Tag: students

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!


Flashback Friday: Mining History at Copper Falls Mine

Break time underground. (MTU Neg 03074)

Happy Flashback Friday! We hope that you all had a howling good time at the Haunted Mine tour put on by students at Michigan Tech and hosted by the Quincy Mine Hoist Association! Undoubtedly, the deep, dark recesses of a mine like Quincy is the perfect backdrop for a fright fest and a great opportunity to get a sense of what life in the mines was like. Can you imagine what it was like to be a miner? What sights or sounds do you think you’d see an hear?

Anyone who has taken the tour up at Quincy has heard of Michigan Tech’s longstanding relationship with the mine, which once served as a learning facility for mining engineers, giving students hands on experience in what it was like to work underground. However, what you might not have heard is the true story about how some ambitious Tech students got a once in a lifetime opportunity to actually work like miners and resurrect a piece of Copper Country history in the process. Take a drive up the Keweenaw with us this Flashback Friday and learn more about how a bunch of Tech students raised a historic hoist from the depths of the Copper Falls Mine in 1954!

 

Headline from the Daily Mining Gazette, May 26, 1956.

The Copper Falls Mine was established near Owls Creek in Keweenaw County in the 1840s at the site of a prehistoric mining pit. The mine operated for over 40 years and produced, according to a Daily Mining Gazette article from 1956, “12,843 tons of ingot copper,” and employed “mostly Cornish, Finnish, and Irish” workers until its closure in 1901. The old hoist at the Copper Falls Mine was located by Michigan Tech geology student  Robert “Speed” Burns in the early 1950s and eventually he and Dr. Joseph P. Dobell, geology professor at Michigan Tech, proposed a project to remove the 11-ton steam hoist. The Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, which then owned the property on which the hoist resided, agreed to the project following a safety inspection. The company also supported the project through the donation of safety equipment such as hard hats and headlamps.

The adit entrance to the Copper Falls mine. (MTU Neg 03072)

Over the course of 8 months from October 1954 to spring 1955, students from the Sigma Rho Fraternity lived the life of miners working to remove the 19th century hoist from its placement eight and a half levels (nearly 900 feet) below the surface. According to a DMG article about the project, access was made through an “air ventilation adit that intersected the main Owls Creek shaft at the second level.” However, the students faced two big problems: no skip, and the need to lay 600 feet of track. Ingenious Tech students that they were, the Sigma Rho students constructed a skip with wheels out of scraps found at the site and laid the 600 feet of track themselves after backbreaking work that involved filling in washouts, erecting trestles, and replacing rotten ties.

 

Part of the hoist as it looked before being dismantled. (MTU Neg 03071)

Despite battling the mile and a half trudge from the highway through snow to reach the work site and eventually combating rising waters in the subterranean levels of the mine during the spring melt, the students had risen the ancient hoist above ground in its near entirety by spring. Miraculously, not a single person was injured throughout the project and only a few pieces of equipment were lost or damaged. What the students were left with, beyond the prize of the hoist itself, was an invaluable hands on experience of “mining out” the old hoist from the depths of a historic mine.

So what become of the hoist itself? The Daily Mining Gazette article from 1956 merely states that at that time the Sigma Rho Fraternity was waiting for an offer from the “college or any group interested in having it for display purposes.” Do you know what became of the hoist? Share your story here!


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!


Student Awards Spotlight 2018 – Jeremy

Jeremy poses by MS-080: Copper Range Collection, which has been the main collection he has worked with to build the railroad exhibit.
Jeremy poses by MS-080: Copper Range Collection, which has been the main collection he has worked with to build the railroad exhibit.

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. Our first student award winner is Jeremy, our Copper Range Railroad exhibit research assistant. Jeremy won the Project Achievement Award. Our nomination for Jeremy is included below:

This student has gone above and beyond on a complex research project related to a grant-funded exhibit. This student provided accurate and timely research on a lesser known but historically important part of our local heritage. This student’s research findings are being applied to an exhibit project which will not only be on display in the Library, but will eventually travel off-site to other institutions. The student for this project maintained clear and consistent communication with the project team leader and was also able to earn the praise of project consultants and stakeholders interested in the project outcomes. In addition to achieving great research outcomes on this difficult and time-consuming project, the student was in a class of his own when it comes to positive attitude and enthusiasm. Not a day would go by without this student bringing joy and verve to research along with specific subject knowledge expertise which was directly beneficial to the project. This student has made this difficult project fun and informative. I always look forward to this student being in the department!


Thank you Jeremy for all of your efforts! You are a wonderful part of the archives team!


Archives Month Staff Spotlight 2017 – Allyse

Allyse and her cat, Mr. Basil.
Allyse and her cat, Mr. Basil.

First Name: Allyse
Title: Archives Public Services Intern
Where are you from? I’m straight-up local.

What is your major:  Psychology, with a mix of everything else.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Michigan Tech Archives? Besides the delightful crew we have here? We connect our patrons with their long-lost relatives. The excitement they feel when discovering information about their families is so heartfelt to me!

What is the most interesting thing you learned while working here? There is always something new and neat to learn! Never a dull moment.

What is your favorite collection? The Vertical Files – we go way back! 😉

What is one interesting fact about you? I’ve been fortunate to be a member of the Michigan Tech Archives team since 2010. I give a shoutout to all my colleagues and supervisors who’ve put up with me over the years: “Thank you!”

Why are the Michigan Tech Archives important to you? The fact that we aim to maintain Copper Country and Michigan Tech historical resources, and that we share these resources with the public, is very important! I’m happy to be a part of such a great and community-minded repository.


District 1 Michigan History Day Competition To Be Held This Saturday

Michigan History Day 2017

 

The Michigan Technological University Department of Social Sciences and the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections are pleased to announce that the Michigan History Day district 1 competition will be held at the Memorial Union Building at Michigan Tech, Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Several secondary schools from MI-District 1 (the 6 western counties of the UP) will be sending over 40 students for the competition. Top entries in each category — exhibits, documentaries, websites, papers, and performances — will be eligible to go to state competition in the spring. Winning entries will also be on display in May at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton.

History Day is a competition for middle and high school students who develop historical research projects based on an annual theme that highlight people, events and ideas in history.  This year’s national theme is “Taking a Stand in History” and projects are on local, state, national and even world history. Michigan History Day is sponsored and coordinated by the Historical Society of Michigan, which coordinates 13 districts statewide.  Each school in the district has initial competitions and sends up to three entries (individual or group) in each category to the district competition, which then sends on top projects in each category to state finals. History day is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

ABOUT MHD-district 1: Associate Professor Steven Walton and Assistant Professor Jonathan Robins, both historians in the Dept. of Social Sciences, and University Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen of the Michigan Tech Archives are the coordinators for Michigan District 1, which includes Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagon, Iron and Gogebic counties.

The Department of Social Sciences offers a B.A. degree in history with particular strength in industrial and environmental history and archaeology.  The Michigan Tech Archives holds unparalleled historical resources on the Copper Country and its mining history. Michigan Tech has been hosting the district contest each February or early March for nearly a decade.

For more information, contact: Steven Walton, 906-487-3272 (office) or sawalton@mtu.edu, or visit the District 1 Michigan History Day website.


Student Assistant Update on Mine Memories Project – Part 2

Here is the second installment of our student assistant written blog entry about our Mine Memories Oral History Project.

Part two out of two:

 

After we figured out how we could best set up our interview space, we were able to start recording interviews. Of course, I was nervous, but at the same time I was excited to hear what our interviewees had to say about their experiences. Our first interview went smoothly, there were no interruptions and next to no unwanted sounds on the recording. Our first interviewee was a historian, so it was really very interesting hearing things from both his personal and historical perspective. Our next interviewee, who actually worked for a local mining company, provided a completely different point of view on the time.

 

We have interviewed seven people so far, and no two stories are the same. It has been an amazing journey, hearing all of these different perspectives on the same topic, and a topic that has had such a huge impact on the local region. Hearing people tell these stories is one thing, but to hear them and to realize how huge of an impact working in or around the mines has caused in their lives, is kind of mind blowing.

 

The other day I was walking down along the portage by the Portage Lake District Library, and saw a mural of what Houghton could have looked like back in the mining days. There were also depictions of one of the mines that I’ve heard so much about and an image of a possible housing situation for the miners. It was incredible to be able to point out what I’ve heard during the interviews and be capable to look at these images and tell some of the stories that I’ve been hearing. It has been an incredible opportunity to work on this project and with all of these wonderful people, I can’t wait to come back from my summer break and continue working on these interviews.

 

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.


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/.