Collection Spotlight: Native American History Resources at the Archives

November is Native American Heritage Month, so today we thought we would share with you some collections at the Archives related to Native American history:

Henry R. Schoolcraft papers: Henry Rowe Schoolcraft was an “author, ethnologist, explorer, geologist, glass manufacturer, and Indian agent” in the nineteenth century. The collection includes his correspondence, published and unpublished articles and essays, journals, reports, and dictionaries of Native American languages. The Archives houses microfilm copies of part of his papers, which are maintained at the Library of Congress. To learn more about Schoolcraft, please see our previous post featuring his collection.

John Pitezel papers: John Pitezel was a Methodist missionary in the Upper Peninsula. His papers contain correspondence, notebooks, essays, and published writings which document his attempts at proselytization among Native Americans in the UP. It should be noted that our copy of the John Pitezel papers is a microfilm copy. The originals are at the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

Office of Indian Affairs microfilm: These partial microfilm copies of a collection housed at the National Archives document the correspondence between the national Office of Indian Affairs and the Michigan Superintendent and Agents during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include census roles of Native American tribes in Michigan, correspondence relating to treaty negotiations, land surveys and allotments, and reports sent by the Michigan Agents to the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Interior.

Nishnawbe News: The Nishnawbe News was the newspaper of the North American Indian Student Organization from 1971 to 1983. At one point, it had a circulation of over 8000 people, but lost funding during a budget crisis. Our collection of the Nishnawbe News runs from 1971 to 1982 and does not include every edition of the paper.

Anishinaabe News: The “Nishnawbe News” returned under a new name, the Anishinaabe News, and a new digital format in 2002. In 2005, it became a physical printed newspaper. It is a publication of Northern Michigan University’s Center for Native American Studies (CNAS) that is “dedicated to featuring Native American-related news, perspectives, and artwork of writers, photographers, and proofreaders, both Native and non-Native.” The Archives has copies of most of the Anishinaabe News up to the present edition.

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An example of the Anishinaabe News from July 2015.

Other Native American Newspapers: The Archives also has copies of a number of other newspapers concerned with Native American issues from across the UP. These include the Bay Mills News: Gnoozhekaaning Bidajimowin Newspapers (1999-present), the Gikendaam Chiwiikwegamag Newspapers (2005-2007) from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community near L’Anse, the Menominee Tribal News Newspapers (1990-1999), and the Sault Tribe News/Win Awenen Nisitotung Newspapers (1994-present). These newspapers document local news from regional Native American communities and record local opinion on state and national news as well.

Interested in learning more about Upper Peninsula Native American history? Come check out all of these collections at the Archives!

Written by Annika Peterson


Sometimes while working at the archives, we find ourselves unveiling documents that spark a personal interest. During homecoming week this semester, we were digitizing photographs of previous winning floats for a patron. One of these float-winners in 1957 was an organization called Tri Mu Fraternity. One of our employees being in a Greek organization, took personal interest in the patron’s request.

1957-First Prize Homecoming Float: Tri Mu

The ultimate resource for all things Northern Michigan University is in a book compiled by Dr. Russell M. Magnaghi titled A Sense of Time: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University. We were fortunate enough to find an entry on Tri Mu Fraternity:

“Tri Mu Fraternity was organized on December 19, 1922. One of its founders was John Voelker who was responsible for the writing of the Tri Mu song (lyrics only, melody is the Purdue fight song) and initiation ceremony. The three “Ms” stand for mind, morals, and muscle…In 1961, the members of the fraternity decided to become a chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, a national fraternity…. (Magnaghi 380).”

Several interesting factoids! Firstly, we couldn’t believe the infamous John Voelker, of all people, would be a founding member of the Tri Mu Fraternity. John Voelker is best known as the author of Anatomy of a Murder which was adopted into a film starring James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara and George C. Scott. Voelker was a former prosecutor, state supreme court justice and avid fisherman. He typically wrote his novels under the name of Robert Traver and based his novels from his previous court cases.

John Volker

John Voelker

Secondly, how very fascinating that, a picture we stumbled upon during a normal patron request, would reveal some history to a Greek organization that exists on Northern’s campus still today. Tau Kappa Epsilon is one of the two fraternities (along with Alpha Sigma Phi) remaining after the majority of NMU’s Greek life was dissolved in the 1980’s. To think that Ishpeming’s John Voelker played a hand in creating a brotherhood that we still see on campus today is awesome!


Tau Kappa Epsilon in 1961

Tau Kappa Epsilon in 2015

Written by Kelley Kanon and Peter Dewan

Collection Spotlight: Political Collections at the Archives

This past Tuesday, November 3, was Election Day in the United States. As it was an off-year election, it featured only special elections to the United States Congress, as well as municipal, school board, gubernatorial, and state legislative elections in a few states. In honor of Election Day, we thought that we would highlight some of our collections related to politics.

The Archives houses the collections of several individuals from the UP active in state politics. One such individual is Dominic Jacobetti, who served from 1954 to 1994 in the Michigan State House of Representatives and was often called the “Godfather of the UP” for his ability to acquire funding to UP projects. The collection comprises seventy-five boxes of material that document his campaigns and his work in the legislature. It includes speeches, reports, correspondence, and newspaper articles.

Dominic Jacobetti, the “Godfather of the UP”

Another collection from a politician is the Charles Varnum papers, who served in the Michigan State House of Representatives from 1966 to 1983. The collection includes records of legislation that he worked on, correspondence, and campaign materials. It also contains audio and photographs of Varnum and his campaigns. His legislative materials especially focus on the Newberry State Mental Hospital.

Another politician who dealt with the Newberry State Mental Hospital was Pat Gagliardi, whose papers are also in the Archives. He served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1982 to 1998. He focused on issues related to lighthouses and the underwater history of the Great Lakes and providing funding for libraries and museums. He also served on many committees covering a variety of topics from the environment to the budget to tourism to retirement issues.

We also have the papers of Fred Sabin, a local leader of the Republican Party who was chairman of the 11th Congressional District Republican Committee and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1964. His records include correspondence, publications, and campaign materials for the local Republican party as well as scrapbooks documenting his political activities.

The Archives also houses records for political organizations such as the Marquette County Democratic Party. records document the local Democratic Party’s activities from 1990 to 2004. They include correspondence, financial information, membership listings, meeting minutes, event materials, federal election commission records, and records concerning campaign kick-off dinners, campaign headquarters records, party conventions, and memberships. Of particular interest to the NMU community are records of NMU students who interned with the party.

Interested in local political history? Come to the Archives and check out the Marquette County Democratic Party records, or our records from local politicians such as Dominic Jacobetti, Charles Varnum, Fred Sabin, and Pat Gagliardi.

Written by Prince Parker and Annika Peterson

LGBT History at the Archives

October is a special month here in the Upper Peninsula. The changing of the leaves hits full swing, the temperature takes a sharp downturn, and more often than not we get our first dustings of snow. October also happens to be LGBTQ History Month as well as Archives Month! I had the pleasure of collaborating with Dr. Chet DeFonso, a professor of history at NMU and active member of the LGBTQ organizations on campus, on a tandem celebration of the two events in the form of an Evening at the Archives presentation on the role of archives in the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ Evening at the ArchivesThe archives staff created a wonderful poster to advertise the event around Marquette and the NMU campus.

Dr. Defonso’s presentation centered around the use of archives as a community space for LGBTQ communities at repositories in metropolitan areas across the Midwest and online. He detailed the general historiography of LGBTQ scholarship, and provided examples of archival spaces being used by the LGBTQ community to gather, develop social movements, and create stories and bonds to be passed down to their posterity. One such example is the Leather Archives and Museum ( The Leather Archives serve as a repository for the compilation, preservation and maintenance of leather, kink, and fetish lifestyles.

Kinky collegeKinky Kollege is a collaboration by the nation’s top Alternative Lifestyle Educators to provide a community of fellowship and education related to fetishes and alternative lifestyles. This is just one example of what one might find while perusing the Leather Archives and Museum website.

My own contribution to the event was to detail the collections and resources available in the Upper Peninsula, and, more specifically, here at the NMU archives. Although it may not be readily apparent, we offer a wide variety of collections related to the LGBTQ community! With a cursory glance researchers will find that we have the ALLIES and OUTlook organizational records from 1993-2003. This collection provides documentation of the numerous events hosted by the organizations, constitutional records and meeting minutes, attendance sheets, informational flyers, and clippings of community reactions to their activities and statements. We also have several printed publications by and for the LGBTQ community such as the Aurora newsletter that was dedicated to the dissemination of local and national LGBTQ news to citizens of the Upper Peninsula.

Drag Show PosterOUTlook has hosted the Upper Peninsula Drag Show since 1997 when it made the transition from being the Gay, Bi-sexual, and Lesbian Student Union.

Delving a little deeper into the stacks researchers will find that we offer numerous collections on religious organizations, legislators, and a large collection of newsprints available on microfilm that also have connections to the LGBTQ community. That list is by no means inclusive of all the subjects that may help researchers in their LGBTQ scholarly endeavors. The community at large strengthens when these collections are used for student and non-student papers, publications, and in the pursuit of knowledge. As they gain visibility so too does the history of the LGBTQ community, and in conjunction with the larger national movement for LGBTQ rights, scholars can help do their part to challenge the status quo and create a more accepting societal norm.

A video of the presentation will be available on Youtube, and will be linked to on the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives website under the public presentations heading

Written by Nikki Wilhelm

A Brief Announcement: Event Cancelled for November 1

We announced in a previous blog post that we would be holding a screening of the movie Anatomy of a Murder on November 1. Due to unforeseen complications, we will no longer be holding that screening this semester. However, we plan on rescheduling the movie for next semester. Please check here or on our Facebook page for updates about this event. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Collection Spotlight: Seney National Wildlife Refuge Records

Enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, canoeing, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, biking, berry or mushroom picking, or just enjoying the great outdoors? Than this week’s post is for you! About 80 miles east of campus lies the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, 95,455 acres of forest, field, and marsh full of outdoor opportunities. Created in 1935 by the federal government, the land that became the refuge was heartily logged for pines, hardwoods, and swamp conifer species. After logging, fires were lit to clear away debris and open up the land to prospective surveyors. Capitalizing on the work already done, a land development company dug some 7,000 drainage ditches and proceeded to sell the newly drained land parcels claiming prodigious agricultural productivity. The parcels were bought and soon abandoned by the farmers, and the land went back to the state.

Manuscript collection MSS-108 is just one of many collections highlighting nature in the Upper Peninsula. The Seney National Wildlife Refuge collection consists of annual narrative reports, Harvey C. Saunders’ memoirs, and photographs which span from 1938 to 1982. Saunders (1878-1967) was primarily a logger, and worked along the Manistique and Indian Rivers in Michigan. He wrote multiple manuscripts about the process of logging, logging camps, and log drives (Box 2, Location: 11-04-08). The annual narrative reports describe, among other things, weather and climate conditions, resource management, fire control, species inventories and conditions, land use planning, pesticide studies, water management practices, and habitat management. Also included are field notes, photographs, and personal accounts of early Seney conditions at the turn of the century by Saunders, including histories of Germfask and Grand Marais.

To see more photographs like the ones below (all from Box 3, Location: 35-03-06), stop by the NMU Archives in LRC 126 and check out the collection for yourself!


Workers inspect a sign scheduled for replacement, noting it may have historical value.


A staff member instructs a member of a local Boy Scout troop on the proper technique to plant spruce. Pictured is one of more than 5,000 seedlings planted in the ‘70’s on the refuge.


Geese cross the road at their designated site through the park.


An example of a group about to go fishing at one of the lakes within the park.


Park guests look at a bear caught in a bear trap that had been causing trouble for refuge guests.


A bulldozer clears a bumpy area into a smoother one, with the new frame for the welcome sign in the background on the left and the old one on the right.

Blog post written by Stefan Nelson

Forest Roberts Theatre

Many of you may be familiar with Forest Roberts Theatre, but do you know about its history? Do you know who Forest Roberts was and why the building was named after him? Do you know about the ghost who haunts the theatre?

Before the building was dedicated, it was known as the Little Theatre. It was part of a three-unit complex that was completed in 1963. The complex includes the Thomas Fine Arts Building and the McClintock Building. The Little Theatre was dedicated and renamed for Forest A. Roberts on May 31st, 1969.


Forest Roberts was the first chairman of the department of speech at Northern Michigan University. He came to Northern in 1928 and soon became the first director of forensics at NMU. Roberts became the department head and was appointed full professor in 1957. He retired in 1966 after serving Northern for 38 years. While at Northern, Roberts was actively involved in theatre groups and served as president of both the Marquette Summer Theatre (1935-39) and the Marquette Community Concert Association (1956-58). He holds a life membership in the National Education Association and an honorary life membership in the Michigan Speech Association. Due to his service to Northern Michigan University, the Department of Speech, and local theater groups, the building was named after him. The Little Theatre quickly became known as the Forest Roberts Theatre.

frt-001The “Little Theatre” prior to being named for Forest Roberts

frt-002The Forest Roberts Theatre after its dedication.

What may not be as widely known is the story of the ghost who haunts the halls of the theatre. For many years, the building had a custodian named Perry. He was a friendly guy who had worked at Northern for nearly 30 years. However, Perry was known for being a heavy drinker and also suffered from heart problems. One day, he had a heart attack and died in the elevator of the theater. A student janitor found him a few hours later. Since his death the elevator has reportedly acted strangely. For example it will go down when you push the up button and makes weird mechanical sounds even though the elevator doesn’t move. Student employees also claim to sometimes feel a draft and a sense of a presence while in the building. Some believe Perry never left the Forest Roberts Theatre and that his ghost will haunt it forever more.

Come and learn more about the Forest Roberts Theatre at the Archives!

Blog post written by Anne Krohn