Monthly Archives: July 2014

Ishpeming’s Long Hair Controversy

It is spring in the year 1970. US troops have recently invaded Cambodia. Anti-war protests continue to rage across the country as the credibility gap widens. The trial of the Chicago 7 fills the national news….

Meanwhile in Marquette County, controversy rages over the length of a boy’s hair….

It sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? But for several weeks in 1970, the Marquette Mining Journal focused upon the haircut of a single individual. It began when Ishpeming High School valedictorian Steven Koenig was barred from commencement exercises due to the length of his hair. Several weeks of vitriol-filled editorials on both sides of the issue followed.

Many of the editorials supporting the school board sound like a parody of the classic curmudgeon-like, pro-Establishment 1960s parent as they extol the school board’s infinite virtues:

“This fine school board is now being taken to court because of a haircut. In their wisdom, this school board made the guidelines for apparel and length of hair…knowing from experience these fads can escalate out of control as in other schools. Most sad is the clergy condoning the action of the inequities of youth. In his defiance of the school board he acted against the teachings of Paul in the Holy Bible when he said you shall obey the authorities. All parents should guide their children in the study of the Gospel so that we might be spared the doubtful benefits of a ‘student demonstration’.”

There were many who seemed convinced that this was the beginning of the end of the decidedly non-counter-cultural UP:

“Maybe now they will realize the movement has hit the UP and will be well aware of what can happen. The first step is ‘Hair’, then to court, then, unless you stick to your convictions, your dress code will be abolished, acid rock concerts will flourish, underground newspapers will be daily news, obscenities the password, students striking in sympathy, senior high ‘bill of rights’, junior high ‘bill of rights’, abolishing discipline policy, etc….Just look at Ann Arbor. It can and will happen only if you allow it.”

Only weeks before the Koenig incident, the Supreme Court had ruled that public schools could not discipline students for hair length. Some Marquette County residents felt that this was due to loose parenting:

“It is a sad commentary on the state of parental authority when the length of a boy’s haircut has to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. One would think that our Supreme Court had more pressing issues to rule on and no doubt would if some parents did not shirk their responsibility of teaching the necessity of authority and law and order.”

Still, there were some who defended the abrogation of Steven’s personal freedom with impassioned speech:

“Under the existing code, my fellow German immigrant Albert Einstein, whose many virtues did not extend to the neatness or tapering of hair, would not have been permitted to attend the commencement program of this school either. Nor would he have wanted to do so.”

“Steven was not a truant…his hair was too long. Steven was not a protester…his hair was too long. Steven was not a failure in class work…his hair was too long. Steven dared to stand up for a principle…but his hair was too long. Steven was not a dope-user…his hair was too long.

“Dear Sir: My congratulations go to the principal and board of education at the Ishpeming high school, who with intelligence and forethought stopped a long-haired student from participating in graduation exercises. By rejecting him you have shown him that he is inferior to his short-haired classmates and totally unfit to live in our great society. Now we can only hope that the President and Congress follow in your steps by exiling all long-haired people: Jesus Christ, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Einstein, just to name a few. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that it’s not what’s inside someone which makes him a man but the length of his hair which makes him what he is.”

Ultimately, the hemming and hawing led to naught–Steven Koenig was still not allowed at his commencement ceremony, and the UP didn’t enter into an immoral, lawless age of abandon because of long-haired hooligans. One wonders what vicious debates now will seem silly to the next generation.

Written by Annika Peterson.

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Collection Spotlight: The Bay de Noquet Company Records

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This week we’re highlighting a collection at the Archives which many may not be aware of: the Bay de Noquet and Oconto Company Records. The Oconto Company was a logging company in northern Wisconsin which operated from 1867 to 1944. The Bay de Noquet company was a subsidiary of the Oconto company which operated from 1881 to 1952. It logged in Alger, Delta, and Schoolcraft Counties in the UP. Its headquarters were in Nahma in Delta County.

The records include tax records, land records, operation records, and correspondence. The land records include the sale of land which would later become part of Nicolet National Forest. Much of the correspondence is with various companies who were customers of Bay de Noquet and Oconto. However, there is also correspondence between Bay de Noquet and the company’s office in Chicago, as well as correspondence with federal agencies during and after World War II. The collection also contains minutes from the meetings of the directors and stockholders of the companies. Newsletters from the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Manufactures Association and various other business associations with which the Bay de Noquet and Oconto Companies were affiliated are also part of the collection.

The records show how federal agencies oversaw production during World War II, how companies kept track of which employees were eligible for the draft, and how the federal government tried to control costs and prices after the war to prevent inflation. Other newsletters discuss organized labor in the period. The correspondence with the Chicago office of the company also contains discussion of federal oversight and organized labor, as well as customer service, sales, and the logging industry as a whole. The finding aid for the collection further expresses the historical importance of these records:

“While the records for each company are scattered, the combined records give a reasonable picture of the problems faced by the industry in the upper Great Lakes region due to the declining availability of usable timber and the Great Depression of the 1930s, as well as some of the issues faced by the companies during World War II.  The items from the Northern Hemlock and Hardwood Manufacturers Association help to put the situation in the upper Great Lakes into a national context.”

For more information about this collection, see the complete finding aid or this article about how the collection was acquired.

Blog written by Annika Peterson

Meet Our New Records Analyst Sara Kiszka!

DSCF0442The Archives has a new full-time employee–Sara Kiszka! She is responsible for the Records Center and the management of university records. She is already involved in several projects, such as creating a disaster recovery plan for the Archives and Records Center, updating Records Center protocol, and re-organizing the Records Center. In the fall, she will be conducting a university-wide records survey to determine whether departments are donating the proper records and managing their records efficiently. She will also be working with creating a larger electronic Archives for NMU in order to help preserve documents and prevent records being lost due to obsolete recording methods.

Sara says that she likes working with records management and electronic archives. She is particularly interested in how records show migration and auditing trails.

Sara is originally from Chesterton, IN and has a younger brother and sister. She likes dogs, reading, and watching bad reality television. She received her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Ball State and earned a Master’s in Library Science with a specialization in Archives and Records Management from Indiana University.

This is her first professional job, and she is excited to be here and to learn from this experience. She also hopes to survive her first winter in the UP!

Marcus says that he has waited seventeen long years for a records analyst. She is already finding and correcting problems at the Records Center, and he is thrilled that she is here.

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Blog written by Annika Peterson.