Category Archives: Grants Received

November 7 Open House Celebrates Completed Cataloging Project

Army cadets in the military-mining course at the Michigan College of Mines visited the Quincy mine in 1918. Image #MTU-166-03-0001, Michigan Tech Archives.

The public is invited to an open house at the Michigan Tech Archives at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, November 7, 2011. The event will mark the completion of a two-year project to improve description of the Archives’ extensive holdings of regional manuscript material. The initiative was funded through a $167,600 grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, a division of the National Archives and Records Administration

During the project, Archives’ staff conducted a box-by-box survey of its entire collection, totaling more than 7,000 cubic feet and including personal papers, diaries, organizational records, business materials, mining company records, maps, newspapers, and other historical documents. Conservation and preservation assessments were made and some donations merged together into larger, single collections. 

The project identified more than 700 discrete collections and created standardized descriptions providing information about the size, content, and dates of coverage for each collection. These descriptions are now accessible to researchers through the Archives’ web site, the online catalog of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, and OCLC WorldCat, an international online resource for printed materials. Through this work, the holdings of the Michigan Tech Archives have been revealed to potential researchers throughout the world. 

The November 7 event is open to the general public and refreshments will be served. A small display will highlight interesting materials discovered and described during the project. These include the June 1853 journal of civil engineer L.L. Nichols describing construction of the ship canal and locks at Sault Ste. Marie, a 1915 beer delivery log book from the Bosch Brewing Company, coded telegrams from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company,  illustrated weekly reports showing military-mining courses at the Michigan College of Mines during World War I, printing samples from the Keweenaw Printing Company, and original fieldnote books from the ongoing wolf-moose ecological study on Isle Royale. 

The event will also introduce Elizabeth Russell, recently hired as a full-time archivist at the Michigan Tech Archives.  Russell was the primary cataloger on the two-year grant project and has accepted a regular position with the Archives. 

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at 

Archives Welcomes New Archivist (well, sort of)

Elizabeth Russell begins the position of full-time Archivist at the Michigan Tech Archives Tuesday, November 1, 2011. She was selected from a pool of candidates following a national search. Although new to this professional archivist position, Russell has been employed with Michigan Tech as project cataloging archivist on a two-year grant-funded initiative to complete collection-level descriptions of the department’s manuscript collections. The project, funded by the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, was completed on October 31.

“Beth has contributed significantly to the success of the NHPRC grant as well as being a highly regarded member of the service team in the Archives,” noted Ellen Marks, University Librarian and Library Director. “She has an interesting background in different types of archives, sailing and cooking that has led her to her new, permanent home in the Copper Country.”

Russell’s hire into this position continues efforts to improve description of the Archives’ manuscript collections. “Beth’s experience is perfect for the types of cataloging and collections work at hand,” indicates Erik Nordberg, University Archivist. “She has extensive direct experience with cataloging archival material and is closely familiar with software and standards such as MARC, OCLC, and LCHS.”  Her two years’ cataloging work in Houghton has also provided her with a detailed knowledge of local history and local cataloging rules which will be essential to the Archives’ future success.

Before moving to Michigan, Russell was collections cataloger for Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Art History from Providence College and a Master of Library and Information Studies with a concentration in special collections, manuscripts, and archives from the University of Rhode Island. She has completed training from the Society of American Archivists in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS).

Russell fills the position of Archivist which became vacant when Julia Blair accepted the position of Strategic Initiatives Librarian for the J.Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library.

Kicking and Screaming Into the 21st Century: Transforming Legacy Data

In April, Julie Blair and Beth Russell from the Michigan Tech Archives attended the Society of Indiana Archivists annual meeting in Indianapolis.  The two presented a session about the current grant the Archives is working on, an NHPRC funded “basic” grant to improve collection description and access, especially pertinent for a geographically remote location like Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.  As the Assistant Archivist at Michigan Tech, Julie Blair discussed the grant application process and the software evaluation, especially the decisions made prior to the hire of the project cataloging archivist.  She described the lessons learned from the process and forecast the path forward.  As the Project Cataloging Archivist, Beth Russell outlined the challenges of transforming legacy data in multiple formats into DACS compliant records and creating MARC records for dissemination through OCLC’s WorldCat and Michigan Tech’s WebVoyage OPAC.  She also talked about problems encountered with the software and the challenges of changing software in the middle of a grant project.

A link on the Society of Indiana Archivists’ website includes their  PowerPoint presentation.  Click the link to “Kicking and Screaming Into the 21st Century: Transforming Legacy Data” to check out their presentation. Any questions or comments, contact either Julie, Beth, or the Archives.

Michigan Tech Archives Receives $116,000 Grant to Reveal Hidden Collections



The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections has received a federal grant to support a two-year project to improve the description of its historical collections and share more of this information across the web. The grant has been awarded by the National Historical Records and Publications Commission (NHPRC), the grantmaking arm of the National Archives. The outright grant of $116,500 is for 47 percent of the budgeted project cost of $250,342.


“This is a huge step forward for our department,” said Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Tech. “Monies from this federal grant program are intended to “reveal hidden collections” at mid-sized institutions, particularly those which are geographically remote like ours here in Houghton. Because we’re a bit farther off the beaten path, we need to find ways to reach potential researchers.”


As part of the project, the Archives will hire two additional staff and implement Proficio, a specialized collection management software program created for archives and museums. Descriptions of each of the Archives’ 900 manuscript collections will be created in the new system, with information shared to Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library catalog and to WorldCat, a national bibliographic utility which comingles information from libraries and archives around the world.


“Not only will this push information out about our collections to researchers around the world,” Nordberg said, “but it will also build the foundation to gather and organize even more detail about our collections after the grant project is completed.”


A regional history manuscript collection, the Michigan Tech Archives collects information on the history of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula, including its historic copper mining industry. The collections to be described include a wide variety of format and content, including personal papers and diaries, business and industrial records, photographs, maps, and wide format items.


A full listing of projects funded by NHPRC this spring is linked from here: 


For further information contact the MTU Archives at (906) 487-2505 or via e-mail at The Archives reading room is located on the ground floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library, in the heart of the Michigan Tech Campus.