Collection Spotlight: Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd papers

Yesterday, for the first time in months, I got a chance to actually process a collection!

The collection I processed, MSS-356, is the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd papers. Good Shepherd was a parish in Saint Ignace, MI. It opened in 1882 and closed in 2011 due to low attendance.  The contents of the collection span almost the entire history of the parish: 1890-2011!

It mainly consists of ledgers documenting events at the parish: baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. There are also registers of parishioners and guests beginning in 1890 and ending in 1967. There are financial records from the altar guild, records of donations, and a survey of the land held by the parish in 2008. Finally, there is a prayer book from 1929. A few of the ledgers are from Saint Andrew’s Church in Moran, MI and an Episcopal Mission in Chippewa County, MI.

The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Prospect Street in St. Ignace. The building is 127 years old, and was moved to its current location in 1889.

Image Source: Saint Ignace News

We have several other collections related to the Episcopal church for those interested in the history of the Episcopal church in the UP or in religious history more broadly (or in ancestors who attended Episcopal churches!). There is a small collection of parish registers from Saint Stephen’s in DeTour Village, MI. Our collection from Saint Paul’s in Marquette is much more vast. It includes the typical parish registers but also contains histories of the parish, records and photographs from various bishops, financial records, records from clubs within the parish, and annual reports and minutes.

The collection that would perhaps be of most interest, however, is our collection from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan. It includes newsletters and newspapers from the 1970s to the present, audio and video of synods and camps, records from the annual diocesan convention starting in 1893, bishops’ correspondence, a history of the diocese, several boxes of photographs, financial and property records, a few scattered registers from around the UP, and records from clubs, committees, and commissions within the diocese.

About a year ago, we received the personal papers of Thomas K. Ray, the last bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. His papers are due to be processed in the fall, so you can look forward to another addition to our vast number of Episcopal church sources!

Interested in seeing any of these collections? Stop by the archives anytime during our new summer hours, 10 AM-4 PM Monday through Friday.

Written by Annika Peterson

City of Ishpeming Records: Local Ordinances

While the 1888 charter for the city of Ishpeming gave shape to the city government, the ordinances were the rules of everyday life in Ishpeming. Some of them were shaped by factors present in that time and place. For example: “No person or persons shall transport upon or within any vehicle, sleigh, sled or in any other manner whatsoever, any nitro-glycerine in any quantity whatsoever through those parts of the city of Ishpeming contained within the following described limits, to wit: The original plat of said city, the plat of Robert Nelson’s addition to said city, the plat of the excelsior Iron company’s addition to said city and the plat of the Cleveland Iron Mining company’s addition to said city at any time whatsoever either during the day or night.” For most cities of that time, nitro-glycerine wasn’t even an issue, but Ishpeming was a mining town and the mines used nitro-glycerine for blasting.

There were ordinances relating to behavior, particularly bad behavior. “Any person who shall be drunk or in a state of intoxication, in any street or public house within the city, or in any private house, to the annoyance of any person shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars.” This ordinance was well used throughout the years, as drunk & disorderly arrests were always the most numerous in the monthly police reports. Another ordinance on behavior stated “Any person who shall be guilty of racing with immoderately riding or driving any horse, mare, gelding or mule within the limits of the city of Ishpeming shall, on conviction thereof, pay a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars.” Even in 1888, there was reckless driving!

Fire was an ever present danger and there are plenty of ordinances related to it. Fire wardens were tasked with inspecting houses and other structures to look for fire hazards and to remediate the same. Chimneys had their own section and the fire warden had the power to cause them to have to be rebuilt, if they were deemed unsafe. Section 4 stated: “No person shall convey any fire in or through any street, alley, lane or lot, within ten feet of any combustible material, except in some secure pan or vessel, under a penalty of five dollars for each offense.” In addition: “No owner or occupant of any livery or other stable within the city of Ishpeming nor any person in the employment of such owner or occupant, shall use therein any lighted candle or lamp except the same be in some safe and secure lantern under a penalty of ten dollars for each offense.”

Another ordinance set ‘fire limits’ and then proceeded to regulate buildings within the fire limits.  “No person shall erect or place any building or part of any building, within said fire limits, except as hereinafter provided, unless the same be constructed in accordance with the following provisions; The outside and party walls of all buildings erected shall be either made of brick, stone or other fire-proof material, or if not made of such fire-proof material, they shall be protected by an outside wall or covering of fire-proof material.”  Another section stated: “No wooden building within said fire limits which may hereafter be partially destroyed by fire or otherwise, shall be repaired unless the damages thereto are less than fifty percent of its value, and if less than fifty percent, no such building shall be repaired in any manner so as to make it larger or to occupy more space than before the injury thereto.” It should be noted that this particular ordinance was adopted in 1877, a mere three years after a disastrous fire in the downtown area of Ishpeming destroyed two city blocks.

“No horses, asses, mules, cattle, sheep, goats, swine or geese, shall be permitted to lie, run or be at large in any of the streets of the city of Ishpeming under penalty of not less than fifty cents nor more than ten dollars for each and every offense, to be recovered of the owner or owners.” Milk cows were permitted to run at large in the unplatted part of the city, although monthly pound master reports show that cows were still the most frequently impounded animal. For cows, horses, and sheep, the fine was fifty cents per animal, but for swine it was two dollars and geese cost ten cents per animal. In all cases, the cost of feed was extra and if the animal was left in impoundment for six days, then it could be sold at auction. Modern shelter practices were non-existent and dogs only had five days to languish in impoundment before they were killed.

There was an ordinance pertaining to licenses, describing who needed them and how much they cost. One section stated, “For a license to sell goods or property at auction or public venue there shall be taxes and collected the sum of fifty dollars for one week.” In 2015, that sum would be $1,330.30. Another section; “For a license to carry on the business of crying down the price of goods or property in sale, there shall be taxed and collected the sum of fifty dollars for one week.” Crying down the price is generally considered to be depreciating or under-valuing the price of a good or service.

Many of the sections on licenses dealt with itinerants and were a means to protect the tax-paying businesses of the city from being undercut. One section set forth that if people came to Ishpeming “with the intention of becoming bona fide residents thereof, for the purpose of trading in or selling any goods, wares or merchandise, shall, before commencing the business of trading or selling aforesaid, pay into the city treasury the sum of one hundred dollars as a pledge of their intentions.”

One ordinance prohibited bathing or swimming in Lakes Angeline and Bancroft and a second one kept the purity of the waters of Lake Angeline, as that may have been the city water source at that time.

Railroads had their own ordinance: “Every railway company operating a railway through the city of Ishpeming shall keep one watchman at the crossing of its road over Main Street and one watchman at its crossing over First Street in said city, constantly from eight o’clock in the forenoon until 7 o’clock in the evening of each day in the year.” The Pine Street crossing however, only needed watchmen “from the first day of May to the 15th day of November, or from the opening to the close of navigation in each year.” Trains and rail cars could not exceed a speed of six miles an hour going over the First, Main, Pine, Lake or Third Street crossings and could not block traffic at those crossings for more than five minutes. It is interesting to note that the train depot was between First and Second Streets, and that while neither First nor Third Streets could be blocked, there was no such provision for Second Street.

Finally, “No person or persons shall drive any horse or other animal on any street in the city of Ishpeming attached to a sleigh or sled without have to the harness of such horse or other animal a string of at least three good sleigh bells.” There was no such ordinance for the summer time, as presumably wagons made enough noise to alert pedestrians to their presence while sleighs did not.

For a better look at the 1888 City Charter and Ordinances, come to the archives. We also have a small book with amendments to the city charter dated from 1897.


Written by Karen Kasper

City of Ishpeming Records: The City Charter

City charters can be a challenging read. The language is formal, full of legalese, and, in the case of the charter of 1888 for the City of Ishpeming, rather archaic. But, struggling through the documents is rewarding as it gives a window into the city at that time.

The charter defined the city government. In 1888, the city housed about 10,000 residents and had four wards. The government consisted of a Common Council with 2 aldermen for each ward (It would eventually swell to 10 wards and a total of 20 aldermen) plus a mayor and numerous clerks and assistants.

In comparison, the city of Ishpeming today has about 6,000 residents (at the last census) and lies sprawled over a much larger area. The wards are no longer in place and the city council has just five members, one of whom serves as the mayor.

Once the size and shape of the common council was set fourth, the charter then began enumerating the duties of the common council. One of them was “To prevent and punish violations of the Sabbath day and the disturbance of any religious meeting, congregation or society, or public meeting assembled for any lawful purpose, and to require all places of business to be closed on the Sabbath day.”

There were 41 duties specifically laid out by the charter including “To apprehend and punish vagrants, drunkards, disorderly persons and common prostitutes” and “ To regulate or prohibit or suppress billiard tables, nine or ten-pin alleys or tables and ball alleys and to punish the keepers thereof.” Gaming was prohibited as was “horse-racing, and immoderate riding or driving in any street.”  “Ale, beer and porter houses, and all places of resort for tippling and intemperance” were highly regulated as were auctioneers, “hawkers, peddlers and pawnbrokers.” Of course, the aldermen of the common council did not do everything by themselves, as they had the power “to appoint so many police constables, night watchmen, inspectors of fire wards, sealers of weights and measures and such other officers as may be necessary to carry into effect the powers herein granted.”

The Common Council licensed and regulated “taverns and houses of public entertainment; all saloons, restaurants and eating houses,” “all vehicles of every kind used for transportation of persons or property for hire in the city,” and “ toll bridges within the city and to prescribe the rates and charges for passage over the same.” They inspected “meats, poultry, fish, butter, cheese, lard, vegetables, flour and other provisions” and also “brick, lumber, firewood, coal, hay and any article of merchandise.” The latter items were also weighed and measured.

Chapter 11 of the city charter spelled out the size of the fire department as well as the duties of the fire department and how it was organized. The charter even stated “Upon the breaking out of any fire in said city, the marshal shall immediately repair to the place of such fire and aid and assist, as well in extinguishing the fire as in preventing any goods or property from being stolen or injured.” But “the marshal shall be in all respects obedient to the mayor, aldermen, fire wardens or either of them, or such of them as may be present at such fire.”

Bystanders at the fire risked being called upon to assist: “Whenever any person shall refuse to obey any lawful order from any engineer, fire warden, mayor or alderman at any fire, it shall be lawful for the officer giving such order to arrest or to direct orally, any constable, watchman or any citizen to arrest such person.” However, there were a few benefits to being part of the fire company as they were exempt from “serving on juries and paying a poll tax in said city.”

Another chapter dealt with public health and the appointment of a board of health. That board was tasked with “to take such measures as they shall deem effectual to prevent the entrance of any pestilential or infectious disease into the city;” “to establish, maintain and regulate any pest house or hospital at some place within the city;” and “to cause any resident of the city infected with any such disease to be removed to such pest house or hospital.”

The city started putting in water lines as early as 1882, so part of the city charter dealt with the appointment of “water commissioners,” with the “power to make and adopt all such by-laws, rules and regulations as may be necessary or expedient for the conduct of its business and that of the executive member of the board, not inconsistent with this act.” The board as a whole had the “power to construct, repair and maintain reservoirs, buildings, machinery, jets and fountains, at such locations in said city or without said city as the common council shall deem expedient and direct, and to lay and repair water mains and pipes in and through all the streets, alleys and public places in said city for the purpose of furnishing a full supply of water for public and private uses in said city.”

Other sections of the charter provided for public improvements and the whys and wherefores of paying for such improvements; taxation, taxes and the collection thereof; compensation of officers and cemeteries.

There is a copy of the 1888 Charter of the city of Ishpeming within the City of Ishpeming records collection. Stop in and read it for yourself!

Please note: our summer hours are now 10 AM-4 PM!

Written by Karen Kasper 


A Very Sad Farewell to our Records Analyst

Today is Records Analyst Sara Kiszka’s last day at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. She accepted a records management job at the University of Florida, and so is leaving us for sunnier climes (and, as we keep reminding her, hurricanes and alligators).


Sara has done a tremendous amount of work at the archives in the two years that she has been here. During her first year, she completed a Comprehensive Records Survey of all of the records kept by each department on campus. Together with three student assistants (Morgan Paavola, Prince Parker, and Stefan Nelson), she interviewed hundreds of individuals across campus and found out what sorts of records they had. She then undertook the gargantuan task of re-doing all of our record retention schedules (which determine how long we keep university records).

She also re-organized the Records Center, the off-site location where we keep most of our university records and some of our larger manuscript collections. Prior to her arrival, the Records Center had several old labeling systems, a bunch of un-accessioned material, and many accessions that weren’t up to par with our current standards. Now, much of that has been fixed (and the rest is in the process of being fixed), all thanks to the hard work of Sara and several student assistants.

Here are some stories and comments that current and former student assistants wanted to leave for Sara:

I will always remember meeting Sara for the first time 2 years ago. She started working at the archives over the summer and for her arrival we had balloons, donuts, and I decorated a welcome sign out front. Marcus even had music playing and was dancing with excitement. The clock was ticking by and we were all wondering where she could be when she rushed through the door looking slightly flustered but with a huge smile on her face! Marcus was so happy he danced Gangnam Style (There’s video to prove it) and gave her a big hug. She apologized for being late but had gotten lost on her way there. (Don’t worry Sara, Florida is a small college I’m sure you won’t have any problems navigating it, but still, good luck.) I loved working with Sara for the last two years and she has been nothing but a joy the whole while. Like with meeting anyone for the first time it takes a few days to get to know them but Sara and I got to bond over a certain officer who we later named a fish after. That was a good time. I also forced her to confront her fear of driving the van even though she’s still terrified of it. And I simply have to thank you Sara, for introducing me to Hamilton, my only regret is I hadn’t started listening to it sooner like you told me to. Sara has worked so hard over these last two years from doing presentations, CRS, organizing the record center, learning how to digitize (at least you tried), even to bringing us candy and baked treats that were vegan so all the staff could enjoy. Sara is one of the kindest people I know who can always bring a smile to people’s faces. She is going to do a fantastic job down at the University of Florida and I couldn’t be more excited for her! We will never forget you, good luck Sara!

-Former Digitization Specialist Anne Krohn

Sara Kiszka. Wow.  What can I say?  Oh the stuff I could say about our Sara but most of it would embarrass her and we can’t have that.  The day she arrived at the Archives was the day that it got a heart and a sense of humor.  Sara laughs the loudest and cries the hardest.  She cries when she is happy, she cries when she is sad, she cries when she is excited, and she cries when she is mega-frustrated (I bet she is crying right now).  So it is only fitting that the nickname assigned to her by Marcus is “NoAH.”  Although he picked for a completely different reason, I think it fits because she has made her office our shelter from the storm, which is good with all of her crying.  At Trivia she always knew the answer to all of the questions about nighttime soap opera television shows, songs that were sang by females with high pitched voices, and literature (no matter how many beers she had downed).  Her only weakness is Gordon Ramsay and she really needs to get over him, he is a jerk and she can do better!

The Records Center will NEVER see another of her caliber, her dedication and hard work is a reality.  She will be missed greatly but she has outgrown us and definitely needed to advance her career.  I hope Florida knows what a treasure they have found.  So I want to say safe travels, get new tires, watch out for alligators and squirrels and rabbits, and remember to get an apartment big enough for all of the student assistants to stay at when we are on Spring Break!

-Arrangement and Description Specialist Glenda Ward

Sara truly revolutionized the archives and made us more professional and organized. Her passion for her job and her unceasing determination to fix anything broken are inspiring. She was always willing to stay late, come in and work evenings when students needed a night off, and help out with events at the archives. She was incredibly supportive of all of the student assistants and cared about our accomplishments and our goals. Last semester, when student schedules worked out such that there were large gaps in our front desk schedule, she cheerfully helped out with patrons and reference requests, saving me a lot of stress and worry. Sara, thank you for introducing me to Hamilton, for lunchtime political discussions, for seemingly endless cupcakes and other food, for rides to and from work on rainy days, and for being a patient teacher when it came to records management projects. 

-Senior Student Assistant Annika Peterson

Sara Kiszka (No-AH!) came to the NMU Archives nearly 2 years ago (July 1, 2014) and changed my professional life. She brought energy, ideas, joy, and an incomparable passion to her work and to everyone around her. No-AH! also brought love to the Archives that she poured effortlessly and widely upon anyone and everyone she met, especially the Archives’ student assistants, whom she mentored, befriended, and nurtured through all their ups and downs. No-AH! never hesitated to cry for pure joy (sometimes scaring the shit outta me) at every student assistant’s triumph, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant to the more cynical or jaded among us.

I have often remarked with astonishment that my career as a professional archivist began the year of No-AH!’s birth. I am grateful to No-AH! for so many things, but the most profound is the rebirth of my career and my own passion for what I do. No words or simple expressions of thanks (even copious amounts of beer) can ever repay such a debt.

I will miss No-AH! terribly, but I will celebrate and honor her time with us (and her astounding future) by never giving up and always doing my best. Thank you, No-AH!

-University Archivist Marcus Robyns


Sara, we hope we succeeded in making you cry even after you’ve left us. Good luck at the University of Florida! You’ll do great.

Written by Annika Peterson

Collection Spotlight: Aurora Newsletters

aurora logo

In honor of LGBT Pride month, we thought that our collection spotlight this week would be on a collection documenting LGBT history in the Upper Peninsula: the Aurora newsletters. The newsletters date from 1990 to 1996 and document both local and national events of interest to the UP LGBT community.

The newsletters included re-prints of state and national articles. As these newsletters were published at the height of the AIDS epidemic, many talk about UP support groups for those with HIV/AIDS or about new drugs or treatments. The newsletters also discuss other LGBT rights issues, including non-discrimination laws, marriage equality, partner benefits at companies and universities, and homophobia or lack thereof in various religious organizations.

Other collections that might be of interest to those researching LGBT history in the UP are the records from the Northern Michigan University organizations Allies and Outlook. This collection contains correspondence, minutes, membership lists, and scholarship information. A major topic of the collection was an effort in the 1990s to extend university health care coverage to the domestic partners of faculty and staff. The North Wind and other local newspapers would also be a good resource for researchers, although there is no index and they are not searchable by key word.

For more information, contact us at or stop by the Archives Monday through Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM!

Written by Annika Peterson

Collection Spotlight: Marquette County Coroner’s Reports

We recently finished indexing our Marquette County Coroner’s Reports, making them far more accessible and easier to search. They run from 1872 and through 1986. The reports were produced for murders or suspicious deaths, as well as for suicides, mining and other industrial accidents, and sudden illnesses.

Here are a selection of some of the coroner’s reports:


The most typical type of coroner’s report: a mining accident. Joseph Maletto died due to a fall of ground in the Lake Superior Mine in Ishpeming on August 12, 1898.


Another typical coroner’s report: Michael Fitzgerald fell from the ore dock and drowned.


This report from 1900 is the first mention of someone dying by electrocution in Marquette County, in this case due to a telephone wire.


Here we have one of the rarest forms of coroner’s reports: a murder. The middle line was obscured by a fold in the paper, but the full cause of death reads that Harrison Howard came to his death “by blows struck by a rock in the hands of Jacob Brown and delivered by him which caused the death of Harrison Howard.”

The coroner’s reports often also contains transcripts of testimonies and autopsies. Here is the first page of the testimony for the Harrison Howard case:


The testimonies go on to reveal that Harrison was a crippled salesman traveling with Jacob and John Brown, a father and son from Ohio looking for work in the UP. Harrison mentioned how much money he had in the bank to Jacob Brown ($350) and showed him his certificate that would allow him to withdraw the money. Jacob then killed him on the side of the road in the middle of  a stormy night. Jacob threatened to kill his sixteen year old son John as well, but did not. John eventually made his way to the police and told them what had occurred.

The coroner’s reports are obviously of use to genealogists. However, they are also a rich mine of information about life in Marquette County throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The index gives a brief description of the cause of death for each person, so you can search it by exact name or by type of death. They are also just fascinating to look at, and they are all open to the public! You can stop in and look at them at any time. (Note: we keep them at our off-site storage location, so we will need up to 24 hour’s notice to pull a report).

The Coroner’s Index can be accessed on the Genealogical Resources page on our website. To learn more about the coroner’s reports, or other collections that we possess, e-mail us at or come in Monday through Friday from 8 AM-5 PM.

Written by Annika Peterson

Muhammad Ali’s Visit to Northern

You’ve probably learned a lot about the life of Muhammad Ali since his death, but did you know that he once visited Northern?

In July of 1977, he fought in an exhibition fight against Jimmy Ellis, the former Heavyweight Champion, in the Hedgcock Fieldhouse. The fight raised money for a Muhammad Ali Scholarship Fund that would provide full rides to minority students for achievement in academics, the fine arts, and athletics.


During his time at Northern, he gave lectures to faculty and the public and climbed Sugarloaf.

The Archives has several items that might be of interest to those who want to know more about Ali’s visit to Northern. Our Photographic File has several folders relating to his visit. The Mining Journal, which is available on microfilm, ran several articles about him. Most interestingly, however, are four reel-to-reel recordings of radio broadcasts of his lecture, a press conference, and his fight with Jimmy Ellis.


We put together a page with photos and articles on our website for those who would like to learn more. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to convert the audio as our machine is currently broken.