Category Archives: University History & Records

Flashback Friday: Unexpected Change: Fire at the Metallurgy Building

The Metallurgy Building on fire, March 15, 1923.

For this week’s Flashback Friday we’re remembering how quickly change can happen overnight, sometimes when you least expect it.

 The early 20th century Michigan Tech campus looked vastly different than it does today, not only in terms of the courses and degrees it offers, but its physical landscape. Many of the earliest buildings on campus are gone, lost to changes in the needs of the university or unexpectedly by disaster. Today marks the 96 anniversary of the fire that destroyed one such building.
Metallurgical building at the Michigan College of Mines.

On this date (March 15) in 1923 fire blazed through the metallurgy building at the Michigan College of Mines. According to a report in The Michigan College of Mines Alumnus from that year, students who arrived first on scene were credited with saving much of the valuable equipment inside the building. First responders reported that the fire appeared to be contained on the second floor of the building, but “minutes later the fire broke out over the whole building.” The Houghton and Hancock fire departments arrived on scene, but by then the fire had spread “into the walls and ventilation ways.”

It was clear that the building was going to be a total loss ($250,000) and not just in terms of the classroom and office space. Students lost personal possessions, records and data for experiments were destroyed, and one particular professor lost a decades worth of research notes. In its wake, classes were moved to the Chemistry Building (which had incidentally burned in 1920) and the department was forced to conduct work “with make-shift apparatus.”

Metallurgy building after the fire, 1923.

However, by September 1923, the Alumnus reported that plans for rebuilding the metallurgy building were underway and by January 1925 the publication was asking alumni to weigh in on a name for the new structure. The new metallurgy building opened for students, faculty, and staff later that year and christened McNair Hall, the college’s former president who died tragically in an accident in 1924. While this building bears the same name as a current resident hall at Michigan Tech, these were two distinct buildings.

McNair Hall. This building replaced the Metallurgy Building.
Regardless of which building it has occupied, since the establishment of the Michigan Mining School in 1885, metallurgy in one shape or form has been integral to this campus. It has evolved from mineral dressing to metallurgy, to metallurgical engineering, to metallurgical and materials engineering, before finally becoming the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2000.
Building disasters and failures like the one at the metallurgy building show how change can happen in a blink of an eye. Luckily no one was harmed and rebuilding happened in its wake. It’s a reminder that our landscapes can change quickly, that they aren’t always able to be thoughtfully planned, but even with unexpected change this campus and community continues to grow and evolve.
If you would like to know more about the metallurgy building fire, visit the Michigan Tech Archives during our regular research hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or contact us directly by phone at (906) 487-2505 or email at copper@mtu.edu

An All-Star Flashback Friday: John Scott at Michigan Tech

Two hockey players on the ice

John Scott (Huskies #20) in action on the ice, 2004

At 7:37 tonight, the puck will drop in the opening game of the 2018-2019 season for the Michigan Tech Hockey Huskies. A team of veterans–fresh off the second consecutive WCHA Men’s championship–and eager freshmen will take the ice in brilliant Tech black, gold, and white, hoping to defend their title for yet another year.

Many famous figures in the world of hockey have worn the Michigan Tech jersey over the years. Tony Esposito, now part of the Hockey Hall of Fame, played goalie at Tech and helped to propel the team to an NCAA Championship in 1965. Mel Person, one-time Huskies head coach and now leader of the University of Michigan men’s hockey program, suited up as a forward between 1977 and 1981. Randy McKay, an alumnus later who later served as an assistant coach at Tech, put his name on the Stanley Cup twice as a part of the New Jersey Devils.

Lately, however, conversation about well-known Hockey Huskies has centered around a name that has surprised many outside Michigan Tech circles. John Scott, who started at Tech in 2002 and received his mechanical engineering degree in 2010, rose to a new degree of national prominence in January 2016 through the most remarkable NHL All-Star Game in recent memory. As a professional hockey player, Scott had gained a reputation as an enforcer, a player who was unafraid to deliver hits, start fights to motivate his team, physically punish opponents who endangered a victory, or protect star players from enforcers on the other team. Forwards participating in the All-Star exhibition match were expected to be drawn from the NHL’s most remarkable players in terms of goal scoring and playmaking–traits for which Scott, with five NHL goals to his name, was not known. Taking advantage of the rule that allowed fans to vote for All-Star team members, viewers colluded to prank the NHL by casting votes en masse for Scott. Scott was initially reticent to the fan campaign but ultimately decided to take the place awarded him following a sudden trade, assignment to a minor league affiliate, and unwelcome remarks from an NHL official concerning the effects of playing in the game on Scott’s children. Over the weekend of competition, Scott scored two goals and was honored as the event’s Most Valuable Player.

Anyone who followed the NHL in 2015-2016 had to have heard the John Scott All-Star story, but few have taken a walk back through the Michigan Tech Archives to discover the John Scott Husky story. Scott’s first year on the hockey team went without much reporting by either campus or community newspapers, thanks in part to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for several games. As the rookie became a veteran, however, his dedication to his teammates, his physical talent on the ice, and his cheeky quips off it garnered him press attention. Journalists took one awed look at the 6-foot-7 Canadian then playing defense and chose a slew of colorful adjectives to describe him. “Hulking” turned out to be their favorite.

John Scott with teammates

Scott proved a valuable addition to the Huskies blue line. By his own admission in his autobiography A Guy Like Me: Fighting to Make the Cut (co-written with Brian Cazeneuve), he joined a team that was struggling to put up wins, especially in the first two years. From day one, wrote a local reporter, Scott was a “tower of strength” on the team. In his absence following that freshman-year shoulder injury, “the Husky defense looked dazed and confused.” In 2005, the Tech coach was quoted as saying that Scott was “our best penalty killer” and that his no-holds-barred playing took “a tremendous load off of the rest of the defensive core.” Although “offense [was] not a big part of his game” and defense was his primary focus, when he scored, observers noted, “it counts.” His first goal as a college player broke a tie against the talented University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Other articles over the years recorded key moments when Scott knotted up a game with a “greasy goal” against a big rival or a highlight-reel wrist shot received from a teammate’s no-look pass. As the end of his college career approached, it was clear that Scott’s presence on the ice made a world of difference for his fellow Huskies.

And, yes, there were fights. The local papers loved it when John Scott dropped the gloves: it gave them a chance to trot out even more vivid descriptions than the adjectives they used for his height. After a game versus the University of Alaska Anchorage where Scott and Seawolves forward Justin Johnson took a few good shots at each other, one reporter boasted that Scott’s “stomping” on Johnson made the UAA player realize that “he picked the wrong Husky to mess with.” In the last few minutes of a 2004 match-up, University of North Dakota’s Ryan Hale “made the mistake of challenging hulking MTU defenseman John Scott.” With tangible satisfaction, the paper wrote that Hale “came away having landing [sic] maybe one punch and his face completely mauled by Scott.” 

Appropriately enough, it was at another UND-MTU game in Scott’s senior year that a lucky reporter captured this classic quip, the one that might have best summed up his reputation: “I wish there was fighting in this league. I’d love to go out there… and pound on ‘em, but I can’t do it.”

John Scott, for your grit, your lip, and your heart, both on the ice and off–we’re proud to claim you as a part of Husky history.


It’s Homecoming Weekend at Michigan Tech!

Homecoming parade, 1948.
Homecoming parade, 1948.

Happy Homecoming, Huskies! We’re honoring homecoming weekend with a flashback to 1948.

According to coverage of the event in the Michigan Tech Lode, the 1948 homecoming was the “most successful Homecoming weekend ever held at Tech.” Festivities included a parade and football rally Friday night. Attendees were told to meet at the Clubhouse at 8 p.m. for the torchlight parade to Engineer’s Field with a toasty bonfire and speeches by Dr. Stipe, Coach Al Bovard, and “members of the undefeated Huskies.”

Front page, Michigan Tech Lode,  October 22, 1948.
Front page, Michigan Tech Lode, October 22, 1948.

Revelers then made their way to Dee Stadium for cider, doughnuts, and a square dance. Another parade was held Saturday and included floats from most of the fraternities and professional organizations with Sigma Rho winning top honors. According to the paper, Tech “humiliated” Northern Michigan University, remaining undefeated in their fifth win of the season.

Homecoming Complete Success, Michigan Tech Lode, 1948.
Homecoming Complete Success, Michigan Tech Lode, 1948.

Coach Bovard was awarded the Tech-Northern trophy, the Paul Bunyan axe, from Northern head cheerleader, Joe Erickson. Football fans familiar with the big Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry and their Paul Bunyan axe will surely be scratching their heads at that, but it seems Tech and Northern had a similar tradition.

We hope that you enjoyed this flashback to 1948. Enjoy Homecoming, Huskies! We’d love to hear your favorite your favorite Homecoming memory!

Homecoming float, 1948.
Homecoming float, 1948.

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.

 

MTU168-03-03-001-small
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.
MTU168-03-03-002-small
Image scanned from the Michigan Tech Lode Photograph Collection.
MTU168-03-03-003-small
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

 

Broomball

 

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 copper@mtu.edu 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: http://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/nhprc-cataloging-project/collection-registers/.

Catalog records for each collection are also available on the Voyager catalog at Michigan Tech’s Van Pelt and Opie Library: http://ils.lib.mtu.edu/vwebv/searchAdvanced. 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: http://www.worldcat.org/. 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 copper@mtu.edu


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 copper@mtu.edu, 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).