Tag Archives: Local History

A Man of Many Talents: The Poetry of A.E. Seaman

Seaman
A.E. Seaman, undated

Today, the name A.E. (Arthur Edmund) Seaman is well-known in the Copper Country, largely for his close ties to the Michigan Technological University and for the mineral museum along Sharon Avenue in Houghton that bears his name. Born in Casnovia, Michigan on December 29, 1858, Seaman was a graduate from Michigan Tech, having earned his B.S. degree in 1895 at the age of 37. Seaman later became a full professor in the Department of Geology and Mineralogy and was a noted authority on the pre-Cambrian geology of the Lake Superior region. Among his contemporaries, he had a reputation for having a wider, first-hand knowledge of the geology of the Lake Superior region than any other man.

Seaman retired in 1928 with the title of professor emeritus of mineralogy and geology, but was made curator of the mineralogy and geology museum, which was then housed on the third floor of the college’s new engineering building. According to the 1928-1929 Bulletin of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, the collection was “unusually complete” and “famous for its well arranged and complete assortment of rocks and minerals from all parts of the world.” The museum was renamed in Seaman’s honor in 1932 as the A.E. Seaman Museum, later renamed to the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum and moved to its current location along Sharon Avenue.

DMG Nov 17 1918 Image
Peace With Justice, Daily Mining Gazette, November 17, 1918.

While Seaman’s contributions to the field of mineralogy and to Michigan Tech, a relationship he maintained until his death in 1937, cannot be understated, what is less widely known is the personal side of this important figure within the Copper Country. His granddaughter, Jeanne Seaman Farnum, described Seaman as being, “known as a kindly gentleman with a bubbling sense of humor” with “a habit of being cheerful.” A man of a seemingly friendly nature and genuine concern for his students, Seaman was a softhearted man of many talents. Among his non-academic interests was his penchant for writing poetry, something that he shared with family, friends, and students alike.

His poem, Peace with Justice, published in the Daily Mining Gazette on November 17, 1918 just days following the armistice is a reflection on the costs of war. Several of Seaman’s poems scattered throughout speak of war, freedom, sacrifice and patriotism, issues common throughout the country at the time. These were obviously themes that weighed heavily on his mind as well. His poem Cootie, The Mascot, however brings a tinge of humor to his World War I poetry, in his ode to the tiny lice that plagued so many of the men in the trenches.

His World War I poetry put aside, the majority of Seaman’s poetry reflects his life in the Copper Country, his love of nature and geology. In his poem What I Write About published in a family compilation of his work titled Reminiscence of An Old Prospector, Seaman writes,

“Of scenes along the woodland trail

Where joy is never known to fail;

Of crags that form the mountain crest-

Of things I love, I write the best.”

Indeed, the bulk of his poems to reflect the landscape, heritage, and natural beauty of the Keweenaw. References to the mining industry, local plant and wildlife, as well as geological makeup of the land permeate his poems. Poems in the collection reflect his interests in geology and history such as his poems Down The Ages, Dinosaurs, or Stories Of The Rocks, which directly reflect his interest in various geological eras and the beasts that occupied the land long before man.

Seaman wrote, at least in part, about his personal experiences. His poem My First Discovery (Idaho, 1899) chronicles his discovery of gold out west and subsequent digging where he “worked until the perspiration filled my/eyes and made me blind-/worked and toiled with muttered cursings-/no more colors could I find.”. It’s unclear whether the poem is biographical, thought the title does suggest it, or merely a musing on the feverish feeling of a first time discovery. However, read within the larger context of the mining history in the Copper Country Seaman’s poem speaks volumes to local mining tradition.

Nature poetry and Graduates_Page_4
Through Keweenaw, undated.

A.E. Seaman was a man of many talents and interests. His poetry may never be revered in the same way as Shakespeare’s, but it represents a fascinating layer to a man well-known in the Copper Country for his other achievements and one that provides a glimpse into the personal side of a very public figure.

You can view more of A.E. Seaman’s poetry in the Seaman Family Collection as well as in the semi-published compilation of his work, Reminiscence of an Old Prospector, at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections.


Women in the Copper Country: The Hancock Home Study Club

IMG_0879
Photograph from the Hancock Home Study Club centennial celebration, 1983.

 

In honor of Women’s History Month we’re featuring the oldest organized women’s club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Hancock Home Study Club.

Established in 1883, the club held its initial meeting on May 16 to form a club for the study of art in connection with the Society for the Encouragement of Study at Home, a national organization based in Boston. The Society was initially founded in 1873 by Anna Eliot Ticknor as a means of encouraging women to pursue study and enlightenment beyond their traditional domestic duties.

Hancock Home Study Club meeting minutes ledger, 1889.
Hancock Home Study Club meeting minutes ledger, 1889.

The Hancock Home Study Club (HHSC) held its first official meeting in September 1883 as the Home Study Club with six founding members, all women from the Hancock community. Membership in the Club grew to fifteen by 1886 and extended to thirty members. While most early members lived in Hancock, the group eventually opened membership to those living in Ripley, Houghton, and other areas. It wasn’t until March 12, 1935 that the Club constitutionally changed the name to the Hancock Home Study Club.

The Club’s studies were carried out as correspondent courses on topics ranging from art and literature, to economics and world studies. While early coursework focused on international topics and regions, more recent studies have been geared towards topics relevant to Michigan and Copper Country history. Because reference material was hard to come by in this remote region in the late 1800’s, the bulk of the group’s study material were purchased outside of the region. As a result the group amassed a considerable reference library that was later donated to various public libraries and schools.

Resource request card to the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, 1884.
Resource request card to the Society to Encourage Studies at Home, 1884.

The Club met in homes until January 1898 when it rented a room in the Y.M.C.A. building for meetings. Poor heating at the Y.M.C.A. forced the group to relocate to City shortly thereafter, but they found the new location noisy and resorted to moving their meetings to various locations until 1959 when they returned to the home-based meetings.

While not a service club, the club has been active in many forms of social support over its long history, assisting with Red Cross Relief in 1914, as well as state scholarship funds, various wartime commissions, and local social agencies including the YMCA, Elks, Goodwill, Salvation Army and the Houghton Club.

Today, the Hancock Home Study Club continues to be an active organization in the community, meeting at least semi-regularly as it has since its founding in 1883. The Club has celebrated major milestones, like its centennial celebration in 1983, complete with a historical pageant that the ladies put on for the occasion.

The Hancock Home Study Club Records are a fascinating look into women’s social organizations in the late 19th Century, particularly in the early decades of an isolated, rural area. The records serve as evidence of the importance of social bonds between women in a growing community and interest in academic pursuits beyond the home. The records of the Hancock Home Study Club (MS-056) can be viewed onsite at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections and include the club’s constitution and bylaws, meeting minutes, financial records and annual reports, as well as photographs, programs, and anniversary celebration memorabilia. You can also view the finding aid for this collection online by visiting the Archive’s collections page.


Pokémon Go Back in Time with the Michigan Tech Archives!

Pokemon Go

 

Calling teams Valor, Mystic and Instinct!

Since early July, Pokémon have been roaming all over campus thanks to Pokémon Go, a new location-based mobile game developed by Niantic. People of all ages have been joining the fun, exploring various Pokéstops and Gyms around Michigan Tech and the Copper Country. The augmented reality game is causing players to see the local landscape in a whole new way.

Taking a break from catching wild Pokémon in the stacks, the staff of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections would like to invite players to Pokémon Go Back in Time on Wednesday, July 27. From 2:30-3:30 p.m. the Michigan Tech Archives will set up a refreshment table on the John Rovano Plaza, the garden patio adjacent to the Van Pelt and Opie Library. We will set some lures at nearby Pokéstops to attract as many Pokémon as possible. In addition, we will be giving away our newly developed brochure which advertises several Pokéstops at Michigan Tech and offers a little bit of historic information about each stop. Catch Pokémon and catch a glimpse of the past at the same time!

This event will take place rain or shine. We will be located indoors, near the Library Café, if it is raining next Wednesday. We hope to see you there!

For more information about this event or the Michigan Tech Archives in general, please call (906) 487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu. You can find us on Twitter: @mtuarchives.


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.

 

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.


Thanksgiving in the Copper Country, as seen through past advertising

The Michigan Tech Archives will be closed Thursday, November 27 and Friday November 28 for the holiday. Standard operating hours will resume the week of December 1.

Every year we are met with advertisements for upcoming holidays, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Below, we have a small selection of Thanksgiving advertisements dating from the early to mid 1950s originally published in the Daily Mining Gazette. Only some of the businesses that took out space for these ads are still operating in the Copper Country today, but the traditions and scenes depicted in all of the ads remain familiar.

 

Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 12, 1953, page 10
Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 12, 1953, page 10

 

Upper Peninsula Power Company’s mascot, Reddy Kilowatt, cooks Thanksgiving dinner for a family in the Upper Peninsula. All mother needs to do is set the control and snap the switch of her big electric oven and her work is done, Reddy Kilowatt takes care off the actual cooking – and for only a few pennies!

 

Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 21, 1951, page 4
Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 21, 1951, page 4

 

If you would like to completely remove the hassle of cooking a family meal, the Douglass House offered blue point oysters on the half shell or oyster stew for $0.65 and a table d’hote dinner for $2.00.

 

Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 6, 1950, page 10
Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 6, 1950, page 10

 

In the autumn months of 1950, Pearce’s advertisement  for Maytag gas ranges boasts 1949 prices and even offers a free twenty pound turkey with purchase. Who says we can’t have it all?

 

Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 2, 1950, page 9
Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 2, 1950, page 9

 

What says Thanksgiving like Spam and cranberries? In 1950, Eatmor Cranberries published this hot dish recipe for readers so they might have something new to serve at Thanksgiving – and to boost the season’s cranberry sales.

 

Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 14, 1950, page 11
Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 14, 1950, page 11

 

Haas Brewing Company of Houghton keeps their ad simple with this contented turkey cartoon and straightforward message.

 

Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 1, 1950, page 2
Printed in the Daily Mining Gazette, November 1, 1950, page 2

 

Swift’s Hardware of downtown Houghton advertises their kitchen wares. Stocking everything from pressure saucepans and double boilers, to tableware and cake covers, they sell nearly everything needed for a great Thanksgiving dinner – minus the turkey.

These newspapers, along with around 70 other local historic newspapers are available for viewing on microfilm at the Michigan Tech and Copper Country Archives. Feel free to call us at (906) 487-2505 or email us at copper@mtu.edu to learn more.