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: http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2009/nr09-92.html 


For further information contact the MTU Archives at (906) 487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu 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.




Authors Use Archives For Research and Publication

We’ve recently compiled a list of publications drawn from research in the collections of the Michigan Tech Archives over the last 25 years. We created the list at the request of a granting agency who wanted to understand the types of research and publication which were conducted in our holdings (more on the grant project soon).  The list isn’t intended to be completely comprehensive, but does highlight the wide range of books, articles, and graduate theses and dissertations which have made use of our collections.

The list is linked from our main web page at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/ under the “Quick Links” section.  You can download the list as either as a .pdf document or in Microsoft Word format.

It is our intention to update the list on a periodic basis.  Please feel free to use the comment section immediately below this message to share other publications you feel should be added to the list.


Michigan Tech historian Larry Lankton discusses the newly-published book “Old Reliable: An Illustrated History of the Quincy Mining Company” with archivist Theresa Spence at a book premier event held in August 1982 under the big No. 2 hoist at the Quincy mine site. The book, based partially upon research conducted in the collections of the Michigan Tech Archives, was co-authored by Lankton and Charles Hyde and published by the Quincy Mine Hoist Association.  The photograph above is image #No Neg 2008-01-07-03 from photograph vertical file (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=637523).

Summer Archival Speaker Series

An international border, an industrious bishop, and the Isle Royale Mining Company are the featured topics of the Summer Archival Speaker Series from the Michigan Tech Archives. The series gets underway Thursday, June 18th at 7 p.m., in the Archives Reading Room at the Van Pelt and Opie Library with a talk by visiting scholar Peter Krats.

Differently Similar: Comparing the Keweenaw and Nickel Belts is an examination of the resource-rich industrial frontiers of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan and the Sudbury Basin, Ontario. Krats, an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario will talk about the impact of the Canadian-American border on these two northern mining regions. In Michigan, rich copper reserves were exploited by large companies intent on making the most of natural resources far from the center. Just a few hundred miles away but across an international border, the world’s greatest nickel reserves saw even larger firms emerge and invest in a metal-rich hinterland.


[The industrial landscape of the Copper Country shares many similarities with Sudbury’s Nickel Belt. This image of Calumet can be found at the Keweenaw Digital Archives at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=594938#]

But the Keweenaw and the Sudbury Basin arose, stabilized and matured in substantially different ways. Krats will talk about variations in company town formation, ethnicity, and immigration, and illustrate how contrasts between the American belief in “liberty” and Canadian confidence in “good government” affected both regions. The consequences of these parallels and variations are apparent even in the present-day settings. The related concepts of similarity and difference are part of a spectrum of the historical experience of North America, and Krats questions and reveal the linkages between two nations sharing a border and more.

Krats is a visiting scholar at the Michigan Tech Archives this summer. His research is funded in part by a Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant, which enables scholars to travel to the Archives to study its collections in greater depth. The Travel Grant is generously supported by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library.


[Frederic Baraga is considered the first Slovene to call the Keweenaw home. Click on the link http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=598948# to access this image.]

Another travel grant recipient, James Seelye, comes to the Archives in June to continue his research into the impact of Slovenes in the Copper Country. He will give a public talk about one of the area’s most notable Slovenes, Bishop Baraga. As a missionary to the Lake Superior Chippewa, Frederic Baraga spent nearly forty years of his life trying to convert Native Americans Indians to Catholicism. In the process, he left behind a rich written record that includes theology, missionary activities, travels, and Native Americans. James Seelye, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toledo, and recipient of a Michigan Tech Archives Travel Grant, takes a deeper look at the man behind the myth. He explores who Baraga truly was, and in the process, discover why Baraga means so many different things to so many different people, even a candidate for sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church. Seelye’s presentation, The Snowshoe Priest Revisited: A Reappraisal of Frederic Baraga, is scheduled for Tuesday June 30th, at 7 p.m., in Room 139 of Fisher Hall.

In July, popular local historian Bill Haller will give an illustrated talk on the History of the Isle Royale Mine. Following unsuccessful attempts at mining in Copper Harbor and on the island of Isle Royale, the Isle Royale Mining Company relocated south of Houghton in 1852. Following unsuccessful attempts at mining in Copper Harbor and on the island of Isle Royale, the Isle Royale Mining Company relocated south of Houghton in 1852. It was one of many small mines working the “South Portage Range,” including the Portage, Dodge, and Huron mines. Some of these companies also developed communities around their mines, including the present towns of Dodgeville and Hurontown. From 1909 until 1946, the properties operated as a subsidiary of the famed Calumet & Hecla Company.


[The Isle Royale Mining Company operated between present day Dodgeville and Hurontown. http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=610462#]

The presentation will provide an overview of the evolution of this important mining area, including photographs and maps showing the different mine locations, industrial buildings, and underground workings.  Although few significant structures remain from the Isle Royale Mine, many of the operation’s key sites lay adjacent to major highways and are passed unknowingly by local residents every day. Haller will talk about his research on July 21st, a Tuesday, at 7 p.m., in Room 641 of the Dow Building on the Michigan Tech campus.

Michigan Tech’s “Archival Speakers Series” highlights current research utilizing the Archives’ collections. The Michigan Tech Archives & Copper Country Historical Collections, a department of the J. Robert Van Pelt and Opie Library, hosts a wide variety of researchers and research topics from genealogical investigations to book and magazine publications that engage students, staff, and faculty, local citizens, out of town visitors, and off-campus researchers. The presentations are free and open to the public.

For further information contact the MTU Archives at (906) 487-2505 or via e-mail at copper@mtu.edu, or visit the website at www.lib.mtu.edu/archives. The Archives reading room is located on the ground floor of the J. Robert Van Pelt Library, in the heart of the Michigan Tech campus.

Digital Archives “Add Your Comment” Feature

One of the innovative features of the Keweenaw Digital Archives site allows visitors to add information they know about photographs in our collections.  When you visit the site (http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/) and conduct a search, the record for each image includes an area just below the photograph where you are invited to “Add Your Comments and Share Your Thoughts.”

This is an important role you can play in our work.  Very few of the historical photographs and negatives we receive as donations come with any descriptive information. And it isn’t feasible for our staff to undertake research to create descriptions about each and every image in the collection (we already have more than 7,000 images in the digital archives site).

Your comments help subsequent researchers to find and evaluate photographs in the collection. And don’t worry whether you have a PhD in history — we’re looking for any information that can be helpful in understanding the content of an image.  We do ask, however, that you include your name by either including it in the comment box or by creating and logging into an account that includes your name. 

Here are a couple of recent examples in which visitors have left interesting and helpful comments.


The photograph above is image #MS003-009-013-13 from Our Calumet & Hecla Photograph Collection (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=655295).

Notes on the original print indicated that it was the assembly room and study hall at Calumet High School, but George Mackey added the following details: “This photo is taken from the senior side of the assembly. The assembly room was organized with the freshman on the left side when facing the stage and then the sophmores, juniors and seniors as one moves to the right.”


The photograph above is image #MS042-064-Z-616B from the Reeder Photographic Collection. (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=597077).

Notes from Reeder’s personal photograph log indicated that this was a parade in the Houghton/Hancock area.  A comment from Nicholas Faller added some valuable information: “Based on the movie poster , I believe this is the June 6,1919 parade in downtown Houghton . The Movie ” When Girl Loves ” was shown on June 6 & 7, 1919.”



The photograph above is image #MTU Neg 03461, taken by Russell M. Magnahi on October 9, 1985 (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=627147).

Magnahi was interested in the history of Italians in the Upper Peninsula and took the photograph as the building was once a store owned by the Campioni family.  A comment from Jan Campioni added more detail: “This was the original Campioni’s Market in West Hancock. It was established by Guido and Mabel Campioni in the late 1920’s. It was later run by Joseph and Margaret Campioni until their deaths. It was later run by their son Bill and then after his death by his sister Mary Anne Crooks. She sold it to the Keweenaw Co-op.”

We invite you to become “part of history” by browsing the thousands of images in the Keweenaw Digital Archives and sharing your thoughts, comments, memories, and other information.

Visit the Keweenaw Digital Archives at this address: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/

Michigan Tech Archives Awards Research Travel Grants

The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections announce winners of the 2009 Travel Grant. Two visiting scholars take a fresh look at mining communities on both sides of the Canadian border, and at the impact of Slovenian missionaries on Native American communities. The grant is funded by the Friends of the Van Pelt Library.

The grant has enabled researchers from the United States, Canada, and Europe, to examine the Archives’ outstanding resources. Past recipients have studied the use of models by mining engineers to manage complex work sites above and below ground, the role of fraternal orders in Lake Superior mining communities, and the cultural and linguistic identity of Yoopers. This year’s awards continue a tradition of supported research using the manuscript collections in the Michigan Tech Archives.

The Friends of the Van Pelt Library provide financial support for researchers from outside the area to explore the Archives’ collections. For further information about the Archives, visit http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/.

Research Travel Grants Program