Matching the Care to the Place: Medical Provision in Mining Regions, 1900 to 1950

On Tuesday, September 14, at 7 p.m., the Michigan Tech Archives Speaker Series hosts visiting scholar Jennifer Gunn in Room 642 of the Dow Building on the Michigan Tech campus.

Gunn will present “Matching the Care to the Place: Medical Provision in Mining Regions, 1900 to 1950.” Mining, logging, and farming could mangle bodies and it took more than a wife to mend them. In the Copper Country, mining companies employed doctors, built hospitals, and taxed their workers to support that medical infrastructure.  On the Iron Range of Minnesota, however, a similar contract system was used to induce private doctors to take responsibility for creating hospitals and the public health in the remote rural areas. As mining and extractive industries declined, what were the remaining residents’ expectations of health and medicine? What arrangements emerged for health care in small towns and rural communities to replace the industrial-dominated medicine?

Interior view of the surgery room at the C&H Hospital, circa 1928.
Interior view of the surgery room at the C&H Hospital, circa 1928.

Jennifer Gunn is Associate Professor and Director of the Program in the History of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She earned her Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania., where her dissertation was on the history of graduate medical education in the United States. Her first publication was on industrial medicine. Currently working on a book on rural health and medicine in the Upper Midwest, 1900-1950, Professor Gunn’s interest in mining communities and rural health disparities in an urbanizing society is informed by her experience as a coal miner in Alabama.

Gunn’s presentation is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Archives and the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the Archives. The program is intended to encourage research using the Archives’ lesser known collections or promote new methodological approaches to well-known collections. From a competitive field of applicants, the grant committee selected four scholars this year whose research typifies the spirit of the grant program. They join the ranks of twenty-two past recipients in this most recent round of awards.

For more information on the September 14th presentation, call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505.

Update: Here is a photo from the event, with more than 40 in attendance:

gunn


Traveling Photograph Exhibit Visits Ontonagon

 

J.W. Nara sold copies of photographs as souvenirs. This image, copied from an unknown published source, shows a load of logs from Ewen which were displayed at the World's Fair.
J.W. Nara sold copies of photographs as souvenirs. This image, copied from an unknown published source, shows a load of logs from Ewen which were displayed at the World's Fair.

“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, has moved to the Ontonagon County Historical Society museum in Ontonagon. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and will be open to the public through September 25 during the museum’s regular hours. 

On Friday, September 3, the Society will host a public reception and program in conjunction with the exhibit installation. Erik Nordberg, University Archivist at Michigan Technological University, will give an illustrated presentation, “Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara” featuring dozens of historical photographs of the Keweenaw. The presentation is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the museum complex. 

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads.

 The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, works from historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Robert and Ruth will be attending the reception.  Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection.

The exhibit will remain on display at the Ontonagon County Historical Museum through Saturday, September 25. Its next stop will be the Finnish-American Heritage Center in Hancock, Michigan.


Northland Consortium to Meet in Ontonagon

Pieces of mass copper awaiting shipment from the dock at Ontonagon. J.T. Reeder photo, Image MS042-048-999-U644.
Pieces of mass copper awaiting shipment from the dock at Ontonagon. J.T. Reeder photo, Image MS042-048-999-U644.

The Northland Historical Consortium will convene its Fall 2010 meeting on Saturday, September 25, 2010, in Ontonagon. The event, hosted by the Ontonagon County Historical Society, will be held at the Holy Family Catholic Church at the corner of Pine Street and Michigan Avenue in the village of Ontonagon. The public is invited to attend, regardless of their affiliation with a heritage organization and the program will begin at 8:30 a.m. eastern time.


The meeting will feature two presentations. The first, by Michael Genrich, will discuss the research and writing process for the author’s third novel, titled Interior, and will include an illustrated presentation concerning the ghost town of the same name in Ontonagon County.  In the second segment, Bruce Johanson, president of the Ontonagon County Historical Society, will discuss the group’s efforts to engage younger people in local history and museum activities, and suggest projects and programming that historical societies can use to involve a new generation of youth in this important work.

 

The day will be rounded out with tours of the historic Ontonagon Lighthouse, which has been under continuing restoration and interpretation by the historical society, as well as the group’s main museum in downtown Ontonagon. All tours, access to the facilities, and a luncheon are included in a $15 event registration fee. Following lunch, historical organizations will have an opportunity to report on their recent activities and to discuss the Consortium’s work to highlight heritage activity in the region. 

 

The Northland Consortium is an informal association of local historical societies, archives and historians in Northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Central and Western Upper Peninsula.  A $15 event registration fee will include all presentations, tours, refreshments and the luncheon. 

 

For further information on the event, or to register to attend, contact Bruce Johanson at 884-6886 or Josie Olson at 886-2645 / oldjosie@jamadots.com

 

The Michigan Tech Archives serves as coordinating organization for the Northland Historical Consortium.

 

 

 


Archives Features Talk & Book Signing by Local Author Gary Kaunonen

The Michigan Tech Archives hosts local author Gary Kaunonen for a presentation and book signing in the JR Van Pelt & Opie Library’s East Reading Room on Tuesday, August 17 at 4 p.m.

In his latest book, Challenge Accepted: a Finnish immigrant response to industrial America in Michigan’s Copper Country, published by Michigan State University Press, Kaunonen tells the story of the Finnish immigrant challenge to the historic social order. He explores their clash with Copper Country industrialists by examining the written record and material culture of the Finnish immigrant working class through analysis of buildings, cultural institutions, and publication of print media.

Challenge Accepted takes an in-depth look at the way a portion of the Finnish immigrant working class gambled the success of early organizational efforts by participating in the bitter and bloody 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. This nine-month struggle between organized labor and the mining companies culminated in the tragic events at Italian Hall. Kaunonen examines the events of the 1913-14 Strike and Italian Hall using often-overlooked proletarian Finnish immigrant sources.

Based in Hancock, the Tyomies Publishing Company rallied strikers and their families during the 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. Author Gary Kaunonen’s new book explores the politics and culture of the working class Finnish immigrants who made a stand against the mining companies. This image from the Keweenaw Digital Archives (#400-12-13-1988-01-08-04) was taken in February 1914 near the end of the Copper Country’s most violent labor strike.
Based in Hancock, the Tyomies Publishing Company rallied strikers and their families during the 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. Author Gary Kaunonen’s new book explores the politics and culture of the working class Finnish immigrants who made a stand against the mining companies. This image from the Keweenaw Digital Archives (#400-12-13-1988-01-08-04) was taken in February 1914 near the end of the Copper Country’s most violent labor strike.

Kaunonen suggests that the most noteworthy accomplishment of these Finnish immigrants in the Copper Country was that as a largely unskilled group of immigrant laborers, newspaper employees, and radical “hoboes,” they had a very considerable impact on the history of a place dominated by powerful mining companies and the men who ran those companies. This was truly remarkable, a challenge accepted by a proactive segment of the Finnish immigrant working class to have a say in their own working conditions. Embedded in this study of ethnic political-labor history is also a story of division and decline that ultimately fractured a working class movement dedicated to solidarity. This demise is significant when recounting the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the American labor movement in the early twentieth century.

Gary Kaunonen is a social and labor historian currently working on a PhD at Michigan Tech. He received a Master’s in Industrial History and Archaeology from Michigan Tech in 2007, and for a while worked as an archivist at the Finnish American Historical Archive at Finlandia. Kaunonen studies the history of the UP’s Finnish immigrant population, and the interaction between Finns and American industry. Both of his grandfathers worked in the iron mines of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, and Kaunonen himself charged blast furnaces and operated a bull-ladle before turning to academics. His first book, also published by Michigan State University Press, is called The Finns in Michigan.

Limited copies of Kaunonen’s latest book, Challenge Accepted, will be available to purchase at the August 17 event at the JR Van Pelt & Opie Library at Michigan Tech.

For more information, call the Archives at 487-2505.


Brown Bag Seminar with Industrial Historian Charles Hyde

Dr. Charles Hyde, professor of history at Wayne State University, will be the featured speaker at a brown bag seminar hosted by the Michigan Tech Archives and the Social Sciences department. The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, August 4th in the Alumni Lounge of the Memorial Union Building.

Professor Hyde has done significant work in the field of industrial archeology, completing more than 70 projects involving the documentation of historic buildings or structures. His 1978 survey of industrial sites in the Upper Peninsula identified the significant material culture remains at the Quincy mine site. This encouraged a subsequent intensive survey of the site by Hyde and other historians, including current Michigan Tech professor Larry Lankton. Hyde and Lankton coauthored Old Reliable: An Illustrated History of the Quincy Mining Company in 1982 and Hyde went on to publish Copper For America: The United States Copper Industry from Colonial Times to the 1990s, a survey of the United States copper industry, in 1998.

Hyde’s publication and historical documentation efforts include significant work with Michigan’s automotive industry. These include studies of the Dodge Main, Chrysler Jefferson Avenue and Chrysler Highland Park assembly plants, scholarly articles on architect Albert Kahn’s work for the automobile industry, and book publications on Dodge, Chrysler, Nash, Hudson, and American Motors.

The informal seminar is open to the public and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch or refreshments. For further information contact Erik Nordberg in the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or enordber@mtu.edu


Upcoming Special Events

The Michigan Tech Archives has planning underway for the following events:

Tuesday, August 17, 4:00 p.m., East Reading Room, Van Pelt and Opie Library
Gary Kaunonen will present information from his new book Challenge Accepted: A Finnish Immigrant Response to Industrial America in Michigan’s Copper Country. The book draws upon work Kaunonen did in the Archives’ collections for his master’s degree in industrial archaeology. Further details about this event are available here.

Tuesday, September 14, 7:00pm (Room 642, Dow Environmental Sciences Building)
Jennifer Gunn, the fourth recipient of a 2010 research travel award, will provide a public presentation about her research which examines rural medicine practices in twentieth-century America.

Tuesday, September 28, 7:00 p.m.  (Room 642, Dow Environmental Sciences Building)
Dr. Valerie Bradley-Holliday will discuss research from her recently published book Northern Roots: African Descended Pioneers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

More information about these events will be distributed when available. Contact the Michigan Tech Archives by telephone at 487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu.


Visiting Scholar Discusses Economic Development in Lake Superior Iron Mining Towns

 

As the mining insdustry experienced boom and bust cycles, groups like the Copper Country Vacationist League encouraged tourism and other 'new' industries to help stabilize local economies. Image MS050-008-002, Harold Putnam Photograph Collection.
As the mining insdustry experienced boom and bust cycles, groups like the Copper Country Vacationist League encouraged tourism and other 'new' industries to help stabilize local economies. Image MS050-008-002, Harold Putnam Photograph Collection.

The ups and downs of iron mining around Lake Superior will be the topic of a public presentation at 7:00pm on Tuesday, July 20, Room 102 of the Chemical Science Building at Michigan Tech. The presentation is part of the “Archival Speakers Series” and is free and open to the public.

Jeff Manuel, assistant professor of history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, will discuss his research into mining communities and their response to economic challenges in the second half of the twentieth century.

The economic fate Lake Superior iron mining has long been tied to volatile global markets in the iron and steel industry and residents in the region have experienced a roller coaster of booms and busts during the last 60 years. At the same time, politicians, community leaders, and economists have pushed various plans to develop local economies and ensure a stable economic base for the region. A review of different approaches to development in past decades reveals the good (and bad) of economic development efforts throughout the region.

Manuel’s research is supported by a Michigan Tech Archives travel grant, with funding provided by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant has assisted more than 25 scholars advance their work through research in the department’s varied historical collections.

 For more information on the July 20 presentation, call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505,or visit them on the web at www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives.


Archives By the Numbers

archives-logo-smallEstablished in 1978, the Michigan Tech Archives is an actively used repository that collects and preserves historical and cultural records of Michigan’s historic copper mining district (the “Copper Country”) and Michigan Technological University to support education and research by University faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. The Archives strives to be the first and best resource for historical information about the Copper Country and Michigan Technological University.

Permanent professional staff                         2

Permanent support staff                                 1

Grant-funded professional staff                      1 (2-year position)

Federal work-study student workers              0.8 FTE

Public hours                                                    35 hours/week

Annual reference transactions                        4,377 (in person and electronic)

Class instruction sessions                               21 annually

Materials used in reading room                      15,071 items

Collections                                                      931 manuscript collections

Collections in cubic feet                                  7,985 cf

Keweenaw Digital Archives                            9,132 images

The Keweenaw Digital Archives is a searchable online database of historical photographs providing a detailed look at the lives of copper miners and their families in Michigan’s historic copper mining district.  Users can search for images by keyword or browse subject headings. The site allows visitors to add comments and information to photographs in the archives, create a personal web album of images, and purchase prints and digital scans.

Archives Travel Grant Program                     26 funded researchers, 1997-present

This travel-to-collections grant program provides up to $750 to support research in the Archives. Funded by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library, the program increases awareness of the Archives’ collections and encourages use of some lesser-known resources by scholars. Visiting scholars give public talks on their research topics, ranging from the role of fraternal orders in Lake Superior mining communities, the development of company housing at Hecla Location near Calumet, to the transformation of former mining districts into vacation and tourist destinations after World War II. The Archives has sponsored visiting scholars from throughout the United States and as far away as Sweden and England.

Archives web page:  http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/

Archives blog: http://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/

Keweenaw Digital Archives: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/

Digital Exhibits: http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/exhibits


Archival Speaker Series: The View From Below


mine-map
Mining engineers faced challenges in displaying three-dimensional information on underground mine workings. Technological changes in blueprinting helped transform the way engineers and labor practiced their professions. This drawing shows the extent of Calumet & Hecla's Tamarack mine in 1910.

Calumet and Hecla Mine – Tamarack [Image #:MTU Neg 03253]

This Tuesday night, July 13, at 7 p.m., the Michigan Tech Archives Speaker Series hosts visiting scholar Eric Nystrom in Room 102 of the Chemical Science Building on the Michigan Tech campus.

Nystrom will give a presentation on his research, called “Change of Plans: Blueprint technology and the evolution of engineering practice.” The advent of blueprinting technology in the late years of the 19th century gradually changed the organization, presentation, and use of visual information in the late 19th and early 20th century American industrial enterprise.  Blueprints helped consolidate authority in the space of the engineering office and in the hands of upper management, enabling them to exercise greater control over work at a greater distance from the office, and changed the labor of engineering work.  This change was gradual and uneven, as managers and engineers figured out how to use blueprinting to their advantage, reorganize their practices to accommodate the limitations of the new technology, and increase efficiencies in administration.  Nystrom will sketch the broad contours of changes wrought by blueprinting technology, including the gradual transformation of engineering spaces, practices, and labor, by drawing on examples and artifacts from the Keweenaw and elsewhere.

Nystrom is an assistant professor of history at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester New York. He is working on a book manuscript about the history of underground mapping and modeling in the American mining industry.

The presentation is sponsored by the Michigan Tech Archives and the Friends of the Van Pelt Library. Since 1998, the Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant has helped scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the Archives. The program is intended to encourage research using the Archives’ lesser known collections or promote new methodological approaches to well-known collections. From a competitive field of applicants, the grant committee selected four scholars this year whose research typifies the spirit of the grant program. They join the ranks of twenty-two past recipients in this most recent round of awards.

For more information on the July 13th presentation, call the Michigan Tech Archives at 487-2505.


Eagle Harbor is next stop for Archives Exhibit

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. Photograph by J.W. Nara, Image # Nara 42-220.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse. Photograph by J.W. Nara, Image # Nara 42-220.

People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara, a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will visit the Keweenaw County Historical Society in Eagle Harbor. The exhibit, which will be installed in the Society’s Fishing Museum building, explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through July 10 through August 14 during the museum’s regular hours.  

On Sunday, July 11, the Society will host a public reception and program at 2:00 p.m.  in conjunction with the exhibit installation. Erik Nordberg from the Michigan Tech Archives will provide introductory comments about the life and photography of J.W. Nara.

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads.

The travelling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, works from historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection.

The J.W. Nara exhibit will remain on display at the Keweenaw County Historical Society  through August 14.  More informaton about the exhibit is available here, including details on hosting the exhibit at your location.  J.W. Nara photographs are online as part of the Keweenaw Digital Archives — now at 9,000 images and still growing!