Oral Histories

The Archives does not just contain paper documents. It also has many audio and video records which cover a wide range of topics related to both Northern Michigan University, the Marquette County area, and beyond. A website summarizing the oral history interviews and other audio recordings located at the Archives and in other local archives and libraries can be found here.

The Red Dust Project Oral History Collection contains 800 interviews conducted by students of the National Mine School and Aspen Ridge Middle School from 1983 to 2000. The interviews cover topics such as the Depression, immigration, job histories, mining, logging, World War II and military service, education, the polio epidemic in the UP, and social life.

Another oral history project here at the Archives is the Italian-American Immigrant Oral History Collection. It contains interviews with Italian Americans in the UP and beyond and discusses their lives in Italy, the trip to America, and life here, including mining, other work, religious activities, and social life. Recorded in Stone: Voices on the Marquette Iron Range is another oral history project which discusses immigrant populations. Groups for which oral histories were recorded include Finnish, Cornish, and Italian immigrants. Besides oral histories, the website has articles about various ethnic populations in Marquette County. It also contains digital copies of some issues of Clover-Land, a magazine promoting farming settlement in the Upper Peninsula.

Some audio collections relate directly to Northern Michigan University. The Archives contains copies of many commencement speeches given at Northern over the years. It also has tapes of lecture series and debates at Northern from the 1950s to the 1980s. There are also many interviews with Presidents of the University, faculty members, and students. Some of these interviews are listed by name. Others have some indication of the content discussed in the title.

Oral histories relating to the larger area include such topics as underground mining, fishing, and lumber, and the Ishpeming Ski Hall of Fame. Persons of Croatian, Finnish, German, French-Canadian, Slovenian, and Chippewa descent were interviewed about their heritage. Events which occurred in the area, such as the visit of Buckminster Fuller, are also recorded. Meetings and conferences of local groups, including Lutheran synods and Catholic pastoral conferences from the 1980s, the Coalition to Save Longyear Hall, ELF hearings, and meetings about radioactive waste being brought to Marquette. See this page for an incomplete listing of audio relating to Northern Michigan University and the surrounding area.

This fall, Dr. Magnaghi will be training Archives staff to conduct oral history interviews, and the collections will again be expanding. The Archives will also convert remaining analog interviews into a more accessible and lasting digital format.

Prepared by Annika Peterson

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