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

Location Spotlight: Sugarloaf Mountain

As you know, this past weekend was Labor Day weekend. Students, locals, and other tourists will have been enjoying the great outdoors last weekend and this upcoming weekend. Among all the places to enjoy spending time outside, Sugarloaf Mountain is arguably the most popular in the vicinity. With how close it is to town, the ease of access to people of multiple skill levels, the quick hike time to the top, and its breathtaking views, it’s no wonder the climb is so well-frequented. Do you know the story of the monument at the top? That it had fallen into disregard, was trashy, and mothers even chose not to take their children up Sugarloaf? I’ll fill you in on a bit of the history of the mountain from various documents at the archives.

Sugarloaf Mountain has been a beloved spot to hike since at least 1900, and most likely earlier. One thing that most people probably don’t know much about is the story behind the stone monument at the top of the peak. It was constructed by Boy Scout Troop #1, the first Boy Scout Troop in the nation, in dedication to former member and esteemed friend Bart King. Bart (Alanson Bartlett King) was born in 1894, grew up in Marquette, and was an original member of the Boy Scout Troop #1, which grew up hiking, camping, scouting, and reading maps. Bart was a friend, debater, hard worker, and natural artist, drawing and painting “colorful futuristic designs as well as capturing the familiar faces of those he most admired in warmly penciled illustrations” (Bothwell 2). Bart graduated Northern State Normal School (now NMU) with a Life Certificate in Education by age 20 and taught in Thompson, MI, a “tough U.P. logging town routinely avoided by most college graduates” (Bothwell 2). After teaching and running his one-roomed school for three years, Bart enlisted into the Army along with all the rest of the original Boy Scout Troop #1. He earned the rank of master sergeant and refused further promotion in order to stay with his friends. He fought bravely in France amidst terrible battles and awful conditions in an engineering unit. Sadly, Bart died of pneumonia, the only one from the original troop to not return home. He was nominated for France’s croix de guerre (the War Cross), but did not live to receive it. Upon being brought home by his companions in 1921, he was reburied in Park Cemetery.

Later that summer, Troop #1 met and began the long process of finding rocks and moving them up the mountain, a process that would take through November. In addition to all of the stone, the troop “hauled over 100 bags of sand, 3,000 pounds of cement and lumber, and tons of rock,” where “each day the boys made ten or twelve trips to the summit.” Talk about dedication! Aided by a Marquette stonemason, the boys finished the 12 foot high monument in November of 1921. Although the monument has been buffeted by winter’s winds, had stones chiseled out of it, and has even been struck by lightning, it still stands today as a remembrance and honor to Bart.

This information was all found from an article written by Henry Bothwell, which is in the Rudi Prusok papers (MSS-011). Bart and his memorial are pictured below:

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Later, Sugarloaf became an undesirable place to visit. Multiple accounts report large amounts of trash present, vandalism on the rocks at the top, including paint, and young people performing “activities better unseen.” Over these years though, the Exchange Club and the local Boy Scout Troop #1 continued to volunteer and put in innumerable hours to clean and maintain the area. It got to be such a problem that groups like the “Citizens to Save the Superior Shoreline” researched the real owners of the land on which Sugarloaf lies. It was found that the land encompassing Sugarloaf belonged to the Marquette County Road Commission, who didn’t know that they owned it. The job of policing the area was the responsibility of the Marquette Sheriff’s Office, but their office was “unable to cope with the problem.” So, an idea was proposed to form a committee of “ecology-minded citizens, Northern Michigan University students, and Marquette High school groups” to focus on the cleanup of the area. Two NMU students were chosen to help lead a clean-up day event at Sugarloaf Mountain, focusing on picking up every piece of trash present. The results can be seen pictured below:

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After this success, groups and individuals have continued to preserve the popular hiking destination. It has returned to its original beauty as shown below. The brass plate has been restored to the monument, and the area is as wonderful as could be. To learn more about this story and others, feel free to stop down and visit us here at the archives! Our open hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10 AM-5 PM and Tuesday/Thursday 10 AM-7 PM.

Have a good weekend!

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View off of Sugarloaf as of now with Presque Isle in the background. Photo by Stefan Nelson.

 

Written by Stefan Nelson

City of Ishpeming Records: Ishpeming and World War II

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the country went to war. Along with countless other communities, the city of Ishpeming suddenly had to deal with restrictions, rationing, and more. The committee reports from the years 1942-1944 give an interesting look at just some of the problems and challenges the Common Council had to face.

One of the very first items was the purchase of a roadway snow removal unit. In a letter to the Common Council on December 9, 1941, the Board of Public Works held a special meeting and placed an order for a Model LRT Snogo. The Board had met on December 2nd, but deferred action due to questions on the suitability. On the 9th, the questions were quickly cleared up. “To comply with National Defense priority restrictions, the immediate placing of this order was imperative, if we were to obtain delivery before March, 1942.” This was not the usual order of business, as approval was needed prior to placing the order, but as the board stated: “Trusting that your Board’s action in this matter, under the circumstances, will meet with the concurrence and approval of your Honorable Body.”

At the regular meeting of the Common Council on October 8, 1941 the council wanted the citizens to vote on whether or not they wanted a change in the form of government. A resolution was to be adopted at the February meeting and voted upon at the annual April election. However, the resolution that did come out of the Common Council stated “those actively interested in the promotion of the idea of a new charter or a new form of government are now actively engaged in war work and other defense activities and such work will undoubtedly increase in the future….giving said citizens little time to devote to this project.” The question of a new style of city government would be postponed “until some future election.”

In March of 1942, the Common Council recommended the purchase of $6,000 in Series G Defense Bonds. Their reasoning was that “said investment will yield the City 2 ½% per annum instead of the 1% which it now receives, and it being to the interests of the City of Ishpeming to do so…”The monies came from the Cemetery Trust fund.

In a June 1942 report to the Common Council the Board of Public Works addressed a citizen’s petition for grading and surfacing on several streets in the 6th ward. Part of the board’s response stated: “Since governmental restrictions no longer permit the use of railroad cars for delivery of paving asphalt or tarvis, it would be impossible at this time to comply with the request for tar surfacing.” Grading of the streets in question would have to suffice.

Also in June of 1942 comes a report from the Board of Public Works regarding street signs. The report stated: “Compliance of this idea would involve the purchase of signs and standards or posts upon which to attach them, metal in both cases being most practical and slightly. Because of current governmental restrictions upon use of steel and other metals, it is improbable that such metal material could now be purchased.” A further report dated July 7th stated “Enquiries have been made by your Board of Public Works of many manufacturers and dealers in such signs, and replies from six leaders in these specialties state that they are now unable to supply such, and are aware of no foreseeable future date on which they could promise delivery.” The issue of street signs would be dropped until governmental regulations were withdrawn.

Both of the past two reasons were used to answer John Koski’s request for a culvert to fix his driveway. “Due to governmental restrictions on both steel material and railroad car transport facilities, culverts cannot now be purchased for road uses. “

A letter from the Social Security Board of the United States Employment Service highlighted a problem with recruiting war production employees. Some prospective employees were reluctant to leave their current positions as they were afraid of losing their seniority or service rights. Since the country desperately needed workers for war production and since many of those highly skilled tradesmen were employed by cities and other governmental agencies, the SS board asked the Common Council to adopt a policy of protecting seniority rights for any workers who wished to work at full time defense or war work. The Board of Public Works, Cemetery Board, and Library Board had no objection to the adoption of such a policy.

Even something as simple as the installation of a street light was subject to additional paperwork! A citizen petition asking for a street light on Salisbury Street got the following response from the Michigan Gas and Electric Company. “We have investigated the possibility of installing a street light on Salisbury Street, and are quite sure that it can be done without any pole installation or line extension, as the circuits are already on the pole where the lamp will be installed. However, formal application will have to be made to the War Production Board, and we are quite sure permission will be granted for its installation.”

Changes were made at city hall. There was a special meeting of the Common Council in July of 1942 to act on bids for the remodeling of two rooms in the basement of city hall for use as headquarters for the Civilian Defense Council.

There were some positive things to come out of all the restrictions. In August, the Common Council had to deal with a petition from city workers asking for an increase in wages. The Board of Public Works had this to report to the Common Council. “In regard to that part of the petition covering wage and salary increases, it should be remembered that this request was not made in time for, nor was any financial means provided for, meeting such an additional expenditures in the City Budget for year 1942. However, due to war restrictions on material preventing further street improvements and other work provided for, your Board, after careful consideration, concluded that it could be arranged to grant an increase of approximately 10% in wages and salaries.”

The war time restrictions did have an impact on safety, especially when it came to trains. A letter to the Common Council dated February 1, 1943 stated “I wish to make a plea for a Safety Signal at the Third Street Railroad crossing in behalf of any person or persons who must pass this crossing at night. I had a very close call there recently as the Streamliner approached the city. Who knows who may be next – perhaps one of you – and it may not be merely a close call, it may be fatal.” This was a letter that the Common Council took seriously as shown in the March 3, 1943 report from the City Attorney.

“The railroad people (representatives of Duluth. South Shore & Atlantic and Chicago & Northwestern) pointed out that due to present regulations, it was impossible for them to furnish any additional crossing protection by furnishing additional watchmen since they were now short of manpower as it was, and are having difficulty in even maintaining their present watchmen service. That it was further impossible to furnish flashing signals at these crossings due to shortage of material and the refusal of the Government to release such equipment for such purpose.” In short “The Committee regrets that there apparently is nothing that can be done to relieve this situation at the present time.”

After further investigation into the matter, which included researching the cost of flasher signals at several of the intersections in the city, a report from the Committee on Street Lighting to the Common Council stated, “We would recommend that no action be taken on the installation of these signals at this time, as the committee feels that the railway companies are the ones who should furnish the protection to all traffic over their crossings.”

Remodeling of City Hall in 1943 required “War Production Board authority to proceed with the remodeling of the City Hall.”

In October of 1943, the Common Council received a resolution from the Wakefield City Commission asking the government to increase the meat ration allotment for miners and lumbermen. The resolution stated, “Whereas, because of their arduous tasks a more nutritious diet is necessary than that which can be obtained at present due to rationing restrictions, and Whereas it is deemed necessary that a larger allotment of meat be made available to each person so engaged in order that a diet consistent with the amount of energy expended daily be adequately provided.” The resolution was forwarded to each community in the Upper Peninsula, although there is no indication in the reports if the allotment was ever increased.

By 1944, there was little mention of World War II in the Committee reports. Whether this was due to an easing of restrictions or to some other factor is not mentioned. One cause for this may be changes in the city government. The postponement of the city charter issue mentioned earlier only lasted several months as the question surfaced again in the summer of 1942. A special election in September of 1942 showed that residents did want the charter rewritten and did not want the current aldermanic form of government. Once the charter was rewritten, the city council size went from 20 alderman (one for each ward) and a mayor to 9 council members, elected at large, and one mayor. In addition, the city, for the first time in its history, hired a city manager. There were not as many committees and not as many reports were generated. The end of World War II is not even mentioned in the Committee Reports.

Come see these reports for yourself at the archives! We are open Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10 AM-5 PM and Tuesday/Thursday 10 AM-7 PM.

Written by Karen Kasper

More New Collections at the Archives!

The end of the summer was a time of much processing, and so we have several more small new collections to share with you:

Muriel Bunker papers: Muriel was a Marquette native who joined the WACs (Women’s Army Corps) during World War II. Much of her collection is her correspondence with her family members, including her brother Earl. Earl was in the Pacific theatre while she was in Europe. There are also photographs and a 2007 oral history interview with Muriel.

George Tomasi papers: George was one of the “Barracks Boys,” a group of sixteen men given free tuition at Northern for playing three sports each. His papers consist of memorabilia from his high school years through his old age, though the bulk are from his years at Northern.

Nora Silk diary: Nora seems to have been a teenager living somewhere in the UP during the 1940s. We have no donor information and therefore know little about her. Her diary spans from 1940 to 1944, with the bulk of the entries being from 1940. It is a good record of the life of a young woman at the time and includes stories such as her father catching her “necking” with a boy and grounding her for a week.

Margaret Whitman papers: Margaret attended Northern in the late 1940s. Her collection of memorabilia includes photographs, event programs, and a scrapbook.

John Langaas papers: John was a Norwegian immigrant who lived in Ishpeming and kept a diary from 1909 to his death in 1924. The journals are in Norwegian, but the papers include translations of the first two of the five books as well as the articles and notes that the translator was using to understand his writing. John was extremely religious and much of his diaries (the first two, at least) deal with his faith. If you know anyone who reads Norwegian and would be willing to translate the rest for us, please let us know!

Bookbinders Cafe photographs: Bookbinders Cafe was a cafe located in the basement of the Harden Learning Resources Center (the same floor that the archives is on!). These photographs, taken between 1980 and 1993, show students and faculty and staff eating at the cafe as well as parties and events at the cafe.

Pi Omega Pi papers: Pi Omega Pi is an honors society for business education students. Northern’s chapter started in 1967. Our collection includes copies of their bylaws, a scrapbook documenting inductees and events from 1967 to 2000, photographs, meeting minutes and reports submitted to the national council, a history of the organization, and more!

Rudi Prusok papers: Rudi was a German professor at Northern who was heavily involved in the Upper Peninsula Area Foreign Language Teachers Association and who wrote about Thomas Mann. He was also personally and professionally interested in the “schuetzen movement,” or rifle shooting as a hobby. His papers consist largely of correspondence, newsletters, and syllabi related to his time at Northern.

Elisha Greifer papers: Elisha was a political science professor at Northern from 1967 to 1997. His papers consist of a number of his publications, including such titles as “The Bursley Act: Cases in the Politics of Education,” “Locating United States Propaganda in the Context of Foreign Policy,” “The Conservative Pose in America: Irving Babbitt and the Search for Standards,” and his translation of “Essay on Catholic-Liberal-Socialism” by Juan Donoso Cortes.

To check out any of these collections, just stop in anytime we’re open! Our fall hours are Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10 AM-5 PM and Tuesday/Thursday 10 AM-7 PM.

Written by Annika Peterson

The 1946 Marquette Iron Range Strike and Paul Robeson

At 12:01 a.m. on February 8, 1946, nearly 3,000 iron miners on the Marquette Iron Range in Michigan’s central Upper Peninsula walked off their jobs.  It was the first major labor action in the region since 1895.  Three thousand inexperienced union miners on the Marquette Iron Range joined 750,000 steelworkers nation-wide in a strike of the steel industry led by the recently formed United Steel Workers of America (USWA).   The nation-wide strike against the steel industry lasted just nine days, but the strike on the Marquette Iron Range against the iron mining companies lasted 104 long and frustrating days and finally ended on May 22 when the companies capitulated to the union’s demands for recognition, dues write-off, and 18.5 cents per hour more in wages. Towards the tail-end of this bitter strife stepped an extremely unlikely hero, but one that would reinvigorate community support and give the strike a lifesaving morale boost.

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Strike parade through downtown Negaunee (Central UP and NMU Archives)

Today, very few people remember the famous Broadway star and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University, All-American football star, and accomplished lawyer, Robeson by 1946 was best known for his stellar Broadway performances of Othello and Showboat, where his rendition of Ol’ Man River became a sensation and is still considered a standard. However, Robeson was also an ardent and tireless supporter of organized labor, making numerous appearances at labor rallies throughout his career. Historians also suspect that he was a member of the Communist Party USA, although no direct evidence exists.

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Robeson in The Theatre Guild performance of Othello, 1943 (Wikipedia)

Oddly enough, Robeson’s arrival in Ishpeming, Michigan, on April 25 had nothing initially to do with the iron miners’ strike. In the fall of 1945, Robeson had embarked on a national concert tour that took him to all the far-flung regions of the country. George Quaal, part of a wealthy Ishpeming mercantile family, had engaged Robeson for a performance as part of a concert series that he sponsored and held in the Ishpeming public auditorium. Soon after his arrival at the train station, leaders of the strike, including District Director Jack Powell, besieged the famous singer in his Mather Inn room. Although it is likely USWA officials had reached out to Robeson prior to his arrival, they had little difficulty encouraging him to publicly lend his support to the strike effort.

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Paul Robeson and the USWA’s press officer in the Mather Inn (Central UP and NMU Archives)

On the afternoon of April 26, Robeson and strike leaders drove out to the Mather Mine (at present day Negaunee High School) and joined the picket line.  Surprised and excited miners and their families crowded around the famous singer as he shook hands and offered words of support.  Robeson then stepped up to a sound car and gave a Broadway worthy performance.   Along with his standard repertoire, he serenaded his audience with a number of radical working class songs, such as “Joe Hill.”   Home on leave from the Army shortly after Robeson’s visit, retired labor activist Ernie Ronn was struck by the effect the singer had on the strikers.  “I don’t know of anyone,” he remembered, “who was on that picket line that day who ever forgot.  Robeson built-up their spirit and morale.”  In fact, one observer described Robeson as a “heroic physical type of man” possessed of “innate dignity and emotional sincerity.”    For many of the miners and their families, Robeson’s appearance was their only chance to see the famous performer, since few could afford the $5.00 ticket price for the concert.

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Robeson on the picket line with striking miners and their families. Standing to his left is Jack Powell, the local USWA district director and strike leader. Powell is a member of the Upper Peninsula Labor Hall of Fame located in the Superior Dome. (Central UP and NMU Archives)

On the following day, Jack Powell interviewed Robeson on WDMJ radio.   The activist recounted the poverty of his early childhood and expressed support for the struggle of the working class.  Because of the country’s great wealth and productive capacity, Robeson told his listeners, the sight of the miners and their families huddled on the picket line was a travesty of justice.  “It should be plain to all,” he declared, “that these people have a right to share more equally in the wealth they create.”  For their part, the iron mining companies denounced Robeson and decried the USWA’s use of a known communist agitator.

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USWA strike radio program on WDMJ. Labor Hall of Fame member, the late Ernie Ronn is second from the right. He was home on leave from the Army. (Central UP and NMU Archives)

Ten years after his appearance on the Marquette Iron Range, Robeson’s radical support for labor, civil rights, and his alleged connection to the Communist Party caused him to be dragged before the House of Representatives’ “Un-American Activities Committee” (HUAC). Black-listed and his career ruined, Robeson fled into self-imposed exile eventually returning to the United States in 1963. He died in relative obscurity and poverty in New York in 1976.

But to the iron miners and their families on the picket line that cold April afternoon, Paul Robeson made their struggle something more than a demand for an additional 18.5 cents per hour.  He crossed race and class boundaries to remind them that economic and social justice is a universal and moral goal and that music and courage can create “a real meeting place of hearts and minds.”

To learn more about the 1946 Iron Miners Strike, please visit the Central UP and NMU Archives. Our new fall hours are Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10 AM-5 PM and Tuesday/Thursday 10 AM-7 PM.

Written by Marcus Robyns

New Collections at the Archives!

In the past couple of weeks, we have processed several small collections and we thought that we would introduce you to them.

Judith DeMark papers: Judith DeMark was a history professor at Northern in the late 1990s. Although there are some photographs from her time at Northern, the bulk of the collection is research materials. Her research topics include mining, tuberculosis, Finnish folklore, and immigration to the Upper Peninsula.

Student Girls’ League calendars: This collection contains calendars created and sold by the Student Girls’ League (SGL) from 1911 to 1916. The calendars contains images of people and places around Northern as well as inspirational quotes. Founded in 1911, the SGL was a social group for female students. It helped freshmen get used to the school and published calendars (as seen in this collection) and a senior pamphlet called the “Handbook of Northern.” By 1932, every female student was required to be a member and its goal was “to help every woman enjoy her life at Northern,” and in the 1940s it helped to establish the student council, which evenutally became ASNMU (Associated Students of Northern Michigan University). In 1957, it changed its name to the Associated Women Students. In 1969, with the creation of ASNMU, it was disbanded.

Ruth Craig papers: Ruth Craig was a music professor at Northern from 1926 to 1963. Her collection consists of letters from faculty and students at her retirement as well as photographs from her retirement dinner and the rest of her years at Northern.

Connie Binsfeld papers: Connie Binsfeld was the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Michigan under John Engler in the 1990s. She had previously served as a county commissioner, state representative, and state senator. Her most notable legislative work dealt with adoption and child abuse and neglect. She was from Munising and is the only woman in Michigan to have held office in the Michigan House of Representatives, the Michigan Senate, and the Michigan executive branch. The collection contains personal photographs and memorabilia, correspondence with constituents, staffers, and others, subject files on various political issues, and a gigantic press clippings file of articles about her that covers her entire political career.

To learn more about these collections, you can access the finding aids by clicking on the links above. The Archives is open Monday through Friday from 10 AM-5 PM. Beginning August 22, our hours will change to Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 10 AM-5 PM, Tuesday/Thursday: 10 AM-7 PM.

Written by Annika Peterson

City of Ishpeming Records: Citizen Petitions

Citizen petitions were a favorite tool of residents of the city of Ishpeming to bring the Common Council’s attention to issues and concerns. There are many such petitions within the City of Ishpeming records at the archives.

Most of the petitions started with “We, the undersigned citizens (or residents) and taxpayers of the city of Ishpeming.” Taxpayers was the key word as the petitioners sought to remind the Common Council just who paid the bills. Over 95% of the petitions were for improvements to the city’s infrastructure. New sidewalks, streetlights, paving streets, and, beginning in the late 1920s, plowing during the winter were all much requested items.

There are a few petitions that stand out. In November of 1941, about 250 high school students signed a petition asking for the opening of the Community building. The old YMCA had been purchased several years before by the Ishpeming Industrial Association but at that time was not in use. The common council studied the matter and in a report dated 4 March 1942 concluded that reopening the building wasn’t feasible at that time. A bond issue would have to be voted on to raise the funds necessary for repairing and maintaining the building and, due to wartime conditions, “this would be very difficult to do at this time.”

Another unusual petition is dated 15 December 1942. It asks for the reinstatement of John Ivey to his position on the city police force. The signatures include the Ishpeming Cooperative Society (a rubber stamp print with their name and then the signature of who was stamping it) as well as similar ‘signatures’ from the Finnish Mutual Fire Insurance Company, H. W. Elson’s Bottling Works and Ishpeming Feed and Fuel Company, and many actual signatures from individuals. The outcome of this petition is not known, at least in the committee reports, and what Mr. Ivey did to cause him to lose his position is also unknown.

In March of 1950, the residents of Barn Street wished to change their street name. Barn Street was named for a large barn built on the south end of the street. The barn was destroyed by fire many years prior to the petition and now the name of the street was “a matter of some dissatisfaction and possible embarrassment to the petitioners.”  Since this street was merely a continuation of Davis Street, the residents felt “should it not be a part of said street – namely N. Davis?” In this matter, the request was granted and Barn Street became N. Davis Street, although the request had to be routed through Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, as the street was still, at that time, owned by the company.

In 1952, a proposed ban on parking on Bank Street resulted in TWO petitions. The first petition carried only a few signatures, those of businesses on Bank Street affected by such a ban. The second petition, signed by the general public, featured 22 pages of signatures protesting the ban and recommended a 1 hour limit on parking. Interestingly enough, this petition contains non-resident signatures, including some from the outlying townships and even one from Champion. The number of signatures was tallied on each page and most pages had at least 10-20 signatures.

Every request was routed to the proper committee and investigated, which is why the outcomes of many of the petitions are known, as the finished report would end up in the committee reports ledgers. Many of the reports had the phrase “We have had the same under consideration.” This phrase was especially common during the time from 1910 to 1915, when many citizens were looking for street lights.

A signed petition was no guarantee that the request would be granted. Sometimes the refusal was a matter of simple economics, especially in the early 1930s. During the Great Depression, the city had a limited budget and cautious aldermen. When the budgeted monies were gone, requests were often put on a waiting list or refused outright. In the early 1940s, the city often couldn’t grant citizen requests because the materials weren’t available due to wartime restrictions.

Another major reason why some citizen requests weren’t granted had to do with ownership of land. In Ishpeming, the mining companies, including Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, Inland Steel and the Oliver Mining Company owned land on which houses were built. The houses themselves were owned by individuals, but the land was leased. Since the land was owned privately and presumably taxed differently, no city monies could be spent on infrastructure in those locations and any improvements had to come from the mining companies.

There are many citizen petitions on file. They offer a glimpse of the workings of Ishpeming and of the city government. Stop in and view them for yourself. Our open hours are now 10 AM-4 PM Monday though Friday!

Written by Karen Kasper