Author: Christine Flood

In Print

Dr. Hongmei Lu (departmental alum, PhD EEP 2020, now a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University, Netherlands) and Dr. Angie Carter have published “Emergent regional collaborative governance in rural local food systems development” in Community Development. The paper analyzes emergent regional collaborative governance in the Western UP’s rural food system and is a product of Dr. Carter’s REF award. The article is available open access here.

Summer Field School Draws Together a Broad Range of Collaborators and Students Across Disciplines

Summer Field School includes 8 students from Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan; 3 Instructors; 3 generations of property owners; 6 visiting heritage professionals; 5 great days on the banks of Lake Superior; PLUS a dog and a resident turkey (!) all combined for an exciting place-based learning experience!

What does MTU History Associate Professor of History Sarah Fayen Scarlett get when she takes on leadership of the 2024 Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) annual conference planning committee? Well, perhaps a few headaches between now and 2024. But also, several unique opportunities to engage in local fieldwork documenting everyday buildings and their cultural meanings for people in the Keweenaw—past, and present.  She’s sharing the opportunities this responsibility brings with Upper Peninsula students and professionals. Together they’re working on publishing a conference guidebook featuring local vernacular architecture and conference tour sites. Themes include exploring cultural identity, environmental change, industrial communities, and contemporary heritage practice. Scarlett’s “Barns and Beaches” field school gave upper peninsula college students a great applied learning experience.

Image of Summer Field School students documenting Kemppa Farm
NMU student Tori Conquest takes a break from documenting the c. 1907 animal barn at Kemppa Farm in Misery Bay. Photo S F Scarlett

Barns and Beaches Field School Uses the Keweenaw Community As A Classroom

The Summer Field School attracted students in a variety of fields such as history, anthropology, folklore, and material culture studies. The June class included two Michigan Tech Social Sciences majors, an incoming Industrial Heritage & Archaeology grad student, four Northern Michigan University anthropology students, and an MTU graduate student as a teaching assistant. The four-week 3-credit course was team-taught by Scarlett, Keweenaw National Historical Park Historical Architect John Arnold (Industrial Heritage PhD 2017), and Finlandia University Finnish Studies Associate Professor and folklorist Hilary Virtanen. The instructors contributed their expertise in documenting everyday buildings and cultural landscapes. They mentored students in the collection of information from people associated with such places.

The group of eleven formed an instantly cohesive team. Their skills and interests were well-matched for the task at hand: to document and create materials describing a Finnish American homestead farm in the Misery Bay area of Toivola and an adjacent summer cottage built in the 1940s. Both properties had remained in the families that established them.

Students Develop Field Work Skills

Image of Lieutenant Dan the Turkey
Kemppa Farm resident “Lieutenant Dan” the turkey (along with Ruby the little black dog!) kept the crew on their toes around the campsite! Photo Hilary Virtanen.

During the second week, the class met at the Kemppa farm in Misery Bay, Toivola. Students camped in the farm’s front pasture, thanks to the owner and steward of the property’s heritage Luann Hayrynen. This made it convenient for students to document the Kemppa family farm and the neighboring summer cottage, Dell Shack. This intensive fieldwork was augmented by a visit to the Hanka Homestead Farm, a Finnish American homestead farm museum in Baraga County affiliated with the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) as well as lecture and demonstration visits from area professionals including KNHP staff historian Jo Holt, landscape architect Steve DeLong, Park superintendent Wendy Davis, and MTU’s geospatial scientist Dan Trepal.

Students and instructors precisely measured, photographed, and created field drawings of buildings. They conducted oral history interviews of occupants and their family members to gain insights into the history of the sites’ developments over time and their cultural significance to the families and their neighbors. And they investigated materials offered for examination by the study participants, including family photographs and documents that helped solve building history mysteries. All of this activity generated a vast amount of data. Over the final two weeks, students converted raw data into computer-generated architectural floor plans of each selected building. They deepened their understanding of the properties’ histories with creative research with archival documents, deep geological and cultural historical data, and even aerial and satellite photographs of the Misery Bay area over time.

Read about Robert Hazen’s experience as an undergraduate student in the Summer Field School

Image of a Hay Barn built in 1907
c. 1907 Hay Barn. Photo John Arnold.

Students Present Findings to the Local Community

Students acquired skills in historical architecture documentation and interpretation. They learned to conduct semi-structured oral history interviews. And they wrote interpretive content for use in the 2024 VAF guidebook. The first week centered on intensive readings, lectures, and in-class fieldwork skill-building activities in the Archaeology Lab. One highlight was a virtual visit from Professor Emerita Carol MacLennan on Indigenous land use in the Keweenaw.

During the final week of class, students prepared a group presentation of their findings for local community members at the Misery Bay School. The goals of this culminating event were to spread the word about the upcoming conference and our work at the Kemppa Farm and Dell Shack, but also to have another opportunity to learn more about these properties from people who have their own important perspectives: long-term neighbors. As a result, many stories and memories were shared over refreshments between students, property owners, and neighbors. These relationships will continue to develop as preparation for the VAF conference continues.

For more information about or to participate in the VAF conference in 2024 please contact Dr. Scarlett at sfscarle@mtu.edu.


Social Sciences Announces Student Award Winners

The Department of Social Sciences (SS) would like to recognize the following outstanding undergraduate and graduate students. These awards were recently presented at the departmental end-of-year celebration on April 15th. Honors were extended for excellence in academics, research and teaching.

Graduate Awards

  • Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award: Shardul Tiwari (Fall 2021) and Jess Applin (spring 2022) 
  • Graduate School Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship: Talva Jacobson 

Undergraduate Awards

  • MTU’s Outstanding Future Alumni Award: Robert Hazen 
  • Social Sciences Departmental Scholar Award: Maya Klanderman 
  • Social Sciences Outstanding Senior Award: Madelina DiLisi 
  • Social Sciences Undergraduate Research Award: Erin Doran 
  • Social Sciences Community-Based Research Award: Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer 
  • Social Sciences Community-Based Research Award: Maya Klanderman 

Well done to all our incredible students!

Erin Doran and Savanah Obert-Pfeiffer
Erin Doran and Savannah Obert-Pfeiffer

On the Road and In Print

Dr. Steven Walton presented a paper on “Allied Expositionary Forces: War Trophies in America after the Great War” at the Society for Military History conference in Fort Worth, TX on April 29. The work is an extension of the WWI centenary activities developed on campus in 2018 (World War One and the Copper Country) and his work for the edited book, Home Front in the American Heartland: Local Experiences and Legacies of WWI (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020)