Tag Archives: campus

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

Beth Russell Leaves for Maine

Archivist Beth Russell has accepted a new position as Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at the University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library. Her last day at the Michigan Tech Archives will be July 11.

Beth originally came to work at the Michigan Tech Archives for a NHPRC grant funded project which involved creating MARC records for collection level cataloging of the Archive’s entire collection holdings. The project lasted two years, but Beth was able to transition into a full-time

Bon Voyage, Beth!

Archivist position in 2011.  Her experience with archival description and cataloging standards has helped improve access to the Archives’ manuscript collections.

Years of assisting patrons with research and working in an Archives that has a local history and University focus will serve Beth well in her new position. She hopes to model public history outreach endeavors to some of the Tech Archive’s past programs.

This is not the first time that Beth has lived in Maine, and she looks forward to returning to the beautiful coastal region. She plans on reconnecting with old friends and looks forward to once again being involved in recreational sailing and enjoying local seafood.

Come say your goodbyes at the Library’s farewell party next week, June 25, 2014 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm on the Rovano Plaza. For more information, read our blog post!

http://blogs.mtu.edu/archives/2014/06/18/farewell-party-for-van-pelt-and-opie-library-staff-members/

We will miss you, Beth!


Visiting Scholar Speaks on the Black Campus Movement, 1965-1973

The Michigan Tech Archives invites students, faculty and staff to join us for a Lunch and Learn on March 22, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Memorial Union Ballroom B-3. Visiting scholar and Archives Travel Grant recipient Ibram H. Rogers will give a talk on “The Black Campus Movement and the Racial Reformation of Higher Education.” Cookies and beverages will be provided. Attendees are invited to bring their lunch.

The Black Campus Movement began about 1965 and ended by 1973. During that time, black college students, sometimes aided by white and Latino students, protested for a relevant learning experience. At traditionally white and historically black colleges and universities, black campus activists formed the nation’s first progressive black student unions and gained control of some student government associations. They utilized these pressure groups to advocate for a range of campus reforms, including an end to campus paternalism and racism, the addition of more black students and faculty, and Black Studies courses and programs. Their ultimate aim was to diversify and thus transform higher education. This presentation will provide an overview of the movement, which challenged the racial confines of upwards of 1,000 colleges and universities in 48 states, including Michigan Tech.

Ibram H. Rogers is a post-doctoral fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He is on leave as an assistant professor of African American history at SUNY College at Oneonta. He earned his doctorate in African American Studies from Temple University. Rogers has published seven journal articles on the black campus movement and black power. He is currently working on his first book, tentatively titled, The Black Campus Movement: A Historical Analysis of the Struggle to Diversity Higher Education, 1965-1972, which will be published by Palgrave MacMillan.

Rogers’ talk 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 this year’s competitive field of applicants, the grant committee selected three scholars whose research typifies the spirit of the grant program. They join the ranks of twenty-six past recipients in this most recent round of awards.

For information about the March 22nd Lunch and Learn, the Michigan Tech Archives, or its collections, email us at copper@mtu.edu, call us at 906-487-2505, or visit us on the web at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/.