All posts by jblair

Film premiere of Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections presents the premiere of Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913, a documentary film by Emmy award-winning producer Jonathan Silvers & Saybrook Productions. The film will be shown Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, at 7 PM at the Calumet Theatre. Admission is free. Donations are welcome and will go to support the Calumet Theatre and the Michigan Tech Archives.

Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913 focuses on the 100th anniversary of an epic labor strike that devastated Michigan’s Copper Country and made a lasting impact on the American labor movement with the Italian Hall Disaster that left 73 people dead. The tragedy was immortalized by Woody Guthrie in his ballad “1913 Massacre,” performed in the film by Steve Earle.

Narrated by Richard Harris, the film traces the Copper Country strike from its hopeful start to that tragic conclusion. Using more than one hundred images from the rich historic collections of the Michigan Tech Archives, Red Metal explores the intensifying battle between organized labor and corporate power, as well as related issues of immigration and technology.  The strike’s cultural legacy influenced national discourse, music and legislation during the Progressive Era. As the centennial of the Italian Hall Disaster approaches, a new generation of Americans has begun paying tribute to the victims, while also deliberating the strike’s causes, outcomes, and legacy.

Following the film, there will be a Q&A session with Steve Lehto, historical advisor to the film, author, and lawyer.  Among his books are “Death’s Door: The Truth Behind the Italian Hall Disaster and the Strike of 1913,” and “Michigan’s Columbus: The Life of Douglass Houghton.” He taught law and history at the University of Detroit for ten years.

Please join the Archives for the premiere of Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913 at the historic Calumet Theatre on Dec. 6, 2013 at 7 PM. Admission is free. Donations are encouraged. For more information, contact the Archives at 906-487-2505.

Archives Joins KNHP Heritage Sites

The Michigan Tech Archives is pleased to share the news that we have been selected as a Keweenaw National Historical Park Heritage Site in recognition of our status as a unique and valuable cultural resource.

We have long been an unofficial partner with the Park, and selection as a Heritage Site bestows a formal recognition that is well deserved. The Michigan Tech Archives were cited as one of two of the University’s “outstanding resources” by the Keweenaw National Historical Park Establishment Act, which went before the House of Representatives in 1992. The other was the Seaman Mineral Museum, which became a Heritage Site in 1998.

Not only do our collections illuminate the past, but they enable Michigan Tech students and researchers from all over the world to connect the past to the future, thereby deepening our understanding of the social and cultural contexts of our contemporary world.

Michigan Tech students, staff, and programs are recognized worldwide for innovation and excellence. The Archives is very proud of this opportunity to contribute to and support the University’s mission and goals. We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with our new partners in telling the story of Keweenaw copper.

Nara Exhibit on Display

Portage Lake District Library hosts J.W. Nara Photograph Exhibit

Michigan Tech Archives Nara Exhibit
Onni Nara with camera; Keweenaw Digital Archives Image #:Acc-05-097A-015

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, has moved to the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, Michigan. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through Dec. 16 during the library’s normal hours. The library is located on the Houghton waterfront, at 58 Huron Street, Houghton, MI 49931-2194.

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, works from 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 at the Portage Lake District Library through Monday, December 16. For more information on the installation, contact the library at 906-482-4570 or via e-mail at Additional information about the exhibit is available from the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at

Call for Papers: 1913 Copper Miners’ Strike Symposium

Retrospection & Respect: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Miners’ Strike

A symposium to be held April 11-13, 2014 on the campus of Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA

Banner from the 1913-14 Copper Miners' Strike (Acc-400-12-13-1988-01-08-15)

The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections of the Van Pelt Library of Michigan Technological University announces a symposium to be held in Houghton, Michigan, April 11-13, 2014, on the occasion of the centennial of the cessation of the 1913-1914 Western Federation of Miners labor strike against copper mining companies in the Copper Country of upper Michigan.  The symposium is co-sponsored by the Archives, the Department of Social Sciences, and the Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, and the Finnish American Historical Archive at Finlandia University.  The symposium is being held in conjunction with the 2014 meeting of Finn Forum, a professional association of researchers who investigate northern European migration to the United States.

We anticipate paper submissions from a range of disciplinary perspectives in the following and other topical areas:  analyses of labor organization in the historical and contemporary American and European mining industries, the impact of historical European immigration on labor organization, the impacts of early twentieth century labor organizational practices and strikes on American managerial practices in mining and other industries, the impact of women’s activism on early twentieth century labor organization in mining and other industries, comparisons between labor activities and organizational practices over a range of mining commodities, the impacts of labor organizational and strike strategies on historical and current mining communities, contemporary remembrance and collective memory pertaining to labor/strike histories, as well as other topics connecting issues of ethnicity, identity, class, gender, and other cultural divisions to civic discourse and the historic struggle for civil liberties within industry.

Abstract submission is now open and will close on December 16, 2013.  Submitters will be notified of the acceptance of papers on January 16, 2014.  Please direct all inquiries regarding paper topics and presentation details to Dr. Sam Sweitz (  We will consider proposals for mini-symposia, consisting of three to five papers, organized around a central theme or project as part of this symposium.  Please contact Dr. Sweitz regarding any such proposals.

Abstracts should be submitted via email to, with the subject line “Symposium Proposal.” Abstracts should be no more than 250 words.  Accepted paper presentations will be 20 minutes in length.

The Michigan Tech Archives is offering funding for up to $750 through its Travel Grant Program for scholars to travel to the Archives to research its collections in order to submit a proposal for the symposium. Grant recipients whose papers are selected will be eligible for a second stipend to help allay the cost of travelling to the symposium in April. Please contact the Archives at to apply for grant funding.

The conference proceedings will be published through Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, an open access platform. The creator(s) of papers shall retain their copyright, but will agree to a non-exclusive license to distribute and preserve their work in Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.

Archival Speaker Series: Austro-Hungarian Immigrant Identity

This photograph of a Hungarian immigrant laborer was included with the Declaration of Intention application for United States citizenship.

The Michigan Tech Archival Speaker Series will feature visiting scholar Dr. Robert Goodrich at 7 PM on Thursday, June 13 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Tech campus. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Goodrich will talk about the complexities acting to make Habsburg-influenced national identity in Austro-Hungarian immigrants to Michigan so difficult to identify, despite the large numbers that came to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. His presentation will highlight how modern concepts of ethnic heritage and identity do not always fit neatly into our ideas of fixed national traits.

Dr. Robert Goodrich is an Associate Professor of History at Northern Michigan University. His teaching focuses on broad themes in modern Europe. He earned his PhD from University of Wisconsin – Madison, where his dissertation addressed identity formation of working-class Catholics in the Rhineland of Germany. He is working on a book on the construction of Habsburg emigrant identity in the United States.

Goodrich’s research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant program has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the Archives.

For more information call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505, e-mail to, or visit them on the web at

June 30-July 1, 2011 – SAA EAD Workshop, Houghton, Michigan

SAA Encoded Archival Description workshop in Michigan’s beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula

Join us during the peak of the summer in beautiful Houghton, Michigan. The Michigan Technological University Archives and the Society of American Archivists invite you to learn EAD.  Develop new skills or refresh your knowledge while enjoying a stay in the Upper Peninsula, called “the Midwest’s preferred vacation spot” by Smithsonian Magazine in May 2011.  Waterfalls, wilderness, and pristine beaches await!

The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, June 30, and Friday, July 1, 2011, and leads directly into the extended Independence Day holiday weekend.

Here’s your chance to receive the instruction and hands-on practice you need to bridge the digital divide. Get acquainted with the language of XML and practice with XML authoring software. This 2-day workshop, led by SAA instructors Michael J. Fox and Kris Kiesling, covers the latest EAD version!

Upon completing this workshop, you will have:

  • Received an overview of Extensible Markup Language (XML);
  • Examined the structure of EAD (the SAA endorsed standard for archival finding aids);
  • Marked up a finding aid;
  • Explored style sheets and implementation strategies; and
  • Practiced encoding your own finding aid using EAD.

Who should attend? Archivists and others who are charged with exploring and/or implementing EAD at their institution or who want to enhance their résumé with this important training.

What is the cost to attend? Early bird registration before June 1 is $325 for SAA members and $405 for nonmembers. Further information about fees and registration is available on the Society of American Archivists web site at

Where will participants stay? Although housing is not included in the workshop registration fees, a variety of housing options are available for participants including hotels and motels, some on-campus accommodations, as well as area campgrounds and cabins. Attendees should consider early booking of lodging for this holiday weekend.

Where will this happen? The workshop will utilize a fully equipped instruction room at the J.R. Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus.

For more information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives online at or 906-487-2505/

Visiting Scholar Speaks on the Black Campus Movement, 1965-1973

The Michigan Tech Archives invites students, faculty and staff to join us for a Lunch and Learn on March 22, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Memorial Union Ballroom B-3. Visiting scholar and Archives Travel Grant recipient Ibram H. Rogers will give a talk on “The Black Campus Movement and the Racial Reformation of Higher Education.” Cookies and beverages will be provided. Attendees are invited to bring their lunch.

The Black Campus Movement began about 1965 and ended by 1973. During that time, black college students, sometimes aided by white and Latino students, protested for a relevant learning experience. At traditionally white and historically black colleges and universities, black campus activists formed the nation’s first progressive black student unions and gained control of some student government associations. They utilized these pressure groups to advocate for a range of campus reforms, including an end to campus paternalism and racism, the addition of more black students and faculty, and Black Studies courses and programs. Their ultimate aim was to diversify and thus transform higher education. This presentation will provide an overview of the movement, which challenged the racial confines of upwards of 1,000 colleges and universities in 48 states, including Michigan Tech.

Ibram H. Rogers is a post-doctoral fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is on leave as an assistant professor of African American history at SUNY College at Oneonta. He earned his doctorate in African American Studies from Temple University. Rogers has published seven journal articles on the black campus movement and black power. He is currently working on his first book, tentatively titled, The Black Campus Movement: A Historical Analysis of the Struggle to Diversity Higher Education, 1965-1972, which will be published by Palgrave MacMillan.

Rogers’ talk is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Archives and the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the Archives. The program is intended to encourage research using the Archives’ lesser known collections or promote new methodological approaches to well-known collections. From this year’s competitive field of applicants, the grant committee selected three scholars whose research typifies the spirit of the grant program. They join the ranks of twenty-six past recipients in this most recent round of awards.

For information about the March 22nd Lunch and Learn, the Michigan Tech Archives, or its collections, email us at, call us at 906-487-2505, or visit us on the web at

Local Researchers for Hire

Interested in researching Copper Country history or tracing your family roots but are just to darn far away to visit the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections for yourself?

Although research is best done in person, there are alternatives. -- Photograph of Francis Jacker from the Keweenaw Digital Archives, Image #:MS042-040-T-182

As a courtesy for those who aren’t able to visit the Upper Peninsula, the Michigan Tech Archives offers a list of independent researchers for you to contact. You can make arrangements with these individuals to undertake research for you, from looking up an obituary in a historic newspaper to gathering background information for a book and more.

Zach Kukkonen
Open to researching anything.

Marjorie Lindley
755 Seventh Street
Laurium, MI 49913
Will do look ups in the MTU Archives and marriage records in the courthouse. Also local cemeteries, photos, and information.

Peg Neidholdt
26330 Quincy Street
Laurium, MI  49913
Researching genealogy records for 32 years. Researching Houghton and Keweenaw County for over five years. Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

These researchers are not affiliated with Michigan Technological University, and the Michigan Tech Archives has no control over the results of their work.

Reading Room Holiday Hours

The Archives will close for the holiday season at 5:00 p.m., on Wednesday, December 23, 2010.

We will reopen at 10:00 a.m., on Monday, January 3, 2011.

Requests for information can be left via e-mail at or by telephone at 906-487-2505.

On behalf of the Archives’ staff, have a wonderful holiday season!


A 1915 Christmas scene taken by photographer J.T. Reeder. He titled the picture "Mary's 2nd Christmas tree."