Archives Exhibit Travels to Eastern U.P.

An immigrant to Michigan’s copper mining district poses for a portrait in J.W. Nara’s Calumet studio. The work of this early Twentieth Century photographer is featured in a travelling exhibit at the Brimley Area Schools Library from October 21 through December 16. Image Nara 42-121, courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives (click image for additional details).

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be hosted by the Brimley Area Schools Library from October 21 through December 16, 2011. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and will be open to the public during the library’s regular hours, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  The Library is located in the Brimley Area Schools complex at 7134 South M-221 in Brimley, Michigan.

The Library will host an exhibit opening program on Friday, October 21. Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Technological University, will give an illustrated presentation, “Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara” featuring dozens of historical photographs of the Upper Peninsula. The presentation is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in the Library, with the exhibit open extra hours that evening 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for the opening event.

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads.

The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, draws upon historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection.

The exhibit will remain on display in Brimley through December 16. For more information on the exhibit, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at or the Brimley Area Schools Library at 906-248-3217, extension 529 /