Step Into The Archives… Virtually!

With COVID case counts, Executive Orders, and NMU Official Policy constantly changing, it’s difficult to stop into the Archives right now. But don’t let these circumstances stop you! Check out the premiere of our brand new Virtual Tour on our Youtube page below:

Watch out for our next video, where we’ll give a behind-the-scenes look at the Archives’ work room and stacks! In case you missed them, check out our recent posts about the Archives below:

The Archives’ Origin Story

In honor of National Archives Month, we’re sharing the founding story of the Central U.P. and NMU Archives. Although we have been on campus for many decades, our office, collections, and staff have been changing and evolving alongside the rest of the University. See our entry in A Sense of Place: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University, by Russ Magnaghi, below:


“Dr. Ruth Roebke-Berens, chair of the history department, opened talks with Martha Bigelow, director of the State History Division, concerning the development of a state archives branch on the Northern campus. On November 10, 1982 the history department voted to promote the archival program. In June 1983, Dr. Cliff Maier and Dr. Gene DeLon Jones attended a ten-day workshop. The state officials agreed that this workshop would provide the individual with the minimal knowledge to handle the archives.

"Named archivist" from the Mining Journal, 1 December 1983.

In 1983, Dr. Maier began to work as Archivist. He worked under difficult conditions with limited funds to develop a physical space for the archives. At this time, the administration saw the archives in a narrow sense; materials related only to the university were to be collected. however due to the foresight of Dr. Maier, non-university materials were collected within the collections of faculty members. Over the years the space expanded and the archives grew.

Marcus Robyns (right) with NMU President William Vandament, in the NMU Archives (c. 1997).

The archives reached a second phase when Dr. Maier retired in 1992. Through a $72,000 grant from the National Records and Publication Commission, Gayle Martinson was hired as a fully trained Archivist and remained until April 1, 1996. During the period until December 31, 1996 the Archives were under the direction of Krista Clumpner and headed by Mary Argeroupolis who retired on that date. During the first four months of 1997, Clumpner oversaw the archives. In April 1997, Marcus Robyns began his duties as Archivist.

From the beginning, the Archives were housed in a series of small offices and use of the facilities was extremely difficult and limited. In 1995, the Archives were given renovated quarters, but no sooner had they become partially established than they were moved (February-March 1996) into their present location. The Archives also obtained some 45,000 square feet for remote storage in the Services Building. In the summer of 1997, Robyns began to focus on the collection of the region’s labor records and other records housed in the State Archives in Lansing. At this time, Robyns had the rare Moses Coit Tyler Collection removed to the Archives…

Archivists: Clifford Maier, 1983-1992; Gayle Martinson, 1992-1996; Mary Argeroupolis, (interim) 1996; Marcus Robyns, 1997-present.


Some changes have been made since A Sense of Time’s publication. Most notably, the Tyler and other Special Collections have gone into the collections of the Lydia Olson Library. Each year brings new student assistants, new “Number Ones,” and new collections to 126 Harden Hall. Today, the Archives continues its dedication to housing the historical records of Northern Michigan University, as well as historical materials documenting the history of Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties.

It depends on those who pass

Whether I am a tomb or a treasure

Whether I speak or am silent

The choice is yours alone.

Friend, do not enter without desire.

Verse by Paul Valery on the wall of a library & archives in Paris.

Questions and Answers from #AskAnArchivist Day 2020

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions for Marcus and the Archives staff to answer. We had a lot of fun, and can’t wait for next year! In case you missed it, you can always submit questions to us via phone, email, or social media. We’d love to chat!

Scroll through below to see the highlights from our Q&A session. You can always find the full versions highlighted on our Instagram here!

Marcus started the day explaining archival organization.

“Archives are arranged physically on the stacks by collection. We also use finding aids to intellectually arrange them by subject and indexing terms.”

Next were some general questions about archival collections…

We explored some questions about the practice…

And explained some of the ins and outs of research!

Click here to view the guide!

You might also want to check out our online exhibits (like the student protests we mentioned!)

Our collection highlights include:

Schedule an appointment today to view any of these collections, and more!