Fall 2015: Here We Go Again!

A new semester has started. As some of you have been hearing about all summer, the Archives is undergoing renovation and we have new office hours. Even with all of the new things happening, we are happy to have the same group of dedicated staff working here at the Archives. We are also constantly acquiring and processing new collections to bring more of the history of the Central Upper Peninsula to the masses. Keep up on the goings-on at the Archives by following our Social Media sites.


Construction started on August 17th and has been progressing steadily. When all is done we will have added a conference room by expanding into the office next door, converted a small office space into a microfilm viewing area, added a larger office space for the Records Manager, and created a hallway leading from the Reading Room area into the Archival Processing Area.

Office Hours:

Monday through Friday: 10 AM-8 PM

Saturdays: 11AM-3PM

Sundays: Closed

The Archives reading room will be open by appointment for the duration of the renovations (4-? weeks). Staff will continue to respond to email requests, phone requests, and document retrievals. Access to microfilm and collections will be limited; however, none of our virtual reference services will be affected. You may schedule time to view documents, meet with our genealogy researcher, Karen Kasper, discuss institutional records with our Records Manager, Sara Kiska, or to consult with the University Archivist, Marcus Robyns, by emailing archives@nmu.edu or by calling us at 906-227-1225. When noise and construction activities prevent research in the Reading Room, Archives staff will work with you to make alternate space available. Please call ahead to check on availability and access.


We are located on the 1st floor of the LRC in room 126, near Fiera’s, the elevator, and the tunnel leading to West Science.

Archives Staff:

The Archives boasts fourteen of the most dedicated team members you will find. Leading the pack is Marcus Robyns, University Archivist since 1997. Sara Kiska graced us with her upbeat personality, talent, and skill as the Records Manager/Analyst in July 2014. The Lydia M. Olson Library provides support for the Archives by sharing the knowledge and expertise of Catherine Oliver, Metadata and Cataloging Services Librarian; Cataloging Assistant, Keith Greising; and Library Systems Specialist, John S. Hambleton.

The rest of our team is made up of student employees and volunteers, all here to help. The multi-talented student staff is represented by Annika Peterson, Senior Student Assistant; Peter Dewan, Marketing and Public Outreach Specialist; Anne Krohn, Digitization Specialist; Kelley Kanon, Web Design Specialist; Stefan Nelson, Records Center Coordinator; Prince Parker, Accessioning Specialist; and Glenda K. Ward, Arrangement and Description Specialist. Our two dedicated volunteers are Karen Kasper, Genealogy Specialist and Research Consultant, and Dr. Steven Peters, Volunteer Project Archivist.

For more information about our staff and to watch short videos explaining what they actually do, visit the About Us section of our website http://www.nmu.edu/archives.

Archival Collections:

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives houses the historical records of Northern Michigan University and historical materials documenting the history of the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This includes the counties of Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee and Schoolcraft.

The archives houses extensive collections, including labor, government and political files; items from Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Co.; the John D. Voelker papers; the Moses Coit Tyler collection of rare books (American history, theology and literature); genealogical resources; and many other collections from community organizations, the university and prominent historical figures. Materials include manuscripts, maps, photographs, film and video, oral histories, newspapers and periodicals.

The Archives is transitioning to a new catalog for its finding aids, ArchivesSpace. ArchivesSpace allows you to browse our collections by title, name of person or institution, or subject, and to search our descriptions of them by keyword.

Social Media:

The Archives leaves its social media footprint on Facebook (Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University), Twitter (@nmu_archives), YouTube (Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives); FlickR (https://www.flickr.com/photos/nmu_archives), and our weekly blog (https://northerntradition.wordpress.com). Keep current on the goings-on at the Archives by following us, subscribing to us, and reading our blog.

Written by Glenda Ward

Construction Has Started

Construction has started.

The workers are here.



Strange voices we hear.

Hard hats.

Sheet plastic .

Blue tape abounds.



Marks on the ground.

Lights fixtures.


Suspended in air.



Don’t go in there.

Construction has started.

The workers are here.


Written by Glenda Ward

The Undiscovered Treasure Trove

Piled high above our heads always in clear view but never seen, stowed away in a plain cabinet we walked past every day, sitting silently abandoned and forgotten, waiting, waiting. Until now. For years, the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives reel-to-reel audio recordings have sat untouched gathering dust. The majority of these recordings were recorded between the late 1960s and the early 1990s. This treasure trove, waiting to be discovered for decades, has finally begun to surface.

This summer one of the projects that our digitation specialist, Anne Krohn, has been working on is organizing our reel-to-reel audio recordings into two complete and easily researchable collections: WNMU Media and Audio Visual Media. For many years these recordings have been scattered into a number of collections. The majority of them have never even been accessioned or inventoried! It was decided that these recordings would be split into two collections based on who produced them. This will allow other media forms, like the VHS tapes and film reels, to be added into the WNMU and Audio Visual Media collections once they have been processed.


The WNMU Media Collection: Anne completed processing it a few days ago

There have been many interesting discoveries while going through these reels including various Media Meet productions and a radio program about the Upper Peninsula’s attempt to secede in the 1970s. Media Meet was a series produced by WNMU’s Public TV 13, which started in 1972. They covered a variety of topics and would sometimes ask NMU faculty and Marquette community members to discuss various issues including political, world and local news. Some of the topics that were recorded on reel-to-reel include: Dr. Irving Greenburg on the Holocaust, Scams and Frauds, Finn Fest, UFO Studies, and many more! In the mid 1970s, the Upper Peninsula attempted to secede from Michigan and become the State of Superior. An interview with a local senator in 1975 addresses the reasons why the Upper Peninsula wanted to leave and what the process for seceding would be.

As exciting and thrilling as it is to find these new gemstones, there is also a sad realization: Nearly a fourth of our reel-to-reel recordings are lost. Technology has a way of preserving the past while also destroying it. These “lost” recordings were recorded at a slower speed than what our reel to reel player can play. There is no way to speed up the recording digitally or on the player so the audio is lost. For example: I digitized a 10 minute recording of a man talking but I couldn’t understand what he was saying due to the recording being too slow (we’ll call this effect slow talk). So I tried to speed up the recording in the hope that his voice would speed up as well and I would be able to understand him. I sped up the recording so that it was five minutes long. However, all that accomplished was to create a now five minute recording of slow talk.

What we have lost on those recordings will forever remain a mystery. However, there are still many we can save and many we will preserve.

Interested in learning more and listening to the reels yourself? Contact the archives!



The Audio Visual recordings: Anne is still processing them, as can be seen in the bottom picture.

Currently the WNMU reel-to-reels have been processed and are available for patrons. The Audio Visual recordings are still being processed but should be available in the coming weeks. The long-term goal is to digitize all our reel-to-reels so they can be preserved in a digital format.

Blog written by Anne Krohn

Collection Spotlight: The Historic Library Catalog

Recently the Archives stumbled across a forgotten treasure. While inventorying a row that had become a bit disheveled, I found a stack of seven large bound books that said “Accessions” on the outside. At first, I was a bit confused. “Accessioning” is the first step in processing a new archival collection in which the donor officially transfers the material to the archives and the archives makes an initial brief inventory of the collection. However, these books were clearly old and hand-written, and Northern’s archives did not start until the 1980s.

As soon as I opened the ledgers, however, it became clear—they were actually Olson Library’s handwritten (and later typewriter-written) catalog that recorded all books in the library from 1899 to 1958!

The ledgers themselves shed interesting light on library science at the time. They are American Library Association Standard Accession-books which many libraries throughout the country used at the time. In the front was a manual about how to accession library books. It included acceptable standard abbreviations as well as the colors to be used on the bindings of books of various languages (a feature probably not much used at Northern).

The ledgers also shed light on what sorts of books Northern sought to collect in its first years. As a normal school, Northern’s primary function in its early years was to train teachers. Consequently, its early books included math, psychology, and physics textbooks, children’s books for the training school, and books on education.

first page

The first entry into the catalog: a translation of Histoire de la pédagogie by Gabriel Compayré.

last page

The last entry in the catalog: The Study of War, Volume II by Q. Wright.

These early years of the library’s catalog also record the receipt of what is now Olson Library’s Moses Coit Tyler Collection. Moses Coit Tyler was a professor of rhetoric and English literature at the University of Michigan during the second half of the nineteenth century. Tyler was interested in examining the historical contexts of works of literature, and he was perhaps best known for being one of the first scholars to write about the history of American literature. He also helped to found the American Historical Association, where he promoted a more critical form of American history.


Moses Coit Tyler, 1835-1900

His personal library of over three thousand books focused on American history and politics, language and grammar, literature, and theology. In his will, he requested that his library be sold to some public institution. In 1904, four Marquette citizens: attorney Albert Miller, banker Nathan Kaufman, mining engineer Edward Breitung, and businessman Peter White learned that Tyler’s personal collection of books was up for sale. They purchased them in order to grow Northern State Normal School’s still quite small library.

Eventually, the Tyler collection was separated from the general library and put into Special Collections. Though still part of the library’s collections, the books are housed at the Archives’ Records Center in a climate controlled environment.

Interested in the Tyler collection or the library catalog? The catalog can be viewed at the Archives, and brochures about Tyler are available at the front desk. A catalog of Tyler’s books can be found in Olson Library.

Written by Annika Peterson

Collection Spotlight: The Peace Newspapers


The underground press movement started in the 1940s during the Nazis’ occupation of Europe. People in countries like France, Denmark, Poland, and the Soviet Union published illegal newspapers while under oppressive regimes. However, the movement continued well into the 1960s and 1970s and is now most associated with the counterculture of that time. These underground newspapers and publications began to spring up all over the United States and Northern Michigan University was no exception.

The term “underground” did not necessarily mean it was illegal, though this was the case in some other countries. In America, “underground newspaper” usually referred to a small independent newspaper focusing on unpopular themes and counterculture issues. In fact the First Amendment, and cases like Near vs. Minnesota, made it nearly impossible for the government to intervene or stop these publications unless people were violating laws while reporting on a news item or while selling the newspapers.

Northern’s first underground newspaper was Cogito (Latin for “to think”) that started in 1967. There were many publications after this including Campus Mirror (1969), Student Action (1969), Black and White (1972), and Broadsheet (1977). However, the one newspaper that stood out among all the rest for its popularity and controversial issues was Peace.

Peace was an underground newspaper published by the student organization Zaca, which was founded on February 25th, 1969. Fred Pentz was the founding president and in their application to become a student organization he wrote that the purpose for Zaca was to “promote student participation in University affairs through various creative adventures including the publishing of a newspaper.”

Many of the articles that Zaca published dealt with University issues such as the closing of the Job Corps, controversy over canceling the ROTC program, and the unequal treatment of black students. They often would write letters to President John X. Jamrich openly ridiculing him and the administration for their policy decisions. A reoccurring column that appeared in Peace issues were letters from King Johannes (President Jamrich) issuing a decree over the Realm of Iswas (Northern) that had to be followed by all the peasants (students) of the land.

King Johannes

An example of an Iswas column, which was posted on the stairs of Kaye Hall after the university banned the distribution of Peace.

The University couldn’t stop Zaca from publishing Peace. However, they were in control of how the paper was distributed. President Jamrich wrote in a memorandum on March 20, 1969 to the Faculty Senate, “The Student Activities Committee has, with Dean Niemi concurring, withheld permission for the distribution of the paper in university facilities because of its content.” He also wrote to the Student Affairs Committee that same day to ask them to meet and discuss recommendations for what action he should take regarding this matter. Over the course of the next few days, they decided that Zaca would be able to sell Peace in the University Center and the Golden N (an old cafeteria). In a memo to Zaca, the Student Activities Committee wrote, “[this committee] which is hereby affording the privilege of sale of your publication, PEACE, also has the right to withdraw this privilege at any time. Withdrawal of this privilege will only occur, however, if your organization is involved in (a) active solicitation; (b) interference with normal traffic on campus; or (c) in the opinion of the Student Activities Committee there has been flagrant use of obscenity in any issue of PEACE.”

Eventually, Jamrich and the Student Activities Committee ordered the termination of distributing Peace on university grounds after an issue was published with vulgar language. For a while Zaca tried to continue publishing the newspaper but with no proper facility for printing or distribution, the newspaper disbanded.

IsWas Pin

These posters were put up all around campus after the banning of Peace. They asked students to wear the paper bow-tie in protest. (Then-President Jamrich was famous for almost always wearing a bow-tie).

Interested in reading more about Zaca and the Peace newspaper? Come visit the Archives!

Blog written by Anne Krohn     

A Brief Announcement

Starting next week, construction is happening at the Archives! We will be getting a hole knocked through one wall so that we can use part of the room next door as extra reading room space and will be having an office and hallway built in one part of our current reading room. We expect this construction to continue for about eight weeks.

For the time being, patrons can still research in our reading room, but please be advised that it will be extremely noisy. It would be a good idea to contact us before coming in so that we can let you know what days may be quieter.

There may come a point at which researching in the reading room will be untenable. At that point, we will be open by appointment only. Please contact us for more information.

Records Analyst Sara Kiszka’s phone, (906) 227-1241, is not working for the time being. Sara can be contacted directly at skiszka@nmu.edu. She can also be reached via the main office phone, (906) 227-1225.

Our Recent Trip to Ishpeming!

NMU is a local government records depository for the state of Michigan, which means the Archives maintains archival records of local governments in the central UP. Rather than these permanent historical records going to Lansing, they remain here in the UP accessible to the public. Ishpeming’s former City Clerk contacted Marcus about old city records that they had on file. She wanted them transferred to the Archives to be properly cared for. Marcus, the former City Clerk, and the former City Manager of Ishpeming had a meeting about these records. Shortly after the meeting, the city clerk retired and the city manager left for a new job.

A few months ago, Marcus contacted Mark Slown, the current City Manager, about the old city records. On Tuesday, July 14th, University Archivist Marcus Robyns, Records Analyst, Sara Kiszka, and student employees Annika Peterson and Prince Parker, took a trip to Ishpeming City Hall. We were on a mission to look through the ledgers and books that contained information about the city. We met up with Karen Kasper, our Genealogy Specialist and Research Consultant, at ten o’clock at City Hall.

Shortly after a small greeting with the wonderful staff in the building, the archives team went straight to work. Mark Slown took us to the basement of the building where most of their records are kept so we could begin our search. Marcus pointed out that we were looking for information that would be of use to historians and genealogist. The records were in a back room. The door was closed, which had caused a lot of dust to accumulate. We only looked through the ledgers and books that City Hall had no space for.

IMG_2052 (00000002)

Annika removing records from the room
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Marcus determining which records we should keep

After two hours of hard work finding the information that was of use to the archives, the team went to lunch with the very nice Mark Slown, who offered to buy us lunch. Ending our break, we got back to work transferring all the materials from the building to the van. After moving many books and ledgers, it was time to head back to the Records Center in Marquette where the records were put in storage for inventory. Annika just finished an inventory of the material and will be completing the accession record shortly. The collection will be processed at some point in the hopefully near future.

Some of the materials in the collection are voter registration records dating from the 1880’s–1930’s, a registration book enrolling women to vote right after the 19th amendment, cemetery records from 1900-1940, birth records for the year 1900, correspondence about local government issues, Many volumes are from the Public Works department, which was in charge of the water, the sewers, and the highways. They contain general correspondence, payroll, and specifications for the sewers.

It was a very dirty job, but someone had to do it, so we took on the challenge and won.

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The end result: boxes and ledgers neatly stacked on temporary shelving at the Records Center until the collection can be processed

Written by Prince Parker