All posts by alneely

Flashback Friday: Snow Removal in the Copper Country

Snow removal, Houghton, January 1958.

It’s been a wild and wacky snow season so far in the Copper Country. We’re beginning to think that Heikki Lunta can’t seem to make up his mind this year. We’ve seen plenty of rain, snow, and wintry mixes out there, which is why we’re taking a moment during our Flashback Friday this week to give a little shout out to all of those who keep the roads and sidewalks clear and safe each winter.

Back in early January 1958 the Daily Mining Gazette ran an article praising the area’s snow removal practices, citing the excellent cleanup effort completed following a “heavy storm that reached blizzard proportions” the first week of the new year. The Gazette noted that the city of Houghton (pictured here) might seem “phenomenal to an outsider” because the streets were cleared almost entirely to the sidewalks, which had also been exceptionally cleared.
It’s true that the Copper Country annually sees upwards of 150 to 200 inches of snow and sometimes much more, like the 1978-1979 year where record-high seasonal totals reached 355.90 inches. Big snow means that the Copper Country is also home to some of the most efficient snow removal practices out there. As noted in the Gazette piece, it also means that snow researchers from around the country and the world come to the area to “study local methods and equipment” for snow removal — just think about that during our next big snowfall.
Interested in seeing what our latest snowfall totals are for this year? Check out the Keweenaw Research Center’s snow measurements page at http://mtukrc.org/met/weather_snow_data.htm.
You can also find more amazing snow and snow removal photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives by visiting our Copper Country Historical Images database at www.cchi.mtu.edu or by visiting the archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thank you to all of those who keep our roads clear and accessible each winter and all year round!

Flashback Friday: Closing the Books

Student studying with a slide rule, undated.

It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 fall semester is coming to a close. That said, we’re using this week’s Flashback Friday to wish all of our current Huskies the best as they head into finals week and to send out a hearty Michigan Tech Archives congratulations to those graduating this weekend.

People studying in the J. R. Van Pelt Library, circa 1960s.

We know it’s time to hit the books, hand in those last couple of projects, and complete those dreaded final exams before you can head home for the winter break and some much-needed rest. The end is in sight though, Huskies! One more week to go and then you can close the books on the fall semester. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.

To all the Huskies taking part in the midyear commencement tomorrow, congrats and best wishes in the next chapter of your lives. Time to show off how crazy smart you are!

Commencement, 1958.

Flashback Friday: Honoring Armistice Day in the Copper Country

Our Flashback Friday this week commemorates Armistice Day in the Copper Country.

It’s likely that many of the local buildings looked a lot like the Houghton National Bank pictured here. (Photograph by J. T. Reeder, undated. Image No. MS042-063-999-Z617)

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, peace finally came to the Western Front, ending four long years of warfare and bloodshed.

Italian American family in front of their house in Baltic on Armistice Day, 1918.

While the guns fell silent across Europe, in every corner of the United States the sounds of cheers, bells, and whistles replaced the angry sounds of war. The news of the signing of the armistice was met with a similar reaction in the Copper Country. The Calumet News held the distinction of being the first publication in the region to break the news with a special edition “issued at the very moment firing ceased.” The news of the armistice arrived via a telephone wire from Chicago at 2:00 a.m. and The Calumet News had an early extra “on the streets in Calumet, Portage Lake, Torch Lake and other towns at 7 o’clock.”

The Calumet News, front page of the extra edition following news of the armistice agreement, November 11, 1918.
According the Daily Mining Gazette, “citizens appeared on the streets…parades were formed, flags appeared from every housetop and the business sections were soon ablaze with the national colors.” By that afternoon, “citizens of nearby towns came to the city and joined in a general demonstration” with “a big military and civic procession at the armory.”
Interested in learning more about the soldier experience in the trenches during World War I? Be sure to check out the outdoor exhibit, “Dug In: Experiential WWI Trench” located on the Michigan Tech campus at the corner of US-41 and MacInnes Drive, while you can! The exhibit showcases an actual trench dug into the ground, which spans several yards along campus. Christopher Plummer and Sound Design students created the audio component to the exhibit, which incorporates recordings of “memorial poetry and selections from soldier memoirs” with simulated battle sounds. The exhibit will cap this Sunday, November 11 with a commemorative ceremony featuring the local VFW and American Legion groups, ROTC, and JROTC as they fill in the trench. You can more information about the event on Tech Today.

Flashback Friday: A Change of Seasons

We’re using our Flashback Friday this week to honor the changing seasons. No, we don’t mean saying goodbye to fall, but farewell to road construction season!
This week back in 1958 saw the end of a big highway paving job between Quincy and Calumet, which the Michigan State Highway Department christened with the addition of yellow and white lines, pictured here. The Daily Mining Gazette reported that “sunshine, an infrequent visitor in the area in recent days, made the painting project by…motor propelled machinery impossible” following paving two weeks prior. No doubt, many motorists in the Copper Country were happy to have the work, completed by the Thornton Construction Co., come to an end and to have the roads reopened for fall color tours up the peninsula  .
We know the end of road construction means the beginning of our winter months and its own set of driving frustrations, but imagine all that glorious snow that’s on its way to the Copper Country! Enjoy the lingering fall colors, motorists!

It’s Homecoming Weekend at Michigan Tech!

Homecoming parade, 1948.
Homecoming parade, 1948.

Happy Homecoming, Huskies! We’re honoring homecoming weekend with a flashback to 1948.

According to coverage of the event in the Michigan Tech Lode, the 1948 homecoming was the “most successful Homecoming weekend ever held at Tech.” Festivities included a parade and football rally Friday night. Attendees were told to meet at the Clubhouse at 8 p.m. for the torchlight parade to Engineer’s Field with a toasty bonfire and speeches by Dr. Stipe, Coach Al Bovard, and “members of the undefeated Huskies.”

Front page, Michigan Tech Lode,  October 22, 1948.
Front page, Michigan Tech Lode, October 22, 1948.

Revelers then made their way to Dee Stadium for cider, doughnuts, and a square dance. Another parade was held Saturday and included floats from most of the fraternities and professional organizations with Sigma Rho winning top honors. According to the paper, Tech “humiliated” Northern Michigan University, remaining undefeated in their fifth win of the season.

Homecoming Complete Success, Michigan Tech Lode, 1948.
Homecoming Complete Success, Michigan Tech Lode, 1948.

Coach Bovard was awarded the Tech-Northern trophy, the Paul Bunyan axe, from Northern head cheerleader, Joe Erickson. Football fans familiar with the big Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry and their Paul Bunyan axe will surely be scratching their heads at that, but it seems Tech and Northern had a similar tradition.

We hope that you enjoyed this flashback to 1948. Enjoy Homecoming, Huskies! We’d love to hear your favorite your favorite Homecoming memory!

Homecoming float, 1948.
Homecoming float, 1948.

Keweenaw Day (K-Day): A Fine Tradition

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While the start of fall semester at Michigan Tech heralds the beginning of a new adventure for new and returning students, it also brings back many fond memories for our alumni. For some, it’s memories of moving into the dorms or buying textbooks; for others, it’s their first class on campus and meeting their advisers for the first time. However, most would agree that it was the student activities outside the classroom that they remember the most. Whether it was their first Tech football game or homecoming activities, if you’ve been a student at Tech since the early 1950s, you remember the fun and excitement of K-Day.

K-Day, short for Keweenaw Day, has been a favorite annual tradition of Michigan Tech students since 1951. The first Keweenaw Day was established as a way to bring the campus community together. In response to a growing student body at the then Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT), faculty member, Dr. Charles San Clemente, suggested to the Faculty Association in the spring of 1951 that the college consider a campus community-wide picnic to bring students, faculty, and staff together before the rush of mid semester.

A couple enjoy Keweenaw Day on Brockway Mountain Drive, 1970.
A couple enjoy Keweenaw Day on Brockway Mountain Drive, 1970.

The November 1951 edition of the MCMT Alumni News reported on the success of the first Keweenaw Day celebration held on October 9 held at the picturesque Fort Wilkins State Park. Over 1,000 members of the campus community and their guests attended the event, marking “the beginning of a fine tradition.” The sounding of the campus siren (sometimes referred to as the Engineer’s Whistle) at 11 a.m. marked the end of classes for the day and the beginning of Keweenaw Day festivities. Buses and vans shuttled people up the coast to take in the scenic vistas of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Upon arriving at Fort Wilkins, K-Day-goers were treated to a picnic lunch and a variety of activities, including games, sightseeing trips to the lake shore and up Brockway Mountain, small game hunting, and fishing. A highlight of the day was the faculty-student baseball game, pictured here. While the game was all in fun, there are rumors that the students won. After the games and tours were ending, K-day culminated in a sing-along around the campfire.

In its 67 years a Tech tradition, K-Day has seen some changes, but at its core, the main themes of festivities, food, and friendship have remained the same. The event was moved to McLain’s State Park in 1976 to shorten the driving time from campus and reduce the road congestion that plagued the event in its early years. Picnicking and fun activities have always been central to K-Day, but additions over the years has kept K-Day a favorite among students. Inflatable games, live music, contests and informational booths; as well as demonstrations featuring medieval fighting, Bonzai bikes, and exploding gummy bears. The student organization fair has also been a great way for new students to learn about campus activities and organizations.

Local band performing at K-Day, 1997.
Local band performing at K-Day, 1997.

Generous financial and moral support from the College administration and the Student Organization helped to support the event in the early years before the Memorial Union Board took over responsibility in 1967 and Inter-Fraternity Council in 1976. Today, K-Day is sponsored by Fraternity & Sorority Life and Student Activities and still a much-beloved campus event.

As Michigan Tech welcomes a new class of Huskies to campus and another day of K-Day, take a trip down memory lane and share your own K-Day stories!


Turning the Page to the Next Chapter

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It is hard to believe that summer is almost over and even harder to believe that my time here is up. These past seven weeks as the Michigan Tech Archives intern were full of amazing (and challenging) opportunities. I had the chance to experience many different aspects of the archival profession, gain new archival skills and continue to develop others.

The most valuable and memorable experience from this internship is working with patrons on their reference requests. Providing access to archival materials is one of the most important aspects of an archivist’s job and assisting patrons find the materials they need can be challenging. Each patron and their research is unique and thus requires good communication skills that I developed over the course of this internship.IMG_0051

Property assessments and tax rolls became a surprising favorite research request of mine. Although they can be difficult to understand at first, the documents provide really interesting information about the property owners and the region in general. It is fascinating to see the changing ownership of historic homes and buildings, as well as land.

Overall, I am very blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at Michigan Tech University and to spend my summer in the Copper Country. This internship gave me the skills and knowledge needed to flourish as a new archivist and has prepared me for my future in this profession. I want to again thank the University Archivist and the rest of the Archive’s team for welcoming me into their archives and guiding me along this internship.


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.



A Conscious Campus: The Conscious Stomach Student Organization at Michigan Tech

Articles of The Conscious Stomach student organization.
Articles of The Conscious Stomach student organization.

Many of our blog posts to date have focused on regional and larger community topics. Today’s blog delves into the campus community, highlighting a relatively short-lived, but very interesting student organization at Michigan Tech.

In the winter of 1976-1977 a group of like-minded students and community members from Michigan Tech, Funky’s Karma Kafe and the Keweenaw Co-op started coming together to talk about food, what options there were for whole and natural foods in the Copper Country, political issues surrounding food, and the improvement of food options within university dining services.

The group applied to the university administration to form an official student organization on campus and held their first meeting on January 8, 1977, calling themselves The Conscious Stomach. According to the group’s constitution and bylaws, the group’s purpose was to “promote the health of the individuals of the student body” and to “gather, organize and distribute information pertaining to the nutritional, social, economic, political and environmental aspects of food.”

The organization’s records helds at the Michigan Tech Archives show that The Conscious Stomach was heavily involved on campus, holding bake sales with food made with whole foods and natural ingredients and distributing information among the student body. The group even supplied the Michigan Tech library with books and magazines on alternative food and lifestyles with titles such as Mother Earth News and Vegetarian Voice. Other major activities undertaken by The Conscious Stomach included hosting a “Trees Again” concert during Winter Carnival (1977), establishing the first non-smoking section within the Memorial Union building, and the first ever Bring A Friend to Food Day in 1978. Also known as the Food Day Conscious Banquet, the event was an attempt to highlight food alternatives and encourage others to taste for themselves a wide variety of options.

Central to The Conscious Stomach’s goals was improving dining services offerings on campus, as well as communication between students and dining services related to the food needs at Michigan Tech. Around the same time as the group’s formation the members also established a Dorm Food Committee. According to a Michigan Tech Lode article from 1977, the Dorm Food Committee was established to:

Photographs from The Conscious Stomach scrapbook.
Photographs from The Conscious Stomach scrapbook.

“gather and publish dorm residents’ criticisms and positive suggestions about improving the food service at the dorm; educate dorm students, cooks, dietitians, and bakers about the nutritional, social, economic, political and environmental aspects of food and the relative advantages that certain foods possess in each of the above aspects; to get the dorms to offer whole and natural foods in addition to the regular menu, to get the bake shop to bake with whole and natural foods, to get dorms to offer main courses and soups for the students who don’t eat meat”

The Dorm Food Committee conducted a survey in the spring of 1977 on dorm food to get a sense of the student perspective. Of the 2,306 registered dorm residents for that semester, the group had a response rate of 29% for all the dorms. The conclusions drawn by The Conscious Stomach Dorm Food Committee was that the dorms showed a “significant interest in whole and natural foods” and they “strongly recommend to the MTU Food Services that easily substituted items be replaced with whole and natural foods.”

The Conscious Stomach student organization continued to be an active group at Michigan Tech at least into the early 1980’s. It isn’t quite clear when the group officially disbanded based on the records housed at the Michigan Tech Archives, but needless to say that some of their activities and initiatives in the late 1970’s have shaped campus today.

C.S. [Conscious Stomach] Favorite Recipes.
C.S. [Conscious Stomach] Favorite Recipes.

Interested in learning more about The Conscious Stomach? Visit the Michigan Tech Archives and view the student organization’s records (MTU-027) on site! The collection includes membership lists, surveys, newspaper clippings, recipes, other printed ephemera and a scrapbook featuring photographs from some of the group’s events and activities. The Archive is open for regular research hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, no appointment is necessary. You may also contact the archive directly at (906) 487-2505 or by email at copper@mtu.edu.