Tag Archives: NHPRC

Not all the Archives’ treasures are collections

Even when you enjoy your work, as I do, it is refreshing to experience your profession anew through the eyes of an enthusiastic student in the discipline. Crystal Laudeman is such a person. A graduate of Northern Michigan’s history program, Crystal is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and is completing a graduate student internship at the Michigan Tech Archives.

Crystal’s internship is supported through a grant from NHPRC, part of a two-year project to develop catalog-level descriptions of all our collections. You can access these records as they are created through our library’s Voyager catalog, WorldCat, this blog, and the public web. Crystal has had the enviable job of actually getting to look into every box in the Archives and reporting on the physical condition of the archival material within.

She’s gotten a crash course in on-the-fly preservation assessment, a skill that will stand her well in her future profession. In addition to surveying the collections, Crystal has brought to our attention many of the hidden gems in the collection. You can read about some of her adventures in the Archives in past blog entries.

http://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/2010/01/20/records-document-groundbreaking-of-the-soo-locks/

One of the things I will miss most when Crystal leaves us to continue her education are our philosophical debates on the theory and practice of the archival profession. The nexus of these elements is, on a day-to-day basis, a pragmatic approach that balances the twin goals of access and preservation. These two ideals, perfect preservation and total access, are really what drives an archives forward. It has been a real pleasure to have Crystal so actively contribute to our professional discourse.

We’ve been very fortunate to have Crystal’s enthusiasm and energy throughout the past six or so months. Although she is leaving us, she has become a part of the Michigan Tech Archives. The results of her work will benefit our patrons and staff for many years to come.

Crystal has somehow managed to survive these past months without her cats, Boomer and Cleo, but they forgive her and will let her make it up to them when she returns home.

Boomer and Cleo
Boomer and Cleo missed Crystal while she was gone, when they could fit it into a busy napping schedule.

What’s cookin’ today in the reading room.

I worked with a researcher in the Archives today who was interested in any records or documentation of foodways. What are “foodways,” you may ask. Well, that’s academe-speak for what people eat, the social implications of what, how, and with whom they eat; basically, how people interact with food. Food is love, right?

The researcher, Casey Rudkin, an RTC doctoral student, was looking for things like cookbooks and any records that might contain recipes. She was particularly interested in the Brockway Diaries Collection (MS-010), thinking that perhaps Lucena Brockway had noted “receipts,” as recipes were sometimes referred to in the early 19th century and prior. Lucena kept a pretty terse journal, but there are plenty of details to be gleaned of early life on the Keweenaw by the dedicated researcher.

Casey did the hard work, but occasionally we puzzled together over the meaning of some of the text in the diaries; Lucena was not the most legible scribe. We struggled over an entry that recorded the canning of a bushel of cherries, and eventually learned that on one autumn afternoon she and two other women put up 13 cans of cherries by 7 o’clock! No mean feat even on a modern gas range. I can only imagine what that was like on a wood stove in a kitchen without electricity or running water.

Kitchen, circa 1913
This is the kitchen of the Putrich residence in Seeberville (Painesdale), Michigan. It dates to about 40 years later than Lucena Brockway's day of canning. The merchant family Brockway's kitchen may have been a bit larger than the working class Putriches, but the appliances and equipment were quite likely similar.

Lucena seemed to have been ill frequently. Many of her recipes deal with home remedies. One entry notes a “cure for small pox.”

Casey shared her notes with me from the final page of Lucena Brockway’s 1869 diary, written opposite the back cover page (Coll. #MS-010, The Brockway Diary Collection, Box 1, Folder 5). I’m posting it here with a disclaimer that the excerpt is intended for informational purposes only.

Cure for Small Pox

Sulphate of zinc one grain;
Foxglove (digitalis) one grain;
half a teaspoonful of sugar;
mix with two tablespoonfuls of water.

When thoroughly mixed add—
four ounces of water.
Take a spoonful every
hour. Either disease
will disappear in twelve
hours. For a child smaller
doses according to age.
If counties would com
pel Physicians to use
this there would be no
need of Pest houses.

Lucena notes that the remedy worked for Scarlet fever too.

As work continues on our NHPRC-funded project to create collection level descriptions for all of our manuscript collections, we are truly “revealing hidden collections.” Cataloging archivist Beth Russell was able to suggest another source that contained recipes or descriptions of food. In the collection of Perkins Burnham Correspondence (Acc. # 01-103A), a healthy young clerk in the Eagle Harbor general store describes meals at his boarding house with great gusto.

Mmmm, I’m getting hungry….