Category Archives: Photographs

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.

 

 



Discovering the Photography of Paul Hinzmann

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Paul Hinzmann with camera, Fort Wilkins, undated.

If you’ve had the chance to talk with any of the faculty or staff members at Michigan Tech, you know that each has an interesting story to tell and, more often than not, have interests and passions beyond the classroom.

In honor of National Photo Month we’re featuring the photography of Paul Hinzmann, former Michigan Tech professor and University photographer.

Paul Revere Hinzmann was born on May 23, 1913 in Tipton, Michigan to Walter and Lulu Hinzmann. The son of a Congregational Minister, Paul studied at the Case Institute of Technology and earned a degree in physics in 1935 and later obtained a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Michigan in 1936.

Hinzmann joined the faculty at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in 1946 as a professor of physics, a position he retained until his retirement in January 1977. From all accounts, Hinzmann was a well-respected faculty member who relished teaching and was known for his dedication to his students.

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Man in field, undated.

Paul Hinzmann was also a man with varied interests, including photography. His collection of photographs and negatives reflect his interests in the landscape of the Copper Country and the campus he loved so much. Photographs and negatives from his collection in the Michigan Tech Archive include scenes of local businesses, street views, and the industrial landscape. Among the treasures donated to the archive are several antique cameras from the 1800s that reflect his love of the medium and its history.

Razing of McNair, undated.
Razing of McNair, undated.

Hinzmann’s work for the University eventually led him to commercial photography work for the Herman Gundlach Construction Company in Houghton. Evidence of this is sprinkled throughout his collection and largely document the various stages of construction in and around Houghton. Unsurprisingly there is overlap between Hinzmann’s campus photography since Gundlach was a major contractor for many buildings on campus.

Beyond his teaching responsibilities and photography, Hinzmann was an avid outdoorsman, spending time on Isle Royale and in the Boundary Waters. A lifetime member of the Isle Royale & Keweenaw Parks Association (IRKPA), Hinzmann served as board president from 1985 to 1988.

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Charlie Kaupi and Tech student on the Isle Royale Queen, 1948.

His love of wilderness and photography culminated in a rephotography project he undertook in the 1980s using photographer A. C. Lane’s glass plate negative collection of Isle Royale views from the 1890s.

Hinzmann died on November 30, 2012 at the age of 99 and a half years old. His reputation as a “patient, caring teacher who loved the enthusiasm of students” was remembered in the Spring 2013 issue of Michigan Tech Magazine. While his photography might not be as well known by most, Hinzmann’s work outside of the classroom served as the visual record of the University for over thirty years and represents the impact faculty and staff have to Michigan Tech community.

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Vintage cameras from the Paul Hinzmann Collection.

Would you like to see more of Paul Hinzmann’s photography? Please visit the temporary display currently on the first floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Tech campus. Interested in seeing even more? The Michigan Technological University Archives holds the Paul Hinzmann Photograph Collection (MS-580). The collection dates from 1954 to 1982 and includes miscellaneous photographic equipment, as well as photographs and negatives taken by Hinzmann documenting the subjects discussed in this post.


Holiday Blog Post 2016

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A sparkling tree in an elegant family room.

 

The Carpenters and Perry Como tell us that “there’s no place like home for the holidays,” since it is here that we gather family and friends around us to share the joy of the season. How were people in the Copper Country celebrating with their loved ones and neighbors a hundred years ago? Perhaps one of these parties or events sounds like one you would enjoy–or maybe like one that’s already on your schedule!

 

A holiday sleigh party.
A holiday sleigh party.

 

In December 1911, the Calumet Woman’s Club had a “fine Yuletide Program” featuring “opening and closing numbers by twelve little girls” clothed in German Christmas apparel. Members of the club sang German carols and received “a little Christmas gift, direct from Berlin” as they enjoyed a luncheon of sandwiches, cookies, and gingerbread.

On Christmas Eve in 1909, the Scots of the Calumet area gathered in Laurium for “a musical and literary program” to be followed by dancing. Guests were guaranteed to find something to get their toes tapping, since the party promised to include “all of the popular old time dances interspersed with waltzes and two-steps.”

 

From the Calumet News on December 21, 1910.
From the Calumet News on December 21, 1910.

 

Ice skating was a centerpiece of many parties organized by groups of coworkers. Calumet & Hecla Mining Company (C&H) machinists gathered at the Palestra in Laurium in December 1910 for their outing, while the Calumet telephone operators hired the C&H band in December 1916 for their skating party at the Colosseum Rink.

 

Ice skating on a frozen Portage Canal, image #MS042-034-999-G137J
Ice skating on a frozen Portage Canal, image #MS042-034-999-G137J

 

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Children enjoying a skating party.

 

In 1916, the Ladies of St. Vincent de Paul of Keweenaw County prepared 1,000 bags of candy and nuts to give away to local children at a party in Ahmeek. A decorated Christmas tree, with toys and other gifts adorning it, and an appearance by Santa Claus were the centerpieces of the gathering.

 

A festive tree overflowing with gifts.
A festive tree overflowing with gifts.

 

Residents walking through Red Jacket (Calumet) the night before Christmas in 1909 were greeted with the sweet sound of carols, courtesy of the Cornishmen in the Laurium Male Choir, who had commandeered the sidewalk before the Red Front store to share their music.

On December 25, 1911, the Jewish ladies of Calumet hosted a splendid “Chanika [Hanukkah] ball… for the benefit of the Jewish cemetery” just outside town. Tickets to the event sold like hotcakes.

Chassell celebrated its Christmas in 1916 with a pageant and present distribution at its Knights of Pythias Hall. “All nationalities, creeds, and social orders” in the village “joined enthusiastically” in the jubilee, coming together with unity to share the peace and harmony of the season.

 

Festive dancing!
Festive dancing!

 

We at the Michigan Tech Archives hope that your holiday celebration, whatever form it may take, offers you the same joy and togetherness! Please note, the Michigan Tech Archives will be closed from Monday, December 26 – Friday December 30 for the holidays. We reopen at 10 a.m. on Monday, January 2. You may contact us via copper@mtu.edu over the holiday break. Happy holidays!

By Emily Riippa, Assistant Archivist


Fire, Miners and Elephants: Hancock in Photos and Words, 1860-1940

Please join us for local author, John Haeussler as he discusses the research process for his book Images of America book about Hancock.
Local author, John Haeussler will discuss the research process and photographs used for his Images of America book about Hancock at 5 pm on Thursday, March 12 in the library’s East Reading Room.

 

Please join us for a talk by local author John Haeussler at 5:00 pm on Thursday, March 12 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.

Haeussler’s presentation will begin with a brief overview of his recent work, Images of America, Hancock, from Arcadia Publishing, and progress to outline the importance of the Michigan Tech Archives’ role as a historic image repository for projects such as this one. After exploring his research process, the remainder of the presentation will be a discussion of pre-1940 images of Hancock from the Michigan Tech Archives. This exploration will include readings from contemporary newspaper accounts that pertain to some of the historic photos. There will be allotted  time for questions, answers and discussion following the presentation, though audience participation is encouraged throughout the talk.

Along with his authorship of Hancock, a part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, Haeussler co-authored and co-edited Hancock’s sesquicentennial publication, Hidden Gems and Towering Tales: A Hancock, Michigan Anthology. This earlier text was published by the City of Hancock in 2013.  John, his wife Megan and their children Maggie and Jack have resided in Hancock since 2007.

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/.


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.


J.W. Nara Exhibit Moves to Finlandia University Library

The "Old Main" building at Suomi College, as captured by J.W. Nara. Image Acc 11-005-025, click photograph for further details.

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, has moved to the Sulo and Aileen Maki Library at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through October 29, 2012 during the library’s public hours

A public presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2 and will feature Michigan Tech archivist Erik Nordberg. His talk, entitled “Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” features dozens of historical photographs of the Keweenaw. 

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads. 

The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, works from historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection. 

The exhibit will remain on display at the Maki Library through Monday, October 29. For more information on the installation, contact the library at 906-487-7252 or via e-mail at maki.library@finlandia.edu.  Addition information about the exhibit is available from the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu.

Photographs of the exhibit installation at the Maki Library:


Archives’ Photographs Featured in Film

Historical photographs from the Michigan Tech Archives depicting the 1913 Michigan Copper Strike and relating to the tragedy at Calumet’s Italian Hall on December 24, 1913, are featured in a new film to be screened on October 5 and 6 in Calumet.  The film, entitled “1913 Massacre,” explores the historical events as well as the lasting cultural impact across the Copper Country to the present day.

Details about the film’s local debut are online here.


Historical Collections Now Searchable

A group of new online search tools has enhanced the search and discovery of historical records in the collections of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in Houghton, Michigan. The improved access is the result of a two-year project to improve description of the Archives’ extensive holdings of regional manuscript material. The initiative was funded through a $167,600 grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration.

During the project, Archives’ staff conducted a box-by-box survey of its entire collection, totaling more than 7,000 cubic feet and including personal papers, diaries, organizational records, business materials, mining company records, maps, newspapers, and other historical documents. The project identified more than 700 discrete collections and created standardized descriptions providing information about the size, content, and dates of coverage for each collection.

These descriptions have been revealed to potential researchers throughout the world via a number of online tools.  A full listing of the collections, including collection number, title, and brief description, is now available on the Michigan Tech Archives blog: http://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/nhprc-cataloging-project/collection-registers/.

Catalog records for each collection are also available on the Voyager catalog at Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library: http://ils.lib.mtu.edu/vwebv/searchAdvanced. Visitors may limit their searches by the location “Archives Manuscript Collection.” These records allow searches of collection names, keywords in their brief descriptions and histories, and also using standardized subject headings.

Versions of these catalog records are also searchable through WorldCat, an international bibliographic database maintained by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a global cooperative of libraries, archives, and museums. The general public can search the main WorldCat catalog: http://www.worldcat.org/. Participating OCLC member institutions may also search these records through the FirstSearch version of WorldCat which allows researchers to limit type to “Archival Materials” and limit availability to library code “EZT” for Michigan Tech archival collection records.

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


Archives Moves Toward New Technologies

Working on mark-up of an EAD file during Michael Fox's recent archival description workshop.

The Archives was closed Thursday-Friday, September 8-9, 2011, so that staff could be  trained in several new software tools.

Michael Fox, recently retired from the Minnesota Historical Society, spent three days with staff of the Michigan Tech Archives (as well as some other friends). Fox reviewed some basic elements of how manuscript collections differ from museum and library collections. It is important to realize that unlike other item-level collections, archives have complex inter-relations within their manuscript collections. Very few archives catalog material to the item level. Instead, they gather descriptive data at the collection level, as well as information about groupings of documents in folders or within collections as records series. The hierarchical relationship between individual documents, the folders they reside in, the series of which they were created, as well as the overall collections which hold them require complex systems of description.

Encoded archival description (EAD) is a standard which has emerged in recent years to help archivists create and hold this type of hierarchical descriptive information. It uses extensible mark-up language (xml)  to take previous types of written inventories and finding aids and turn them into a standardized data format (it also relies on a descriptive standard called “describing archives: a content standard,” or DACS, to ensure that the contents of individual fields is consistent across the board). With information about our collections held in EAD format, the Michigan Tech Archives will be able to export information to web sites and other places where potential researchers might discover our collections.

This work is not for the faint of heart, however, and will involve many changes in the way that we do our work at the Michigan Tech Archives. One of these changes will be the migration of collections information to a new open source archival collections management software tool called Archivists’ Toolkit. AT will allow us to gather a variety of information about our collections, including both descriptive information and internal administrative notes about preservation and processing. From AT, we’ll be able to output descriptive information compliant to the EAD standard. We’ll also be able to export catalog records compliant to the library world’s MARC standard.  In these formats, we’ll be able to update and share information through sites like OCLC’s Worldcat and ArchiveGrid.

Although this may sound like technical mumbo-jumbo to some of our non-archivist researchers, it will mean a dramatic improvement to the variety and level of information that researchers may discover about our holdings.

We were pleased to have Fox’s training workshop supported through grant monies from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission. Over the course of the last two years, NHPRC’s funding of our current ‘basic archives’ grant has provided the first steps in this move toward better and more standardized description. During this period, we have already created collection-level records for each of the manuscript collections held at the Michigan Tech Archives (you can read some of these on our blog over here). With NHPRC funding for Michael Fox’s visit, we made the first steps toward implementation of Archivists’ Toolkit, EAD, and the next steps in our program.

Look for additional updates here.