These plates are mostly made of copper and wood and are used in the lithographic printing process. The process is fairly simple and uses the fact that water and oil (in this case an oil based ink) do not mix. It has been widely used since the 1800’s to produce large volumes of printed material; it is even used today, though the process is slightly different.At the Beaumier Heritage Center we deal with 3D artifacts, like buttons and computers, and let the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives have the 2D stuff, like papers and photographs. However, we have a large collection of over 350 pictures, documents and newspapers. Why do we have them? Because they are all in the form of printing plates.
Our collection contains numerous photographs, parts of newspapers, documents and yearbooks. These items are extremely important because, for many of them, they are the only copy of the images that we have. They are the equivalent to a photograph’s negative or to a .jpeg file. And many of them are from the earliest days of NMU’s history.
These items are not on display, but we do allow people to look through them for research purposes at the BHC.
Written by Stephen Glover of the BHC