Category Archives: Speakers and Presentations

Archival Speaker Series: U.P. Architect D. Frederick Charlton

Steven Brisson, Chief Curator for Mackinac State Historic Parks, gave a public talk on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, as part of the Archival Speakers Series sponsored by the Michigan Tech Archives. His topic was D. Frederick Charlton, the first professional architect to reside permanently in the Upper Peninsula.
Steve Brisson speaks on the life and architectural work of Frederick Charlton.
Steve Brisson speaks on the life and architectural work of Frederick Charlton.
Over four-hundred buildings are credited to Charlton, including important public and private commissions and the buildings for four state institutions.  His office designed structures in a variety of popular styles of the last phase of Victorian architecture.  These included Romanesque, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Classical Revival.  Three of Charlton’s most important works are the Marquette County Court House, the John M. Longyear House in Marquette (moved and rebuilt in Brookline, Massachusetts), and the Upper Peninsula State Hospital for the Insane at Newberry. Brisson’s research at the Michigan Tech Archives focused in particular on material from the Herman Gundlach Collection.

This research was supported by a Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant, funded by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, this program has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the Archives. The program is intended to encourage research using the Archives’ lesser known collections or promote new methodological approaches to well-known collections. From a competitive field of applicants, the grant committee selected four scholars this year whose research typifies the spirit of the grant program. They join the ranks of twenty-two past recipients in this most recent round of awards.

The grant supports travel to the Archives with stipends of up to $750. Once a research proposal has been selected, the amount awarded is determined according to an applicant’s distance from Houghton, Michigan, and the degree of financial need. A full-time graduate student working to complete her or his dissertation is an example of the kind of applicant considered to have a high level of financial need. Although the majority of award recipients are associated with academic institutions either as students or facility, applicants need not come from an academic environment. The program recently supported a strong research program in ethnology by funding two genealogy practitioners exploring Calumet’s 19th and 20th century Polish community.

In addition to the research topic, the award committee considers a person’s track record for completing projects in a timely manner. A strong applicant will demonstrate an ability to publish their research, create a public web page, or otherwise make available the results of their work at the Michigan Tech Archives. The Archives houses a rich collection of historic resources  that we want people to know about. And we don’t want the distance someone might have to travel to the Upper Peninsula to discourage them from coming here. The travel grant helps us achieve both of those goals.

Four researchers were selected to receive a Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant for the current year. This year’s recipients will investigate a diverse array of topics in the Archives’ manuscript collections. Research subjects include the practice of 19th and 20th century medicine in a remote industrial community; the relationship between representations of three-dimensional data and the flow of information within an organization; the regional work of Michigan architect D. Fred Charlton; and the politics and economics of community development during an era industrial decline.

For information about Brisson’s research, architect D. Frederick Charlton, or the Michigan Tech Archives and its collections, email us at copper@mtu.edu, call us at 906-487-2505, or visit us on the web at www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives.

U.P. Architect D. Charleton
Announcement used for Brisson’s talk.

Archives Exhibit Travels to Calumet

nara-42-142People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara, a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, is currently hosted at the Calumet Public School Library, located within Calumet High School. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through March 22, 2010 during the library’s regular hours.  

On Tuesday, March 9, the Friends of the Calumet Public School Library hosted a special event in conjunction with the exhibit installation. Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Technological University, gave an illustrated presentation, “Michigan¹s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara” featuring 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 travelling 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 J.W. Nara exhibit will remain on display at the Calumet Public School Library March 19, 2010.  Future stops for the exhibit include the Beaumier Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University, the Houghton County Historical Society in Lake Linden, and the Keweenaw County Historical Society in Eagle Harbor.  More informaton about the exhibit is available here, including details on hosting the exhibit at your location.

Updates:
Read about the Calumet installation on The Daily Mining Gazette website
Visit a web version of the J.W. Nara exhibit on the Michigan Tech Archives web page.
Here are some photographs from the exhibit installation in Calumet:

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More than 75 people attended the public reception held Tuesday, March 9, 2010, which was sponsored by the Friends of the CLK Library. 

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The Isle Royale Copper Company: A Century of Evolution

Join local historian Bill Haller for an illustrated talk on the history of the Isle Royale Mining Company near Hurontown.  The presentation will take place at 7:00pm on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, in room 641 of the Dow Environmental Engineering Building on the Michigan Tech campus.  This event is part of the Archival Speakers Series and is free and open to the public.

Following unsuccessful attempts at mining in Copper Harbor and on the island of Isle Royale, the Isle Royale Mining Company relocated south of Houghton in 1852. It was one of many small mines working the “South Portage Range,” including the Portage, Dodge, and Huron mines. Some of these companies also developed communities around their mines, including the present towns of Dodgeville and Hurontown.

By 1909, the properties were consolidated into the Isle Royale Copper Company, a subsidiary of the famed Calumet & Hecla Company.  C&H operated the properties profitably for many decades and built a short line railroad to carry copper ore to a stamp mill near the mouth of the Pilgrim River. Remnants of this mill include extensive deposits of stamp sands. The mining properties continued in operation by C&H until 1946, with some later work attempted by the Copper Range Company.  

Haller’s presentation will provide an overview of the evolution of this important mining area, including photographs and maps showing the different mine locations, industrial buildings, and underground workings.  Although few significant structures remain from the Isle Royale Mine, many of the operation’s key sites lay adjacent to major highways and are passed unknowingly by local residents every day.

mtu-neg-00221

Employees of the Meyers Bros Ice Company cut ice from the Huron Dam area south of Houghton. The lake formed by Huron dam once provided water to the copper stamp mill of the Huron Mining Company (note the former mill buildings in the background being used for ice storage). The story of the Huron, Dodge and Isle Royale mines will be told by local historian Bill Haller on July 21. The photograph above is image #MTU Neg 00221  (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=596955).

Michigan Tech’s Archival Speakers Series highlights current research utilizing the Archives’ collections. The department hosts a wide variety of researchers and research topics — everything from genealogical investigations to book and magazine publications — engaging students, staff, and faculty, as well as local citizens and other off-campus researchers. The presentation is free and open to the public.  

For further information contact the MTU Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.eduThe Archives reading room is located on the ground floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library, in the heart of the Michigan Tech Campus.

UPDATE:

More than 125 attended the event in Room 641 of the Dow Building on the Michigan Tech Campus.

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Local historian Bill Haller (left) speaks with attendees following his presentation.


Summer Archival Speaker Series

An international border, an industrious bishop, and the Isle Royale Mining Company are the featured topics of the Summer Archival Speaker Series from the Michigan Tech Archives. The series gets underway Thursday, June 18th at 7 p.m., in the Archives Reading Room at the Van Pelt and Opie Library with a talk by visiting scholar Peter Krats.

Differently Similar: Comparing the Keweenaw and Nickel Belts is an examination of the resource-rich industrial frontiers of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan and the Sudbury Basin, Ontario. Krats, an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario will talk about the impact of the Canadian-American border on these two northern mining regions. In Michigan, rich copper reserves were exploited by large companies intent on making the most of natural resources far from the center. Just a few hundred miles away but across an international border, the world’s greatest nickel reserves saw even larger firms emerge and invest in a metal-rich hinterland.

smokestacks

[The industrial landscape of the Copper Country shares many similarities with Sudbury’s Nickel Belt. This image of Calumet can be found at the Keweenaw Digital Archives at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=594938#]

But the Keweenaw and the Sudbury Basin arose, stabilized and matured in substantially different ways. Krats will talk about variations in company town formation, ethnicity, and immigration, and illustrate how contrasts between the American belief in “liberty” and Canadian confidence in “good government” affected both regions. The consequences of these parallels and variations are apparent even in the present-day settings. The related concepts of similarity and difference are part of a spectrum of the historical experience of North America, and Krats questions and reveal the linkages between two nations sharing a border and more.

Krats is a visiting scholar at the Michigan Tech Archives this summer. His research is funded in part by a Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant, which enables scholars to travel to the Archives to study its collections in greater depth. The Travel Grant is generously supported by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library.

bishop-baraga

[Frederic Baraga is considered the first Slovene to call the Keweenaw home. Click on the link http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=598948# to access this image.]

Another travel grant recipient, James Seelye, comes to the Archives in June to continue his research into the impact of Slovenes in the Copper Country. He will give a public talk about one of the area’s most notable Slovenes, Bishop Baraga. As a missionary to the Lake Superior Chippewa, Frederic Baraga spent nearly forty years of his life trying to convert Native Americans Indians to Catholicism. In the process, he left behind a rich written record that includes theology, missionary activities, travels, and Native Americans. James Seelye, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toledo, and recipient of a Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant, takes a deeper look at the man behind the myth. He explores who Baraga truly was, and in the process, discover why Baraga means so many different things to so many different people, even a candidate for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Seelye’s presentation, The Snowshoe Priest Revisited: A Reappraisal of Frederic Baraga, is scheduled for Tuesday June 30th, at 7 p.m., in Room 139 of Fisher Hall.

In July, popular local historian Bill Haller will give an illustrated talk on the History of the Isle Royale Mine. Following unsuccessful attempts at mining in Copper Harbor and on the island of Isle Royale, the Isle Royale Mining Company relocated south of Houghton in 1852. Following unsuccessful attempts at mining in Copper Harbor and on the island of Isle Royale, the Isle Royale Mining Company relocated south of Houghton in 1852. It was one of many small mines working the “South Portage Range,” including the Portage, Dodge, and Huron mines. Some of these companies also developed communities around their mines, including the present towns of Dodgeville and Hurontown. From 1909 until 1946, the properties operated as a subsidiary of the famed Calumet & Hecla Company.

isle-royale-mine

[The Isle Royale Mining Company operated between present day Dodgeville and Hurontown. http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=610462#]

The presentation will provide an overview of the evolution of this important mining area, including photographs and maps showing the different mine locations, industrial buildings, and underground workings.  Although few significant structures remain from the Isle Royale Mine, many of the operation’s key sites lay adjacent to major highways and are passed unknowingly by local residents every day. Haller will talk about his research on July 21st, a Tuesday, at 7 p.m., in Room 641 of the Dow Building on the Michigan Tech campus.

Michigan Tech’s “Archival Speakers Series” highlights current research utilizing the Archives’ collections. The Michigan Tech Archives & Copper Country Historical Collections, a department of the J. Robert Van Pelt and Opie Library, hosts a wide variety of researchers and research topics from genealogical investigations to book and magazine publications that engage students, staff, and faculty, local citizens, out of town visitors, and off-campus researchers. The presentations are free and open to the public.

For further information contact the MTU Archives at (906) 487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu, or visit the website at www.lib.mtu.edu/archives. The Archives reading room is located on the ground floor of the J. Robert Van Pelt Library, in the heart of the Michigan Tech campus.