Upcoming Presentations at the Archives! Cordwood at Coalwood: Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company’s Secondary Industrial Ventures and More!

Several weeks ago we announced that there would be two presentations at the Archives this semester. We finally have the exact dates and times to give you!

First, we will be discussing our new online exhibit about student protests at Northern in the 1960s on April 2 at 7 PM in the Archives (LRC 126). The presentation should last no longer than an hour. It will focus on a brief overview of the website and a description of the research and website creation process. The students who researched the project and coded the website will describe how they benefited from the experience.

On April 10, the Marquette County Genealogical Society and Peter White Public Library will be putting on a Genealogy Workshop from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Peter White Public Library. The Archives will have a table at the event to showcase some of our genealogical materials, so be sure to stop by our table and say hi! Spaces are limited, so be sure to register early with the library.

Finally, the last Evening at the Archives for the semester will be on April 16 at 7 PM in the Archives (LRC 126). Last summer, the Archives awarded Aaron Howe the Grace H. Magnaghi Visitor Research Grant. This grant gives researchers funds to travel to the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives and do research. They are required to come back to the Archives at some point and give a presentation about their research.

Aaron is an anthropology graduate student at Western Michigan University. He researched Coalwood, a cordwood camp near Munising that operated from 1900 to 1912, using the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company records. His presentation uses the information garnered from the CCI records as well as his own archaeological research at Coalwood to examine the daily lives of the people who lived at Coalwood as well as the importance of Coalwood to CCI.


Aaron Howe Presentation Poster


Written by Annika Peterson

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Document Conservation and Repair

One of the most important procedures within the Archives is the preservation and conservation of old documents and photographs. Depending on the age of the document, preservation can be very time consuming.  It is important to use the correct procedures in order to retain all of the information from the damaged document.

Paper quality has declined since the 1850’s, prior to the 1850’s paper was made primarily by hand, using cotton and linen rags with a calcium carbonate wash. Paper documents are very delicate and must be stored in acid-free folders and boxes so they don’t deteriorate. IMG_1688

Some of the major contributors to deterioration are wide variations of temperature and relative humidity, atmospheric pollutants and light exposure. High humidity increases the growth of mold and the depletion of the paper’s molecular structure, while lower humidity increases the brittleness of the molecular structure. Pollutants such as dirt, dust, soot and tar embed themselves within the fibers of the paper, which weaken the paper structure.  Too much light exposure can result in chemical reactions that cause the paper to deteriorate.

When documents have been rolled up for an extended period of time, they need to be flattened and placed into Mylar. Mylar is a sheet of plastic that can be used to preserve brittle documents.  The most efficient way to flatten a document without any damage is to humidify the document.

  1. Fill a plastic container with a quarter inch of water.
  2. Place the document on a wire rack, so it does not get wet.IMG_1691
  3. After 24 hours the fibers within the paper are softer and easier to flatten.
  4. Remove the document from the container and place it between two pieces of acid free paper for another 24 hours, use weights at the corners of the document to keep it flat.

After flattening the document it needs to be encapsulated in Mylar.IMG_1690

These procedures make researching easier for patrons. Have any questions about document preservation and repair? Contact us at archives@nmu.edu.

Written by Peter Dewan

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Collection Spotlight: Citizens to Save Superior Shorelines Records

the view of little presque isle

Photo Source: http://www.mymichigantrips.com/hiking-michigan/presque-isle-to-wetmore-hike.html

Did you know that Little Presque Isle almost became a power plant in the late 1960s? If it weren’t for concerned people banding together in the form of a group called Citizens to Save the Superior Shoreline (CSSS), Little Presque might not be the beautiful area that it is today.

Until 1969, a local Marquette family owned Little Presque and kept it open for public use. Then, they began looking to sell the property to anyone who would buy it.

The UP Power Company offered a lot of money for the property and the family agreed. Many people were outraged at the destruction of such a gorgeous area. They came together and formed the CSSS. In the face of a petition with thousands of signatures, the UP Power Company dropped their plan to buy the property. A few years later, the family again almost sold the land to residential developers.

CSSS worried that they would not be able to permanently save Little Presque. Then, in 1975, the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company announced that they were looking to purchase some land from the DNR to expand their mining enterprises. In order to acquire the interior land that they needed, they were going to trade land of equal worth to the DNR.

CSSS saw this upcoming land trade as an opportunity to preserve Little Presque forever. They approached CCI and the DNR and asked if CCI would be willing to buy the land surrounding Little Presque and give that to the DNR in trade for the interior land that they needed for mining. CCI agreed. This area included not just Little Presque Isle but also such popular recreational areas as Harlow Lake and Wetmore Landing.

CSSS did not just work to keep Little Presque Isle and the surrounding areas pristine. They also tackled many other environmental issues, such as local problems with air and water pollution and bottle recycling in Michigan.

Interested in learning more about the activities of CSSS? Come to the Archives and see their collection! It includes meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters, financial records, copies of legislative bills about environmental issues, news clippings, and maps of Presque Isle.

Or, come and check out our next Chat with the Archivist session on Wednesday, February 25 from 10 AM – 12 PM! Marcus will be somewhere in the lobby areas of first floor Jamrich with some materials from the CSSS collection. He will be happy to answer your questions regarding local environmental history or any archival topic.

Written by Annika Peterson

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Comprehensive Records Survey

The Northern Michigan University and Central Upper Peninsula Archives contains manuscript collections from around the Upper Peninsula, but it also is an in-house collecting archives. As an in-house archives, university offices and departments transfer records to be archived and preserved at the University Records Center. Many of the records are not vital to the university’s function and are eventually destroyed according to retention and disposition schedules. Federal, State, and university policies dictate these schedules that the Archivist or Records Analyst follow to determine when records are confidentially disposed.

Ms. Sara Kiszka, Records Analyst, has launched a Comprehensive Records Survey (CRS) of all official university records on campus. The CRS uses the methodology of functional analysis to determine the historical value of University records.[1]

Functional analysis is a method of appraising records to determine their historical value. It carefully examines the mission and duties of an office. The staff analyzes the importance of each office function within the context of the parent institution’s primary functions and missions. Those office functions determined to be most important for completing the institution’s mission are likely to produce records with the greatest historical value. When appraising records, we identify the type and format of the records, how they are stored and arranged, and the frequency of how often they are used by staff. This macro level approach to arrangement allows us to view records as they are actually used, rather than how traditional appraisal purports them to be.

Typically, university records are arranged by the department or office hierarchy in the university. This method does not allow for flexibility within the constant shifting of departments and functions. With functional analysis method of appraisal for records, university records managers can better adapt their policies with that of the records produced by the university.

After five months of preparation, workshops, and staff, Ms. Kiszka launched the CRS at the beginning of Winter Semester, 2015. CRS Technicians, Prince Parker, Stefan Nelson, and Senior CRS Technician Morgan Paavola, have begun visiting academic departments and collecting information about how offices create and store their records. With this data, Ms. Kiszka and the CRS team will develop and publish online unique appraisal reports for every office; these reports will outline new disposition schedules and file storage recommendations among many other things.

Ms. Kiszka and Ms. Paavola are preparing a case study of the CRS for publication and presentation at the spring meeting of the Midwest Archives Conference and the annual conference of the Michigan Archival Association in June, 2015.


To follow the progress of the CRS click here http://www.nmu.edu/archives/node/230


[1] Marcus Robyns, Using Functional Analysis in Archival Appraisal: A Practical and Effective Alternative to Traditional Appraisal Methodologies, 2014.

Written by Morgan Paavola

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Chat With the Archivist

Each semester, the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives offers several educational outreach programs designed to increase awareness of the Archives among students and faculty. Every two weeks the Archives will host “Chat with the Archivist” in the busy concourse of Jamrich Hall. Students and faculty can stop and visit to learn about Archives collections and activities. This coming Wednesday February 11, 2015 University Archivist Marcus Robyns will have papers from the John Voelker collection for students, faculty or community members to learn about. John Voelker was born in Ishpeming and is notoriously known for his novel Anatomy of a Murder. The John Voelker collection consists of court cases, personal documents and the actual bullets used in the Anatomy of a Murder case.

MarcusChat with the Archivist

Be sure to stop by anytime between 10am-12pm in Jamrich to learn more about the John Voelker collection. Interested in learning more about the Chat with the Archivist or the Voelker collection? Contact the Archives at archives@nmu.edu.

Written by Peter Dewan

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Northern Michigan University Archives Update

untitled-17A lot of things are going to be happening at the Archives this semester. Here’s an update about what’s going on:

New Online Exhibit

You may remember us announcing several months ago an upcoming online exhibit about student protests at Northern in the late 1960s. Well, a few complications pushed back the release date, but it should be going up within a week!

The site has multiple layers to explore. You can read a summary of the events or dive deeper into the sources themselves. We have digitized many sources including newspaper articles, photos, other documents, oral histories, and even some audio recorded at the protests themselves!

The idea first developed last March and research started in May. As one of the people involved with the project as a researcher and writer, I can tell you that we’re very excited to finally be able to share this project with you! Many thanks to the amazing Kelley Kanon an Anne Krohn who have been working very hard to digitize the sources and code and design the website and who have dealt with many delays and revisions!

Digitization and Transcription Project

The state of our oral history collections is currently widely varied. Some were donated with notes or transcripts, some were not. Sometimes those notes are mere topics, sometimes they are descriptions or summaries. In general, those interviews which were donated without transcripts or notes still don’t have them. This limits their accessibility for patrons, and makes it difficult for researchers to find potentially very helpful interviews.

However, even creating notes for a single interview, let alone transcribing it, is a very time-consuming process. The sheer number of oral histories and other audio and video records that we have makes digitization difficult as well. Hence, making these records more accessible has been put on the back burner for a very long time.

James Shefchik and Emily Winnell from the Center for Upper Peninsula Studies are helping us to change that. They are going to go through about five hundred oral history interviews and create a basic summary of what is on the tape. They are also going to develop a ranking for the importance of getting the interviews transcribed and digitized. The long-term goal is to make all of our oral history interviews and other audio records available online with basic notes or transcriptions.

NMU Video Collection

Our video records have been in similar disarray, but in the next few months they are finally going to be properly accessioned by Anne Krohn and Jessica Ulrich, which will make them much more accessible!

Comprehensive Records Survey

The Comprehensive Records Survey of all university records has finally begun and is running smoothly, although it’s keeping our records center team of Morgan Paavola, Prince Parker, and Stefan Nelson very busy. The offices that we have worked with so far are responding well and have been very helpful.

New Collection, Books, and Shelves

Dr. Magnaghi has kindly donated more of his papers to us along with many boxes of books about Michigan and the Upper Peninsula and six bookshelves. The many carts of boxes arrived today and accessioning will begin in the near future.

Upcoming Events at the Archives

Look for announcements about two Evening at the Archives events this semester! As details about time and date are confirmed, we will be releasing that information here and on social media.

On April 10, the Marquette County Genealogical Society will be hosting a genealogy lock-in at Peter White Public Library. We will be there with a display about genealogical resources at the Archives, so come and say hi to us! Space is limited at the lock-in, so be sure to register quickly after registration open if you want to go!

Written by Annika Peterson

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Citizens to Save Little Presque Isle and Wetmore Landing

Most people know Little Presque and Wetmore Landing as a beautiful place to hike, swim and cross country ski, but the area was almost lost when the DNR comprised a $300,000 plan to construct a campground within the Little Presque and Wetmore Landing area in the 1980s. According to this plan, the site would contain twenty-seven campsites on a 2,810 acre state recreation area. Without a group called the Citizens to Save Little Presque Isle and Wetmore Landing, the area would today be highly trafficked by motor vehicles, causing vandalism, litter and damage to the natural environment.


In the 1990s, the public became aware of the ongoing plan. A group of environmentally conscious citizens voiced their concerns with the overall proposal. At first they were misled to believe that all of the sites were walk-in accessible. The original proposed plan stated that nineteen campsites were specifically delegated for motor vehicles (such as RVs and ATVs ) and that only eight sites were walk-in accessible. They believed that the area should be preserved and that the increased traffic created by the campground would take away from the natural beauty of the area. The DNR dismissed the idea of public hearings, causing citizens to voice their concerns through letters and protests. Protests were held outside of the DNR’s office to bring awareness towards the issue. Rallies were held throughout Earth Day to bring attention to the issue within the community.


Without the high amount of interest from citizens to preserve the area of Little Presque & Wetmore Landing, people today would not be able to enjoy a beautiful piece of Marquette.

Interested in learning more about the history of the Citizens to Save Little Presque Isle & Wetmore Landing? Check out the Finding Aid for the group’s records or contact the Archives at archives@nmu.edu.

Written by Peter Dewan

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