A postcard of the Ahmeek #3 and #4 shaft-rockhouse amongst the colors of autumn, 1964.
A postcard of the Ahmeek #3 and #4 shaft-rockhouse amongst the colors of autumn, 1964.

 

Two students enjoy the fall colors across the Portage Canal in the fall of 1983.
Two students enjoy the fall colors across the Portage Canal in the fall of 1983.

 

An aerial view of campus from 2007.
An aerial view of campus from 2007.

 

An aerial view of campus from fall 2009.
An aerial view of campus from fall 2009.

Summer Intern Farewell

The Archives public services team poses for a final photograph. The ladies stand in front of volumes from the historic state records collection. From left to right are Allyse Staehler, Airen Campbell-Olszewski, Alison Fukuchi, and Georgeann Jukuri.
The Archives public services team poses for a final photograph. The ladies stand in front of volumes from the historic state records collection. From left to right are Allyse Staehler, Airen Campbell-Olszewski, Alison Fukuchi, and Georgeann Jukuri.

 

We bid farewell to our intern this afternoon. Alison has shown herself to be a dedicated worker and a true asset to the archives. We will miss her, but we wish her well as she continues her graduate studies and moves on to the next step in her career! Please read on for her final intern update.

————————————–

This is my final blog entry, and while part of me wants to say the time has flown by, the truth is these last few weeks have been a bit more measured, as I’ve savored the time and become part of the rhythm of the archives. Although the first weeks were a flurry of new learning and meetings, a certain sense of calm has defined the end of my time here; confidence in my interactions with patrons, awareness of the needs of the reference staff, and determination to complete small processing projects has characterized this time. That is not to say that these haven’t been busy weeks!

Week 5 saw the advent of new challenges in the form of my first record entered into Archivists’ Toolkit for a small collection of family papers. The Coughlin and Gray Family Papers represent my first taste of realistic archival practice in that there were preservation concerns during processing as well as research needs in the compilation of the scope and contents note and biographical sketch. When composing biographical information for the finding aid, I read diary entries from the collection, learning much fascinating early history of Washington Harbor on Isle Royale in the process. To read the firsthand account of a child who spent two years on the island in the 1890s adds such a human element to the history; it’s made an indelible impression on my memory.

Week 6 was Alumni Reunion week at Michigan Technological University, and the Archives played a role as well. We opened early for three days and allowed access on Saturday; I have to say it was a very busy week for the reference staff! We had a visiting researcher from Norway looking into the first Norwegians who worked in the copper mining companies, which had us all working hard to find useful and relevant materials for her including employment records, biographical and photographical vertical files, church and community documents, and mining company ledgers, among many others. There was also an influx of visitors wanting to revisit memories from their time at Michigan Tech; many requested staff and faculty directories, individual photos, and Keweenawan yearbooks. I also processed another small collection, which was just as exciting and interesting as the first, but not as daunting. One aspect of this field that I absolutely love, is the fact that an archivist is constantly learning. We always come across new information about history, the community, and the world. That is truly exciting.

On the personal side, I have had some wonderful experiences here in the UP. Exploring nature was one of my goals, and last week I was able to get out to the North Woods Conservancy to do a bit of hiking around Conglomerate Falls, followed by some beach time at McLain State Park. Lake Superior is similar to Lake Michigan, but the beaches here have a different energy, more inscrutable and very wild. On a visit to The Orpheum in Hancock, I was fortunate to see blues musician Brian Waller perform which was incredibly fun. Local food and drink has also not disappointed; standouts include the Dark Side of the IPA at KBC and the veggie pasty at Roy’s.

Today is my last day, and there are few regrets. I truly believe I made the most of my time here, embracing the opportunities as they arose and focusing my energy on learning and absorbing everything possible in the archives. Of course, I will miss the friends I’ve made and there is so much more to learn, but I believe that is true of anything and everything in life. Any genuine passion will always reveal new challenges, new discoveries, and new truths; I’m fortunate to have found that passion in archival work and I cannot wait to see what history has in store for me!


New Exhibit and Alumni Reunion Weekend

hockey exhibit

Michigan Technological University’s Van Pelt and Opie Library welcomes alumni, family and friends to visit the library for special services and exhibits during Alumni Reunion. The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections staff encourages visits and will have expanded hours.

SPECIAL HOURS DURING ALUMNI REUNION

The library will be open on Saturday, August 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The archives reading room will be open Saturday, August 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

ARCHIVES TOURS
Saturday, August 8

Walk-in between the hours of 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. for a behind-the-scenes tour of the stacks. Our Senior Archivist will offer 15 minute tours to talk about what we do in the archives and to show off some of the more popular collections.

EXHIBITS

Husky Hockey: A Glimpse into the Past
Location: Archives Reading Room

To coincide with Alumni Reunion and the Hockey Reunion, our new exhibit features a look at the history of men’s ice hockey on campus. Memorabilia and photographs throughout the years showcase the glory and challenges of the program throughout the years. A prominent photograph of the 1964-1965 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey team pays homage to the fiftieth anniversary of the winning season.

Yearbooks and University Publications
Location: Archives Reading Room

Yearbooks and other university books are available for browsing in one of the archives’ book case displays.  This is a nearly complete range of Keweenawan yearbooks from 1924-2002 and a copy of the Engineer from 1915. The display case also includes popular university publications such as the book Michigan Tech Centennial 1885-1985, alumni bulletins from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT), the MCMT Freshman Bible, and various years of the University’s Winter Carnival Pictorial. Also available for viewing: Lode on microfilm: 1921-2005 (digital copies of the Lode from 2009-2014 available on their website: http://issuu.com/michigantechlode), Michigan Tech vertical files: newspaper clippings and printed ephemera related to campus activities, sports, organizations, and academics, and Michigan Tech photo vertical files: photos related to campus activities, sports, organizations, and academics. Photocopies are available.


HeritageQuest is Now Powered by Ancestry.com

One of our favorite and most used databases, HeritageQuest (Proquest) underwent an interface makeover and is now powered by Ancestry.com. Along with the enhanced functionality that comes with the site’s redesign, there is a considerable amount of new content, not least of which are the available listings of U.S.Federal Census Records from 1790 to 1940, including the image and every-name indexes for each of these years.

Additional new content includes: city directories, 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules, U.S. Indian Census Rolls, Mortality Schedules, Agricultural and Industrial Schedules, and the 1890 Veterans Schedule.

If you have any questions about using HeritageQuest, please call the the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections at (906) 487-2505 or email us at copper@mtu.edu to learn more.

Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff can access HeritageQuest by following this link. Additionally, all Michigan residents may access HeritageQuest through the Michigan eLibrary (MeL) at mel.org/Databases. Another genealogy related database available through MeL is the Biography and Genealogy Master Index, a readily searchable reference sources index.