Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fashion in the U.P.

Fashion at NMUAn article in the latest edition of The North Wind examines fashion at NMU. This article is surprisingly similar to an article posted in The North Wind in September 1984 and asks a lot of the same questions: how do students in the rural Upper Peninsula find fashionable clothes that fit their style?

Current students have the luxury of buying clothes online, but in 1984, students typically went to Green Bay to buy their clothes. One of the featured students in the article was in a band that traveled nation-wide and said his clothes came from cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The article features four students and asked them to describe their look. Of the three looks, the student on the left is “straightforward,” the center picture is “trendy” and the right, who is the student who traveled with a band, is “loud and rockish.” The fourth student said in the article that she tries for a “comfortable but ‘frightening’ look,” and described her style as “not typical.”

Though the fashions are considered outdated today, the advice that students offered remains true. The student in the center of the three pictures said that finding the right style is important for self esteem: “If you feel you look nice, you feel better about yourself.” And the student who goes for an atypical look said that because of the culture in the Upper Peninsula and at Northern, “Up here, anything goes.”

Written by Lucy Hough

King Salmon in the U.P.

King SalmonAs mentioned in last week’s Beaumier Center blog post, the Center has many types of items in its collection. We have a number of stuffed and mounted animals that represent the fauna of the Upper Peninsula. Our most recent addition of this type is a King Salmon that was caught by Communications and Performance Studies Professor Dwight Brady off the lower harbor in Marquette on Oct. 10, 2011. It weighed 18.5 lbs. It is currently on display in the Superior  Dome along with a bear, moose and other fish.

Written by Stephen Glover of the BHC

Allison Engblom Accessioning a Collection

Step by Step: The Archival Process, Part 2

Allison Engblom Accessioning a Collection After last week’s explanation of appraisal, the first step in the archival management process, it is time for step two: accessioning. When material is given to us, it is often extremely unorganized. Our first job is to sort through it and give it a general order.  Not a lot of time is spent sorting things out at this stage; scrapbooks go in one pile, newspaper clippings in another, etc.

Allison Engblom is the Accessions Specialist here at the NMU Archives. She is responsible for the initial overview of new material. Along with general sorting, emergency preservation is an essential part of the accessioning process. Some of the documents and books sit in an attic or garage for years before they get to us, which means that Allison has her work cut out for her.

Kacey Lewis and Allison Engblom, ready to preserve a collection.

Sometimes the techniques required for preservation can be a little… intense.

The material can be moldy, dusty, or just plain beat up. Allison’s job is to either try to salvage the material or make reproductions if the quality of the original is too poor. She then puts the material in acid free archival boxes and folders. We keep our material in acid free boxes and folders because it helps with the long term preservation of documents.

Once the material has been sorted and quality control as taken place, Allison creates an inventory with a brief description of everything in the collection and then assigns it a location on our shelves. This information is entered into the Archivist’s Toolkit database, which indicates the content, size and location of each collection in the Archives. At this point, although the information is in the database, the collection isn’t quite available to the public.

Next week, we’ll find out what happens in the third step of the archival management process!

Prepared by Savannah Mallo and Olivia Ernst. 

Moving in, then and now

Meyland HallFirst- and second-year students moving into the residence halls this week will likely move into a suite with another student and a bathroom connecting to the room next door. There are 10 different residence halls, and each one has study rooms, TV rooms, a lobby and recreation area, laundry facilities, Cable TV, wireless internet, and vending machines. Double occupancy room for students costs $4,004 per year, and a constant meal plan which first-year students are required to have is $4,196.

This is quite different than the first residence hall on campus. Called the Dormitory, it was located where St. Michael’s parish is located now, kiddy corner the University Center. It was a 4-story building; the first floor housed a dining room, kitchen, pantry and stewards quarters. The second and third floors were the sleeping apartments. Its technological advancements included steam heat, electric lights and running water. The cost was $9 for room and $36 for board for 14 weeks of school.

dormitoryThe Dormitory opened in 1900, only a year after the college opened, and served students until 1918 when it was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Marquette. No longer owned by Northern State Normal School, the building continued to house students: members of the Student Army Training Corp lived there from 1918-1919, and during the 1920s, Catholic nuns lived there while attending Northern in the summer.

In 1943, St. Michael’s school was put in this location. Because of the degradation of the building, the top two floors were removed. And in 1963, it was demolished.

First picture: Housing website; Second picture: From the NMU Archives

Written by Lucy Hough

One of the Center’s Little Mysteries

Part of the Beaumier Heritage Center’s mission is to collect and preserve items from the U.P. and NMU. The types of items and artifacts that fall under this sphere is very broad and, as such, we have numerous kinds of items in our collection and it is full of interesting gems. We have also inherited and collected many new objects over the years. This broadness of items and always increasing volume has had the unintended consequence of creating a lot of mystery within the collection.

One mysterious item is this one. On the outside it seems like a very straight forward artifact, as the note says it is a “Single crystal of polonium from Poland.” Odd, but not out of the ordinary for the Beaumier Center. But then there is the second part, written in a different hand, “from Marie Curie’s workplace?”

PoloniumWow. That would be an amazing thing to have in our collection; a piece from the laboratory of the famed scientist. But we are unable to make that claim. We don’t know who wrote either parts of the note, we don’t know why the second person thought it might have belonged to Marie Curie and, unfortunately, we have no other history of the item.

As someone who wants to have a career in the museum world, this item has taught me a very valuable lesson. When items are brought to a museum, the person taking in the object really need to know as much of its history as possible and record that information for posterity. What makes the item important and worth saving? How did it get here? What did it do? Who used it? Basically, what is its story?

I wonder all of these things about this little bit of mystery we have in our storage area and I hope one day we all will get to know its story.

The item is currently in storage at the Beaumier Heritage Center, off display.

Written by Stephen Glover of the BHC.

Step by Step: The Archival Process, Part 1

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives is home to countless University records and historical documents, ranging from politician’s personal papers to Peter White’s famous spiked punch recipe. The staff is responsible for acquiring collections, maintaining the irreplaceable materials, and preparing all of it for public use. Each collection goes through a thorough process of organization and preservation before it is available to researchers. Let’s take a step by step look at the archival process.

The first step in this cumbersome procedure begins with the University Archivist and Records Manager, or in other words, the head honcho. Marcus Robyns is the Archivist for the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives. He is responsible for deciding what collections the Archives should acquire, a process we call “Appraisal,” which begins with contacting people and organizations that possess documents of interest. He focuses mainly on historical materials concerning the central Upper Peninsula area as well as Northern Michigan University. These collections come from all types of donors: for example, the Archives has the John. D. Voelker papers, author of the famous novel “Anatomy of a Murder.” We also have documents from local organizations such as the Marquette Choral Society, and even local government documents such as the Marquette County Court records.

The Archivist’s job is to seek out these collections and oversee the legal aspect of donating the documents to our facility. We are often contacted by people who wish to donate to the Archives; however, we cannot accept every donation–the Archivist must decide if the material in question fits into our existing subject areas. If the documents are of interest, the donors are required to fill out the Material Transfer form that we have posted on our website. For manuscript collections, a Deed of Gift/Donor Agreement form is required. This establishes legal ownership and also allows the donor to dictate any specific stipulations for the handling of the collection, such as restrictions or special permission for publication by researchers.

Tune in next week to find out the next step in the management of archival material!

Prepared by Savannah Mallo and Olivia Ernst.

Live bobcat purchased for NMU pride

NMU wildcatIn 1970, NMU student government and Student Activities committee funds went to a very real form of school spirit and representation of NMU’s mascot, the Wildcat: a 38-pound, female bobcat was purchased to be held on campus. She was named Bobby (or Bobbie) and lived in an indoor-outdoor cage built into the NMU power plant that was located at the time behind Spooner Hall. Bobby was fed a pound and a half of meat each day from the university’s food service, was potty trained, and was taken to some university sports events as the mascot. In the summer months, Bobby was sent to her original home in Toronto for breeding.

Controversy arose on Halloween 1971 when someone “freed” Bobby by cutting a hole in her cage. She was found near Summit Street apartments and was eventually coaxed into her cage. A note was tied to her neck that said, “Students at NMU, thank you for making my stay in your prison a memoral (sic) one. Perhaps I may be able to repay you somedy (sic) when your (sic) in the woods alone.” This situation with Bobby made people question whether she was being treated adequately in the cage, and there was a number of letters and editorials in the student newspaper expressing that the bobcat needed to be in a better environment.

NMU wildcat“Either the university at-large, or concerned alumni and students should be responsible for a decent and healthy living environment for the animal, or Bobbie should be sent to where care is available,” said a Northern News editorial.

In February 1972, Bobby was cut out of her cage again. University officials looked for her for an entire weekend and finally thought they found her in Lower Harbor. They coaxed the bobcat into a cage, took it to a veterinarian to have porcupine quills taken out of it, but then learned that the bobcat they had taken in the cage was actually male and therefore not Bobby. So they let it out in the woods on the Big Bay road.

There isn’t any mention in subsequent newspapers about whether Bobby was found.

Written by Lucy Hough