Category Archives: University History & Records

Preservation or Petrification? Creepy Archived Jack-O’-Lantern Images.

These jack-o’-lanterns were carved by Michigan Tech students in 1989 and photographed by Michigan Tech Lode staff. A couple of them look more traditional, but others use creepy and creative add-ons.

Current students, why not glean some “hallowed” inspiration from Tech generations gone by? Consider using a sliver of orange pumpkin rind for a devilish tongue, rubber gloves made to look like eerie pumpkin feet, or give your hollow headed friend some head gear, like a mop wig or a felt hood.


Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.

Winter Carnival, Then and Now

The Michigan Tech Archives will be open for special hours over Winter Carnival Weekend from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 7nd. 

Ever since Winter Carnival debuted as the Ice Carnival in 1922, Michigan Tech students have found reason to hope for piles of snow and below freezing temperatures. Though traditions other than the iconic snow statues have held fast throughout the decades; the winter Carnival Queen coronation, races, broomball tournaments, the Snow Ball, the beard contest and others have all withstood the test of time.

Scroll through some of these winter carnival memories and see for yourself how constant everyone’s favorite Winter Carnival tradition has remained.

Clicking on an image will take you to the available bibliographic information for that image.


Winter Carnival Snow Statues 


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: Book LD3328H3-261-7


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU-208-2014-04


Snow Statue Construction


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU004-002-69-28-01


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU-118-2014-11-04-064


Queen Coronation


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU004-002-69-36-22



Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU-118-2014-11-04-042


Team Races


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MS050-12-21-01-F903


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: ACC 10-010-251


Individual Races 


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: Acc 35-08-31-1986-001


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: ACC 10-010-222




Keweenaw Digital Archives #: Book LD3328H3-237-6


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU-118-2014-11-04-057


Stage Review


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: MTU Neg 03266


Keweenaw Digital Archives #: ACC 10-010-207


Exhibit Explores Michigan Tech History

A new exhibit in the reading room of the Michigan Tech Archives explores 125 years of history at Michigan Technological University. Documents and memorabilia make up the exhibit, showing how the University has grown and changed with time. The University’s unique culture can be seen in everything from a class catalogue from 1890 – when the University was still the Michigan Mining School and focused on training mining engineers – to a range of Winter Carnival promotional buttons. The exhibit was created by Archives’ student assistant Annette Perkowski.

The Michigan Tech Archives is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and is located on the ground floor of Van Pelt and Opie Library. For further information e-mail or call 906-487-2505.

A sample of the memorabilia and documents included in the exhibit.

Historical Collections Now Searchable

A group of new online search tools has enhanced the search and discovery of historical records in the collections of the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in Houghton, Michigan. The improved access is the result 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. 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 have been revealed to potential researchers throughout the world via a number of online tools.  A full listing of the collections, including collection number, title, and brief description, is now available on the Michigan Tech Archives blog:

Catalog records for each collection are also available on the Voyager catalog at Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library: Visitors may limit their searches by the location “Archives Manuscript Collection.” These records allow searches of collection names, keywords in their brief descriptions and histories, and also using standardized subject headings.

Versions of these catalog records are also searchable through WorldCat, an international bibliographic database maintained by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), a global cooperative of libraries, archives, and museums. The general public can search the main WorldCat catalog: Participating OCLC member institutions may also search these records through the FirstSearch version of WorldCat which allows researchers to limit type to “Archival Materials” and limit availability to library code “EZT” for Michigan Tech archival collection records.

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

Archives Moves Toward New Technologies

Working on mark-up of an EAD file during Michael Fox's recent archival description workshop.

The Archives was closed Thursday-Friday, September 8-9, 2011, so that staff could be  trained in several new software tools.

Michael Fox, recently retired from the Minnesota Historical Society, spent three days with staff of the Michigan Tech Archives (as well as some other friends). Fox reviewed some basic elements of how manuscript collections differ from museum and library collections. It is important to realize that unlike other item-level collections, archives have complex inter-relations within their manuscript collections. Very few archives catalog material to the item level. Instead, they gather descriptive data at the collection level, as well as information about groupings of documents in folders or within collections as records series. The hierarchical relationship between individual documents, the folders they reside in, the series of which they were created, as well as the overall collections which hold them require complex systems of description.

Encoded archival description (EAD) is a standard which has emerged in recent years to help archivists create and hold this type of hierarchical descriptive information. It uses extensible mark-up language (xml)  to take previous types of written inventories and finding aids and turn them into a standardized data format (it also relies on a descriptive standard called “describing archives: a content standard,” or DACS, to ensure that the contents of individual fields is consistent across the board). With information about our collections held in EAD format, the Michigan Tech Archives will be able to export information to web sites and other places where potential researchers might discover our collections.

This work is not for the faint of heart, however, and will involve many changes in the way that we do our work at the Michigan Tech Archives. One of these changes will be the migration of collections information to a new open source archival collections management software tool called Archivists’ Toolkit. AT will allow us to gather a variety of information about our collections, including both descriptive information and internal administrative notes about preservation and processing. From AT, we’ll be able to output descriptive information compliant to the EAD standard. We’ll also be able to export catalog records compliant to the library world’s MARC standard.  In these formats, we’ll be able to update and share information through sites like OCLC’s Worldcat and ArchiveGrid.

Although this may sound like technical mumbo-jumbo to some of our non-archivist researchers, it will mean a dramatic improvement to the variety and level of information that researchers may discover about our holdings.

We were pleased to have Fox’s training workshop supported through grant monies from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission. Over the course of the last two years, NHPRC’s funding of our current ‘basic archives’ grant has provided the first steps in this move toward better and more standardized description. During this period, we have already created collection-level records for each of the manuscript collections held at the Michigan Tech Archives (you can read some of these on our blog over here). With NHPRC funding for Michael Fox’s visit, we made the first steps toward implementation of Archivists’ Toolkit, EAD, and the next steps in our program.

Look for additional updates here.

Workshop: Introduction to Archival Research

Ever wonder how to start a historical research project? Not sure where to find the right documents to answer your question? Unclear how a research archives operates?  Join Michigan Tech archivists Julie Blair and Erik Nordberg at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1, for an introduction to archival research. The workshop will take place in Room 244 of the Van Pelt and Opie Library.

This session will provide a general overview of research using historical records. The workshop will include an introduction to historical research methods and attendees will learn how to locate, integrate, and cite archival material in their research. Presenters will discuss what is meant by phrases like “manuscript collection” and “primary source,” how to describe different types of archival sources, and learn about the similarities and important differences between archives, libraries, and museums.

Attendees will also learn how to use the Keweenaw Digital Archives to easily find historic images online, how to create an account, make a digital album, and add their own comments and observations to the photos. The session will draw upon numerous examples from the holdings of the Michigan Tech Archives, which collects historical material about Michigan Tech and the people, communities, and industries of the surrounding Copper Country.

This workshop will also be repeated at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 7, and is part of a weekly series of programs offered by the Van Pelt and Opie Library. For more information on the Library’s workshop series, visit their blog.

Flower Power and the Lizard King: student publications at Michigan Tech

The third issue of "flush"  takes a decidedly radical tone despite the ethereal mood suggested by its cover. This issue was published at the advent of The Summer of Love.
The third issue of "flush" takes a decidedly radical tone despite the ethereal mood suggested by its cover. This issue was published at the advent of The Summer of Love.

I attended the Midwest Archives Conference earlier this year. In addition to the session I participated in, I attended a fascinating presentation by Jenna Freedman, Barnard College zine librarian. She talked about aspects of zines that appeal to archivists, like issues of collecting and preserving zines, but she also just talked about zine culture itself. I have to admit I was hooked. Her handouts were even real DIY mini-zines – hand-lettered with random stickers, printed on the back of paper obviously from the recycling bin.

I was pleased to find evidence of an underground press here at Tech when I came across flush, an off-campus newspaper self-published by a band of merry Michigan Tech pranksters in 1968 and ’69. While not a zine in the truest sense of an expression by an individual, flush nonetheless captures the spirit of its time. The inaugural issue claims “flush wants only to enter your mind, to make you aware, to make you THINK.”  It’s irreverent and provocative, hand-drawn and full of quotes from the likes of Ché Guevara and Jefferson Airplane. Interspersed with material carefully calculated to shock the establishment of the day are some thoughtful pieces whose writing reflects compassion and commitment toward making positive change in the world. What stood out most to me as an archivist and historian was a two-part interview with three African American students that addresses head-on the experience of being black on a very white campus during a time of great national unrest and social upheaval. Although dates are noticeably absent from much of flush, given the context of some of the pieces it is evident that this interview took place only months following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Over its two-year run, the contents of flush become more politically charged. Although no reason for its demise is indicated, the newsletter gets less cerebral over time, rather far out, to use the vernacular.

Student publications have flourished on and off-campus through the years, from sanctioned papers like the Michigan Tech Lode, to boldly sardonic broadsheets like the Daily Bull (reminiscent of flush), to the now dormant TechnoBabe Times. Lamentably, not all of these works make their way into the Archives collections, and some are only incompletely represented in the collections.

Do you know of a student publication, or perhaps write for one? Claim your place for posterity and consider placing copies of your newsletter, zine, or publication in the Archives. The Michigan Tech Archives seeks to document the social and cultural history of the Copper Country, and that includes the long relationship between campus and community. Michigan Tech students have been a distinctive presence in the area for 125 years. Make your voice part of the University’s history. Call the Archives at 487-2505, email us at, or just stop by our beautiful reading room and talk to an archivist. While you’re at it, take a look at flush (LD 3347 .F58).

Scott Turner’s Doctoral Hood

It’s been a busy fall semester for the Archives. Nine individual classes have incorporated archival sources into their coursework this semester, which means at least 200 students were regulars in the reading room over the past 15 weeks, studying different aspects of the University’s history, such as broomball, the Pep Band, and the Ford Forestry Center, as well as poring through civic and mining company records in search of documentation on the Quincy Smelter, the lives of copper miners, the history of the St. Mary’s Falls Ship Canal Company.

Although the semester is winding down, we’re still seeing last minute student researchers making a final effort to uncover more content or verify source citation information. (Find help citing archival sources at our web pages

In addition to the normal bustle of our well-used reading room, the Archives recently played host to a photo shoot.

UMC photographer works to capture just the right image of recent graduate Dr. Cameron Hartnell.
UMC photographer works to capture just the right image of recent graduate Dr. Cameron Hartnell.

Photographer Calvin Goh (UMC) used the Archives Reading Room as a fitting backdrop for his images of recent graduate, Cameron Hartnell, PhD, Industrial Archaeology. Here, the photographer is captured at his craft:

Cameron’s doctoral research focused on the archaeological remains of the Arctic Coal Company on the island of Spitsbergen, or Svalbard. An earlier Tech grad, Scott Turner, spent six years in the early 20th century working for the ACC at Spitsbergen.

Through his doctoral research, Hartnell became quite familiar with the Scott Turner Collection, housed here at the Michigan Tech Archives. To honor the man whose papers were invaluable to his own research, Hartnell approached the Archives with a unique request: to wear Turner’s doctoral hood in the University’s midwinter commencement ceremonies.

Turner wore this hood when he received an honorary PhD from Michigan Tech in 1932 and it was donated to the Michigan Tech Archives along with corporate records, personal correspondence and other artifacts by Turner’s family following his death. According to Hartnell, the intricate folds and pockets of the graduation hood served a very practical purpose in the past. Students at one time kept a bit of bread or fruit in the pouches so they could continue their studies while they ate.

Doctoral hoods are part of a long academic tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.
Doctoral hoods are part of an academic tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.


The following overview on Turner’s life and accomplishments is excerpted from an article by Erik Nordberg, first published in the Michigan Tech Alumnus, 2002.

Scott Turner began his mining career in a somewhat ordinary manner, completing his BS and Engineer of Mines degrees at the Michigan College of Mines in 1904 at the age of 24.  A native of Lansing, he had completed an associate’s degree at Ann Arbor before taking up the mining trade as his life’s passion.  Yet from these humble Michigan roots, numerous mining jobs and work as an assistant editor for the Mining & Scientific Press took him to the four corners of the globe within the first few years of his career.

In 1926, he received a call from the United States government requesting his service as Director of the Bureau of Mines.  Although an important federal appointment, many noted its added significance under then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, one of the nation’s most prominent mining engineers.  Turner spent eight years at the helm of the BOM, overseeing difficult changes associated with the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing onset of the Great Depression.  During this period, Turner returned to Houghton to receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1932.  He received similar honorary degrees from the University of Michigan, Colorado School of Mines, and Kenyon College.

A chance meeting with John Longyear in London in 1911 directed a major change in Turner’s career.  The Marquette, Michigan, lumber and mining man was interested in potentially profitable iron and coal deposits in Spitsbergen, an unclaimed arctic island north of Scandinavia.  Turner accepted the position of manager for Longyear’s European interests, an assignment that would keep his attention focused on Spitsbergen for nearly six years.  In addition to a “small fixed annual salary,” he received a bonus of 5% of the company’s net profits.

His work in Spitsbergen was marked by many unusual feats.  The mines proved particularly difficult to develop; only 750 miles below the North Pole, the Arctic Coal Company was the first company to successfully implement modern mining methods at so high a latitude.  In addition, the land was “terra nullius,” meaning that no single nation had ownership of the place.  Through permission of the U.S. government, Turner represented American interests in the region – perhaps the only time that a civilian engineer has been enlisted to maintain American sovereignty overseas.

It was on one of Turner’s many trips across to Spitsbergen that he became a participant in another of history’s infamous incidents.  On May 7, 1915, as it neared the coast of Ireland, a German torpedo struck Turner’s ship, the S.S. Lusitania, just a few decks below the engineer’s cabin.

The mining engineer’s work continued in earnest.  Following his discharge from the hospital, he continued his journey to Scandinavia and arranged for the sale of Longyear’s Spitsbergen properties to Norwegian interests (on his trip from England to Norway, his ship narrowly missed destruction by bombs dropped from raiding German Zeppelins).  Looking to escape the growing European turmoil, Turner headed south, pursuing work in Peru, Chile and Bolivia.  He completed a two-year stint in the Naval Reserves at the tail end of World War I and then spent the next seven years of his life as “Technical Head” for the Mining Corporation of Canada.  This work took him to various parts of that country – as well as China, Mexico, Russia and South America — on exploratory and mine development work.  He often traveled with his new wife, the former Amy Pudden, whom he had married in Lansing in 1919.

Following his departure from the Bureau, he pursued a variety of consulting work.  At one point he was an officer or director of nine mining companies.  He even returned to Spitsbergen to review the progress of mines he developed decades earlier. His life work was capped in 1957 when he received the Hoover Medal, a special honor commemorating civic and humanitarian achievements of engineers.  Recipients are selected by a special board with representatives from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME).

Scott Turner died in July 1972, just one day shy of his 92 birthday.  In his later years, when not hunting or fishing, Turner would talk regularly of his life’s adventures.  But it was his spot on the Lusitania that always singled him out for the most attention.  He responded to endless requests for interviews and completed dozens of questionnaires about the incident.  In the mid-1950s Turner donated the Boddy life belt that had saved his life to the museum at Michigan State University.  It is not clear what became of a cast iron medal he owned, minted in 1915 by the German government to celebrate the sinking of the Lusitania.  The medal had been uncovered during some road construction in Washington, D.C. and had been presented to Turner as a survivor of this historic event.

Left to right, Dr. Jackie Huntoon, dean of the graduate school, Cameron Hartnell, his fiancé Dr. Elizabeth Norris, and Dr. Patrick Martin, Cameron's doctoral advisor and chair of the Social Sciences department.
Left to right, Dr. Jackie Huntoon, dean of the graduate school, Cameron Hartnell, his fiancé Dr. Elizabeth Norris, and Dr. Patrick Martin, Cameron's doctoral advisor and chair of the Social Sciences department.

The staff of the Michigan Tech Archives congratulate Cameron Hartnell on his achievement and are pleased that our collections – both paper and fabric – were such integral parts of his study and graduation.

New Michigan Tech Building Has Century of History

Michigan Tech is working this summer to convert the former UPPCO building on the waterfront in downtown Houghton into its new “Lakeshore Center.”

A mention of the new project was included in an August 26 article by Stacey Ashcraft inThe Daily Mining Gazette:

As the university expands, there has been a demand for more space, so, last year, Michigan Tech purchased the old UPPCO building.  The MTEC SmartZone received a $3.02 million federal Economic Development grant for renovations to the building. Gundlach Champion has been constructing the project. Now, the former UPPCO building, located on the Houghton Waterfront, has a new name – the Lakeshore Center.  “The project is in process and we’re hoping to be fairly well complete for people to move in late this fall, about Nov. 1,” [MTU Facilities head John] Rovano said. 

The Lakeshore Center will have three floors with three entities – the ground floor will house MTEC with a 20-year lease and the second floor will house Michigan Tech offices as well as Gundlach Champion, Rovano said. The third floor will house university administration, which is moving from Michigan Tech’s campus.  “There are also going to be a number of departments that will be moving, such as accounting and administration,” he said. “There will be a whole lot of moving.” 

What the story fails to mention, however, is the long history of this building on Houghton’s waterfront.  Driving by the building this week, the renovations have begun to expose some clues to the building’s origins.


One can clearly read the word “fruit” — revealing the building’s former use as a waterfront warehouse.

Sources in the Michigan Tech Archives vertical files indicate the building was constructed in the early 1900s as a warehouse storage facility for the Peninsula Wholesale Grocery. A Sanborn fire insurance map for 1908 shows the original building covering only a single waterfront city lot; by 1917 it had enlarged to cover the 4 city lots it currently occupies.

Although the exact date is unclear, the building changed owners and was used for many decades as storage warehouse for the Cohodas-Paoli Company which specialized in the wholesale market for fruits and vegetables. In 1991, the building was renovated by the Upper Peninsula Power Company for use as its office headquarters. Michigan Tech finalized its purchase of the building from UPPCO in February 2008.

A visit to the Keweenaw Digital Archives ( finds many interesting historical photographs of the building.


Although a bit overexposed, the above undated photograph looks from the Ripley hillside across Portage Lake toward downtown Houghton.  The Cahodas-Paoli warehouse is a white building just right of center on the shoreline. (image# MTU Neg 01282 online at


This photograph appeared in the Tuesday, July 22, 1958, issue of The Daily Mining Gazette.  The caption indicates that Cohodas-Paoli also owned the dock frontage near the building:  “On Sunday the largest consignment of diesel or fuel oil ever to be loaded on a craft at the Cohodas-Paoli dock was paced aboard the Corps of Engineers sand sucker Hains. Slightly more than 20,000 gallons were pumped into the reservoir tank of the ship from three trucks and trailers with carrying tanks on each. The oil came from Gladstone in Detroit tank trucks. The sand barge has departed for dredging work near Bay City. It had been working for the past week at Lily Pond.”   (image #MS051-016-001-006 online at


The photograph shown above appeared in the February 28, 1972, edition of The Daily Mining Gazette with the caption:  “An enclosed three flight stairway, which was built in the 1940’s on the Cohodas-Paoli produce building in Houghton, is being dismantled by Mattila Contracting to make way for a new front on the building. The stairway was erected for the purpose of providing a separate entrance to the third floor of the building where at that time was located a dressmakers shop to employ women of the area during the World War II years. It was used as a branch of Ely Walker, clothing manufacturer, but was only in existence for a few years.”  (image #MS051-037-001-004 online at

Some of the best photos, however, aren’t just about the warehouse building, but are those that catch it as a background element.


1972 and the Library Restaurant.  (image #:MS051-038-001-002 online at


Unknown date (maybe the 1950s?) with two Coast Guard sailors in front of the Gazette Building on Isle Royale Street.  The Cohodas-Paoli warehouse is in the background. (image #MS044-005-077 online at

It’s great that Michigan Tech is giving this building new life as the Lakeshore Center — and also lots of fun to celebrate its 100+ year history in photographs as one of the many landmarks on Houghton’s waterfront.

Take some time to locate other photographs of this building in the Keweenaw Digital Archives at