Ishpeming’s Long Hair Controversy

It is spring in the year 1970. US troops have recently invaded Cambodia. Anti-war protests continue to rage across the country as the credibility gap widens. The trial of the Chicago 7 fills the national news….

Meanwhile in Marquette County, controversy rages over the length of a boy’s hair….

It sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? But for several weeks in 1970, the Marquette Mining Journal focused upon the haircut of a single individual. It began when Ishpeming High School valedictorian Steven Koenig was barred from commencement exercises due to the length of his hair. Several weeks of vitriol-filled editorials on both sides of the issue followed.

Many of the editorials supporting the school board sound like a parody of the classic curmudgeon-like, pro-Establishment 1960s parent as they extol the school board’s infinite virtues:

“This fine school board is now being taken to court because of a haircut. In their wisdom, this school board made the guidelines for apparel and length of hair…knowing from experience these fads can escalate out of control as in other schools. Most sad is the clergy condoning the action of the inequities of youth. In his defiance of the school board he acted against the teachings of Paul in the Holy Bible when he said you shall obey the authorities. All parents should guide their children in the study of the Gospel so that we might be spared the doubtful benefits of a ‘student demonstration’.”

There were many who seemed convinced that this was the beginning of the end of the decidedly non-counter-cultural UP:

“Maybe now they will realize the movement has hit the UP and will be well aware of what can happen. The first step is ‘Hair’, then to court, then, unless you stick to your convictions, your dress code will be abolished, acid rock concerts will flourish, underground newspapers will be daily news, obscenities the password, students striking in sympathy, senior high ‘bill of rights’, junior high ‘bill of rights’, abolishing discipline policy, etc….Just look at Ann Arbor. It can and will happen only if you allow it.”

Only weeks before the Koenig incident, the Supreme Court had ruled that public schools could not discipline students for hair length. Some Marquette County residents felt that this was due to loose parenting:

“It is a sad commentary on the state of parental authority when the length of a boy’s haircut has to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. One would think that our Supreme Court had more pressing issues to rule on and no doubt would if some parents did not shirk their responsibility of teaching the necessity of authority and law and order.”

Still, there were some who defended the abrogation of Steven’s personal freedom with impassioned speech:

“Under the existing code, my fellow German immigrant Albert Einstein, whose many virtues did not extend to the neatness or tapering of hair, would not have been permitted to attend the commencement program of this school either. Nor would he have wanted to do so.”

“Steven was not a truant…his hair was too long. Steven was not a protester…his hair was too long. Steven was not a failure in class work…his hair was too long. Steven dared to stand up for a principle…but his hair was too long. Steven was not a dope-user…his hair was too long.

“Dear Sir: My congratulations go to the principal and board of education at the Ishpeming high school, who with intelligence and forethought stopped a long-haired student from participating in graduation exercises. By rejecting him you have shown him that he is inferior to his short-haired classmates and totally unfit to live in our great society. Now we can only hope that the President and Congress follow in your steps by exiling all long-haired people: Jesus Christ, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Einstein, just to name a few. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that it’s not what’s inside someone which makes him a man but the length of his hair which makes him what he is.”

Ultimately, the hemming and hawing led to naught–Steven Koenig was still not allowed at his commencement ceremony, and the UP didn’t enter into an immoral, lawless age of abandon because of long-haired hooligans. One wonders what vicious debates now will seem silly to the next generation.

Written by Annika Peterson.

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Collection Spotlight: The Bay de Noquet Company Records


This week we’re highlighting a collection at the Archives which many may not be aware of: the Bay de Noquet and Oconto Company Records. The Oconto Company was a logging company in northern Wisconsin which operated from 1867 to 1944. The Bay de Noquet company was a subsidiary of the Oconto company which operated from 1881 to 1952. It logged in Alger, Delta, and Schoolcraft Counties in the UP. Its headquarters were in Nahma in Delta County.

The records include tax records, land records, operation records, and correspondence. The land records include the sale of land which would later become part of Nicolet National Forest. Much of the correspondence is with various companies who were customers of Bay de Noquet and Oconto. However, there is also correspondence between Bay de Noquet and the company’s office in Chicago, as well as correspondence with federal agencies during and after World War II. The collection also contains minutes from the meetings of the directors and stockholders of the companies. Newsletters from the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Manufactures Association and various other business associations with which the Bay de Noquet and Oconto Companies were affiliated are also part of the collection.

The records show how federal agencies oversaw production during World War II, how companies kept track of which employees were eligible for the draft, and how the federal government tried to control costs and prices after the war to prevent inflation. Other newsletters discuss organized labor in the period. The correspondence with the Chicago office of the company also contains discussion of federal oversight and organized labor, as well as customer service, sales, and the logging industry as a whole. The finding aid for the collection further expresses the historical importance of these records:

“While the records for each company are scattered, the combined records give a reasonable picture of the problems faced by the industry in the upper Great Lakes region due to the declining availability of usable timber and the Great Depression of the 1930s, as well as some of the issues faced by the companies during World War II.  The items from the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Manufacturers Association help to put the situation in the upper Great Lakes into a national context.”

For more information about this collection, see the complete finding aid or this article about how the collection was acquired.

Blog written by Annika Peterson

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Meet Our New Records Analyst Sara Kiszka!

DSCF0442The Archives has a new full-time employee–Sara Kiszka! She is responsible for the Records Center and the management of university records. She is already involved in several projects, such as creating a disaster recovery plan for the Archives and Records Center, updating Records Center protocol, and re-organizing the Records Center. In the fall, she will be conducting a university-wide records survey to determine whether departments are donating the proper records and managing their records efficiently. She will also be working with creating a larger electronic Archives for NMU in order to help preserve documents and prevent records being lost due to obsolete recording methods.

Sara says that she likes working with records management and electronic archives. She is particularly interested in how records show migration and auditing trails.

Sara is originally from Chesterton, IN and has a younger brother and sister. She likes dogs, reading, and watching bad reality television. She received her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Ball State and earned a Master’s in Library Science with a specialization in Archives and Records Management from Indiana University.

This is her first professional job, and she is excited to be here and to learn from this experience. She also hopes to survive her first winter in the UP!

Marcus says that he has waited seventeen long years for a records analyst. She is already finding and correcting problems at the Records Center, and he is thrilled that she is here.


Blog written by Annika Peterson.

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Come check out the Archives yearbook collection

Changes have been taking place in the Northern Michigan University Archives this summer and the yearbook collection has been added to and reorganized for more convenient use by patrons. The Northern Michigan University Archives contains university yearbooks published from 1900 to 1980 and are all available for viewing.


Since the university was first established in 1899, there has been a published yearbook form 1900 up to 1980. Since its founding Northern has held various names including; Northern State Normal School, Northern Teachers College, Northern School of Education, to its current Northern Michigan University. Throughout the history of the university the names of yearbooks have changed as well from Kawbawgam, the Campuseer, the Northerner and the Peninsulan.

The yearbook collection is a great way to see how the university has changed since it was first opened. From clothing styles of the 1920’s to the construction and destruction of campus buildings. Greek life was very popular in Northern’s past, see what kind of activities they took part in, including rush day and winter activates. Sports have also come and gone through Northern, gymnastics, field hockey and other clubs. In its pages, you may even find a relative who attended the university.



The traditional yearbooks no longer exist here at NMU, however the Communications and Marketing department publish the Northern Horizons magazine three times a year. By providing news about NMU’s faculty, programs and events, as well as highlighting individuals the activities and accomplishments the Northern Horizons keep alumni and other Northern friends connected with each other, as well as the university.

The archives also contains a number of yearbooks from surrounding schools including, Negaunee and Marquette from the 1920’s and 30’s, as well as the 1950’s from John D. Peirce High School. All yearbooks can be found in the Archives Reading Room. Feel free to stop by and take a look.

Blog written by Morgan Paavola.

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Research grant brings scholar from Western Michigan University to the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives


The Grace H. Magnaghi Visiting Research Fellowship supports in-residence research and scholarship on the history of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Scholars spend several days or weeks conducting research at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives and the Lydia M. Olson Library.

Past recipients have conducted research on a range of topics including Julia Tibbitts’ Battle for Presque Isle, Bishop Baraga and the nature of his relationship with Native Americans, and the history of iron mining. The grant requires that each recipient return to NMU and give a public presentation on the outcome of his or her research.

Aaron Howe is this year’s recipient of the Grace H. Magnaghi Research Fellowship Grant. Howe is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is working on his master’s degree thesis at Western Michigan University. Howe is attempting to understand the intricacies and dynamics of life at one of Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Mining Company’s (CCI) lumber camps in the early twentieth century. The Cordwood lumber camp was active in Alger County near Munsing. As one of the largest land owners in the Upper Peninsula, CCI required large quantities of timber to shore-up its underground iron mines and provide fuel for its furnaces. The company contracted with a number of local logging companies to cut and provide the timber. Howe learned of this opportunity through his archaeological field research at the former Cordwood camp site.


Howe’s research methodology uses dialectical theory or the theory of internal relations to develop a larger and more meaningful picture of work life in modern industrial capitalism. Howe believes that people generally “see work and home as separate entities, using a dialectical theory I see them as interrelated. I am interested in learning how wage labor affects the material culture of home life.” His overall goal is to recreate home and work life to demonstrate the essential connection between the two. To do so, Howe examines artifacts (what archaeologists refer to as “material signatures”) and the archival records that describe daily activity and inter-relationships.

Thus far Howe has discovered a journal documenting the construction of a nursery on the camp grounds. The journal described the landscape and soil and gave insight into the workers horticulture. The journal also identified different work routines and places of work in and around the camp. For his research, Howe is making careful use of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron mining company records. Interested researchers can find the collection’s finding aid at In 2011, the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives completed the digital conversion of 70,000 documents, 220 photographs, and 550 maps and plans from the CCI collection. Researchers can access these digital documents online from the project’s web site at

For more information about the Grace H. Magnaghi Fellowship Grant please see

Blog written by Morgan Paavola

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Meet the Archives Office Plants!

Recently the Archives has acquired several new inhabitants and we thought we would introduce them to you.

As you walk into the front office, turn to your left to see Tiberius, named after Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Tiberius will encourage you to boldly research where no man has researched before.


Ignis, which means “fire” in Latin, got his name due to his red and yellow leaves. This cheery plant will greet you at the front desk of the Archives.


Near Marcus’ office, you will find Yogi and Danny and the Boys, the oldest plants at the Archives. Yogi is named after Yogi Berra, a famous New York Yankees’ player. Danny and the Boys are reeds which came from John Voelker’s pond and now reside at the Archives. Danny and the Boys: Being Some Legends of Hungry Hollow is the title of a book by John Voelker (under his pen name Robert Traver) featuring “the mischievous escapades of Danny and his ‘boys.’ Setting themselves up in a logging shack near the iron-mining town of Chippewa in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Danny and his cronies spend their time fishing and hunting, story-telling, moonshining, and rampaging through the Chippewa saloons and the local ‘hotel'” (Amazon synopsis of the book).


Near one of the tables in the Reading Room, you will find Livingstone. As he looks like the sort of plant that would live in a jungle, we wanted to name him after an explorer…and mostly we wanted an excuse to say, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” as often as possible.


In the two corners of the Reading Room, you will find Castor and Pollux, the “twin” plants. In Greek myth, Pollux was immortal while Castor was mortal. When Castor died, Pollux chose to give half of his immortality to Castor. Both survived, but each had to spend half of their time in Olympus and half in Hades. Just as Castor and Pollux were forever separated, our plants are forever sundered by the entire expanse of the Reading Room.

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Names Suggested and Chosen by Anne Krohn, Glenda Ward, Morgan Paavola, and Annika Peterson

Nametags by Anne Krohn, Morgan Paavola, and Annika Peterson

Blog written by Annika Peterson

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Amazing and Macabre Items (re)Discovered at the Archives!

Sometimes, the most fascinating artifacts are lost and forgotten about in the sands of time until someone stumbles upon them and rediscovers them. Yesterday, we here at the Archives experienced this for ourselves.

Recently we have been cleaning off random, unlabelled boxes of stuff from the top of our shelves, many of which have been sitting there unopened for very long periods of time. We all gathered to open the last box together to celebrate the massive achievement of finishing this project. Cleaning has been interesting–you never know what you might find in these boxes! Our most interesting finds, up to that point, had been some lovely pictures of campus.

The box was soon revealed to be full of items related to John Voelker and Anatomy of a Murder. As many people in the area know, John Voelker was a local lawyer who went on to become Marquette County prosecutor and later a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. He is better known for writing books under the name Robert Traver. His best known work is, of course, Anatomy of a Murder–a fictionalized account of the actual murder in Big Bay for which Voelker was the defense attorney. Anatomy of a Murder was later made into movie that was filmed in Marquette.

We soon realized that these items were already in our collections but had been separated at some point for display and had never been put back. Notable items included John Voelker’s certificate after being elected Marquette County Prosecutor and a book about the making of the Anatomy of a Murder movie. The best discoveries, however, were yet to come.

One item in the box was a Bachelor of Laws certificate for Paul Biegler, the attorney in the movie played by Jimmy Stewart. That’s right, we have props from a famous movie. That by itself may have merited a blog post.

DSCF0007But wait, there’s something ever more amazing–in an unassuming envelope, we found bullets. At first, we wondered whether they were also props from the movie. Upon further inspection, however, we found that they had actually been shot. From the date on the envelope and the court transcripts, we were able to ascertain that they were the actual bullets fired in the actual murder which were later pulled from the body and used as evidence at the trial. This slightly macabre piece of local history will no longer be forgotten back in the stacks!


Interested in more information about Voelker and the case which inspired Anatomy of a Murder? The Archives has all of John Voelker’s papers, including personal correspondence and family photographs, genealogical material, records from his legal career, and his literary papers. Check out the finding aid website and our Anatomy of a Murder 50th Anniversary page!

Prepared by Annika Peterson

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