Love Letters From the Archives

We send you a message of love and good cheer as we approach Valentine’s Day, 2016. While I was processing a collection this afternoon it just so happened there was a folder of vintage greeting cards. Please enjoy a few samples inspired by Cupid!


The sunbeams of my heart shall shine
This day on you My Valentine.


This Valentine is bringing
A message of good cheer,
Wishing joy, success, prosperity
Through all the coming year
Signed, Leo


Valentine Greeting
To My True Love


To My Valentine
Valentine, with charms so sweet,
I lay this offering at your feet.


The cards in this post are part of MS-943: Nash and Siira Families Papers. The cards are from 1920-1940.


Open Archivist Position at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Students reading and researching in the Michigan College of Mines Library Reading Room, circa 1920s.
Students reading and researching in the Michigan College of Mines Library Reading Room, circa 1920s.


We would like to announce we are currently looking to fill an open Archivist position.

The Archivist is responsible for key public services and archival collection processing and description in the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, a department of the Van Pelt and Opie Library. This position is instrumental to providing and developing robust and innovative services and resources for the campus and community from an archives focused on the history, culture and people of Michigan’s Copper Country. For more information about the position, please visit the Michigan Technological University Human Resources website or by clicking this link:

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Michigan Tech Archives Installs New Exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw

Image of the Michigan Tech Afro-American Society, 1973.
Image of the Michigan Tech Afro-American Society, 1973.


The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections recently partnered with the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw to launch a photograph installation documenting moments in local African American history. This exhibit is part of the Black Voices in the Copper Country project, a research and outreach series developed by the Michigan Tech Archives. This project was designed to illuminate black social history in Michigan’s northwestern Upper Peninsula, especially Houghton and Keweenaw counties. The primary goal of this project will be to inform and engage the public about the existence of historic black residents in the Copper Country and to explore how themes of community, belonging and identity evolved and changed over time, from the late 1800s into the present day. These themes are being explored in both a historical context and a modern context, with sights set on exploring the region generally as well as on activities and student life at the Michigan Technological University campus.

A reception and presentation to discuss the exhibit, the project and the mission of the Michigan Tech Archives will take place at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, in downtown Houghton, on Tuesday, February 23 starting at 6:30 p.m. A short reception will be immediately followed by a presentation at 7:00 p.m. in the museum’s downstairs Community Room. Refreshments will be served.

The Black Voices exhibit is curated by Lindsay Hiltunen, Senior Archivist at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. This project is funded in part by the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about the project or the Michigan Tech Archives, please contact Lindsay Hiltunen at (906) 487-2505 or by e-mailing

For more information about other programs and exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw, please contact Elise Nelson at (906) 482-7140 or by e-mailing


MHC Publicity

Holiday Cooking, Archives Style

[A man, a woman and a child stand around a decorated Christmas tree, a present table and small child size furniture. From the Herman Gundlach Collection.
A man, woman and child stand around a decorated Christmas tree. From the Herman Gundlach Collection.

The holidays are nearly here so there is no time like the present to start preparing for the festivities! For a vintage spin on your holiday preparations, we’ve ventured into the stacks to find some recipes from cherished cookbooks. We hope one of these scrumptious vittles will make it onto your holiday menu. For a glimpse at other vintage recipes, stop down to the Archives and see what is cooking in the stacks. Please take note that the Michigan Tech Archives will be closed to the public from December 21-25 and December 31-January 1. We will be open, with limited service hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on December 28-30. We will resume normal business hours on Monday, January 4, 2016.

For your holiday cocktail party or open house, why not try these savory meatballs in a red wine reduction.

Hot Meatballs in Burgundy Sauce (serves 10-12)

1 pound lean ground beef                                              ¼ tsp. pepper
½ pound ground veal                                                     ¼ tsp. allspice
½ pound lean ground pork                                           ¼ cup milk
2 x 2” piece suet                                                                ¼ cup drippings
2 cups crumbled stale bread crumbs                       1 ½ tbsp. flour
2 eggs, beaten                                                                     ½ cup water
1 cup burgundy wine                                                       1 beef bouillion cube
1 medium onion, diced                                                   garlic, fresh or powdered to taste

Grind meats and suet together, running through food chopper three times. This prevents the meat balls from breaking so easily. Mix with bread, eggs, onion, garlic, seasonings, and milk. Make meat balls about ½” in diameter and brown on all sides in hot drippings. Remove from pan; blend flour, water, burgundy, and bouillion cube in pan, cook stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Return meat balls to pan; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer to chafing dish to keep warm.

Two men demonstrate how to use the Clouthier tree stands. This photograph is part of the Daily Mining Gazette Photograph Collection.
Two men demonstrate how to use the Clouthier tree stands. This photograph is part of the Daily Mining Gazette Photograph Collection.


To replenish after chopping down your tree or for a little nip around a roaring fire, try this classic egg nog recipe.

Egg Nog

To make a quart take three eggs, nearly a pint of good fresh milk, sugar and spice to suit the taste. Put these in a pitcher; add hot water to make a quart; then stir or change from one vessel to another until thoroughly mixed; then add a wine glass or more of the best whiskey. Wine may be used in place of whiskey. The eggs and sugar must be thoroughly beaten before being put with the hot water. Drink hot.

A family scene in the living room. The photograph is part of the William Brinkman Collection.
A family scene in the living room. The photograph is part of the William Brinkman Collection.


Nothing beats warm Kropsua and berries for your holiday breakfast to get you ready for an afternoon of sledding or snowshoeing.

Kropsua (Finnish Oven Pancake)

2 eggs                                                                   ½ tsp. salt
2 cups milk                                                          ¼ cup butter or oleo
1 cup flour                                                           1 tbsp. sugar (optional)

Melt butter in 8×12” pan. Set aside to cool. Mix all other ingredients in a deep bowl and beat with rotary egg beater until smooth. Last of all, add melted butter. Pour batter in same pan as butter was melted in. Bake in hot, 400 degree oven, for 1 hour. Serve hot with berries or plain.

Goods collected for the Salvation Army's 1958 holiday food drive.
Goods collected for the Salvation Army’s 1958 holiday food drive.


The following recipe requires some patience, so perhaps start now and it will be ready for your New Year’s Eve festivities!

Fine Cucumber Pickles

Make a brine that will bear an egg, and drop in the cucumbers; cover them with grape leaves; weight them down, and let them stand ten or more days. Then take them out, drain well, and a day or two in plenty of clear water, frequently changed. Afterward, put them in a kettle with grape and cabbage leaves and a lump of alum. Cover with weak vinegar, and let them stand until they turn green. Then take out, drain, and put into stone jars. For each three gallons of pickles use one gallon of cider vinegar, and place into it one ounce each of mace and celery seed, two ounces of ginger, three ounces each of cloves and stick cinnamon, four ounces each of mustard seed (black and white mixed), choice black pepper and allspice, two tablespoons of ground mustard, a handful of chopped horseradish, two pods of red pepper, four onions, and two pounds of sugar. Boil, and pour it hot over the pickles. More sugar can be added to suit the taste. Cover the jar very closely, and expose to the sun every day during hot weather.

The recipes above were transcribed from The Blend of a Century, a cookbook compiled by the Iron County Historical and Museum Society in 1981 and Did They Really Eat That?: A 19th Century Cookbook That Acquainted Immigrants With Northwoods Pioneer Fare, a volume reprinted by Copper Sun Publications in 1992.

Mining Memories Project to Start this Winter

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections is pleased to announce that its staff will be initiating an oral history project this winter. This project, funded in part by the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission, aims to collect first hand accounts from Copper Country mine workers and their families in an effort to preserve local mining heritage.

Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection
Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection


Why are we doing this?

The Michigan Tech Archives has hundreds of cubic feet of mining company records within its collections but does not have nearly the same bulk of primary source materials characterizing mine workers and their families on a personal level. By reaching out to individuals who have stories to tell about the mines, the archives will give people agency over their own local history and will capture memories that would otherwise be forgotten.

Personal accounts of working for the local mines and of living in the local mining community will add so much to our historical narrative

Do you have a story to tell?

If you have worked for a Copper Country mine, or were close with a family member who worked for a mine, we would love to schedule an interview with you. We will be interviewing 15 people between January and May 2016.

Interviews will be scheduled for 45 minute blocks in the Michigan Tech Archives. The interviews will follow a predetermined set of questions, but will allow for freeform discussion as well. If you are interested in participating, but are not able to travel to the Michigan Tech Archives, please let us know. We may be able to set up another centralized location for interviews within our community.

Further Questions?

If you would like to learn more about this project or would like to schedule an interview, please email the archives at or call us at (906)-487-2505.


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:

To apply for funding through the Travel Grant Program please visit the program website:

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

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 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, or visit on the web at

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.