Intern Update 3

Angie standing under the Nordberg steam hoist in the 1917 hoist house on the Quincy Mine site. The Nordberg is the largest steam hoisting engine in the world.
Angie standing under the Nordberg steam hoist in the 1917 hoist house on the Quincy Mine site. The Nordberg is the largest steam hoisting engine in the world.

Alumni Reunion is here and we are busy as ever this week helping all sorts of patrons! That doesn’t mean we were so busy that Angie couldn’t provide her regular update though. Read on for an update in Angie’s words!

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Hi!

I hope everyone’s summer is going splendid, I know mine is! My summer internship is now past the halfway point and, while I am sad that it is going by so fast, I am excited to tell you all about the cool activities I am working on.

I recently started accessioning new materials into the archives, which means taking intellectual and physical control over the materials and then entering information into our database ArchivesSpace. This allows the archives to keep track of the materials in its repository and it serves as the first step of processing collections. I have had the opportunity to accession and then process five scrapbooks into the Brodeur and Banks Family Papers Collection (MS-920). These scrapbooks include photographs and newspaper articles from the family’s international and domestic vacations. It has been great getting hands-on experience using these archival skills.

I am also continuing to assist patrons with their reference requests both in-person and through email. I am getting better at finding the material patrons need and learning the tricks to genealogical research.

This internship has also provided the opportunity to visit other archives in the surrounding area. Taking fieldtrips to visit the Keweenaw National Historical Park Archives in Calumet and Finlandia University’s Archives in Hancock allowed me to see the variety of archival repositories. Each archive holds collections that focus on different aspects of the Keweenaw Peninsula, but together they create a rich history of the region.

Additionally, we took a fieldtrip to tour the Quincy Mine up in Hancock. The Michigan Tech Archives holds some of the Quincy Mining Company’s records, including employment records. Seeing the steam hoist (largest in the world at the time) in-person and taking the tram down into the mine really helped me to understand the working conditions for the miners and opened my eyes to life during the early history of Upper Michigan.

I only have a few weeks left, but I am hoping to make the most of it and learn all that I can. Before I go, I also want to give a quick shout out to the MTU Archives’ staff, Lindsay (University Archivist), Allison (Archivist), Emily (Archivist) and Allyse (Archives Assistant), who have been amazing supervisors and coworkers during this internship. Their patience and immense knowledge have made this internship both enjoyable and educational and I am very grateful to get to work with them.


Summer Intern Update

Angie investigates our historic newspapers on microfilm to assist a remote patron.
Angie investigates our historic newspapers on microfilm to assist a remote patron.

Summer is breezing by and our intern has been busy keeping things running smoothly in the archives. Read on for an update in Angie’s words!


Hello again!

I’m back with a quick update on my first few weeks as an intern for the Michigan Tech Archives. I have been busy learning all about the department and different aspects of the profession. I have been able to explore the collections including the employment cards for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, naturalization records and court case records. I also had the opportunity to use microfilm to scan through our newspaper collections for articles, birth announcements and obituaries. It is fascinating to learn about the local history through these archival materials.

Additionally, I am shadowing the awesome archivists here while they work the reference desk. This allows me to learn how they work with researchers that visit the archives and sometimes I am able to assist pulling collections for the patrons or help them with the microfilm materials. I look forward to taking the lead at the reference desk soon.

The most challenging aspect of the internship is discovering the difficulties of genealogical research. Tracking down the right birth and death dates or researching various spellings of last names can seem never-ending, but it is worth it in the end. Providing patrons with their family member’s employment card or naturalization record is always exciting and fulfilling. In the upcoming weeks, I am really excited to start processing archival collections, assisting more patrons with their research requests and gaining more archival skills.

Outside of the archives, I am having a great time exploring downtown Houghton, walking along the Waterfront Trail, watching the sunset over Lake Superior and attempting to survive the humidity. I’m hoping to go on a mine tour and continue exploring the Copper Country before my time here is up. As always, don’t hesitate to come in and visit! We are here to help with any research and historical questions.


Rooting Around for Your Roots: A Little Genealogy Advice

Five middle-aged relatives on a sofa

Genealogy brings the family together.

The arrival of summer in the Copper Country brings with it many travelers who come to the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in search of their ancestors. Although we serve all kinds of patrons year-round, our staff affectionately dub the summer “genealogy season” in light of how many family historians arrive between Memorial Day and Labor Day. With that in mind, it seems that the summer is an ideal time for our blog to highlight some of the genealogy resources that the Michigan Tech Archives can offer and recommend a few online tools that have proven particularly useful to our staff.

Picture me, resident genealogist, rubbing my hands together in delighted anticipation.

With that, let’s begin our exploration.

Michigan Tech Archives

We’re fortunate at the Michigan Tech Archives to have a substantial number of collections of use to genealogists. In addition to a few resources that address the history of a particular family–such as MS-916: Baril Family Genealogy or MS-506: Bartle Family Genealogy Research–the holdings include several key collections with broad appeal.

If your ancestor(s) worked for Calumet & Hecla (C&H) or Quincy mining companies, you will find the information available in those companies’ employment records immensely valuable. Although the collections do not include every worker, their coverage is remarkable: in the case of C&H, employment cards number well over 50,000. Injury reports and employment cards from Quincy total some 20,000 records. The cards are full of gems, and researchers will find them immensely valuable to “mine” for such details as places of birth, physical descriptions, addresses, occupations, and names of family members. While some inaccuracies can appear in such records, they are often a tremendous starting point for further research and a wonderful snapshot of an individual’s working life. For more information about how to interpret a Calumet & Hecla employment card once you’ve found one, you may wish to read part 1 and part 2 of our posts on that topic from last year.

Sample Calumet & Hecla employment card.

Sample Calumet & Hecla employment card for a Slovenian miner, Peter Gasperic.

Should you be searching for an ancestor who didn’t work in the mines, or if you want to go beyond what the employment card offers, you’ll find numerous opportunities to do so at the Michigan Tech Archives. City directories published by the R.L. Polk Company–colloquially called “Polks” by our staff–offer information about individuals’ residences and occupations, mining and otherwise. The collection of Polks at Michigan Tech begins in 1895 and is generally complete through 1917. From there, the materials skip thirteen years to 1930 and then another nine years to 1939 before making one final leap to the 1970s. Each major town in the Copper Country (including Calumet, Houghton, Hancock, and Laurium) is included in the Polks; coverage of other areas, such as Lake Linden, Chassell, or South Range, can be more sporadic. Nevertheless, the Polks are a wonderful way to follow a family between census years, especially given the tragic loss of the 1890 federal census.

Once you’ve sketched in the basic outline of your family, you may wish to add some color and humanity to it. Perhaps you want to know a little more about your great-grandparents’ wedding, or you suspect that a great-uncle may have had an encounter with the law. For the former question, consider perusing our extensive collection of newspapers on microfilm. Michigan Tech holds titles from virtually every county in the Upper Peninsula, with a special focus on newspapers published in the Copper Country. This includes the Daily Mining Gazette and its predecessors, back to 1862, as well as several major titles that have since gone out of business: the Calumet News, the Copper Country Evening News, and the Evening Copper Journal, to name a few. Thanks to the hard work of volunteers from the Houghton-Keweenaw County Genealogical Society, staff at the Michigan Tech Archives can search for names in indices of several area newspapers through 1914 and provide the exact date and page on which an article about each person was published.

While most articles that appeared about individuals, aside from those especially prominent in the community, focused on major life events like marriage or death, at times your exploration of the newspapers may lead you to something more scandalous. For the details of criminal conduct or the dirty laundry surrounding a messy divorce, turn to the files of the Houghton County Circuit Court. A prior piece on this blog sheds greater light on that collection.

Online Sources

What if you’re not able to come to visit us here at Michigan Tech? You still have plenty of options for conducting your genealogical research! Our staff are always happy to assist with remote reference requests, such as copying obituaries, employment cards, or pages from Polks. Please feel free to contact us at copper@mtu.edu or (906) 487-2505 if you would like to put in a remote request.

Other resources can also help you to go further in your research. As a genealogist with deep roots in the Copper Country, I’ve found that several key websites have been crucial in helping me to dig into my family background, both here and abroad. All of these sites are free for basic use, though registration for no cost may be required to view some materials.

FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org/search): FamilySearch is a product of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a group known for dedication to genealogy. Along with innumerable other collections, it includes an index of Michigan deaths from 1867 to 1897, marriage records to 1925, and birth records to 1902. FamilySearch does require users to sign up for a free account before they can view search results in detail.

For British research, Cornwall OPC Database (www.cornwall-opc-database.org): Cornwall Online Parish Clerks (OPC) Database transcribes parish records of key events–like baptisms, marriages, and burials–from the various Church of England parishes and non-conformist groups in Cornwall. The collections are extensive, continually growing, and all available for free access. In addition to these vital records, Cornwall OPC Database includes some bonus materials, such as select lists of institution inmates and prisoners. Now I know that one of my ancestors, sentenced in 1822 for having two children out of wedlock, was a little over five feet tall with “grey eyes, full face, pale [complexion], [and] dark hair.” She behaved “very well.”

Table showing Cornwall OPC Database baptism record

Sample baptism record from Chacewater parish on Cornwall OPC Database.

For Finnish research, HisKi (hiski.genealogia.fi/hiski): HisKi is something like the Finnish version of Cornwall OPC Database. Almost all historic Finnish parishes are represented, to some degree or another, in various types of events: christenings, marriages, burials, and migrations. Some parishes on HisKi include records as recent as the early 1900s, while others begin as early as 1700 and continue through 1850. The search is extremely flexible, checking for variations on names (remember that Finland recorded all such records in Swedish through the late 1800s) and allowing for wide ranges of years to be perused. HisKi was the difference between my knowing virtually nothing about my Finnish ancestors and being able to add hundreds to my tree.

Table showing HisKi marriage record

Sample HisKi marriage record for Herman Salonen and Lisa Haapala.

For Michigan research, Seeking Michigan (www.seekingmichigan.org): We have the fine folks at the Archives of Michigan to thank for Seeking Michigan. While it features a wide range of materials related to Michigan’s history, genealogists will probably find its collections of death certificates and state censuses to be most useful. Images of the certificates are available from 1897 (the year that Michigan implemented these documents) through the early 1940s, and more join the site as certificates enter the public record under state law. Additionally, Michigan conducted state censuses in the 19th century, generally in years ending in 4. Sadly, for reasons about which archivists can only speculate, most state census records have since been destroyed. Records from Houghton County in 1864 and 1874 and Keweenaw County in 1884 and 1894 survive and can be searched on Seeking Michigan.

And there you have it–a little advice for genealogy season, courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives. Hopefully, these resources and tips will be useful to you in moving your research forward. If there is ever any way in which our staff may be of assistance, or if you have further questions about family history research, please do not hesitate to contact us. Once again, our e-mail address is copper@mtu.edu, and our phone number is (906) 487-2505.

Happy sleuthing!


Welcome to Summer Intern Angie Piccolo

Our new FMTL Archives Intern for summer 2018, Angie Piccolo.
Our new FMTL Archives Intern for summer 2018, Angie Piccolo.

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 Archives Intern for summer 2018. Angie Piccolo was selected as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library Archives Intern after a competitive national call for applicants. While in Houghton, Angie will be assisting with research support services and collections processing in the Michigan Tech Archives. She will also be responsible for helping us research a forthcoming exhibit related to World War I. We are very excited to have her on board! Below, please take a moment to get to know Angie as she introduces herself in her own words.

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Hello!

My name is Angie Piccolo and I am honored to be spending the summer in Houghton as the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library 2018 Intern. Born and raised in Spokane, Washington, I am brand new to the Midwest and the Upper Peninsula, but I am excited to learn more about the history of this region and explore the beautiful natural environment that Michigan has to offer. I graduated from Gonzaga University in 2015 with a BA in History and I just recently graduated from Western Washington University with a MA in History, focusing on Archives and Records Management. My goal is to one day work for an institution, like Michigan Tech, that strives to provide patrons with the best access to historical materials. As the archives intern, I am ecstatic to continue pursuing my passion of history and I look forward to developing new archival skills, gaining knowledge about the local history, and helping researchers and community members find the historical materials they need.

Some fun facts about me: I had the opportunity to intern at Yellowstone National Park’s archives last summer where I not only learned about the history of the Park, but I also had the chance to visit Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, as well as take pictures of black bears and bison (from a safe distance of course.) When I am not in the archives, I love to explore antique shops, go on nature walks and spend time with friends and family. I also love watching period dramas, such as Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife, but my guilty pleasure is reality TV (anything Real Housewives.)

I will be here until mid-August so make sure to stop by with any history and archive questions or recommendations for the best pasty bakeries around town.

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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 our University Archivist, 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, Instagram: michigantecharchives, and Facebook.


Travel Grant Talk – Circling Lake Superior: Rephotography to Document Changing Landscapes of the Lake Superior Circle Tour

MTU_Talk_Photo_Lieschalternate
A historic image of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and a 2018 image of the same location. The bridge is an iconic part of the scenic Lake Superior Circle tour’s Keweenaw loop. (Photos courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives and Matt Liesch)

 

Please join us for visiting scholar Dr. Matthew Liesch at 4:00 pm on Monday, June 25 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus for his travel grant talk, “Circling Lake Superior: Rephotography to Document Changing Landscapes of the Lake Superior Circle Tour.” This event is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

In this presentation, Liesch will guide the audience on a photographic journey to explore changing landscapes from throughout the Copper Country and the Lake Superior Circle Tour. This presentation features historic landscape photography from the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, and supplements these with other scenes along the route. For comparative purposes, Liesch has rephotographed ordinary landscapes around Lake Superior during 2018. Observations are illuminated through archived policies, and plans, plus perspectives from geography and land use planning alike.

Matthew Liesch, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Central Michigan University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. His areas of research interest include cultural and historical geography, landscape studies, park and protected areas, and environmental policy. He has published and presented extensively on these topics and is active in the professional community.

Liesch’s research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Michigan Tech 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 Michigan Tech Archives.

For more information, feel free to call the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505, email at copper@mtu.edu, or visit on the web at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/. You can also find us on Facebook, @mtuarchives on Twitter, and as michigantecharchives on Instagram.


New Donation – White Pine Mine Slides

Roger Hewlett delivers the White Pine Copper Company slide collection to university archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen in May 2018.
Roger Hewlett delivers the White Pine Copper Company slide collection to university archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen in May 2018.

We are happy to announce a recent donation to the Michigan Tech Archives! The new acquisition consists of slides related to the history of the White Pine Copper Company. The materials were delivered to the archives by Roger Hewlett on behalf of George Haynes. The slides originally belonged to the late J. Roland Ackroyd, a former Secretary and Director of the Copper Range Consolidated, the Copper Range Railroad, and the White Pine Copper Company. The slides will be inventoried this summer and available for researchers this fall. Subjects represented include above and below ground images of industrial activities at White Pine. The slides are believed to be Copper Range’s official corporate collection of photos on the building of the White Pine Mine and surrounding area.

Roland Ackroyd (1912-1979) was born in Needham, Massachusetts and was the son of James A. (1872-1957) and Emily P. Ackroyd. He was educated in Needham schools and went on to graduate with an accounting degree from Northeastern University and Bentley University School in 1936. His professional career began at the Copper Range Company in 1933 on a temporary basis as a bookkeeper. During this first appointment his father was the secretary of the company. Over the years, Ackroyd would go on to hold many prominent positions in several firms with business related to White Pine, including the Copper Range Consolidated, the subsidiary railroad, and the White Pine Copper Company.

Positions held included:

Copper Range Consolidated 

J. Roland Ackroyd's official Copper Range Consolidated photograph.
J. Roland Ackroyd’s official Copper Range Consolidated photograph.

1944-46        Asst. Secretary

1947-62        Secretary

1962-70        Secretary/Treasurer

1968-70        Director

Copper Range Railroad

1954-62        Secretary

1962-71        Secretary/Treasurer

White Pine Copper Co.

1950-51        Director

1950-62        Secretary

1962-70        Secretary/Treasurer

Ackroyd lived in Needham and Stamford, Connecticut throughout his career and summered at Ocean Point, Maine. He retired in 1970. After retirement, he and his wife Natalie moved permanently to Ocean Point. Ackroyd was a key adviser in the development of the White Pine Mine and the local community. He was known to visit the area regularly throughout his career. Beyond his professional commitments, Ackroyd was also very active in his community. He was very dedicated to community service, serving with the Needham Board of Selectmen, Masons, Boy Scouts, Lions Club, Power Squadrons, the Boothbay Conservation Commission and various regional clubs in Maine.

The Michigan Tech Archives is very pleased to receive this important donation. We look forward to sharing the history of White Pine for generations to come! For more information about this collection, please contact university archivist, Lindsay Hiltunen, at (906) 487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu.  


The Remarkable Brockway Women

View of Copper Harbor from Brockway Mountain

View of Copper Harbor from Brockway Mountain, May 2015. Photograph by the author.

Almost everyone who has visited the Keweenaw Peninsula has heard the name Brockway. Brockway Mountain, just west of Copper Harbor, offers a stunning panorama of Lake Superior, a smattering of nearby lakes, and the thickly-forested rolling hills among which Michigan’s northernmost town is nestled. In addition to its scenic roadway–a project that put local men to work during the Great Depression–the mountain enjoys another notable tie to history, having been named after early settler Daniel Brockway. After a sojourn in L’Anse as a government-employed blacksmith and mechanic, Brockway had come to the Copper Harbor area in the mid-1840s. There, and in later years at the Cliff Mine, Brockway was a prominent merchant, hotelier, and mine agent.

Yet Daniel Brockway’s laudable success in the Copper Country is only one part of the story. From the Brockway family tree sprouted a number of remarkable people, both in terms of careers and of character. Although Women’s History Month is just behind us, it is well worth keeping our eyes on women’s history; let us take a moment to “remember the ladies,” as Abigail Adams once said. While a single blog post could never do justice to their stories, we are privileged to be able to share a glimpse of what we see of the Brockway women through our collections at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections.

Lucena Harris Brockway, the matriarch, left the greatest archival trail. Diaries she kept meticulously for some thirty years now reside in the Michigan Tech Archives, recording her life in her own words and shedding light on the interesting experiences of others in her family. What we see from Lucena’s writing are women who confronted the challenges of ordinary days, the heartbreaking difficulty of tragedies, and the world at large with courage, humor, strength, and flair. We’ll start with Lucena herself, then look down her familial line to see her spirit carried on.

Young Lucena ms 12 b1f2

Lucena Harris Brockway in middle age. From MS-019: Brockway Photograph Collection.

Lucena, born in New York in 1816, moved to southwest Michigan in her youth and there married Daniel Brockway in 1836. She became the mother of four daughters and two sons, one of whom died in infancy and whose birthday was remembered with mournful devotion in her diaries. With her husband, Lucena made the aforementioned transition to the various locales of the Upper Peninsula and there dedicated herself to carving out a new life from the rugged locale. Though her husband’s growing financial assets meant that Lucena was insulated from some of life’s difficulties, living in a frontier community nevertheless required her to confront thorny dilemmas with tenacious resolution. At times, those problems bordered on the absurd. In August 1880, for example, Lucena awoke to an empty house and headed to her kitchen in hopes of having “a quiet day, the first in a long time.” When she glanced out the window, however, she found that her dreams of relaxation had quite literally gone up in smoke. The wooden fence near the Brockway home had spontaneously combusted and was now engulfed in flames. “So I fought fire for sometime [sic],” Lucena wrote, recalling the event later in the day, “then ate my breakfast and the fire had broken out again.” Eventually, her persistence in firefighting paid off, and the blaze came under control. Little time remained for resting by this point, however. There were chickens to be fed and beans to be picked for dinner. Life went on.

Life also had its lighthearted moments for Lucena. Removed as we are from the past, and accustomed to seeing the staid faces that early photography–with the long exposure times required to capture an image–produced, it is only too tempting to think of the 1800s as a stuffy, humorless age. Lucena Brockway was quite the opposite. In the cash account pages of her 1880 diary, she jotted a few puns that must have especially tickled her funny bone. “Why are hot rolls like caterpillars?” one read. “Because they make the butter fly.” Other jokes poked fun in a way that seems very modern. “Why is a lawyer like a restless sleeper?” Lucena asked. “He lies first on one side and then on the other.” There’s a certain humor not only in the joke but in realizing that attorneys have been the subject of light-hearted derision for centuries.  

Charlotte Brockway, Lucena’s oldest daughter, left fewer clues to her life, but what can be pieced together from the archival record indicates that she was a woman fashioned in her mother’s mold. By the time she was five, she had moved with her parents from New York to the western Lower Peninsula, north to L’Anse, and from L’Anse to Copper Harbor. The realization that the last relocation included Charlotte’s two younger sisters–a toddler and an infant–speaks once again to her mother’s fortitude. At the tender age of fifteen, according to one source, Charlotte was bright and mature enough to teach the Copper Harbor school. In October 1863, the twenty-two-year-old married Oliver Atkins Farwell, the superintendent of the Phoenix Mine. Mr. Farwell, as Lucena always called him in her diaries, was in his early fifties. Despite the considerable difference in their ages, the marriage seems to have been affectionate, if not passionate: eleven children were born to Charlotte and her husband, including a set of twins.

Portrait of an older Charlotte Brockway

Charlotte Brockway Farwell in her later years. From MS-019: Brockway Photograph Collection.

June 1881, as revealed in Lucena’s diaries, demonstrated the determination of the Brockway women to carry on in the face of great tragedy, and Charlotte was at the very heart of it. First, Sarah (“Sallie” or “Sally”) Brockway Scott lost her husband to illness; he was only 43. “Poor Scott breathed his last a quarter to three o’clock this morning,” wrote Lucena sadly on June 7. “…He knew he was going and bade us all good by [sic]. It was hard to see him go[;] he wanted to live longer if it had been so he could.” Sallie, who had already seen a daughter die in infancy, was now the widowed mother of a young son. Yet Charlotte would face an even more turbulent month. On June 18, Lucena noted that Oliver Farwell, who had begun feeling ill around the same time as Sally’s husband, was not improving. Three days later, the same note: “Mr. Farwell was worse and probably dying.” On June 22, Lucena said, “I stayed all day at Mr. Farwell’s with Charlotte. Mr. Oliver A. Farwell died 20 minutes past 3 o’clock P.M.” And, on June 25: “In the afternoon…Charlotte Farwell had a daughter born the day after her husband was buried.”

Portrait of Olive Farwell in middle age

A photograph of Olive Farwell published in the Daily Mining Gazette in January 1997. From the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections Farwell biographical file.

This daughter, named Olive Lucena in honor of her father and grandmother, would experience a life of great length and variety, testifying to the fortitude and courage of the Brockway women. She might not have achieved the fame of her brother, a notable librarian and botanist, but Olive carved her own niche. Her mother moved the family many times in Olive’s childhood, attempting to give her children the best life possible. From Keweenaw County, they headed south to Ypsilanti for educational reasons, then west to New Mexico in pursuit of a healthful climate. After a brief return to Lake Linden with her mother to spend time with Lucena and Daniel in their last days, Olive departed for Chicago to study interior design. Unsurprisingly, she made a success of it and established a studio in Spokane with another artist. Later, her obituary recalled, she returned to Chicago, first to work for a chain of department stores and then to establish her own prosperous candy kitchen. When World War II broke out, Olive again left Lake Linden–where she had moved in 1935–to become a Rosie the Riveter on a Lockheed production line in Burbank.

Lucena and Charlotte each lived to be 82. Olive surpassed them both, suffering a fatal stroke in the Brockway house in Lake Linden at the age of 98. Though these Brockway lives can hardly be compressed with any justice into an essay of such brevity, Lucena’s wide range of diaries–together with two other Brockway collections and articles clipped from the Daily Mining Gazette on Olive’s long life–show their shared character, spunk, and persistence. If you’d like to investigate the Brockway women further, or if you’re interested in discovering some remarkable women from your own family tree, please do not hesitate to contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or (906) 487-2505.

And Anna Medora Brockway Gray, Lucena’s youngest daughter, who struck out on her own as  a physician in 1883? Well, that’s another story for another day.


Student Awards Spotlight 2018 – Becky

Becky poses with her certificate by the State Records Collection in the Archives stacks.
Becky poses with her certificate by the State Records Collection in the Archives stacks.

During the month of March, the Van Pelt and Opie Library hosts the annual Student Awards for all the student assistants in the library. This year’s event took place on Wednesday, March 21 and it included delicious food and a festive awards ceremony, which offered awards in eight categories. We are pleased to announce that both of our student assistants won awards!

To thank our students for their hard work and to further congratulate them on their award-winning work, we are featuring our students on social media to showcase all their efforts. Becky, our veteran student assistant, won the Excellence in Job Performance Award which goes to show that she is always on top of the many projects she works on over each semester. Our nomination for Becky is included below:

This student continues to excel and embody all the characteristics of an exceptional worker. This student consistently receives rave reviews from colleagues in the department and continues to positively impact our customer service in the department. This student turns in nearly all projects ahead of schedule and provides work that transcends that quality of normal student work. For instance, I asked for some assistance on some research and the student was able to finish several complex research tasks in a 2-hour shift, work that would normally take another student assistant at least 3 hours. In addition, this student takes initiative on research projects by anticipating patron needs and working with the supervisor to make sure no stone is left unturned. This student’s writing skills are equal to their research skills and I cannot imagine our department without this student! The quality and excellence of work projects, the care and attention to detail, and the constant cheerful demeanor set this student a cut above the rest!


Student Awards Spotlight 2018 – Jeremy

Jeremy poses by MS-080: Copper Range Collection, which has been the main collection he has worked with to build the railroad exhibit.
Jeremy poses by MS-080: Copper Range Collection, which has been the main collection he has worked with to build the railroad exhibit.

During the month of March, the Van Pelt and Opie Library hosts the annual Student Awards for all the student assistants in the library. This year’s event took place on Wednesday, March 21 and it included delicious food and a festive awards ceremony, which offered awards in eight categories. We are pleased to announce that both of our student assistants won awards!

To thank our students for their hard work and to further congratulate them on their award-winning work, we are featuring our students on social media to showcase all their efforts. Our first student award winner is Jeremy, our Copper Range Railroad exhibit research assistant. Jeremy won the Project Achievement Award. Our nomination for Jeremy is included below:

This student has gone above and beyond on a complex research project related to a grant-funded exhibit. This student provided accurate and timely research on a lesser known but historically important part of our local heritage. This student’s research findings are being applied to an exhibit project which will not only be on display in the Library, but will eventually travel off-site to other institutions. The student for this project maintained clear and consistent communication with the project team leader and was also able to earn the praise of project consultants and stakeholders interested in the project outcomes. In addition to achieving great research outcomes on this difficult and time-consuming project, the student was in a class of his own when it comes to positive attitude and enthusiasm. Not a day would go by without this student bringing joy and verve to research along with specific subject knowledge expertise which was directly beneficial to the project. This student has made this difficult project fun and informative. I always look forward to this student being in the department!


Thank you Jeremy for all of your efforts! You are a wonderful part of the archives team!


Ellen Carlson: Copper Country Woman

Ellen Carlson, undated
Ellen Carlson, undated

For many women, the early 20th century ushered in a new period of possibilities for life and work outside the home and changes to the traditional roles of wife and mother. While employment opportunities were still limited to a few fields such as school teacher, secretary, and nurse, many women fought to make their lives outside domestic life rich and fulfilling. Archival collections are full of stories of such women and the Copper Country is no different. To honor the many unique and fascinating women of the Copper Country during Women’s History Month, our blog post today highlights one amazing woman from Rockland, Michigan: Ellen Carlson.

Ellen Carlson with cat, undated.
Ellen Carlson with cat, undated.

Ellen Carlson was born in Rockland, Michigan around 1901 to Swedish parents, Gustave and Anna, who immigrated to the Upper Peninsula in 1899. Her father worked for the copper mine in Rockland until his death in 1915 following a mining accident. Ellen’s mother, Anna, was left to raise her daughter and son, Hugo, by herself. She ensured that her children received a good education and the children attended school in Rockland, with Ellen graduating in 1918. However, Ellen’s early aspirations for higher learning at the Marquette Normal School were cut short due to the outbreak of the Spanish Influenza. Though she never received a formal degree, Carlson attended classes at Wayne State, University of Michigan’s Rackham School, and the Milwaukee State Teachers College and became a school teacher, initially teaching in a four-room school in Victoria. She moved back to Rockland for a period of time before moving to Marquette in 1922 to finish her teaching studies, but continued to move back and forth between the U.P. and downstate, teaching again in Rockland, Montrose, Flint, Ferndale and Taylor. In 1965, after 46 years of teaching, Carlson retired and returned to her family’s home in Rockland where she lived until her passing in 1988.

Love letters from the Ellen Carlson Correspondence collection.
Love letters from the Ellen Carlson Correspondence collection.

For many, there is a certain stereotype associated with the concept of an unmarried, rural school teacher in the early 20th century. However, a glimpse into the the personal correspondence of a woman like Ellen reveals a vibrant personal and social life, as well as a woman who was undeterred in her quest in fulfilling her lifelong aspirations. The Ellen Carlson Correspondence (MS-416) collection held at the Michigan Tech Archives is a rich resource for anyone interested in the personal lives of women in the Copper Country. The collection primarily contains correspondence Carlson kept with friends, students, and family members throughout her life and provides a unique perspective on the life of women in the Copper Country.

Some of the earliest correspondence in the collection dates from around 1918 when Ellen was just a young woman starting her teaching education. Nearly a decade worth of letters from a likely high school beau then living in Chicago shows a young woman in love, but one torn between that love and a dedication to her studies. Sadly, the romance fizzled out during May and June of 1926 based on the letters from Chicago. We can only speculate that the relationship had a deep impact on her as she never did marry.

From the correspondence you get a sense of the importance family and social ties had to Ellen. She maintained lengthy correspondence with close friends throughout her life, in some cases receiving multiple letters per week, which implies the amount of outgoing correspondence and connections she must have maintained were extensive. Though the collection only contains correspondence she received, a researcher gets an impression of the topics that were important to women during this time period, notably between women as she maintained correspondence with several other women from her Rockland community and elsewhere throughout her life. It’s also clear that Ellen maintained a strong relationship with her mother, Anna, particularly during the latter half of her mother’s life up until her unexpected death in 1954. This section of correspondence is a fascinating view of mother-daughter relationships and a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.
Ellen Carlson with friends, undated.
Ellen Carlson with friends, undated.

Ellen clearly maintained a wide social circle of friends, especially with those within the Rockland area. An article printed in the local paper sometime between 1976 and her passing in Rockland in 1988 attests to her vibrant social life and the importance that women played within the community. Noted within the article, fellow community members described her as having “a host of friends, young and old” and that she was “very sociable — has a houseful of company all summer long.” One comment from a friend regarding the amount of birthday cards she routinely received is apparent in her correspondence collection. Among the regular correspondence and photographs, Ellen maintained several scrapbooks worth of birthday and holiday cards that she received or collected overtime, presenting a very interesting and delightful resource for people interested in period greeting cards.

Sample of greeting cards from the Ellen Carlson Correspondence collection.
Sample of greeting cards from the Ellen Carlson Correspondence collection.

According to the article, Ellen was a lifelong and active member of the Methodist church and an accomplished pianist, serving as the district organist for the Order of the Eastern Star since 1920, which is evident from the correspondence and ephemera tucked into her collection.  Among her other passions was regional history. She and fellow local, Mary Jeffs Regan, co-founded the Rockland Museum and donated material to the collection over the years. Ellen, according to the article printed later in her life, was also a reader, crossword puzzle enthusiast, and enjoyed playing cards.

While the collection is primarily composed of correspondence, Ellen maintained journals, especially later in life, which can be found in the collection. Also included are scrapbooks, postcard albums, and photographs, many of them documenting the lives of her friends and family members that were dear to her.

The Ellen Carlson Correspondence collection reveals a woman many can relate to; one driven to follow their passions and affinity for one’s roots. It provides a glimpse into the impact a singular person can have within a community and a rich resource for those looking into the lives of everyday women in the Copper Country. This extensive collection is just waiting for further exploration and insight from researchers. If you are interested in viewing this collection, visit the Michigan Tech Archives! The department is open for regular research hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, no appointment necessary. You may also contact us directly at (906) 487-2505 or by email at copper@mtu.edu.