Tag Archives: Staff

Michigan Tech Archives Wins State History Award for “Black Voices in the Copper Country”

BlackVoices Blog Piece

The Historical Society of Michigan has named the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections winner of its 2016 Special Programs/Events Award, for its “Black Voices in the Copper Country” project. “Black Voices” was recognized for its “dynamic series of programming, exhibits and social media campaigns relating to African American social history in the Copper Country.” The award will be presented at the historical society’s annual State History Conference in Alpena, Michigan, Sept. 23-25, 2016. The project team consisted of University Archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen, Project Researcher, Martin Hobmeier, and Graphic Designer, Mike Stockwell of Cranking Graphics.

University Archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen presenting the Black Voices project at the National Council on Public History Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD, March 2016.
University Archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen presenting the Black Voices project at the National Council on Public History Annual Conference in Baltimore, MD, March 2016.

The society presents the State History Awards every year to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the appreciation, collection, preservation and/or promotion of state and local history. The awards are the highest recognition from the Historical Society of Michigan, the state’s official historical society and oldest cultural organization. There were 15 other awards in categories including a lifetime achievement award, distinguished volunteer service, books, magazine articles, media and restoration projects.

Project Researcher, Martin Hobmeier discussing the Black Voices project for TV6 news in May 2016.
Project Researcher, Martin Hobmeier discussing the Black Voices project for TV6 news in May 2016.

For more information about the award please visit the Michigan Tech News site.

For more information about “Black Voices in the Copper Country” or the Michigan Tech Archives, e-mail copper@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-2505. Find us on Twitter @mtuarchives.

Welcome to Summer Intern Ryan Welle

Ryan Welle, our Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Intern for summer 2016, is already at home in the stacks. Ryan will be working with us on various projects and research support services until mid-August.


On behalf of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, in partnership with the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library, we hope you will help us welcome our new intern for summer 2016. Ryan Welle was selected as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Intern after a competitive national call for applicants. While in Houghton, Ryan will be assisting with research support services and behind-the-scenes tours in the Michigan Tech Archives, particularly during the busy summer season. He will also be responsible for arrangement and description of a recent manuscript acquisition to the Michigan Tech Archives. We are very excited to have Ryan on board. Below, please take a moment to get to know Ryan as he introduces himself in his own words.


My name is Ryan Welle, and I am very grateful to have been selected as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Intern for the summer of 2016. A little about myself, coming from Minnesota I have always felt a connection to the Great Lakes region. I decided to pursue a life-long passion for history by graduating with a BA in History and Philosophy from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. While deciding what I wanted to do with that degree, I spent some time serving with AmeriCorps tutoring children in early literacy skills. I found that I also had a passion for helping others, and a close friend of mine suggested that I look into working for historical societies or museums. I decided to take them up on the offer and enrolled in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where I recently graduated with a focus in archives and records management.

I am hoping that my time at Michigan Tech will allow me the opportunity to learn more of the history related to the Great Lakes, specifically the mining industry that established the Keweenaw Peninsula. I am also excited to gain valuable experience working in an archive while I am here. When I am not working, I can often be found on a hiking trail, on the lake, or touring historic landmarks. The landscape and natural beauty of the area is wonderful for all these activities and I hope to enjoy all that I can this summer. Feel free to stop by to say hello, and also use any of the wonderful collections that are housed at the Michigan Tech Archives.


For more information on the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Internship Program or to set up a time to say hello to our new intern, please call Lindsay Hiltunen at (906) 487-2505 or e-mail us at copper@mtu.edu. The Michigan Tech Archives can also be found on Twitter: @mtuarchives.

Summer Intern Farewell

The Archives public services team poses for a final photograph. The ladies stand in front of volumes from the historic state records collection. From left to right are Allyse Staehler, Airen Campbell-Olszewski, Alison Fukuchi, and Georgeann Jukuri.
The Archives public services team poses for a final photograph. The ladies stand in front of volumes from the historic state records collection. From left to right are Allyse Staehler, Airen Campbell-Olszewski, Alison Fukuchi, and Georgeann Jukuri.


We bid farewell to our intern this afternoon. Alison has shown herself to be a dedicated worker and a true asset to the archives. We will miss her, but we wish her well as she continues her graduate studies and moves on to the next step in her career! Please read on for her final intern update.


This is my final blog entry, and while part of me wants to say the time has flown by, the truth is these last few weeks have been a bit more measured, as I’ve savored the time and become part of the rhythm of the archives. Although the first weeks were a flurry of new learning and meetings, a certain sense of calm has defined the end of my time here; confidence in my interactions with patrons, awareness of the needs of the reference staff, and determination to complete small processing projects has characterized this time. That is not to say that these haven’t been busy weeks!

Week 5 saw the advent of new challenges in the form of my first record entered into Archivists’ Toolkit for a small collection of family papers. The Coughlin and Gray Family Papers represent my first taste of realistic archival practice in that there were preservation concerns during processing as well as research needs in the compilation of the scope and contents note and biographical sketch. When composing biographical information for the finding aid, I read diary entries from the collection, learning much fascinating early history of Washington Harbor on Isle Royale in the process. To read the firsthand account of a child who spent two years on the island in the 1890s adds such a human element to the history; it’s made an indelible impression on my memory.

Week 6 was Alumni Reunion week at Michigan Technological University, and the Archives played a role as well. We opened early for three days and allowed access on Saturday; I have to say it was a very busy week for the reference staff! We had a visiting researcher from Norway looking into the first Norwegians who worked in the copper mining companies, which had us all working hard to find useful and relevant materials for her including employment records, biographical and photographical vertical files, church and community documents, and mining company ledgers, among many others. There was also an influx of visitors wanting to revisit memories from their time at Michigan Tech; many requested staff and faculty directories, individual photos, and Keweenawan yearbooks. I also processed another small collection, which was just as exciting and interesting as the first, but not as daunting. One aspect of this field that I absolutely love, is the fact that an archivist is constantly learning. We always come across new information about history, the community, and the world. That is truly exciting.

On the personal side, I have had some wonderful experiences here in the UP. Exploring nature was one of my goals, and last week I was able to get out to the North Woods Conservancy to do a bit of hiking around Conglomerate Falls, followed by some beach time at McLain State Park. Lake Superior is similar to Lake Michigan, but the beaches here have a different energy, more inscrutable and very wild. On a visit to The Orpheum in Hancock, I was fortunate to see blues musician Brian Waller perform which was incredibly fun. Local food and drink has also not disappointed; standouts include the Dark Side of the IPA at KBC and the veggie pasty at Roy’s.

Today is my last day, and there are few regrets. I truly believe I made the most of my time here, embracing the opportunities as they arose and focusing my energy on learning and absorbing everything possible in the archives. Of course, I will miss the friends I’ve made and there is so much more to learn, but I believe that is true of anything and everything in life. Any genuine passion will always reveal new challenges, new discoveries, and new truths; I’m fortunate to have found that passion in archival work and I cannot wait to see what history has in store for me!

Beth Russell Leaves for Maine

Archivist Beth Russell has accepted a new position as Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at the University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library. Her last day at the Michigan Tech Archives will be July 11.

Beth originally came to work at the Michigan Tech Archives for a NHPRC grant funded project which involved creating MARC records for collection level cataloging of the Archive’s entire collection holdings. The project lasted two years, but Beth was able to transition into a full-time

Bon Voyage, Beth!

Archivist position in 2011.  Her experience with archival description and cataloging standards has helped improve access to the Archives’ manuscript collections.

Years of assisting patrons with research and working in an Archives that has a local history and University focus will serve Beth well in her new position. She hopes to model public history outreach endeavors to some of the Tech Archive’s past programs.

This is not the first time that Beth has lived in Maine, and she looks forward to returning to the beautiful coastal region. She plans on reconnecting with old friends and looks forward to once again being involved in recreational sailing and enjoying local seafood.

Come say your goodbyes at the Library’s farewell party next week, June 25, 2014 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the Rovano Plaza. For more information, read our blog post!


We will miss you, Beth!

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.


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.

Meet the Staff

I recently gave an instruction session to a class of undergraduate student researchers on using archival resources in their writing assignments. As I led the class through the Archives work room, it occurred to me how much goes on behind the scenes in the Archives that most people never realize, and how vital each person is to our operation.

The Archives is committed to making historic records accessible to users. We’ve earned a reputation for bringing history to the campus and community through events and speakers whose research delves deeply into our collections. But the Archives would be a much different place without the hard work of our great staff. Over the next few months, I’d like to introduce you to the members of our staff, from energetic student workers to erudite archivists.

The Keweenaw Digital Archives is just one of the great things that make the Michigan Tech Archives special. Without the diligent and discerning work of Christine Holland, it wouldn’t be what it is today, a database of over 7000 cataloged digital images from the photographic collections at the Archives.

Christine has been on the staff of the Archives for ten years. Along with her regular job responsibilities of keeping the rest of us in check, she does a lioness’s share of digitizing and cataloging the thousands of historic photos you’ll find at the Digital Archives (http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/).

She has an eye for the unusual, and that particular talent has brought to light some of the more obscure and interesting elements of historic photographs that the casual observer might easily overlook. It’s not unusual to see her at the digital workstation zooming into a newly digitized image, working out the letters in a storefront sign or marquis in the background of a street scene from 1930s Houghton or some such. She’s managed to date images by noting small details like a movie advertised on a broadside in a shop window, or has called our attention to a careworn face and rough hands of a person whose name has been lost to posterity, imbuing unknown people from the past with dignity and authenticity.

Image #:ACC03-1990-6-28-04-01-01
Image #:ACC03-1990-6-28-04-01-01

One of the more interesting things she’s found captured in film was a man wearing a long woman’s dress sweeping a broom on the porch of a log cabin. Her pithy comments are a treat, and anyone familiar with our reading room knows that she’s never one to mince words. (Check out the cataloger’s comments for this image by clicking on the link below for the full record!)


I’ve learned a lot about the Archives’ collection from Christine, and I’ve come to value and appreciate her particular perspective on historic images.

The inscrutable Sara Lee
The inscrutable Sara Lee

Christine is also a passionate advocate for the humane treatment of animals. She didn’t want me to post a photo of her hard at work, so here’s her special friend, Sara Lee.