Category: New Funding

NEH awards grant for Hamtramck Historic Spatial Archaeology Project

Houghton, MI (January 20, 2021)The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $24.7 million in grants for 208 humanities projects across the country. Michigan Technological University’s Department of Social Sciences Chair and Associate Professor of Geography and GIS Dr. Don Lafreniere and Senior Geospatial Research Scientist Dr. Dan Trepal received more than $74,000 for The Hamtramck Historic Spatial Archaeology Project.

Drs. Lafreniere and Trepal will serve as project co-PIs along with Wayne State Department of Anthropology Chair Dr. Krysta Ryzewski. Greg Kowalski, the Executive Director of the Hamtramck Historical Museum, and the Hamtramck Historical Museum’s Board of Directors will also collaborate on the project. The grant will fund Michigan Technological anthropology graduate students to assist with the 18-month project, which is scheduled to begin in June 2022.

The Hamtramck Historic Spatial Archaeology Project received NEH funding from the Preservation Access Research and Development Grant Program to support the early-stage development of a Historic Spatial Data Infrastructure (HSDI). This project will be among the first attempts to link archival, archaeological, and geospatial data across time and space. The HSDI will be designed to remedy disconnections between historical and archaeological data sets. These disconnections between different forms and types of data pose significant shortcomings for examining the histories of less visible, historically underrepresented communities, whose traces tend to survive more prominently in the archaeological record. This is especially the case in Metro Detroit, a region shaped by prominent processes of industrial expansion and urbanization over the past century. For Hamtramck and Detroit’s historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, this lack of data integration reinforces long-standing barriers to access and exclusion from cultural heritage narratives.

Michigan Tech students analyze artifacts from a dig

Over the course of the project, the Hamtramck Historic Spatial Archaeology Project team, including MTU Industrial Archaeology and Heritage students, will produce a prototype HSDI based on the case study of the Old Hamtramck Center site, where Wayne State University archaeology students have been conducting excavations since 2018. The Hamtramck HSDI will result in the creation of a prototype open-access digital deep map of Hamtramck. The HSDI and the digital deep map will demonstrate how seemingly disparate strands of historical knowledge can be evaluated, integrated, and represented in a digital, open-access format. This open-access digital deep map will improve public access to cultural heritage information, preserve digital data, and establish an advanced mode for organizing and analyzing historical and archaeological data.

“Archaeologists and historians are increasingly using digital methods for collecting and working with information about the past, but we have still barely scratched the surface of what is possible – especially when it comes to working with both archaeological and historical information together,” observed Dr. Trepal. He continued “The Hamtramck Historic Spatial Archaeology Project is a wonderful opportunity to link together several different kinds of historical and archaeological evidence, in a digital, spatial environment, to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It is all about pushing the envelope in how we use digital technologies to tell stories surrounding a place and community from multiple dimensions, for scholarly research and also for collaborating with the public.”

MTU Students have been using historical spatial data infrastructures for years to study industrial archaeological sites in the Copper Country.  The same technology will be used in the Hamtramck Historic Archaeology Project.

The first phase of the project in 2022 coincides with the 100th anniversary of Hamtramck’s founding as a city in 1922. The city and the museum are planning major commemorative events throughout the year and the project team will participate to help attract new audiences into the Hamtramck Historical Museum, engage them in conversations about Hamtramck’s immigrant and working-class heritage, and promote the role of historical and archaeological data in contributing to its preservation.

To learn more about the Hamtramck Historic Spatial Archaeology Project, contact Dr. Lafreniere at djlafren@mtu.edu and Dr. Trepal at djtrepal@mtul.edu.


Keweenaw Time Traveler Awarded Grant

Researchers with the Keweenaw Time Traveler project have been awarded a Digitizing Hidden Collections Grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for $240,014 over two years.

Sarah Fayen Scarlett (SS), Don Lafreniere (SS) and Lindsay Hiltunen (university archivist) will hire six undergrads, one master’s student and a full-time digitization specialist in the Michigan Tech Archives to scan, transcribe and fully catalogue 40,000 employee records from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company collections.

This new data set will be record-linked with historical data already mapped in the Keweenaw Time Traveler, an online historical atlas being built for research and public heritage in MTU’s Geospatial Research Facility.

This major addition will add rare and valuable information to facilitate research and public history programming into the lives of immigrant miners, their families, employment histories over their lifetimes and how their experiences continue to shape the Copper Country landscape today.

The CLIR grant program is made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. 


New Funding

Nancy Langston (SS/GLRC) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $113,294 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled, “The New Mobilities of the Anthropocene: Animal Migration, Infrastructure Development, and Wildlife Population Management.” Casey Huckins (Biological Sciences/GLRC) is Co-PI. This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $397,760.


Burkett Awarded a Michigan Sea Grant Graduate Student Research Fellowship

erin-burkettErin Burkett, Environmental and Energy Policy PhD student, was awarded a $78,497 Michigan Sea Grant Graduate Student Research Fellowship. As a fellow, Erin will work with her faculty advisor Dr. Richelle Winkler and an agency sponsor at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Tracy Kolb) on a project that supports existing Great Lakes research. The awarded project, titled “I once caught a fish “THIS BIG”: Using Participatory Photovoice to Understand Michigan’s Great Lakes Anglers”, will explore the reasons Michigan residents participate in Great Lakes recreational fishing.


Lafreniere Co-PI on Grant Tracing Early French Canadian Migration and Settlement Patterns

ljdrc6Don Lafreniere (SS/GLRC) is Co-Pi on a partnership development grant that has received $197,500 from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project, “Nouveaux regards sur l’occupation du continent nord-am-ricain par la population canadienne-fran-aise 1760-1914,” is tracing the migration and settlement patterns of French-Canadians from Quebec across the North American continent, including the establishment of communities in the Upper Peninsula. This is a two-year project.

From Tech Today.


Lafreniere, Scarlett, Arnold Bring GIS Education and Research to Copper Country High School Students

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Don Lafreniere (SS/GLRC) is the principal investigator on a project that is providing paid GIS internship opportunities to local high school students this summer.  Students are learning geospatial technologies and working with MTU Social Science Researchers and NPS Staff from the Keweenaw National Historical Park to built components of the Keweenaw Time Traveler. The project is supported through a $16,772 contract from the Institute for Geospatial Research and Education/NSF.  Sarah Scarlett (SS) and John Arnold (SS) are Co-PIs on the project entitled  “GRACE (GIS Resources and Applications for Career Education) Project Student Interns.”