Tag: Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: American Archives Month

Former university archivist, Theresa Spence, discusses Old Reliable, with author, Larry Lankton, 1982.
Former university archivist, Theresa Spence, discusses Old Reliable, with author, Larry Lankton, 1982.

Since October is American Archives Month, our first Flashback Friday of the month pays tribute to all the archivists that have ever worked to collect, preserve, and provide access to the archival materials and special collections at Michigan Tech.

The photograph from August 1982 prominently features our first university archivist, Theresa Spence, speaking with author and professor emeritus, Larry Lankton at Author’s Day at the Quincy Mine. Larry was promoting his new book, Old Reliable, which was co-authored by Charles Hyde. From left, Larry Lankton; Theresa S. Spence; librarian Amanda Binoniemi; and archives assistant Kay Masters.

Former archivist, Beth Russell poses with the Raymond family, who donated a collection to Michigan Tech in 2014.
Former archivist, Beth Russell poses with the Raymond family, who donated a collection to Michigan Tech in 2014.

The Michigan Tech Archives has a long history that traces back to the early years of the university. The Upper Peninsula copper boom was more than forty years old when the Michigan Mining School (now Michigan Technological University) first opened its doors in the 1880s. In the early years of the school, A.E. Seaman, professor of geology and mineralogy, was given the responsibility for purchasing sets of mining, geology, and engineering journals. As time went on, more titles were sought to build the library and efforts were made during the 1930s to separate important historical titles from the general library stacks. Space limitations prohibited active solicitation of other local history collections at this time.

When the new library building was being planned, a reading room and storage area was specially designed for the historical collections. The first

The current archives reading room, in the Garden Level of the Van Pelt and Opie Library.
The current archives reading room, in the Garden Level of the Van Pelt and Opie Library.

archives reading room at Michigan Tech opened to the public in July 1966. With the new space came the first real stimulus to actively solicit local history materials. Michigan Tech signified its commitment to an active archival program in 1978 with the hiring of Theresa Spence, the first professionally trained archivist at the university. The department quickly developed the procedures and policies necessary to solicit and make available premier collections pertaining to the history of Michigan Tech and the local region. The department formally adopted its current name, the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections in 1980. The department continues to grow and has seen many wonderful professionals and support staff throughout its long history. The Michigan Tech Archives is actively growing and currently has three professional archivists, one archives assistant, and one student assistant to protect the collections and provide research support and other services.
If you have any questions about the Archives or American Archives Month, please contact the department at (906) 487-2505 or e-mail copper@mtu.edu

The current archives team poses with Blizzard T. Husky on #AskAnArchivist Day, 2018. From left, Allyse, Blizzard, Allison, Emily, and Lindsay.
The current archives team poses with Blizzard T. Husky on #AskAnArchivist Day, 2018. From left, Allyse, Blizzard, Allison, Emily, and Lindsay.

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.

Flashback Friday: When Storms and Miners Strike

National Guardsmen standing in the snow

National Guardsmen assigned to strike duty in Calumet found themselves in the midst of a freak snowstorm.

We’re no stranger to snow here in the Copper Country, but getting a taste of winter in September is unusual even for us. The bizarre weather and the tumult of the Western Federation of Miners copper strike combined to make September 1913 noteworthy for Houghton County.

On September 19, what the Calumet News described as “a freakish barometric disturbance” formed over Winnipeg and began to drift eastward. As it reached the Midwest on September 20, the storm apparently stalled, pummeling the Keweenaw Peninsula for nearly forty-eight hours. The weather bureau recorded winds of almost forty miles per hour, a number more typical of November weather than balmy September. Rain and sleet fell in sheets. The precipitation and high winds downed telephone lines and cut off service to some 600 phones, mostly in Calumet and Laurium.

Most notably, however, the storm blanketed the Copper Country with nearly three inches of snow. National Guardsmen called to Calumet to enforce order during the strike peeked out from their tents to find their neighbors’ shelters collapsed and coated in ice. A photographer captured five images of the storm’s aftermath in the camp on September 21, showing men with hands shoved into military-issued coat pockets, surveying the damage, squinting against the howling wind, and perhaps questioning their decision to join the National Guard. The images have since become part of the Brockway Photograph Collection (MS-019) at the Michigan Tech Archives.

Collapsed tents in the snow

Tents in the National Guard encampment fared poorly in the wintry gale.

It was a scene that could only have happened in 1913. At no other time in the Copper Country history could the weather and the course of labor relations have conspired to put these men and their camp in the midst of a September snowstorm.

Luckily, the forecast for Houghton County doesn’t include any snow for the foreseeable future. We will simply have to wait and watch to find out when those first flakes may fall. Anyone care to take a guess?


Flashback Friday: The Game of Guts

The Library Bar Guts Frisbee team, 1979.
The Library Guts Frisbee team, 1974 (previously thought to be 1979).

Flashback Friday pays tribute to Guts Frisbee, which had its first invitational tournament in Eagle Harbor, Michigan in 1958. Our image takes us back to this day in 1974, when the Library Bar Frisbee Team had a grand year in Guts Frisbee. The team took home the world championship as well as all major tournament wins. The team can be shown showing off all their hardware in this triumphant photograph. Standing from left, are Bill Dwyer, Jon Davis (team sponsor), and Bill Hodges; in front, from left, are Bob Hansen, John Hodges, Joe Wickstrom (captain), and Bob Reade.

While this photo is from 1974, the game of Guts Frisbee has an origin story that dates back to the 1950s. In 1958, brothers Boots and John Healy discovered a “Pluto Platter” in a shop in Minneapolis. The disc was passed around the family until Tim and Mary Healy, along with some friends, began tossing the frisbee around on July 4, 1958. By the end of the day, the game of Guts Frisbee was invented. The first tournament was held later that year at a family picnic in Eagle Harbor and the rest is history. For a full rundown of the history and modern day status of Guts, be sure to check out their website!


Flashback Friday: Ahmeek Mining Company

The shared shaft house for Ahmeek No. 3 and No. 4 is shown in this photograph, taken on this day in 1963. The image is courtesy of the Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection.
The shared shaft house for Ahmeek No. 3 and No. 4 is shown in this photograph, taken on this day in 1963. The image is courtesy of the Calumet and Hecla Photograph Collection.

There is one more long weekend ahead of us before classes resume on Tuesday, September 4. A splendid opportunity to hit the road and explore the Copper Country! One way or another, all roads lead to copper and the rich history of the region.

Today’s Flashback Friday looks down the road to points north of campus, offering a glimpse of Ahmeek, Michigan. The village of Ahmeek, a small community in Keweenaw County, derives it name from the Ojibwe amik, which means beaver. The village grew up around the Ahmeek Mining Company, which opened for business in 1903. The founding of the village is credited to Joseph Bosch, of Bosch Brewing Company fame. The Ahmeek No. 3 and No. 4 site is featured in this photograph from August 31, 1963.

Although the Ahmeek Mining Company began operations as an individual enterprise in the early 1900s, the company was initially organized in 1880 as a subsidiary exploration wing of the Seneca Mining Company. Initial extraction took place through two shallow shafts, but the lode proved to be unreliable and production was irregular at best. In 1903, with the discovery of the Kearsarge Amygdaloid lode, the Ahmeek Mining Company became a separate operation. The operation consisted of four shafts that reached a depth of approximately 3,000 feet.

The uniqueness of shafts No. 3 and No. 4 is highlighted in the photograph, demonstrating that both shafts were serviced from a common shaft house. There is certainly more than meets the eye when you compare the surface to the underground architecture at this site!

In 1923 the Ahmeek Mining Company was absorbed by Calumet & Hecla. Operations eventually suspended in 1931. After the Great Depression ended, the mine reopened in 1936 and continued until the mid 1960s, with most accounts indicating that the mine officially closed permanently in 1966.

Wherever your Labor Day weekend adventures may bring you, we hope our Huskies all make it back to campus safely with plenty of good stories from the summer! Please note, the Van Pelt and Opie Library will be closed on Monday, September 3 in observance of Labor Day. The library, including our department, will reopen with regular hours on Tuesday, September 4.


Flashback Friday: Something About a Pasty

Woman preparing pasties

Preparing a batch of mouth-watering pasties. Undated photograph from the Harold Putnam Collection (MS-050).

A good old Cornish song proclaims, “There’s something about a pasty that is fine, fine, fine!” We Yoopers and friends know the truth of those words. The delicious dish nourishes the body and warms the spirit with its blend of meat, potatoes, and rutabaga, all nestled inside a flaky crust.

How did a meal synonymous with Cornwall become a staple of the Upper Peninsula? Cornwall’s long history of copper and tin mining led the rest of Great Britain to remark wryly, “Wherever you find a hole in the ground, you’ll find a Cornishman at the bottom of it.” Life in the mines of England often meant low wages and back-breaking labor, but it also cultivated a skill and knowledge of the work that made the Cornish miners a gold standard. As Michigan’s copper mines were first being opened for industry, their founders looked to Cornwall for able laborers, and the people of Cornwall, whose mines were tapering off, looked to Michigan for a new hope. Twenty Cornishmen, according to one scholarly history of the pasty, were already at work in the Copper Country by 1844. With them came their favorite workday meal, which was subsequently adopted en masse by colleagues of all backgrounds.

Text of pasty recipe

One of many variations on the pasty recipe held at the Michigan Tech Archives. This one was provided by the ladies of the Calumet United Methodist Church.

We don’t know for certain who invented this tasty pocket of joy, which has seen considerable changes over the years, but we do understand why it was so appealing to the men who worked in the mines and the women who prepared their dinners each day. The pasty’s hearty fillings can be prepared in a large batch and energize a person for a day of hard work; the meal can be held in the hand and eaten without utensils; and it’s easy, relatively speaking, for a miner to reheat a pasty over his candle far underground. Nowadays, you’ll see pasties around the Copper Country lunch table, sold at community fundraisers, at picnics by the shores of Lake Superior, or on parade at Calumet’s Pasty Fest, held this Saturday, August 18.

While we can all agree that pasties are scrumptious, debate rages about other aspects of pasty culture. Do carrots belong in a pasty? Should the potatoes be cubed or sliced? Can a pasty mascot appropriately be named Toivo? Most importantly, how can a person justify gravy when everyone knows that real pasties are eaten with ketchup?

Family joyfully eating pasties

Alfred Nicholls and his family show the joy of pasties at the Central Mine Reunion, undated.