Category Archives: Collections

This category will include posts about the holdings of the Michigan Tech Archives: manuscript materials, photographs, maps, books, and other physical items held by the department.

Christmas on Isle Royale, Diary entries of a frontier woman

The ever-white winters of the Keweenaw are beautiful, but the intense snowfall can also leave residents feeling isolated. Both of these sentiments become even more true on Isle Royale.

The following set of diary entries were written by Lydia Smith Douglass in 1848 during the first year of her marriage to Columbus C. Douglass. During the winter of this year, the couple lived on Isle Royale while Columbus worked for the Ohio and Isle Royale Mining Company.

These entries were written around the time of Christmas.

 

Isle Royale in Winter. (Photo courtesy of the Keweenaw Digital Archives.)
Isle Royale in Winter. (Photo courtesy of the Keweenaw Digital Archives).

 

 

December 23, 1848

It was eleven o’clock before I retired last night. I said some time before night that I would finish the piece of work I was engaged with before I slept. Consequently, I had to sit up later than usual. Mr. Douglass returned home a little after six this evening, having walked from Epidote to Datholite and from thence home today on snow shoes. He was so fatigued as to be hardly able to stand up, when he came in, and so completely drenched with perspirations, one might have thought he had been in the water. Such overexertion must certainly be very injurious to one’s health.

December 25, 1848

Christmas has come with pleasant weather, and snow sufficient for good sleighing, but unfortunately for us we have neither roads nor teams. The contrast in the manner of our spending the day is quite different from last Christmas Day, then among our friends at Ann Arbor. Now, on a remote and lonely island, but I forbear to repine. We are happy here, even in this solitude, but would still be happier if we could communicate with our friends. We have as many of comforts of life here, as we should enjoy in almost any place. Many more than one would suppose that had no experience in this new country. We have as yet a plenty of fresh meats such as, beef, fish, fowls, rabbits, etc. etc., together with as good vegetables as one would wish to find in any place, also a sufficiency of nick-nacks. In short, everything for our health and comfort.

December 26, 1848

The morning was rather snowy, but cleared away about noon and remained pleasant during the rest of the day. The day passed off in the usual routine of sewing, reading, writing, eating, etc., etc., etc. We brought with us a choice library, with which to employ our leisure moments, and it is a source of amusement and profit to us. We are now reading the Life and Voyages of Columbus, written by Washington Irving, which is very interesting. It seems strange to us of the present day that a civilized people should have thrown so many obstacles in the way of this great discoverer.

 

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These diary entries are held by the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections as a part of the Lydia Smith Douglass Diary Collection.

Michigan Tech Archives in the News

Senior Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen in the archives stacks, showing off a Quincy Mining Company employment card for Otto Hackmann.
Senior Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen in the archives stacks, showing off a Quincy Mining Company employment record for Otto Hackmann.

 

We are happy to share that the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections made it onto the Michigan Tech News website this morning. Senior Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen recently gave an interview and behind-the-scenes tour in the archives for Michigan Tech student writer Monica Lester. The interview was filled with questions about the archiving process and the 30 minute tour went into the stacks to show off some of the more interesting collections housed on campus.

As a newly minted Keweenaw Heritage Site, a program in partnership with the National Park Service to interpret the region’s copper mining heritage, the staff members of the Michigan Tech Archives are happy to answer any questions that the university and local community might have about who we are and what we do. To see the full article about the archives please visit the Michigan Tech News website. If you want to visit us in the archives, please stop by during our normal business hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or get in touch with us at (906) 487-2505 or at copper@mtu.edu.

Baraga Resident Donates World War I Era Collection

Ellen Raymond, center, donated her father-in-law’s materials to the University Archives after a suggestion from her friend, Sharon Eklund, left. Archivist Beth Russell, right, formally accepted the donation.  (Photo courtesy of Tech Today)

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections was pleased to welcome a new collection this week thanks to a local resident. Ellen Raymond, a 94 year old from Baraga, visited the archives on Tuesday, July 8 and donated a family collection of World War I era documents and ephemera.

After finding a stash of documents and photos in her closet, Raymond wasn’t quite sure what to do, but her friend Sharon Eklund, a volunteer for Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly who looks in on Raymond, had a pretty good idea. Eklund suggested donating the materials to the Michigan Tech Archives and that is exactly what they did. After coordinating the donation with Archivist Beth Russell, Raymond and Eklund arrived earlier this week to present the material and formally pass ownership to the archives. The donation ceremony was attended by library staff, Little Brothers representatives, and various journalists.

The collection is a file that had been preserved by Raymond’s father-in-law, Harvey William Raymond. It includes his diploma from Baraga High School, a certificate of mine safety from what was then the Michigan College of Mines, correspondence between H.W. Raymond and his fiancée, and several photos, one of particular importance to Michigan Tech as it showcases a class photo taken in 1918 of new recruits at Michigan Tech’s military training facility.

The Michigan Tech Archives does not have many documents or photos from the World War I era so this donation is an important one to broaden our holdings. Archivist Beth Russell called this a “wonderful collection” and it is a perfect example how community donations can enhance the materials we have to offer researchers. The collection will be arranged and cataloged to make it available to researchers in the archives and there are possible plans to have some of the photos scanned and placed in the Keweenaw Digital Archives, where they can be widely accessible even to those unable to visit the archives in person. Overall, Raymond is delighted that her father-in-law’s papers have found their way to a historical collection where the documents and photos will be preserved for future generations. “I think it’s great, and I think he would be proud,” she said, to know that his papers have found their way to a place such as this. Please monitor our blog and Facebook page for news on when this collection is available for use.

Thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of local donors the archives is able to collect, preserve, and make available resources of historical importance.  If you have a collection you think may be suitable to donate to the archives, please contact Lindsay Hiltunen at lehalkol@mtu.edu or by calling (906) 487-3209 or (906) 487-2505.  Inquiries about donations can also be directed to Ellen Marks, University Librarian and Library Director, at ebmarks@mtu.edu or by calling (906) 487-2500.

Travel Grants Awarded to Five Scholars

The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections has selected five recipients for the 2014 Research Travel Award. This year’s grant recipients take a fresh approach to the rich array of material housed in the Archives.

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Forests - Estivant Pines [Image #:MS051-040-007-002
Cameron Burd, a graduate student at Central Michigan University will explore environmental activism in the Lake Superior region during the modern environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s and document those who attempted to control the natural fate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Philip Hartmeyer is a graduate student pursuing maritime studies at East Carolina University.  Hartmeyer will focus his research on the vessel “Pewabic” and the crucial role shipping played in the lives of the Keweenaw’s population, its copper mines, and its civil development in the 1860s.

“]
Ships - Osceola [Image #:ACC-220-1984-007-030-403-003

Shannon Kirkwood is a doctoral student at Central Michigan University and a recent presenter at “Retrospection and Respect: the 1913-1914 Mining/Labor Strike Symposium of 2014.   She will continue her research in the participation of miners’ wives in the 1913-1914 Copper Strike and the indirect relationship these women had with the mining companies, their relationships with their men, and their relationships with each other.

Paul Lubotina, visiting assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University and also a participant in the symposium will examine the role Croatian immigrants played in the 1913-1914 Copper Strike.  He will examine the Seeberville murders and try to shed light on whether mining officials had a more compelling reason other than trespassing for the death of two immigrant laborers.

Mark Worrall is an independent researcher working on the history of the Mineral Range Railroad’s South Range Branch.  He will examine the geographical and anthropological setting of the line, its history, its operations, notable events on the line, and the eventual abandonment of the line.

Since its inception over ten years ago, the grant has enabled more than twenty researchers to travel to Houghton from the United States, Canada, and Europe, to examine the unique social and cultural resources in the Archives collections. Past grant recipients have studied a wide variety of topics, such as the use of images and models by mining engineers to manage complex work sites above and below ground; the role that fraternal orders have played in Lake Superior mining communities; and the adoption of the English language by European transplants to Michigan’s Copper Country. This year’s awards continue a tradition of supported research using the manuscript collections curated by the Michigan Tech Archives.

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Mineral Range Railroad [Image #:MS042-999-T-264
The grant program is financially supported by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. This year’s award committee included Larry Lankton and Susan Martin, retired professors from the Michigan Tech Department of  Social Sciences, Don Durfee, also from the Department of Social Sciences and the Friends of the Van Pelt Library, and Beth Russell, representing the Michigan Tech Archives.  For further information about the awards program or about the collections of the Michigan Tech Archives, call 487-2505.

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.

Help from Calumet and Hecla Consolidated Copper Company

Telephone directories from Calumet and Hecla

The telephone has become so ubiquitous in our lives that we often forget it’s a relatively new technology.  In 1952, Calumet and Hecla  provided some help using the telephone in their telephone directory.  In case you need some help yourselves:

“Before attempting to dial a call, lift the receiver and listen for the ‘dial tone’, a steady humming sound … Secure from this directory the number of the person or department wanted.  Dial each digit carefully, making sure the dial is pulled until the ‘stop’ is reached.  Allow the dial to return to its normal position after each pull; any attempt to force the dial may result in a wrong number.  If, during the process of dialing, you discover you have made an error, hang up for a few seconds and then dial over.  If the telephone you have dialed is busy, you will hear a short rapid ‘buzz-buzz’ sound.  If you hear this sound, hang up and wait a moment before attempting to dial again.  A ‘burr-burr-burring’ sound indicates that the telephone you have called is ringing.”

Okay, a little different from today – who remembers rotary phones?

Archives Reading Room Reopens

The Archives Reading Room reopened for research on Tuesday, April 2. Current hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  This has allowed the Garden (lowest) Level of the library to be reopened as well.

Delays associated with the freeze-drying and delivery processes — our materials are being managed by the same facilities handling Hurricane Sandy damaged materials — have made the return to Houghton slow going. Fortunately, the one-third that has been received so far has shown no significant damage.

Read a related story published in The Daily Mining Gazette by clicking here.

Travel Awards Provided to Three Scholars

The "almost ghost town" of Winona includes company houses built by the Winona and King Philip mining companies in 1909. The story of Winona will be the topic of a new documentary film by Michael Luokinen, with research support from a Michigan Tech Archives travel grant. Image MS807-MS04-33-15-002.

The Michigan Tech Archives is pleased to announce three recipients of awards in its 2013 travel grant program. Funding for the program is provided by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library, and encourages out-of-town scholars to visit Houghton to undertake research using the collections of the Michigan Tech Archives.

Robert Goodrich, associate professor of history at Northern Michigan University, will research the significant role of ethnic Slovenes in Michigan’s Copper Country. Part of a larger research initiative examining emigration from the former Habsburg Empire to Michigan, Goodrich will explore the important Slovene presence in the Keweenaw, including missionaries such as Frederic Baraga and the development of a large Slovene immigrant community in the mining town of Red Jacket. Goodrich, who holds a PhD in European history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is currently under contract with Michigan State University Press for book tentatively entitled Austro-Hungarians in Michigan scheduled for publication in 2014.

Michael Loukinen, professor of sociology at Northern Michigan University, will undertake historical research in support of a documentary film project about the “almost ghost town” of Winona. Located 30 miles southwest of Houghton, Winona was a prospering copper mining community in the early Twentieth Century. Although mining and timber industries faded from this remote landscape in the 1920s, the town site continues to support a small community including a school and a church. Archival research will provide the necessary historical background for recorded interviews with current and past residents of Winona. Luokinen holds a PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University and is the writer and producer of more than a dozen documentary films including the critically acclaimed Good Man in the Woods, Medicine Fiddle and a series of films documenting traditional Ojibwe culture and teachings.

Patrick Pospisek, a recent graduate of the doctoral program in history at Purdue University, will explore early federal mining policy in Michigan’s copper mining district.  While silver and gold mining in the American West had significant impact on the federal government’s approach to mineral legislation, earlier experiences in mining regions before the Civil War were equally important to defining federal authority in developing mining districts. Pospisek’s research will examine the collapse of an early federal leasing policy in Michigan’s copper district which encouraged the development of a private, corporate mining industry. The Michigan study will form one component of a larger book-length study of United States mining history in the Mississippi Valley and Midwest.

As part of their research visits, travel award recipients will present a public presentation – either on their research in progress or on a topic from their previous work. Information about these events will be distributed as they are scheduled.

Since 1998, the Friends of the Van Pelt Library have supported more than 30 scholars and researchers from across the United States, Canada, and Europe to access the Archives’ collections. Books, articles, presentations and web content have resulted from the work of travel grant recipients, helping to draw attention to the holdings of the Michigan Tech Archives and the history of Michigan’s Copper Country and Upper Peninsula.