Ski Jumping in the Upper Peninsula

Throughout the Upper Peninsula’s history, Ski Jumping was a popular activity during the winter months. The skier jumps from a large scaffold, often traveling between 230 to 300 feet in the air. Judges score them based upon their form and overall distance. Multiple factors are taken into consideration for achieving maximum distance during the skier’s flight, such as the style of the skier’s bindings, boots, suit and skis. Ski Jumping started in 1808 in Norway and made its grand debut in the 1924 Olympic Games in Charmonix Mont-Blanc, France.

The Upper Peninsula has three ski jumps; Pine Mountain in Ironwood, Copper Peak in Iron Mountain and Suicide Hill in Ishpeming. Pine Mountain has received international recognition for being the largest artificial ski scaffold in North America. In the Archives’ James Goulette Papers, there are newspapers that highlight specific ski jumping events. On February 26th and 27th, 1949, Pine Mountain hosted “America’s greatest congregation of ski jumping talent since the 1932 Olympics at Lake Placid.” The expected attendance was 30,000 spectators with over 130 riders representing Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, Vermont, New York, Finland, Norway and Canada. North American competitors were aiming for the first 300 foot flight in United States History. Local contestants such as Joe Perrault and Ralph Bietila of Ishpeming and Walter Bietila of Iron Mountain represented the Upper Peninsula by competing in the class A division. Ski Jumping is not as prevalent in the Upper Peninsula as it was 50 years ago. There are still competitions held yearly but not nearly as big as in the past.

Iron Mountain News 2/25/1949, Pine Mountain Ski Competition

Iron Mountain News 2/25/1949, Pine Mountain Ski Competition

Interested in learning more about the history of ski jumping in the Upper Peninsula, check out or Manuscript Findings Aids or contact the Archives staff.

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Records of Marquette Civic Organizations

In recent posts, we have revealed archival collections about the Cambium Club at Northern Michigan University and the Paisano Club, an Italian fraternal organization. Many civic organizations in the Upper Peninsula are charters of global organizations that strive to improve the status of women, businesses and communities.

Zonta International is a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide. The organization seeks to improve the legal, political, economic, health, educational and professional status of women through service and advocacy. In October 1972, a group of women gathered at the Marquette County Historical Society for an introduction to the Zonta International Club. The bylaws for the Marquette Zonta Club were approved by the board of directors and they held their first meeting on November 14, 1972. The Marquette Zonta Club records (1983-2004) contain, but are not limited to, committee meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters, and fundraising material. The collection documents numerous events including City Clean-Up – Picnic Rocks, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Literacy Day, the UP Children’s Museum, Harbor House and the Women’s Center.


The Marquette Federation of Women is another civic organization in the Marquette area whose endeavor is to improve the personal and professional lives of women in the Upper Peninsula. Established in 1926, the Marquette Federation of Women’s club continues to serve as an umbrella organization corroborating with other civic organizations and women’s groups in the Marquette area. The Federation purchased a house on the corner of Front and Ridge Streets in Marquette, Michigan for their club house, where it still stands today. The Marquette Federation of Women has been involved with a variety of community service and fundraising activities. This collection includes a club house history written in 1928, scrapbooks containing news clippings and photographs, correspondence, and house caretaker logs.

A number of Rotary Clubs can be found in the Marquette area. Rotary of Marquette and Marquette West Rotary Club records can be found at the Northern Michigan University Archives. The Rotary was established for members to come together from various backgrounds and talents to make a difference in the community, as well as the world. The Rotary Club of Marquette records (1994-1995) include, but are not limited to, lists of membership, board members, committees, constitution and bylaws, and meeting minutes. The Marquette West Rotary Club records (1979 – 2012) document the history and activities of the Marquette West Rotary Club, such as the annual Seafood Fest. This Festival is their most significant organizational activity and all proceeds are used to fund services to the community. The collection also documents the Rotary Youth Exchange, and the Club’s collaboration with other local and global service organizations.


Marquette Ambassadors with Representative Dominic Jacobetti in Lansing.

The Marquette Ambassadors Club was founded for those interested in economic business and community betterment. It was comprised of individuals from the community interested in bettering businesses in the area. The group regularly appeared before Michigan politicians as economic advocates for the city. This collection contains the club scrapbook and photographs of the Marquette Ambassadors Club from 1964-1969.

The Northern Michigan University Archives contains many other local organizations’ manuscript collections. For more information and a look at what other collections we have, take a look at our online finding aids.

By Morgan Paavola

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Evening at the Archives: Genealogy

Evening at the Archives Poster

Are you interested in learning about your family history? Do you have roots in the Upper Peninsula area, or are you interested in local history? Are you curious about genealogy methods and resources?

If so, come to Evening at the Archives: Genealogy on November 6th at 7 PM! This  two-hour event is free to the public and there will be refreshments. The presentations will be at the Archives in room 126 of the LRC.

Featured topics will include how to research the history of your house, how to use our microfilm machines, what our new collection of materials from Bethany Lutheran church contains, and what collections might benefit your genealogy. (Spoiler Alert!: Any collection can potentially be useful for your genealogy. However, there are a few types of records that are traditionally quite helpful for genealogists, and we will focus on these records.)

Although the event will focus on Marquette County and Upper Peninsula genealogy, some of the material will be helpful to genealogists regardless of the location of their research. For instance, we will explain what can be found in city directories, naturalization records, church records, plat maps, and other types of resources. We will also talk about what genealogical resources can be accessed through NMU’s Olson Library and the Peter White Library in Marquette.

Common misconceptions about local Ishpeming records and mine locations will be discussed as well as frequently asked questions about naturalization.

If you are definitely coming to the event, please RSVP at or (906) 227-1225. However, no RSVP is required. We look forward to seeing you!

Written by Annika Peterson

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New Student Assistants at the Archives!

The Archives recently hired five new student assistants. Below is a brief introduction to each of them and the specific projects that will be their primary focuses at the Archives:

Kelley Kanon is the new Web Design Specialist for the Archives. She will be maintaining existing websites for the NMU Archives, Beaumier Heritage Center, and other local historical institutions and organizations. She will also be creating new websites, including a new genealogy website and an online exhibit about student protests at Northern.

Kelley hails from the Flint, Michigan area but has cheerfully adapted to her home in the Upper Peninsula. Kelley is a junior Graphic Communications major who would one day like to work for a car company. The things that make Kelley happiest in life are pomegranate juice, mascara, wolves, the Assassin’s Creed series, Game of Thrones, and her sisters in Alpha Gamma Delta.

Jessica Ulrich is the new Accessioning Specialist. She will be accessioning new collections for the Archives. Accessioning is taking physical and intellectual ownership of a group of records. It includes creating an inventory and brief description of the material and making sure that the materials are stored in a state that will preserve them.

Jessica is from Fenton, Michigan, and she is studying Physiology among other thrilling subjects while at Northern Michigan University. When not in class, or dreaming about Vienna, she can be found outside exploring all that the Upper Peninsula has to offer. If she could be any dinosaur, she would be a brontosaurus.

565016_539753982705892_935333341_n_wide.jpgPeter Dewan is the new Educational Outreach Specialist. He will be planning educational outreach events for the Archives and running our social media sites.

Peter is a marketing major from East Lansing, Michigan. On the weekends he can be found exploring the great outdoors. Peter also enjoys playing the guitar, reading, running, eating snicker-doodle cookies and listening to some Norah Jones.

IMG_20141007_162828296_HDR_tall.jpgPrince Parker and Stefan Nelson are our new Records Survey Technicians. They will be helping Records Analyst Sara Kiszka and Records Center Coordinator Morgan Paavola to perform a records survey of campus. This survey will determine which records from each department on campus should be preserved either temporarily or permanently.

Prince is a Psychology major with a minor in biology from Grand Junction, MI. On Monday and Thursday nights he can be found cuddled up on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory and Scandal. He enjoys running, swimming, and hiking. Currently, he is volunteering with the Student Psychological Association (SPA).

Stefan Nelson is a Fisheries and Wildlife Management major from Stillwater, Minnesota. He enjoys playing soccer and tennis and is an avid cross country skier. He likes doing most anything and everything in the outdoors like camping, fishing, hunting, and hiking. Stefan enjoys reading fantasy among other things. He enjoys learning about various historical documents.



Prepared by Annika Peterson

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History of Student Organizations: Amnesty International, NMU Chapter records

Students and faculty of Northern Michigan University have always engaged in a variety of extracurricular activities on campus. Student organizations at the University have come and gone throughout the years, ranging from special interests to academic advancement. Amnesty International, NMU Chapter is one such student organization. This collection highlights the involvement and dedication of students at Northern Michigan University on a global scale during the 1980’s and 1990’s.


Amnesty International was created in 1961, after two Portuguese students were arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly making a toast to “liberty”. The organization quickly became a global movement in opposition to “the imposition and infliction of death penalties and torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners or others detained or restricted persons whether or not they have used or advocated violence.”(Amnesty International Statute, Article 1, 1981). Amnesty International does not, however, impede the prosecution of alleged crimes or provide legal representation; their focus is solely on the humane treatment of prisoners abroad.

The Northern Michigan University Archives contains the Amnesty International, NMU Chapter records dating from 1980 to 1987. The collection consists of meeting minutes, news releases, articles, and audio tapes of speakers. The Chapter held public lectures, bake sales, petitions, and public video showings to raise awareness on campus and in the community. Guest speakers included Alexander Ginzburg, a Soviet dissident and advocate for nonviolent resistance against human rights violations. During the week of December 18, 1981, NMU hosted Human rights week with a program that included a lecture presentation by 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Betty Williams, panel discussions, and documentaries on human rights violations. Williams was awarded the prize for her efforts to end the violence between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. She also discussed the uprisings in Ireland at the time. The Archives’ audio collections include related presentations by Senator Raul Manglapus (December 10, 1982), and Savana Malachowski (April 4, 1982, and December 10, 1983), and other human rights panel discussions from 1981. The public may access these recordings at any time during the Archives’ normal business hours.


Support for NMU student John Peirce was the Amnesty International, NMU Chapter’s most important campaign. Peirce was imprisoned on May 15, 1981, in Lima, Peru, and charged with a narcotics offense. In a memo describing his situation, Peirce stated that he had been severely tortured, was suffering from hepatitis and severe gastro-intestinal problems, and threatened with death. The prison was built to hold only 1,500 inmates but was crammed full with 6,000. NMU students took action by urging fellow students, faculty, and politicians to send telegrams and airmail letters expressing serious concern. As reports of poor health and torture persisted, student letters began urging the Peruvian government to immediately transfer Peirce to a hospital for medical treatment. They also began to express concern for the health and well-being of other detainees in the Peruvian prison.

Click the link for the finding aid to the NMU Chapter of Amnesty International

Prepared by Morgan Paavola

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Homecoming through the Years

This week is homecoming at Northern Michigan University. To celebrate, we thought we would share some photos from past homecomings.

Northern held its first “homecoming” in 1924 when the school invited alumni to come to a Northern-Tech football game. However, homecoming did not become an annual tradition until 1935. Activities at this time included a king and queen competition, tug of war, pep meeting, parade, bonfire, football game, and dance.

Two of the quirkier homecoming traditions were the bonfire and the snake dance. In the snake dance, students joined hands and ran across campus. This usually ended in the bonfire location. Over time, the bonfire became a “mourning ceremony” in which the “coffin” of the opposing team was burnt.

Below are two pictures from the 1950s, one of the bonfire and another of a homecoming float against Michigan Tech.

19531957At Northern, homecoming, despite occurring in September or October, can sometimes be a wintry event. For instance, this picture from the homecoming game of 1971 shows Jamrich greeting the homecoming court in a snowstorm.

1971In this photo from 1976, students participate in a tug-of-war event in a cold pond. Note the snow on the ground and the winter jackets.

1976Traditionally, homecoming also included a dance. This photo from 1972 shows one such dance.

1972 5Over the years, Northern students have invented many interesting floats. Below is one such creation from 1980 (apparently, the “underwater basket weaving” joke is older than many may have thought).

1980 6 - 2Another parade photo (no date) shows us an older and more ferocious conception of Wildcat Willy.

n.d.Another tradition at Northern is the Dead River Games, held on the Sunday before Homecoming Week. The earliest photos we have which explicitly call the event the “Dead River Games” are from the 1990s. However, we do have photos from 1979 which depict a very similar event:

1979 - 11979 - 2Below are two more possible “Dead River Games” photo from 1980 and 1982 respectively:

1980 6 - 31982During the 1977 and 1978 homecomings, Northern landed in the Guiness Book of World Records twice. In 1977, Northern played the largest ever game of musical chairs on Memorial Field. This is what the early rounds of the game looked like:

1977 2

1977The winner of the game was Mary Lynn Webster, pictured below in her winning moment.

1977 3In 1978, Northern created a distinctly Yooper world record: the largest pasty. Here is an image of the creation of the dough and the cooking of the finished product:

1978 21978Written by Annika Peterson

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Churches of Marquette and other Religious Affiliated Collections at the Archives

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives contains several collections relating to history of Christian religious organizations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These manuscript records document the different stories through original correspondence, journals and reports of financial and sacramental records. The number and variety of collections are suitable for extensive research on the history of religious conviction in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


St. Peters Cathedral, Marquette, Michigan


Majority of the collections pertain to the history of Catholic groups and Churches in Marquette. Before the city of Marquette was established the area had been explored by Missionaries with the intent to convert natives and immigrants in the area. Marquette, Michigan, was named in honor of a French Jesuit missionary Father Jacques Marquette (1637-1675). Father Marquette founded Michigan’s first European settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, and explored much of what is known today as Upper Peninsula. Today, a large number of Christian denominations are active in the region, including, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Jehovah witness.

Participation in religious associations and activates eased the transitions to a new land. Italian’s are just one of many nationalities to settle in the mining and lumber towns. In 1965, Msgr. David Spelegatti founded the Paisano Club as a benevolent society for Italian immigrants and their children. The Msgr. David P. Spelgatti papers document the early years of the Pisano Club and the activities of St. John’s Catholic Church of Ishpeming, Michigan. Msgr. Spelgatti served the St. John the Evangelist parish from 1958 to 1991.


In 2005 a presentation commemorating St. Louis the King Catholic Church describes the history of the St. Louis the King Catholic Parish in Harvey, Michigan from 1955 to 2005. St. Louis the King Catholic Church was formed in 1954 in Harvey, Michigan, just south of Marquette. After a groundbreaking ceremony for the first church structure in 1955, the congregation grew to nearly 700 families by 1999. A new church structure was opened in 2000 and he original church building became the church social hall. The church operates the Annual Chocolay Summerfest, contributes to the local parish school system, and has had six pastors since its inception. The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan records detail the history and the growth of the Church in the Upper Peninsula. The Archives maintains related religious collections, such as; the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church records, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church records, and First Methodist Church records.

Within other collections you can find leading figures in Marquette’s history including Peter White, Which can be found in the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church records. Peter White is well-known for his contributions to the building of the city of Marquette and major contributions establishing the Peter White Public Library.

Shortly after the Civil War, immigrants from all over Europe began to settle in the Upper Peninsula forming close communities based a similar background’s and common language. Immigrants from Cornwall and other areas of Great Britain began arriving in the Upper Peninsula in the 1840s. They took jobs as iron and copper miners and were members of the Anglican Church. In 1854, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan expanded to the Upper Peninsula and built two churches in Houghton and Ontonagon, Michigan, to address the religions needs of Cornish miners. In 1891, the Dioceses appointed Gershom Mott Williams as the first Archdeacon of the Upper Peninsula. Later in 1895, the archdeaconry became the Episcopal Diocese of Marquette with Archdeacon Williams consecrated as the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.

For more information The Archivist File is open for browsing or scroll through the Manuscript Finding Aids or contact the Archives staff.

Written by Morgan Paavola

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