Tag: Student Assistants

Flashback Friday: The Times They Are a-Changin’

It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached that time of the year when Michigan Tech excitedly welcomes new and returning students to campus. Another academic year is about to commence as students arrive on campus this weekend. Crazy, right?!

As with the rest of campus, the Michigan Tech Archives will welcome our own student library assistants back to the department very soon. We’re really looking forward to having our amazing student employees back on campus, summer always feels a bit strange for staff without them here. 

That said, this fall is going to feel a little different for us as one of our long-term student library assistants won’t be returning this year. Becky Daniels began working in the Michigan Tech Archives her freshman year in 2016 and just this past spring graduated from Michigan Tech leaving the Archives after four wonderful years. 

Due to the abrupt changes on campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, our staff unfortunately did not get to give Becky a proper farewell and thanks for her years with us. So, for this week’s Flashback Friday, we’re honoring the amazing contributions Becky has made to the Michigan Tech Archives by devoting our flashback to her. Before she departed, we asked Becky to write up a little piece about her time with us and final thoughts as she embarked on her new journey.

My first day in the archives feels like a lifetime ago, though, in reality, it was just under 4 years ago. When little freshman me applied for the position, she never knew it would become my second home on campus or that it would be so hard to say goodbye now that I am graduating. I can still remember the first few times I ventured back into the stacks to try to find something and found myself utterly lost or having to fetch Allison or Emily to help me do something for the fifth time that week. It felt like I would never really get the hang of it, but, somehow, I still found myself looking forward to coming back for my next shift. To be honest, I still wander into the stacks to put something back or retrieve a box and find myself at a loss on where I was going and have to pester Emily and Allison all of the time- it just feels like a part of the job now! 

The position in the archives really pushed me to become a better, more rounded person. Very few projects I worked on required me to utilize my skills in calculus or physics- instead, they required patience, care, and attention to detail. Being an engineer is not the most helpful trait when you are on your fourth or fifth name on microfilm and you can’t find it anywhere on the slightly blurry newspaper pages or when Allison and Emily give you a “present”- an entire box of envelopes to be stamped. Instead, I had to learn to appreciate the quirky details on those pages and enjoy the time spent at the desk next to my friends with that ink pad and stamp in hand. I learned that even the most monotonous sounding projects had a bright side- from learning more about the local history to finding funny stories- that I may have taken for granted without these years in the archives. 

I don’t mean to make it sound like my time in the archives was all long, tedious projects. To be honest, while there were one or two that I was more excited to be done with than not, I was more than happy to do them. I had never really enjoyed learning about history in a traditional classroom, but I loved having the opportunity to interact with and explore history in a way that not a lot of people do.  On top of that, I gained incredible friendships with the people who worked down there with me. I always looked forward to coming in for a shift and getting to tell Allison and Emily what craziness had ensued in my life since the last shift. I can’t thank them enough for their support and love these past few years. Meeting new people was also a huge perk of the job- from patrons to the people who work with and around me. There are so many patrons that visit the archives with a story to tell or share their joy of finding something meaningful with us and it always makes the days exciting.

Some of my favorite projects from my time in the archives were the death inquests and the memorabilia collection. There were so many stories or cool objects we found while working on these. With these projects, too, I was given a lot of freedom to work at my own pace, make discoveries, and ask questions. I know I am extremely lucky for the opportunity to have the freedom I did to work and, ultimately, grow. 

From here, I am moving to Kalamazoo, MI to start a full-time position as an engineer at Stryker. While I am excited to be starting the next chapter of my life, I will definitely miss the archives and, most importantly, the people there. Luckily, I know this isn’t goodbye forever and I will be back from time-to-time to visit the archives and the people I am lucky enough to call friends. Thank you Allison, Emily, and the rest of the staff down in the archives. I don’t think my Michigan Tech experience would have been as meaningful or fun without you all.  ~ Becky Daniels

Becky, we can’t begin to thank you for your dedication and commitment to your work here at the Michigan Tech Archives; we know that your work with us will have a lasting impact on the countless researchers that will pass through our doors in the future for which we will always be grateful. Congratulations on your academic success at Michigan Tech and on behalf of the entire department we congratulate you both on the beginning of your new chapter at Stryker and your marriage tomorrow! Congratulations, Becky!


Student Awards Spotlight 2018 – Becky

Becky poses with her certificate by the State Records Collection in the Archives stacks.
Becky poses with her certificate by the State Records Collection in the Archives stacks.

During the month of March, the Van Pelt and Opie Library hosts the annual Student Awards for all the student assistants in the library. This year’s event took place on Wednesday, March 21 and it included delicious food and a festive awards ceremony, which offered awards in eight categories. We are pleased to announce that both of our student assistants won awards!

To thank our students for their hard work and to further congratulate them on their award-winning work, we are featuring our students on social media to showcase all their efforts. Becky, our veteran student assistant, won the Excellence in Job Performance Award which goes to show that she is always on top of the many projects she works on over each semester. Our nomination for Becky is included below:

This student continues to excel and embody all the characteristics of an exceptional worker. This student consistently receives rave reviews from colleagues in the department and continues to positively impact our customer service in the department. This student turns in nearly all projects ahead of schedule and provides work that transcends that quality of normal student work. For instance, I asked for some assistance on some research and the student was able to finish several complex research tasks in a 2-hour shift, work that would normally take another student assistant at least 3 hours. In addition, this student takes initiative on research projects by anticipating patron needs and working with the supervisor to make sure no stone is left unturned. This student’s writing skills are equal to their research skills and I cannot imagine our department without this student! The quality and excellence of work projects, the care and attention to detail, and the constant cheerful demeanor set this student a cut above the rest!


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Jeremy

Jeremy Staff Spotlight PhotoJeremy is our next staff member to be featured in the Staff Spotlight for American Archives Month!

First Name: Jeremy
Title
: Student Assistant – Copper Range Railroad Exhibit
Where are you from? Cadillac, MI
What is your major? Mechanical Engineering

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives?
Regularly handling historical documents and artifacts from the Upper Peninsula.

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here?
The Bill Nichols Snowmobile Trail follows the route of the former Copper Range Railroad Company

What is your favorite collection?
The Copper Range Company/Railroad Collection.

What is your favorite photograph in CCHI?
A photo of the Copper Range Roundhouse in action.

What is one interesting fact about you?
I am a big stock car racing fan, and attended over 35 races during 2017.

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you?
They help preserve the history of the Copper Country, and allow residents to access these pieces of history of the region they live in.

Copper Range Roundhouse, date unknown.
Copper Range Roundhouse, date unknown.


Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project

This is the first of two articles written by one of our student assistants, Andrea Dubs, who is working with us on the Mine Memories Oral History Project as our Audio Technician. She is responsible for much of the recording that we do during our interviews and refining audio files for clarity.

 

Part one out of two:

 

I have been working with the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections as a student assistant for a little over a month now, and I must say that it has been quite interesting. Even though I’ve only been here a short amount of time, I feel like I’m part of the family. Everyone is always smiling and has a happy greeting for you when you walk in. I am currently working as the audio technician on the Mine Memories Oral History Project.  This project is really very interesting, listening to people telling their stories and realizing that it is their history has had a huge impact on me.

 

When I first joined this project, I had no idea what to expect. I was in new territory but I was also prepared to learn new things. As the audio tech for this project, I had to first learn how to use the recorder that had been purchased. The recorder we are using is a Zoom H5. I watched several YouTube videos and skimmed through the user manual to work out the best ways to use the equipment in an interview setting. After learning how to use the recorder, I learned how to edit audio files in Audacity, a free open source audio editing software. To do this, I watched several tutorial videos.

Andrea Dubs,  editing audio files with Audacity
Andrea Dubs, editing audio files with Audacity

After familiarizing myself with the Zoom5 and Audacity, I started to think about how we would be using the recorder specifically in an interview setting. I worked out the optimal location for the recorder so that it could pick up the both  interviewee and interviewer voices. We started asking questions such as: how can we minimize the effects of people tapping on the table? How can we minimize drastic sound shifts caused by coughs or sneezes? How can we equalize voices that are speaking at very different volumes, so the audio recording is easier to listen to for researchers?

 

In order to answer these questions, Sawyer Newman (Communications and Research Assistant), a graduate student volunteer and I sat down to record several mock interviews. In these interviews, the interviewee and interviewer did different things that could occur during the actual interviews. For example, they did some table tapping and covered their mouths with their hands or spoke particularly loudly or softly.

The Archive's Zoom H5 Handy Recorder
The Archive’s Zoom H5 Handy Recorder

From these tests, we were able to determine the optimal location and input volumes for the recording equipment, which gave us a good idea about how much space we would need to conduct an interview. We also determined that we should use a muffler over the microphone, and place the recorder on a tissue box or stack of newspapers in order to minimize the effects of distracting sounds, such as tapping.

Stay tuned for the second installment, which will be posted later this week. 

If you have any questions about this project, or if you would like to share your mine-related histories, please contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or at 906-487-2505.

The Mine Memories project is funded in part by a Heritage Grant from the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.