Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ruth Smith

Researcher Spotlight: Ruth Smith of Michigamme

Ruth Smith

Here at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives we are proud of the many collections and resources we have to offer to the public. We enjoy helping each one of our researchers uncover the unique histories they’ve come to explore. And every so often, their discoveries make for an interesting day for us, too.

Ruth Smith is a born and raised Michigamme resident who has set out to write a book about the history of the mines in the Michigamme area. So far, she has spent four days in the NMU Archives reading letters dating back to 1870 written by the mine superintendents in the Michigamme Mine and addressed to the main office in Chicago. Smith says she was surprised when she read the letters because they were not the dry statistics she was expecting. Many of the letters contain stories and updates about everyday life at the mine. There are comments about the weather and references to insect problems, even a statement from the superintendent saying, “It’s election day today, the men won’t work.” Smith enjoys getting a look into what life at the mine was like back then; her family was very involved in the Michigamme mines when she was younger, and that connection helps fuel her interest in the topic. Her mother was born at one of the mine locations and her grandfather was an accountant for the mine.

“I’ve always been around those mines” Smith says. “I can find each one of them to this day. If someone doesn’t do this research, soon there will be no one left who will.”

Smith works at the Michigamme Historical Society, but this research is one of personal interest. “It’s my baby” she jokes.  If it isn’t impressive enough that Ruth is doing this research by herself, remember that she is 86 years old! When asked why she still does extensive research like this at her age she simply replied, “To me, it is absolutely fascinating.” She has done research at the NMU Archives as well as the Michigan Technological University Archives in Houghton. This project has been her focus for the past four months and she hopes to be finished by mid-October. “I just finished the first box, Hallelujah!” she announced as I finished up my questions. It looks like she’s well on her way. We wish her luck and look forward to reading her book when it comes out.

Prepared by Savannah Mallo and Olivia Ernst. 


Demolition: Carey Hall

Carey HallWhat began as a dream of the dean of women is now being torn down after being empty for seven years. Though recently used as a training facility for the local fire department, most current students have never seen the hall occupied. Carey Hall has held many purposes since it opened in 1948; the first week of August 2012, it will likely be a “grassy area.”

Ethel Carey, who the hall is named after, was made dean of women in 1924. She was notorious for being especially conservative about student wardrobe, personal hygiene and social behavior.

The building was named for Carey a year after it was built, and it was a dormitory for women until 1982. The halls were suites which included a bedroom and study area, and 193 students lived there. The building also had a laundry room; storage rooms; a fireplace; and, like today’s NMU dorms, a reception area and student mailboxes.

The Health Center was also located in Carey Hall when it was first built until 1961 when Gries Hall opened and it moved there.

The purpose of Carey Hall was changed in 1982 when the dorm evolved into faculty offices. The hall was home to departments like philosophy, psychology, sociology, and public safety. It was also the Speech and Hearing Clinic for many years.

By 1996, there weren’t any permanent offices in Carey Hall. Public Safety moved to the services building that year, and the psychology and sociology departments moved to Gries. A special committee, headed by Carl Holm who remains director of housing and residence life, considered options for Carey Hall, but nothing was determined. Until 2005, when the building was closed permanently, Carey Hall was used for occasional classes and even a place for NMU skiers to wax their skies.

Source: A Sense of Time by Russell Magnaghi
First picture: Archives website

Written by Lucy Hough