Author: Lindsay Hiltunen

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.

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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.

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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

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Flashback Friday: The Milwaukee Road’s Ontonagon Station

Archive Image of the Milwaukee Road's Ontonagon Station
Exterior of the Ontonagon station.

Today’s Flashback Friday is a quick glimpse back to the Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific railroad station in Ontonagon. Once the terminus of the line’s famed Chippewa passenger route, the depot has performed only freight service for several years. The Chippewa now terminates its Chicago-Milwaukee and northern Michigan service at Channing.

The first photograph is an exterior view of the station. The second photo shows the crew as they pause for a moment in the sun before the return journey, the next stop of which will be Rockland or Mass. From left, James Benish, conductor; H. M. Leeman, engineer; L. Lindeman, fireman; F. J. Bender, Ontonagon agent; W. Schaltz, brakeman, and Donald Carey, brakeman. All crewmen are from Channing. The agent resides in Ontonagon. These images ran in the Daily Mining Gazette on this day in 1958.

 

Archive Image of the Milwaukee Road's crew.
The crew pause for a moment in the sun, November 8, 1958.

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Travel Grant Talk – “The Hats of Calumet and Women in Front” on November 1

Portrait of Katherine Belliel.
A portrait of 2019 Travel Grant recipient, Katherine Belliel.

Please join us for visiting scholar Katherine Belliel at 4:00 pm on Friday, November 1 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus for her travel grant talk, “The Hats of Calumet and Women in Front: Creative Writing About Women of the Copper Country.” This event is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

In this presentation, Belliel will discuss the research process and inspiration behind her two creative projects on the life of Calumet native, and Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, Anna Klobuchar Clemenc. The Hats of Calumet is a collection of short fiction pieces told from the perspective of a variety of hats worn by different historical characters narrating the crucial events in Anna’s life. This project illustrates how domestic violence, infertility, immigration, and the “third culture kid” (TCK) experience both influenced and spurred her activism, tying Anna to not only American Labor History, but also the current Women’s Movement of today. “Women in Front,” a braided essay comparing and contrasting the role of women in the 1913 Copper Country Strike with the 2013 Gezi protests in Turkey, will also be discussed. A short reading from both creative projects will follow the discussion.

Katherine Belliel is an American writer based in Turkey and the US. She is the co-editor of Expat Sofra: Culinary Tales of Foreign Women in Turkey (Alfa 2019), and her work has also appeared in several expat anthologies such as Tales from the Expat Harem (Eds. Ashman and Gokmen, 2005), Encounters with the Middle East (Bowman and Khashan, 2006), and Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy (eds. Hendren and Daly, 2016). She is currently an MFA candidate at Northern Michigan University.

Big Annie carries a large flag during a strikers parade during the 1913-1914 copper miners' strike.
Big Annie leads a a strikers parade on Calumet Avenue near the C&H hospital during the 1913-1914 copper miners’ strike. Photo is undated.

Belliel’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.

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Flashback Friday: Lake Superior Performance Rally

Image of a rally car driving by some spectators.
Lake Superior Performance Rally 2000.

This weekend the Copper Country will be alive with the sounds of revving engines and screeching tires, as the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) marks its 25th year. The event takes place October 18-19 in various stages throughout the Keweenaw. Today’s Flashback Friday zooms back to October 2000 as an unidentified driver of car 21 passes a group of spectators.

Rally has deep roots in the Upper Peninsula, with 2019 marking 70 years of the sport. In 1949 a time-speed-distance rally called the Press on Regardless started up. 20 years later the event became a full stage rally event, with recognition as a round in the World Rally Championship coming a few years later in 1973. While Press on Regardless opted out of stage rally and returned to its time-speed-distance history, the first Lake Superior Performance Rally was held in the Copper Country in 1994.

For the past few decades, LSPR has been the ultimate round on the American rally circuit as well as the final event of the season. Traditionally held in October, the spectacular fall colors and the possibilities of all kinds of weather events (even snow!…though hopefully not this year…) makes for a unique experience for drivers, navigators, and spectators. Viewing stages near sharp corners can be quite dangerous in certain weather, turf, and speed conditions, so be sure to stay alert at all times! The LSPR is a world-renowned event and a favorite for many, with the popular street stage in downtown Houghton allowing fans to get very close to the action. 

More information about LSPR 2019 can be found on the Lake Superior Performance Rally website.

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Flashback Friday: Homecoming

Today’s Flashback Friday offers a little homecoming and gridiron nostalgia for your weekend. Very few homecoming festivities on any campus across the country can rival Michigan Tech’s for zaniness, uniqueness, and all-around fun! In addition to the sacred gridiron tradition of the Michigan Tech Huskies homecoming football game, the celebration features the crowning of the homecoming royalty, a cardboard boat race on the Portage Canal, competitive challenges, and many other events that promote Husky Spirit.

Homecoming queen candidates, 1963.
Homecoming queen candidates in the parade, 1963.

The crowning of the homecoming royalty is one of the most anticipated aspects of homecoming week. The photo in the insert was taken of the homecoming queen and candidates at the 1963 parade by Roger La Mothe. Shown on the float from left to right we have Maria Mustonen, Peggy Foley, Kristine Rowbottom, Mary Lou Junttila and Barbara Perlich.

In celebration of the football game, the main Flashback Friday photograph shared at the front of this post takes us to September 1958 when the Michigan Tech football coaches were hard at work making a game plan for the upcoming Mankato State game. At left, Head Coach Omer LaJeunesse shows a new play to Back Coach Verdie Cox and End Coach Bill Lucier. LaJeunesse indicated that he might unveil an updated version of his standby offense based on the material at hand.

The coaching meeting took place on Thursday, September 11th to plan for the opening game at Tech’s Hubbell field that Saturday. Despite blackboard tactics and intense on-field practices, the Huskies fell to Mankato State, 26-16. But even though Coach LaJeunesse started off the season with a young squad and two defeats, the Huskies pushed back with three straight victories and continued to show improvement throughout the 1958 season. The

Michigan Tech football players pose on the field, 1974.
Football players, 1974.

team closed out the season with a 4-4 record, which was admirable in the first year of play in the Northern States Colleges Conference. While much of the buzz this week has been about hockey in all its forms, the focus this weekend is on the Michigan Tech Huskies against Grand Valley State for this year’s home opener match up. Kick-off is at 1pm at Sherman Field. 

Other homecoming traditions have included various kinds of parades, creative and athletic contests,  and races in all shapes and sizes. For a full schedule of this years homecoming events, please see the Homecoming page on the Student Leadership and Involvement website.

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Award Winning Author Mary Doria Russell Coming to Houghton

Author Mary Doria Russell poses for a publicity photograph.
Acclaimed author Mary Doria Russell. Photograph by Don Russell.

Award winning author Mary Doria Russell will be coming to Houghton for two special events centered around her recent novel The Women of the Copper Country. The Portage Lake District Library (PLDL) and the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library (Van Pelt and Opie Library) are excited to host her for a two-part presentation series. 

A formal lecture will take place on October 8 at 7 pm in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Tech campus. A social hour and book signing will follow the presentation. A second event, an informal book talk and book signing, will take place at the PLDL on October 9 from 6-8 pm. Refreshments will be served at both events and all are welcome to attend!

The front cover of the book The Women of the Copper Country.
The cover of Mary Doria Russell’s latest novel, The Women of the Copper Country.

The Women of the Copper Country centers on the life of American labor activist, Annie Clements, as well as paints a broader historical portrait of the lives of local people in the midst of a turbulent labor movement and social landscape. The historical novel is startlingly relevant today and would be of great interest to the campus and local communities. Some of the research for her book was conducted with assistance from the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. 

For more information about the events please contact Katie Edson (906) 487-1636, Lindsay Hiltunen (906) 487-3209, or Michael Stanitis (906) 482-4570. The author’s visit is made possible by a travel grant from the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library and The Women of the Copper Country Planning Committee.

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Summer Intern Farewell

A young woman sits at a desk with a newspaper.
Gabby is still working hard, even on her last day in the archives!

We say goodbye to our Summer Intern, Gabby, as today is her last day in the archives. Over the course of seven weeks she had a major impact on our customer services and assisted with a plethora of processing and backlog projects. She was a joyful presence this summer and we are sorry to see her go. Please take a moment to hear about Gabby’s take on the experience in her final blog update.


At the risk the risk of sounding like a broken record this week, I can’t believe that my time here at the Michigan Tech Archives is almost over and that fall and a return to classes is right around the corner. While I will definitely be a little sad to leave and miss all the autumn fun*, I consider myself lucky to be able to bring home so many lovely memories from this summer- from walks down by the canal and many shared baked goods to touring the Quincy Mine after handling so many of their and other mine’s records. I apologize in advance to my friends and family back home who will be subjected to looking at all the photos that I took as well as listening to my description of pasties and how cold mines are. 

Three women are pictured in a tram car with hard hats on, preparing to descend into the mine tour.
Our intern Gabby (left) was treated to a tour of Quincy Mine by archivists Emily (center) and Allison (right.)

I have truly enjoyed my time here and have learned so much from not only my colleagues, but also from our patrons. I am walking away far more knowledgeable about mining, genealogy, and Lake Superior than I would have ever expected (look out Jeopardy and all other assorted trivia activities!) Outside of helping patrons find the information they are looking for, one of my favorite parts of this internship has been the opportunity to handle so many interesting materials from the collection. While they are all fun in their own way, some of our sports photos are particular favorites of mine- who doesn’t love a good vintage hockey action shot and/or fight photo especially if the players have great 70s and 80s hair? 

All joking aside, I would like to thank everyone for making me feel so welcome here in the archives and the library as a whole. An additional thanks to our patrons who came by and were patient with someone who was new and learning the ‘archival ropes’ so to speak. This internship has been a great opportunity to gain more hands on archival experience and I can not wait to take what I have learned with me back to UCLA as I go into my second (and last!) year of my master’s program! 

*To preemptively answer: It’s inconclusive as to whether I will be as sad to miss seeing all the snow, although I may daydream about it in the midst of a late October heatwave

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Flashback Friday: The Vagabond

Boats - Fishing

For many Yoopers, if you refer to the news, the water cooler chat, or your social media feeds, there is plenty of mention of seafaring vessels the past few days. Today’s Flashback Friday is a short and sweet glimpse back to a boat that is a little more my personal style.

On this day in 1958, the Jamsen fishing craft Vagabond was put out into Lake Superior with a party of Upper Peninsula Traveling Workshop instructors aboard. The image shows the boat proceeding toward fishing nets that were placed beyond the opening to Copper Harbor. Fishing workshops were common in the 1950s, and many of the expedition vessels put out into Lake Superior were no bigger than the Vagabond. There is certainly more than one way to get out and enjoy Gitche Gumee!

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