End of the Semester Updates and Summer Projects at the Archives!

As the semester winds down, we at the Archives are starting to do our “spring cleaning” and plan out our summer projects.

In the past few weeks, as our Comprehensive Records Survey has been winding down, Prince Parker and Stefan Nelson, two of the Archives staff involved in the survey, have been shelf reading. While not a particularly exciting part of archival work, regular shelf reads are necessary for keeping our records organized and making sure that everything is where it is supposed to be and has not been accidentally misfiled. Our “spring cleaning” has also extended to our internal office files, which we are currently in the process of re-organizing.

In other news, we recently received an exciting collection from the Peter White Public Library—many boxes of recordings from meetings of the City of Marquette’s Board of Commissioners! These recordings span several decades. While we already had paper minutes from these meetings (which have been digitized and are available here), the recordings will be a valuable addition for those interested in researching local governmental history.

In other news, our processor, Glenda Ward, is about to finish a collection of seventy-eight CCI old age pension records. They range in date from 1908-1917. The names on the pension records will be available in our database, so if you have a relative who worked at CCI during that time period, be sure to check it out!

Speaking of the CCI collection, one of our major summer projects is to create a better inventory of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Company Records. At the moment, our decades-old index contains such helpful headings as “correspondence—multiple companies; unknown date range.” With thousands of volumes in the collection and no locations in our database, researching in the CCI collection can be quite difficult. A better summary of the collection and exactly where each volume is located will allow us to provide better access to the collection so that researchers can use these valuable records more easily.

The summer will also provide us with time to catch up of a backlog of preservation, accessioning, and processing, and other such activities. This includes flattening and encapsulating maps, getting a slide collection into proper slide envelopes, checking and fixing broken links on our website, and more. And as always, we will also be working on the continuing digitization of our audio and film collections as well.

Finally, the end of this semester marks the graduation of two of our staff: Morgan Paavola and Jessica Ulrich. Morgan, the Records Center Coordinator, is going on to the Archives and Records Administration program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jessica, the Accessioning Specialist, received a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship and will be attending Ball State University for science education.

We will all miss Morgan and Jessica, but we know that they will do well in all of their future endeavors.

Changes in our Schedule

Our hours will be changing for the summer: Starting Monday, April 27 (the first day of finals week), our hours will change to Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM.

We are also going to be experimenting with a new schedule during the fall semester. In an attempt to better suit the needs of patrons who cannot come in during the work day, our fall hours will be Monday through Friday 10 AM – 8 PM and Saturday 11 AM to 3 PM. Have an opinion on the schedule changes? Feel free to e-mail feedback, comments, or questions, to us at archives@nmu.edu.

Written by Annika Peterson


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Dominic Jacobetti

The Dominic J. Jacobetti collection focuses on his forty year (1954-1994) career as member of the Michigan House of Representatives. Within this time period Jacobetti sought to provide funding for multiple projects throughout Michigan but primarily the Upper Peninsula. Jacobetti was a proud Yooper and was often known as “a man of the people” and “the working man’s Representative.”

IMG (1)

Dominic Jacobetti was born in Negaunee, MI July 20, 1920 to Nick and Josephine Jacobetti. He attended St. Paul’s High School in 1938 and quickly started working as a miner for Athens Mining Company, and was promoted to become president of the United Steel Workers Union. Once he was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives he served on multiple committees such as the Conservation, Educational Institutions and Tuberculosis Hospitals Committees, the Conservation and Fish and Fisheries Committees, the Educational Institutions Committee, the Conservation Committee, the House Policy Committee, the House Policy and State Affairs Committees; and the Appropriations Committee. He involved himself with state-wide and local issues such as abortion/right to life, insurance reform, seat belt legislation, sobriety check lanes and tax limitation.

Jacobetti’s political focus was to maximize job opportunities, education programs, equal rights, transportation facilities and provide funding for ongoing projects within the Upper Peninsula.  Jacobetti felt so attached to the Upper Peninsula that he fought towards the effort of the Upper Peninsula becoming the fifty-first state.

Come check out Chat with the Archivist next Wednesday in the Jamrich lobby to learn more about Dominic Jacobetti.

Written by Peter Dewan

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The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Digital Collections

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives contains widespread and historically rich paper collections, but we also have an extensive digital collection. Audio and visual materials present the natural beauty of the Upper Peninsula, the growth of Northern Michigan University, and visits by influential and famous people. Digital materials include several hundred U-matic video tapes, VHS tapes, 8mm and 16mm film, oral history interviews, and other audio tape recordings.

Archives are dedicated to preserving and making available historical documents for public research, and the digitization of original documents and their presentation on a global scale via the Internet offer the most efficient way to present historical information.

However, digitization also presents the archivist with a unique set of challenges, such as computer hardware and software obsolescence, the large volume of historical materials, and the high cost of digitization technology. Combined, these challenges make digitization of historical documents very expensive and out of the reach of smallest, most poorly funded archival institutions. As a result, many archivists are forced to seek external funding sources, mainly through grants, in order to afford digitization projects. Unfortunately, grant writing is very time consuming and difficult without any guarantee of success.

Digitized Collections 

In 2009, the National Historical Publication and Records Commission (NHPRC) awarded the NMU Archives nearly $90,000 to digitize three record series from the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company  (CCI) records. NMU hired Rachael Bussert (now Assistant Professor and Congressional Papers Archivist at the University of Hawaii) as the project archivist. Ms. Bussert and four student assistants digitized 70,000 documents, 500 maps, and over 200 photographs. The collection documents nearly seventy years of the Company’s history on the Marquette Iron Range beginning in 1893.

The Anatomy of a Murder  online exhibit commemorates the Fiftieth Anniversary of the publication of Anatomy of a Murder, written by John Voelker. The 1952 murder trial of Army Lt. Coleman Peterson inspired Voelker to write the novel which later became an Academy award nominated movie of the same name (1959). Voelker was Peterson’s defense attorney and saved the erstwhile officer with an insanity plea. The exhibit highlights the original court transcripts, the hypothetical question, Voelker’s handwritten manuscripts, Lieutenant Peterson’s testimony, Paquette’s testimony, and photographs.

Two former Archives student assistants, Jennifer Hanfelt and Olivia Ernst, designed and created the NMU digital audio collection. The project identified and digitized historically significant oral history interviews of faculty and staff and important events on campus. Hanfelt and Ernst cataloged the digital copies and created links to the Lydia Olson Library catalog, making them more available to researchers. The collection includes the visits by former president Gerald Ford and Alexander Ginzburg, a renowned Russian human rights activist. Also included are Commencement Speeches (1977-1988), a series of recordings related to Italian Histories in the central Upper Peninsula, and links to the Finnish Folklore Oral History Project at Finlandia University.

Up Coming Projects

On April 2, the NMU Archives unveiled a new online exhibition. The exhibition examines the history of student protests on Northern Michigan University’s campus during the 1960s. NMU was not immune to the political and social strife that gripped the nation at that time. Although some protest actions mirrored larger state and national events, many reflected the unique culture and circumstances of the Upper Peninsula. Student assistants Annika Peterson, Anne Krohn, and Kelley Kanon researched, wrote, and designed the exhibition. To view the exhibition, please visit the Archives web site at www.nmu.edu/archives.

University Archivist Marcus Robyns and Records Analyst Sara Kiszka recently submitted a grant to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The NMU Archives proposes to use NHPRC funds to digitize the Dr. Michael Loukinen Folklore Film Collection.  The Collection includes over 2,000 minutes of analog audio and 16 mm film outtakes that Loukinen used to produce four one-hour folklore documentaries about the Upper Peninsula.  The project will make the digital collection freely available online.

Written by Morgan Paavola

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Upcoming Presentations at the Archives! Cordwood at Coalwood: Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company’s Secondary Industrial Ventures and More!

Several weeks ago we announced that there would be two presentations at the Archives this semester. We finally have the exact dates and times to give you!

First, we will be discussing our new online exhibit about student protests at Northern in the 1960s on April 2 at 7 PM in the Archives (LRC 126). The presentation should last no longer than an hour. It will focus on a brief overview of the website and a description of the research and website creation process. The students who researched the project and coded the website will describe how they benefited from the experience.

On April 10, the Marquette County Genealogical Society and Peter White Public Library will be putting on a Genealogy Workshop from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Peter White Public Library. The Archives will have a table at the event to showcase some of our genealogical materials, so be sure to stop by our table and say hi! Spaces are limited, so be sure to register early with the library.

Finally, the last Evening at the Archives for the semester will be on April 16 at 7 PM in the Archives (LRC 126). Last summer, the Archives awarded Aaron Howe the Grace H. Magnaghi Visitor Research Grant. This grant gives researchers funds to travel to the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives and do research. They are required to come back to the Archives at some point and give a presentation about their research.

Aaron is an anthropology graduate student at Western Michigan University. He researched Coalwood, a cordwood camp near Munising that operated from 1900 to 1912, using the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company records. His presentation uses the information garnered from the CCI records as well as his own archaeological research at Coalwood to examine the daily lives of the people who lived at Coalwood as well as the importance of Coalwood to CCI.


Aaron Howe Presentation Poster


Written by Annika Peterson

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Document Conservation and Repair

One of the most important procedures within the Archives is the preservation and conservation of old documents and photographs. Depending on the age of the document, preservation can be very time consuming.  It is important to use the correct procedures in order to retain all of the information from the damaged document.

Paper quality has declined since the 1850’s, prior to the 1850’s paper was made primarily by hand, using cotton and linen rags with a calcium carbonate wash. Paper documents are very delicate and must be stored in acid-free folders and boxes so they don’t deteriorate. IMG_1688

Some of the major contributors to deterioration are wide variations of temperature and relative humidity, atmospheric pollutants and light exposure. High humidity increases the growth of mold and the depletion of the paper’s molecular structure, while lower humidity increases the brittleness of the molecular structure. Pollutants such as dirt, dust, soot and tar embed themselves within the fibers of the paper, which weaken the paper structure.  Too much light exposure can result in chemical reactions that cause the paper to deteriorate.

When documents have been rolled up for an extended period of time, they need to be flattened and placed into Mylar. Mylar is a sheet of plastic that can be used to preserve brittle documents.  The most efficient way to flatten a document without any damage is to humidify the document.

  1. Fill a plastic container with a quarter inch of water.
  2. Place the document on a wire rack, so it does not get wet.IMG_1691
  3. After 24 hours the fibers within the paper are softer and easier to flatten.
  4. Remove the document from the container and place it between two pieces of acid free paper for another 24 hours, use weights at the corners of the document to keep it flat.

After flattening the document it needs to be encapsulated in Mylar.IMG_1690

These procedures make researching easier for patrons. Have any questions about document preservation and repair? Contact us at archives@nmu.edu.

Written by Peter Dewan

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Collection Spotlight: Citizens to Save Superior Shorelines Records

the view of little presque isle

Photo Source: http://www.mymichigantrips.com/hiking-michigan/presque-isle-to-wetmore-hike.html

Did you know that Little Presque Isle almost became a power plant in the late 1960s? If it weren’t for concerned people banding together in the form of a group called Citizens to Save the Superior Shoreline (CSSS), Little Presque might not be the beautiful area that it is today.

Until 1969, a local Marquette family owned Little Presque and kept it open for public use. Then, they began looking to sell the property to anyone who would buy it.

The UP Power Company offered a lot of money for the property and the family agreed. Many people were outraged at the destruction of such a gorgeous area. They came together and formed the CSSS. In the face of a petition with thousands of signatures, the UP Power Company dropped their plan to buy the property. A few years later, the family again almost sold the land to residential developers.

CSSS worried that they would not be able to permanently save Little Presque. Then, in 1975, the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company announced that they were looking to purchase some land from the DNR to expand their mining enterprises. In order to acquire the interior land that they needed, they were going to trade land of equal worth to the DNR.

CSSS saw this upcoming land trade as an opportunity to preserve Little Presque forever. They approached CCI and the DNR and asked if CCI would be willing to buy the land surrounding Little Presque and give that to the DNR in trade for the interior land that they needed for mining. CCI agreed. This area included not just Little Presque Isle but also such popular recreational areas as Harlow Lake and Wetmore Landing.

CSSS did not just work to keep Little Presque Isle and the surrounding areas pristine. They also tackled many other environmental issues, such as local problems with air and water pollution and bottle recycling in Michigan.

Interested in learning more about the activities of CSSS? Come to the Archives and see their collection! It includes meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters, financial records, copies of legislative bills about environmental issues, news clippings, and maps of Presque Isle.

Or, come and check out our next Chat with the Archivist session on Wednesday, February 25 from 10 AM – 12 PM! Marcus will be somewhere in the lobby areas of first floor Jamrich with some materials from the CSSS collection. He will be happy to answer your questions regarding local environmental history or any archival topic.

Written by Annika Peterson

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Comprehensive Records Survey

The Northern Michigan University and Central Upper Peninsula Archives contains manuscript collections from around the Upper Peninsula, but it also is an in-house collecting archives. As an in-house archives, university offices and departments transfer records to be archived and preserved at the University Records Center. Many of the records are not vital to the university’s function and are eventually destroyed according to retention and disposition schedules. Federal, State, and university policies dictate these schedules that the Archivist or Records Analyst follow to determine when records are confidentially disposed.

Ms. Sara Kiszka, Records Analyst, has launched a Comprehensive Records Survey (CRS) of all official university records on campus. The CRS uses the methodology of functional analysis to determine the historical value of University records.[1]

Functional analysis is a method of appraising records to determine their historical value. It carefully examines the mission and duties of an office. The staff analyzes the importance of each office function within the context of the parent institution’s primary functions and missions. Those office functions determined to be most important for completing the institution’s mission are likely to produce records with the greatest historical value. When appraising records, we identify the type and format of the records, how they are stored and arranged, and the frequency of how often they are used by staff. This macro level approach to arrangement allows us to view records as they are actually used, rather than how traditional appraisal purports them to be.

Typically, university records are arranged by the department or office hierarchy in the university. This method does not allow for flexibility within the constant shifting of departments and functions. With functional analysis method of appraisal for records, university records managers can better adapt their policies with that of the records produced by the university.

After five months of preparation, workshops, and staff, Ms. Kiszka launched the CRS at the beginning of Winter Semester, 2015. CRS Technicians, Prince Parker, Stefan Nelson, and Senior CRS Technician Morgan Paavola, have begun visiting academic departments and collecting information about how offices create and store their records. With this data, Ms. Kiszka and the CRS team will develop and publish online unique appraisal reports for every office; these reports will outline new disposition schedules and file storage recommendations among many other things.

Ms. Kiszka and Ms. Paavola are preparing a case study of the CRS for publication and presentation at the spring meeting of the Midwest Archives Conference and the annual conference of the Michigan Archival Association in June, 2015.


To follow the progress of the CRS click here http://www.nmu.edu/archives/node/230


[1] Marcus Robyns, Using Functional Analysis in Archival Appraisal: A Practical and Effective Alternative to Traditional Appraisal Methodologies, 2014.

Written by Morgan Paavola

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