Evening at the Archives: Italian American Immigration in the Upper Peninsula

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This past Tuesday, we held our bi-annual Evening at the Archives event. Senior history major Austin Bannister gave a fascinating presentation about Italian American immigration in the Upper Peninsula in the early twentieth century. His research was part of his HS 390 project, a class required of all history majors in which they must do a research project at the archives.

He discussed general trends of immigration to the United States in the early twentieth century. Many Italians, he said, came here only temporarily to work in the mines and later returned home. Others frequently went back and forth between the US and Italy. Some remained here and even arranged marriages. Mining conditions and fraternal organizations created by the miners were also discussed.

Interested in this topic? Want to do some research yourself? Here are useful resources at the archives:

  • Italian American Oral History Collection: This incredibly helpful resource consists of hundreds of oral history interviews conducted by Dr. Russell Magnaghi and others.
  • Marquette County Articles of Incorporation: As mentioned above, Italian immigrants created fraternal organizations to help support each other in times of need. Many of these organization registered their bylaws and other materials with the county.
  • Marquette County Naturalization Records: The naturalization records document how many Italians (and other nationalities) were becoming citizens, where they were from, what their job was, if they were married or had children, etc. They can be quite important for researchers.
  • Russell Magnaghi papers: Besides creating the Italian American oral history collection, Dr. Magnaghi has done much research into Italian Americans (and many other topics!). His papers document his research and can be extremely helpful to researchers seeking sources.
  • Il Minatore: A few issues of an Italian language newspaper from the UP
  • Many other regional newspapers: While time-consuming, looking through newspapers can yield fantastic results!

Come into the Archives and check out these and other collections today! Please note that we will be closed Wednesday-Friday of next week for Thanksgiving.

Written by Annika Peterson

Collection Feature: Maps and Plans

For this blog post, I thought I’d highlight a style of record we have here at the archives that receives less attention than many of our other collections and archives- the maps and plans. Maps and plans can shed insight into the knowledge of the times of the area and the landscape, and the extent of exploration and societal interaction that was occurring. Plans typically focus on proposed construction projects, or architectural designs for buildings and other structures. The breadth and depth of the types of maps and plans here at the archives is one of its greatest strengths. We have maps of the UP, of Lake Superior, of the Marquette area, of individual localities such as farms, as well as forestry and property maps, in addition to numerous differing mining-related maps, maps of the University here and aerial views over time, and much more. Some of these maps even go back into the 1700s, making them some of the oldest materials we have at the archives! Below are pictured a small sampling of such maps.

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Here is a map of the U.P. and Lake Superior from the 1900s.

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This map from the 1700s (in French) is one of the oldest maps we have. Members of our staff are currently working on specially preserving it to ensure it lasts in years to come. The artistry and the knowledge of the time make this map especially interesting. Many of the maps we have are found in our map cabinet in the processing room, and all are accessible to the public. One large collection is Archiv-016. It contains maps and plans from the Marquette area, Delta and Menomonee Counties in the UP, the Upper Peninsula, Michigan and Wisconsin, and the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

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This map is a map of some of the different copper mines in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the UP from the 1860s to the 1960s. Cool stuff! This map was only just “discovered” as I went through some two-to-three dozen unprocessed maps and plans currently sitting on top of our map cabinet which for varying reasons were never properly catalogued or accessioned. So, I’m going through them. First, I check to see if they’re in our Archives Space database. If not, I determine whether they can be grouped with existing collections or if new accession records need to be made.

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A more local chart here, this one shows a proposed floor plan for a building at the Sawyer International Airport near Gwinn from ca. the 1970s.

Come and check out these maps and more at the Archives!

Written by Stefan Nelson

The Political Opinions of Students in 1970

Dr. Robert Kulisheck was a distinguished professor of Political Science at Northern Michigan University (NMU) from 1969 until his retirement in 2007. He served as head of the Political Science Department (1975-1998) and was the director of the Graduate Program in Public Administration (1977- 2001). Kulisheck had just completed his PhD in Political Science at the University of Iowa when he began teaching at NMU in the fall of 1969. During his long career at NMU, Kulisheck was a strong proponent of experiential education. He developed a successful Congressional internship program and was instrumental in the creation of NMU’s graduate program in Public Administration. Kulisheck was also very active in Marquette politics, having served as a Marquette city commissioner, mayor pro tem, mayor, and chair of the Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee.

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The Dr. Robert Kulisheck papers document nearly four decades of teaching, administrative work, and consulting services. The collection comprises five cubic feet of correspondence, class materials, reports, and studies. Kulisheck taught a wide range of political science courses, including public policy analysis and the politics of United States foreign policy. Of particular interest to historians and social science scholars are the collection’s two cubic feet of “student information forms.” Happily, Kulisheck retained all of the completed forms for his classes. Requesting and gathering basic information about their students is a time-honored professorial function, and in this regard Kulisheck’s form was hardly remarkable. What set his effort apart from his peers’, however, was the form’s final question, “What do you think is the major problem in the United States today?”

Answers varied widely and evolved over time. In Kulisheck’s lower division classes, students generally offered only a terse word or phrase, such as race relations, Viet Nam, and Nixon. Others revealed impatient cynicism with more pejorative clichés like “people are stupid” or “politicians are all corrupt criminals.” Thankfully and not surprisingly, the quality in the scope and content of the answers becomes increasingly more thoughtful, reflective, and better written as students progressed in their college career. By the time students reached Kulisheck’s 400 level seminars, most answers were short essays of several paragraphs in length and addressed all sorts of issues, including environmental protection, government bureaucracy, gender equality, and the mal-distribution of wealth. Taken together, reactions to the question, “What do you think . . .”, shed some light on how NMU students perceived and understood political, social, and economic challenges besetting the nation during the latter decades of the twentieth century.

Despite the school’s remote, peripheral location, NMU students were very much aware and attuned to the World below the bridge. By the end of the 1960s, the NMU community had weathered a number of serious political and social convulsions that reflected or responded to wider national events. Reverberations and the clean-up from these storms would continue to define and shape the campus throughout the ensuing decades. [For a complete history of these events, please see the NMU Archives online exhibit, entitled Student Protests at Northern Michigan University.]

The following quotes are selected excerpts of student responses to the question “What do you think . . .” for Kulisheck’s PS 401, Senior Seminar (Winter, 1970). These commentaries are nearly fifty years old and suggest each student’s struggle to intellectually process one of the most trying decades in United States history. Depending upon one’s perspective, these commentaries also spark a strong and dispiriting familiarity to current events.

What do you think is the major problem in the United States today?

  • The present government which is, in reality, a bureaucratic system, impersonal to the real needs of the people, based upon the interests of special power elites such as the military, military-industrial complex, the super-rich and their giant corporations. Government must be redirected to the people and domestic problems, such as racism, pollution, the cities, education, etc.
  • Democracy isn’t really as neat as it appears to be. Democracy has become the American dilemma. It is too slow and can probably never be had. It seems the minority is always sacrificed by the majority.
  • I feel a major problem is that of apathy . . . This apathy goes beyond simply failing to vote or being concerned with political issues. It extends to every aspect of daily living, from pollution of our air to neglect of the migrant workers.
  • The inability of people to handle the inputs going into their perceptive systems . . . [People] are not adaptive to the revolution in communications systems (live television from all parts of the globe, etc) . . . This seeming speed-up in time, and constant news of cataclysmic events increases tension and anxiety.
  • We must stop spending so much on defense and work on our many problems at home; such as alienation of the young, poor, or black people. In doing this we must create a better understanding between people. Instead of spending on our war machine we must spend on education, pollution control, and our other problems at home.
  • Alienation of the individual and of society. I agree with Albert Camus that man is confronted with an existence with an inevitable doom . . . I feel that this has affected enough individuals so as to create a social problem for society. People are turning to existentialism, hedonism and other alternatives to religion which do not seem to furnish the security of Christianity.
  • A large part of the American population has lost faith in the American system. The minority groups feel the government has no concern for their particular problems. The youth are fed up with the slow progress of our government on such topics as war, air and water pollution, and other factors that are affecting our environment.
  • The desire of man the animal to dominate and control other members of his species . . . When man is taught, has learned or realizes that he needs to develop a working relationship to his environment and surrounding individuals, the other problems such as pollution, waste, murder, and disruption of the social order will be greatly decreased.
  • The failure of the “establishment” to incorporate all segments of society into the “system.” American youth, the poor, and black people plus other minorities have the attitude that they do not have a stake in the nation.
  • The political, social, and economic inequities which are prevalent represent the major problems facing America. From these great inequities, comes anger, hatred, violence, suppression, fear, bigotry, and racism. If these inequities cannot be eliminated, then America will succumb to revolution and ruin.

Written by Marcus Robyns, University Archivist

Check Out Our Online Exhibits

Many are aware of the hundreds of collections that are held at the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives. Our collections range from one folder to one hundred boxes. Some are filled with photos and cassettes while others contain documents and railroad maps that pertain to a unique time in the history of the UP or NMU.  No matter how different the collections may be, they’re all historical documents that are personally selected by the University Archivist.

In most cases, patrons come into the archives to look at collections and to conduct their research, but some are unable to come to the university for this. This is one of the reasons why the “Online Exhibits” were created. The online exhibits page showcases some of our largest and most interesting collections at the archives.

One of the first exhibits put on the site, was the “Recorded in Stone: Voices on the Marquette Iron Range.” This contains numerous articles and bibliographies of the history of immigration to Marquette as well as oral history interviews that you can listen to on the site. Another exhibit was created for the fiftieth anniversary of Anatomy of a Murder, a novel by local writer John D. Voelker that was later made into a movie with Jimmy Stewart. The site contains court transcripts, testimonies, juror interviews, and photos from the real case that inspired the novel.

Besides these two collections, there are also exhibits, pictures, and histories on historical buildings at NMU ranging from 1899 to 1951. Finally, there is an exhibit about student protests that took place on NMU’s campus in the 1960s.

Written by Prince Parker

Collection Spotlight: The Zonta Club Records

On November 14th, 1972, the Marquette chapter of the Zonta club officially held their first meeting. They were a group dedicated to empowering women through acts of service and advocacy, and also preventing discrimination against women everywhere. The women’s rights movement had been building over the previous two decades, with the FDA’s approval of birth control in 1960; the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique; the founding of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1963, which was the largest feminist group in America; the fateful Roe vs. Wade supreme court case, which officially made abortion legal; and many, many more. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Zonta club would be formed all over the country for the support of women. The Marquette chapter has received numerous awards from NMU, the city of Marquette, as well as from the head branch of the Zonta club in recognition for outstanding service and achievement. They formed committees for service as well as to research the status of women. Around the UP, these women volunteer at schools and museums, promoting education among children and adults. Far from being a simple feminist group, these women choose to promote women’s rights not through fighting, but through showing how much good women can do for their communities.

The Zonta Club records, MSS-006, consist of seven boxes of financial records, correspondence, minutes, bylaws, conference records, newsletters, newspaper articles, and more. Stop by the archives and see them! We are open Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10 AM-5 PM and Tuesday/Thursday 10 AM-7 PM.

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Written by Grace Menter

Look Who’s At the Archives!

Please welcome our two new Student Assistants!  This semester we have added Grace Menter and Libby Serra to our Archives family and we are all very excited to have them here.  Following tradition, we have invited them to tell you a little about themselves and what brought them to NMU and the Archives.

Grace Menter

Accession Specialist

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Grace is a sophomore studying History and Public History.  She is originally from a small town in Michigan outside of Ann Arbor, called Chelsea. Grace chose NMU because she loves the outdoors and going on adventures with her friends. Her interest in history arose when she took Advanced Placement U.S. History in high school and absolutely fell in love with everything about John Adams. Working at the NMU Archives is her dream job, since her major is History. In her spare time, Grace loves to watch documentaries, and Netflix in general; read books, like the Song of Ice and Fire series; and most especially she loves her cat, whose name is Tormund, after a character in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Grace’s favorite food is chocolate, as is typical for any girl her age, though her love for cats outweighs chocolate by a lot. If she could feasibly adopt all of the cats she wants, then she would need a much bigger apartment. But for now, she will continue to love her cat Tormund and keep on studying history.

Libby Serra

Digitization Specialist

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Libby is a sophomore and a Digital Cinema major.  She is from the Chicago area.  Libby chose NMU because she loves hiking and all things outdoors.  Plus, the art programs are really cool! She loves making videos with her friends and finally decided to put all that to use here at NMU. She decided to apply to the Archives because she has had an extensive background in library work as well as computer programs. She loves watching documentaries, reading, listening and discovering new music, and enjoys going on scuba diving trips with her family.

Once again, WELCOME TO THE ARCHIVES, Grace and Libby.

We hope you are as happy to be here as we are to have you.

Written by Glenda Ward

Need a Place to “Waste” Time?

Do you find yourself having free time during your day and absolutely no idea how to spend it?

Well, we can help with that.

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Come to the NMU Archives, located in the lower level of the Learning Resources Center in Room 126, and BROWSE.  In the Archives we have a wide and varied selection of materials that are readily available for patrons to look through in our Reading Room and in our Conference Room.  You could also talk to our plants Yogi and Castor or spend some time with the Lone Arranger.

In the Reading Room you will find a collection of books related to the history, peoples, and cultures of NMU and the local area.  On these shelves you will also find copies of the Marquette County Commission meeting minutes and Marquette County Budgets, Harlow’s Wooden Man journals, and the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections.  There is a collection of Polk Directories for Marquette County (1886-2011), mining reports, indexes to the Cleveland-Cliffs materials available at the Archives, NMU Yearbooks from 1910 to 1980, starting with the Olive and Gold in 1910, and school bulletins back to Northern State Normal School’s bulletin from 1901.  Sitting on top of the microfilm cabinets are three large ledgers that contain an index of the court cases in Marquette County from 1852-1981, while we don’t have the actual court case files in the Archives, we do have them in our off-site facility and can have them here for you to view usually within 24-48 hours.

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There are microfilm collections of newspapers from cities across the Central Upper Peninsula, including the Mining Journal (1846-2016); Marquette Monthly (1987-2013); NMU newspapers (1919-2013); and the Nishnawbe News (1971-1982).  There are also microfilm collections of materials from the Office of Indian Affairs (1780-1940); Henry Schoolcraft papers (1782-1878); diaries and correspondence of Baptist missionary Abel Bingham and his wife Hannah (1778-1858) and of Methodist minister John H. Pitezel (1824-1889).  In the Reading Room you can also view Cemetery Transcripts (MSS-382) from Marquette, Alger, Mackinac, Schoolcraft, and Luce counties.

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Not enough time for books or microfilm?  Then walk on through to our Conference Room and browse the twelve file cabinets you will find there.  These file cabinets contain what we lovingly refer to as “Archivist Files” and are meant to be quick and ready reference material.  These drawers are filled with materials relating to the Central Upper Peninsula (ARCHIV-001); Northern Michigan University (ARCHIV-002); a Vertical File (ARCHIV-003); and a large collection of NMU photographs (ARCHIV-014).  Each of the four collections are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and to make it even easier we labeled the front of each drawer.  (WARNING:  Whatever you do, DO NOT open the boxes sitting on top of the file cabinets…they contain secret information and we may have to keep you here FOREVER if you do!) (Oh, what the heck.  Go ahead – live dangerously!)

The archivist file for the Central Upper Peninsula fills five drawers and covers not only mining, lumbering, railroads, shipping, and tourism; but also, economics and education; churches and organizations; history, ethnic groups, people, places, and war; events, sports, and theater.  Let me not forget controversies, crime, disasters, and mysteries, along with lots of other subjects in between.  The NMU archivist file takes up twelve drawers and covers a wide array of topics all relating to NMU and representing various periods of the University’s history.  You will find information on people, faculty/staff, buildings, administration, and organizations.  Here you will also find files on controversies, mysteries, and tragedies.  Feeling a little nostalgic and want to take a trip to the past, then wander through the files of NMU memorabilia we have compiled.

The materials contained in the three drawers of the Vertical File fall in line with our book collection.  These materials are cataloged and arranged by library standards.  You will find information related to any number of topics from the business and economic history of the Upper Peninsula to politics and government of the Upper Peninsula.  Then look at information on the people, culture, and literature of the Upper Peninsula.  The materials on the history of the Upper Peninsula include information on Native American Indians, emigrants and immigrants, missionaries and explorers, historical sites, as well as, the Upper Peninsula at War and the Holocaust.

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You could spend hours looking through the sixteen drawers that contain part of our Photographic collection.  (Yes, sixteen drawers!)  But this is only a small part of the collection, there are approximately another 75 boxes of photographs of NMU and the region in our collection storage area.  The files in the conference room hold pictures of NMU at different times in its history and are of many different subjects.  There are pictures relating to academics, administration, alumni (yes, even famous ones, but then aren’t we all famous), faculty and staff, sports and sporting events, buildings and the campus, and commencements (you can even see the first graduating class at Northern from 1901).  Student life photographs will keep you entertained with the assortment of things that have gone on at NMU, from orientations, to checking into the dorms to married student life and we could never forget the “Mud Festival.”  The Homecoming files will show you events like the “World’s Largest Game of Musical Chairs,” the “World’s Largest Pasty,” and those wonderful homecoming parades.  My favorites are the Events files, they are massive!  Only a portion of what you can see are photos of campus visitors, like Muhammed Ali in 1977; concerts, among them are BB King, BTO, and Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman; performances given by Yakov Smirnoff, Nancy Hauser Dance Co., the American Indian Dance Theatre and many others; and political visitors that include governors, congressmen, representatives, presidents and presidential candidates.  There are also pictures of the many speakers that have come to NMU (and there have been a lot).  To name just a few of the people our students have had the honor to hear we have:  Ansel Adams, Edward Albee, Vernon Bellecourt, Cesar Chavez, Alexander Ginzburg, Dick Gregory, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alex Hailey, Spike Lee, Abbie Hoffman, Elie Wiesel, and Simon Wiesenthal.

Now you have no excuses for not having anything to do before, between, or after classes and during your breaks from work.  Remember this has been just a glimpse into the treasure trove of materials and information readily available to you for browsing, there is oh so much more.  Come to the Archives and find out about things you never knew happened here at NMU or in the Central Upper Peninsula, you might find both areas more interesting than you ever realized.  We would love to have you visit and help us make it through our day.

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We are in Room 126 on the Lower Level of the LRC and are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am to 5pm and on Tuesday and Thursday from 10am to 7pm.  You can also contact us via email at archives@nmu.edu, call us at 906-227-1225.  Follow us on our Facebook page, Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, subscribe to our Blog, The Northern Tradition,and check out our webpage.

You can find additional information on the collections mentioned here, as well as all of our other collections on ArchivesSpace.

Thanks to our two new student assistants, Grace and Libby, for jumping in and being our models today.  More on them next week so stay tuned.

Written by Glenda Ward, Arrangement and Description Specialist