First of all, welcome back! We’ve got a whole semester of great blogs and activities lined up, just waiting for you!
Here at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, we consider ourselves lucky to be embedded in an environment as friendly and inviting as the Marquette community. From the beautiful landscape to the welcoming people, the Marquette community provides so many wonderful opportunities for our NMU family. At the NMU Archives, we try to find ways to give back every once and a while. Many people aren’t aware that, although our office is located on campus, we are open to community members and non- Marquette residents as well as students, faculty, and staff. We make an effort to hold at least two presentations each semester that are open for anyone to attend.
We recently held an event for a group from the Northern Center for Lifelong Learning. Our own Archivist, Marcus Robyns, gave a sort of “Archives 101” presentation to the group of local seniors. His presentation described what an Archives is and, more importantly, what it is not. He dispelled stereotypes, such as one commonly represented in newspaper comics: archivists are simply packrats with too much junk. He clarified that his job consists of throwing records away more often than keeping them. The audience learned that all the records in Archives are irreplaceable, unlike a library, where copies of lost or damaged material can simply be purchased.
Part of the presentation included a discussion on what we can learn about our history that goes beyond the intended use of the material. For example, Professor Robyns showed the audience unlabeled historic photographs and showed them how to determine when the photo was taken and what it tells us about history based on the dress, the surroundings, and the activity being captured. At the NMU Archives we have both University records as well as records dedicated to preserving our regional history. Mining history, politics and government records, environmental history, and naturalization records for genealogical research are among some of the non-university records that are often utilized by the public.
The Archivist also discussed the different types of Archives as well as what to expect when visiting our office at NMU. There are certain rules patrons are expected to follow, including no food or drinks allowed in the reading room, and bags/coats must be placed on or near the coat rack. These rules are in place to prevent damaged to materials as well as theft.
The Archives is more than a room full of dusty boxes and papers. It is a collection of history, and each institution is unique in its materials. We encourage community members as well as students to come in and learn more about this wonderful resource. Mark your calendars for our next community event, Evening at the Archives, to be held on March 14th at 7:00 pm. More information to come!
Prepared by Savannah Mallo and Olivia Ernst.