Author: Lindsay Hiltunen

Flashback Friday – Ghoulish Gourds

Entries into a campus pumpkin carving contest.

Perhaps there is no surer sign of Halloween than pumpkins carved with ghostly and grinning faces, lit up with candles and perched on porches and in darkened windows. People have been making jack-o’-lanterns during the late fall season for centuries. Seasonal vegetables like large turnips and potatoes were used in the early lanterns where the practice originated in Ireland and later taken up in Scotland and England (where beets were used.) Celtic rituals, tricks and warding off evil, and deals with the devil all played a part in the origins of the iconic Halloween symbol. For instance, the name jack-o’-lantern comes from an old Irish folktale about someone named Stingy Jack and European immigrants brought the tradition to America, where pumpkins were plentiful. The tradition has been a part of Halloween in the United States since the 1800s, but the use and meaning of the carved gourds has changed over time. 

Today’s Flashback Friday takes a peek at some of the prize-winning carvings created by Michigan Tech students. Looking back to the 1980s and 1990s, it was common for students to have carving contests as part of their Halloween festivities in dorms and at off-campus housing. Some student organizations hosted similar events. These ghoulish examples are courtesy of the Michigan Technological University Photograph Collection. Perhaps you know the creator of one of these monstrous masterpieces! Happy Halloween!


Flashback Friday – Campioni’s

Campioni’s Market on the corner of Michigan Street and Minnesota Street in Hancock, Michigan

The date of this photograph is unknown, but it was donated to the archives on this date in 1985. Flashback Friday takes us back to the days of the neighborhood market. This building is a reminder of the era before Big Box Stores and warehouse size supermarkets.

This building was the original Campioni’s Market in West Hancock. Established by Guido and Mabel Campioni in the late 1920’s, it was a go-to for Hancock residents for all sorts of dry goods, meats, and sundries. The market stayed in the family for several decades, later run by Joseph and Margaret Campioni. After Joseph and Margaret passed away, their son Bill, and later his sister, Mary Anne Crooks took over operations.

This particular image shows the end of the Campioni era, as Crooks sold the building to the Keweenaw Co-op when she was preparing to leave to grocery business. The image shows the hallmark G. Campioni sign on top of the building, but there is also a side-shingle indicating the Keweenaw Co-op.

Some clues in dating the photograph can be found on the Keweenaw Co-op website. Their history section states, after starting in 1973 as a pre-order bulk-buying club, the co-op first operated out of the back room of Funkey’s Karma Cafe in downtown Houghton. After quick growth, the co-op soon moved to a small retail space in Hancock, and, after two more moves, settled in its current location in 1986. It seems a circa 1980 date, give or take a few years, is a fair guess in dating this great community photo.

The official opening of Funkey’s Karma Cafe, August 1973.


#AskAnArchivist Day 2020

On October 7, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to respond to questions tweeted with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. Staff of the Michigan Tech Archives encourage everyone to take this opportunity to engage with us via Twitter or Facebook to ask questions about the archival profession, collections at Michigan Tech and local history generally. 

Questions will vary widely, from the silly (What is the strangest thing in your collection?) to the practical (How can I preserve my family photographs?) 

Please tweet us @mtuarchives or follow the Michigan Tech Archives on Facebook and be sure to use the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. We hope you will join the conversation!

#AskAnArchivist Day is celebrated every October during American Archives Month.

American Archives Month Banner from the Society of American Archivists

Flashback Friday – Our Boy With The Deer

Archive Image

This Flashback Friday has me, on a deeply personal level, feeling a little wistful and missing the daily routine of welcoming the morning, my colleagues, and the collections at the Michigan Tech Archives. I’m a creature of habit and one of my morning rituals was to say a quiet good morning to David.

For those familiar with our public reading room and the reference desk, they will recognize the picture featured today as it hangs proudly, and has for many years, on the wall adjacent to the main archives doors. Each morning I turn the key in the lock, cross the threshold, and as the heavy wooden door closes itself, I glance up at David to wish him good-morrow before heading to my office.

David, the precocious subject of this beloved photograph from May 1958, is a favorite of many archives staff members past and present. David Roche Murphy, a Keweenaw native and brother of Terence Roche Murphy (longtime friend of the archives), passed away in March 2017 after a life rich with travel and a love of nature.

Born of two families prominent in Calumet, Laurium, and Eagle Harbor, as a very young boy David found a swift and sincere love of nature, as evidenced by the photograph of him and a young deer ankles-deep in Lake Superior at Eagle Harbor. Having spent many youthful hours at the shores of the Big Lake it is perhaps of little surprise that David, after earning multiple degrees from Michigan State University and stints as a reporter and intelligence officer in New York and Southeast Asia respectively, found his true calling at sea. He spent most of his active career as a Senior Logistics Officer (Chief Purser with Commander rank) in the Merchant Marine. He served on U.S. Naval Service vessels and elsewhere in close collaboration with U.S. intelligence services from Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, North Pacific waters during surveillance of North Korean nuclear weapons activity, and was an officer decorated by the U.S. Navy for at-sea support of the battle fleet in 1990-91 Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Upon coming ashore at last for his retirement years, David returned to the Copper Country where he found comfort in community, creative pursuits, and the great outdoors. He was a longtime volunteer with Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, read voraciously, and was proud to be a lifetime “Eagle Harborite.” His initial home in retirement was in Eagle Harbor where Lake Superior remained within sight and sound.

One of the things they don’t teach professional archivists and librarians in graduate school are the lively friendships you’ll forge with patrons and partners, nor the myriad of losses you will experience over the course of your career. I was grateful to be a guest of the Roche Murphy family at David’s Celebration of Life in Summer 2017 at Saint Peter’s-by-the-Sea in Eagle Harbor. I also take comfort in knowing that the Michigan Nature Association has dedicated “Mariner’s Preserve at Silver River Falls” in Commander Murphy’s permanent honor.

The current situation and the stay at home order has kept me from some of the things I love most about being an archivist, but I find peace in being able to take this time to reflect on why I find such satisfaction in the act of remembering, preserving, and sharing about the past. The stories we find in the stacks enrich us and make us who we are. The lives and memories of others remind us what it is to be human. As a native of the Copper Country and an alum of Michigan Tech, I take great pride and care to serve as one of several stewards and keepers of memory of this most magical place. I will never forget what it means to be a part of this, nor what it means to be home. And I will forever say good morning to our “boy with the deer.”


Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant Program 2020 – Call for Applicants

Archive Image

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, a department within the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, is currently accepting applications for its annual Travel Grant Program, which brings scholars and researchers to Michigan Technological University to work with the archives’ collections. Financial support for the Travel Grant Program is provided by the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library, a support organization for the Van Pelt and Opie Library. Grants are awarded for up to $1000 to defray the costs of travel to visit and conduct research in Houghton, Michigan. In addition, graduate students applying to the program may request up to an additional $200 to help defray any duplication costs incurred during a qualified research trip.

The Michigan Tech Archives houses a wide variety of historical print, graphic and manuscript resources related to the Copper Country and Michigan Technological University. Subject coverage is vast, some of which includes university and campus life, regional towns and cities, local industries and businesses, social organizations, events and personalities of the Copper Country and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Primary topical research areas include the western Upper Peninsula, industrial history, particularly copper mining and its ancillary industries, social history, community development along the Keweenaw Peninsula, transportation and the environment. Finding aids for some of the collections can be found here: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/collections/.

To apply for funding through the Travel Grant Program please visit the program website: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/programs-and-services/travel-grants/

Applications are due on March 27, 2020. Award recipients will be notified by late April. The successful candidate must complete their travel by December 4, 2020. Electronic submission of applications is required.

For further information, please contact:

Lindsay Hiltunen, University Archivist
Michigan Tech Archives
J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI  49931
Phone: (906) 487-3209
E-mail: copper@mtu.edu


Call for Applicants: CLIR Digitization Specialist

Miners leaving work after a long day at C&H.

The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, a department within the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Technological University, is currently seeking applicants for a Digitization Specialist to produce digital surrogates of archival documents. This position will support the Archives digitization program associated with the recently awarded Council on Library and Information Resources Digitizing Hidden Special Collections grant project “Michigan Miners at Home and Work: Digitizing, Mapping, and Sharing Employee Records.” This will include routine and repetitive tasks working with a large collection of archival materials pertaining to the regional copper mining industry.

The Digitization Specialist will be responsible for creating digital images according to deadlines and at specific levels of quality to meet the Library’s goals and the grant project’s guidelines for preserving collections and providing online access. The Digitization Specialist is also responsible for transcribing textual information from digitized archival records, safeguarding sensitive information, and creating appropriate descriptive metadata to enhance discovery of records in a variety of contexts. This position will provide specialized support for still image materials utilizing a variety of imaging equipment, software, techniques, and standards. The Digitization Specialist will work closely with professional staff, faculty, and various student assistants, assisting in the training and quality control of student work. This position involves using a variety of office technology, moving and shelving archival materials, properly handling fragile archival materials, and will require the ability to lift and carry up to 35 pounds and push carts up to 100 pounds.

The Digitization Specialist must possess a strong attention to detail and have excellent organizational and project-management skills; have strong interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills; have an ability to work effectively independently and as part of a team; and possess a demonstrated commitment to providing outstanding service.

This is a 40 hour per week, temporary position intended to span one year with the possibility to renew depending on funding and the needs of the project. There are no benefits included with this position and the successful candidate will be expected to cover travel expenses to Houghton, Michigan. The position will be compensated for actual work performed at the hourly rate of $18.00 per hour. Offers of employment are contingent upon and not considered finalized until the required background check has been performed and the results received and assessed.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

  • Provide support for the archives grant-funded digitization project.
  • Scan archival documents using scanning equipment, such as flatbed scanners, large format scanners, computers, and document cameras.
  • EEdit digital content, including cropping, image rotation, contrast adjustment, blurring, and other techniques using Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop) and other software.
  • Maintain order and control in naming and storage of digital files.
  • Create and edit descriptive information about digitized materials (metadata creation), for example, recording item formats, creation dates, dimensions, source information, notes, etc. Review descriptive metadata for spelling and other errors.
  • Transcribe information from historical documents. Review transcriptions for spelling and other errors.
  • Research and assign appropriate subject headings according to best practices and standards. 
  • Maintain proper collections handling and order in the scanning station and storage spaces; responsible for retrieval and shelving of collections. 
  • Maintain security of confidential and sensitive information.
  • Work with colleagues in various departments to reach all outlined project goals on time and with accuracy. 
  • Assist university archivist and manager of technology and innovation with development of project workflows and guidelines.
  • Assist manager of technology and innovation and others as needed with the set up and oversight of project scanning station(s); keep work area and equipment clean and orderly.
  • Assist project leaders with the supervision and training of student assistants; provide assistance with quality control of student work.
  • Keep records about preservation concerns, including making notes of damaged items and working with the university archivist to suggest storage improvements for materials at risk.
  • Represent the University and library at all times with service excellence and demonstrate a focus on safety; demonstrate highly effective collaboration with staff within the department and across the library.
  • Duties must be performed courteously, accurately and in a timely manner.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • Apply safety-related knowledge, skills, and practices to everyday work.
  • Commit to learning about continuous improvement strategies and applying them to everyday work. Actively engage in University continuous improvement initiatives.

Required Education (minimum requirements)
Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience from which comparable knowledge and abilities can be acquired.

Desired Education
Bachelor’s degree; college level coursework in history, especially US history or Michigan history; knowledge of copper mining, industrial heritage, or labor history.

Required Experience (minimum requirements)
Two years of office/clerical experience. 
Two years experience using a computer with basic software packages including word processing and database and spreadsheet applications.
One year of experience using digital imaging software such as Adobe Creative Suite (especially Photoshop) or similar.

Desired Experience

  • Two years or more of experience using digital imaging software such as Adobe Creative Suite (especially Photoshop) or similar.
  • One year of experience in a library, archives, or museum environment.
  • Demonstrated experience handling archival materials.
  • Familiarity or experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS). 

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (minimum requirements)

  • Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills with experience working with diverse populations.
  • Experience working effectively and with patience while conducting repetitive tasks with some interruption.
  • The ability to read cursive writing.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively across cultural boundaries and work harmoniously with diverse groups of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Commitment to learning new skills.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Demonstrated commitment to contribute to a safe work environment.

Work Environment
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this position the incumbent is required to use a computer workstation (and its software applications through a keyboard/mouse), telephone and a variety of equipment including scanners, photocopiers and others. They may elect to stand or sit (or a combination) but these activities constitute the majority of the work of this position during the workday. Some interruptions, including questions, phone calls and electronic communication are common and the incumbent must be able to return to assigned work when the interruption concludes. Lifting of boxes is required; pushing of carts is required; manually moving large shelving units on a pulley system is required. To support the need for accuracy of text and numbers, specific vision abilities required include close vision and the ability to adjust focus. The noise level in the work area, an open desk within a larger suite of employees, is moderate.

To learn more about us, please visit our website: http://www.mtu.edu/library/archives/

Applications are due by February 28, 2020. Direct any questions, or to apply, submit your cover letter and resume to:

Lindsay Hiltunen, University Archivist
Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
Van Pelt and Opie Library
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
lehalkol@mtu.edu
(906) 487-3209

Email applications are preferred.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

The CLIR grant program and its 2019 Awards are made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.  To learn more, visit www.clir.org or visit them on Facebook and Twitter


Flashback Friday: The Queens of Winters Past

The 1947 queen is crowned.
The Winter Carnival Queen for 1947, Queen Barbara Green, is crowned. Pure joy!

The past few weeks the Michigan Tech campus has been gearing up for Winter Carnival 2020! The month-long statue contest began in earnest a few weeks ago, with some of the contests like snow volleyball, curling, snow soccer, and ice bowling taking place this past week.

A portrait of the 1959 carnival queen.
Carnival Queen 1959, Lee Schirmer.

One of the Winter Carnival highlights, the Queens Coronation, takes place on Saturday, February 1 at 7 p.m. in the Rozsa Center. Although not the longest running Winter Carnival tradition — the one night Ice Carnival started in 1922 and the queens did not appear until 1928 — the coronation is one of the most beloved. Bringing together campus and the community, the queens competition has been a fun spectacle almost since the beginning. To celebrate this special event, our Flashback Friday today is a pictorial, looking back at queens and courts of carnivals past!

The 1955 Carnival Queen candidates pose outside with a young man in a sled.
Winter Carnival Queen Candidates from 1955, left to right: Nancy Boyd, Kathy Laine, Dorothy Roy, Carm Guilbault (queen), Mary Aldrich. The women pose with one of the contestants from the Beard Competition.
The 1959 carnival court poses outside in the snow.
The 1959 Court.
The 1968 candidates pose outside in the snow.
The queen candidates pose by a statue in progress, 1968.
A portrait of the 1968 carnival queen.
Julie Anderson, Winter Carnival Queen 1968.
The 1970 carnival queen judges the beard contest.
Wendy Mickle, Winter Carnival Queen 1970, helps to judge the annual Beard Competition.
The 1971 queen candidates pose with a horse and sleigh.
Winter Carnival Queen Candidates of 1971.
Danni Croom, first African-American Winter Carnival Queen
Danni Croom’s reign begins, Winter Carnival Queen 1971.
The 1983 queen candidates pose outside.
Winter Carnival Queen Candidates, 1983.
The 1984 queen and runners up.
Winter Carnival Queen and runners-up, 1984.
Winter Carnival 2009 Queen: Melissa Meyer
Winter Carnival Queen 2009, Melissa Meyer .

This is just a quick glimpse into some of the wonderful photographs we have from queens and carnivals gone by. For more great images of past carnivals, you can check out the digitized Winter Carnival Pictorials on the Archives Section of Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech or stop into the archives anytime during our public reading room hours.


Flashback Friday – Hidden Gems: Archives Receives New Funding to Digitize Hidden Special Collections

Miners leaving the shaft, 1915.
Calumet and Hecla miners leave the shaft after work, 1915.

Today’s Flashback Friday serves a special purpose. Our image looks back to 1915 as Calumet and Hecla miners leave the shaft after a long day’s work, hidden below the surface. In the spirit of revealing hidden gems, be it precious metals or the hardworking laborers of the copper mines, we are excited to announce the Michigan Tech Archives, in collaboration with the Keweenaw Time Traveler, has been awarded a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

This project, called Michigan Miners at Home and Work: Digitizing, Mapping, and Sharing Employee Records, will support 1 Digitization Specialist, 6 Undergraduate students, and 1 Master’s student over 2 years. The project team will work with a subset of records from one of our most prized collections, MS-002: The Calumet and Hecla Mining Companies Collection. The goal of the project is to make a rare collection of 40,000 employee records available online for both academic and public use. This particular subseries of archival records provides valuable insights into the lives of mine company workers and their families unavailable in other public records, including details like the types of work performed, wages, previous employers, as well as notes about injuries and fatalities. The project is made possible through a collaborative effort between the Michigan Tech Archives, the Michigan Tech Social Sciences Department, and the Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab.

Miners eating lunch. Date unknown.

The Michigan Tech Archives will be working with the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s Manager of Technology and Innovation to create the new Copper Mining Employee Card database, which will be hosted on the library’s Preservica platform. The new database will serve as a sister database to our digital image repository, Copper Country Historical Images. Additionally, this project will provide for further access options to the employee cards by integrating the records into the Keweenaw Time Traveler. Since these employee records contain addresses and family information, the student team working with the Time Traveler will be able to connect each record at the household level with census and city directory information already loaded into the online maps. We anticipate these new resources to be available to the public in early 2022.

An example of an employee card.
An example of an employee record.

Updates about the project will be shared on our social media platforms, the Keweenaw Time Traveler Project Blog, and various local news outlets. Public programming will include several “Night at the Archives” programs which will include special evening hours to discuss the project and how the public and scholars may use the collection. Guests at our public programs can also become citizen historians by transcribing some of the cards and including them in our data set! Program dates will be shared as they become available.

Principal investigators for this $240,014 grant are Sarah Fayen Scarlett (SS), Don Lafreniere (SS), and Lindsay Hiltunen (University Archivist). David Holden is also an important project contributor. The CLIR grant program and its 2019 Awards are made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning.  To learn more, visit www.clir.org or visit them on Facebook and Twitter


For more information, please contact Lindsay Hiltunen at lehalkol@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-2505.

Logos for the project sponsor and the project partners.

Flashback Friday – The Portage Lake Lift Bridge

The Milwaukee Road train passes under the bridge for the first time.
The Milwaukee Road uses the new bridge for the first time. The remains of the old bridge can still be seen.

Today’s Flashback Friday honors one of our most beloved and practical local landmarks, the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, which opened to traffic on this day in 1959. 

The night before the Governor of Michigan was to christen the bridge, many families in Houghton and Hancock were awakened by the sound of a ship’s horn. A Michigan Tech alum recalls that the bridge operator was supposed to sound the horn on the bridge that all was well, but the operator fell asleep and forgot to signal back to the ship.

The photo above is a 1959 view from Hancock of the old and current bridges from the John T. Reeder Collection.

The lift type bridge replaced the Portage Canal Swing Bridge, which was built by the King Bridge Company in the mid-1890s. The cost to replace the swing bridge was roughly 12 million dollars, although sources vary on the exact amount. The lift bridge was built by the American Bridge Company and it is still in operation today, with some minor outages for maintenance and testing. While the lower portion of the bridge used to be for trains to pass, it is now mainly used only in the winter for snowmobiles.

A popular focal point, the Portage Lake Lift Bridge is the subject of many photographs, artworks, company and community logos, and souvenirs. It is so beloved in fact, that Hancock and Houghton hold an annual celebration, Bridgefest, to honor the opening of the bridge and to show appreciation for it working to unite the two communities.


Michigan Oral History Association Conference 2020 – Call for Proposals

The Michigan Oral History Association is currently seeking proposals for the MOHA 2020 Conference. We welcome proposals for presentations, sessions and papers on oral history projects:

  • Focused on Michigan, and/or
  • Led by Michigan-based scholars
  • Research projects (issues analyzed with oral history methods and interviews)
  • Collections of oral histories focusing on a particular time period/community/group

The Program Committee seeks a diverse slate of presenters representing a variety of personal and institutional backgrounds, perspectives, and voices.  We encourage submission from anyone interested in presenting – including students, new and seasoned professionals, first-time presenters, and those from allied professions. See our brainstorming Google Sheet below to share ideas and start building possible panels.

Proposals may be one of the following:

  1. Presentation Panels with up to three powerpoint presentations (15 minutes per presentation), plus a chair and/or discussant.
  2. Non-Traditional Panels 5-8 contributors to a session formatted as a roundtable, lightening round or Pecha Kucha. In addition to contributors, non-traditional panels may also have one moderator.
  3. Individual Presentation or Partnered/Panel Presentation on a common theme. An example could be a longer presentation on a case-study of a successful oral history project, discussing challenges, successes, methods, and a Q & A.
  4. Paper Panel with up to three academic papers presented (15 minutes per presentation), plus a chair and/or discussant. Co-authored papers are welcome.  If you have a large group of colleagues who want to present papers, divide your group into two panels.

Proposals should include (see accompanying Submission Form):

  • “Participant List”
  • “Abstracts” (containing type of session format proposed and Session Title, accompanied by a 300-word abstract PLUS all individual paper/contribution titles, each accompanied with a 200-word abstract.

All participants who are accepted into the Conference program must become MOHA members by the time of the conference.

PROPOSAL DUE DATE:  December 16, 2019 

Send your proposal files as email attachments (.docx only please) to Lindsay Hiltunen at lehalkol@mtu.edu.  Questions may be directed to Ms. Hiltunen at her e-mail or (906) 487-3209.
Request e-copy of Submission Form to info@michiganoha.org.
Brainstorming:  No sign-on required link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tT8FsPzfSUQobrIDJSr_6c8FN5hvPae9SSGY_yv_yjU/edit?usp=sharing