Monthly Archives: September 2014

Homecoming through the Years

This week is homecoming at Northern Michigan University. To celebrate, we thought we would share some photos from past homecomings.

Northern held its first “homecoming” in 1924 when the school invited alumni to come to a Northern-Tech football game. However, homecoming did not become an annual tradition until 1935. Activities at this time included a king and queen competition, tug of war, pep meeting, parade, bonfire, football game, and dance.

Two of the quirkier homecoming traditions were the bonfire and the snake dance. In the snake dance, students joined hands and ran across campus. This usually ended in the bonfire location. Over time, the bonfire became a “mourning ceremony” in which the “coffin” of the opposing team was burnt.

Below are two pictures from the 1950s, one of the bonfire and another of a homecoming float against Michigan Tech.

19531957At Northern, homecoming, despite occurring in September or October, can sometimes be a wintry event. For instance, this picture from the homecoming game of 1971 shows Jamrich greeting the homecoming court in a snowstorm.

1971In this photo from 1976, students participate in a tug-of-war event in a cold pond. Note the snow on the ground and the winter jackets.

1976Traditionally, homecoming also included a dance. This photo from 1972 shows one such dance.

1972 5Over the years, Northern students have invented many interesting floats. Below is one such creation from 1980 (apparently, the “underwater basket weaving” joke is older than many may have thought).

1980 6 - 2Another parade photo (no date) shows us an older and more ferocious conception of Wildcat Willy.

n.d.Another tradition at Northern is the Dead River Games, held on the Sunday before Homecoming Week. The earliest photos we have which explicitly call the event the “Dead River Games” are from the 1990s. However, we do have photos from 1979 which depict a very similar event:

1979 - 11979 - 2Below are two more possible “Dead River Games” photo from 1980 and 1982 respectively:

1980 6 - 31982During the 1977 and 1978 homecomings, Northern landed in the Guiness Book of World Records twice. In 1977, Northern played the largest ever game of musical chairs on Memorial Field. This is what the early rounds of the game looked like:

1977 2

1977The winner of the game was Mary Lynn Webster, pictured below in her winning moment.

1977 3In 1978, Northern created a distinctly Yooper world record: the largest pasty. Here is an image of the creation of the dough and the cooking of the finished product:

1978 21978Written by Annika Peterson


Churches of Marquette and other Religious Affiliated Collections at the Archives

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives contains several collections relating to history of Christian religious organizations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These manuscript records document the different stories through original correspondence, journals and reports of financial and sacramental records. The number and variety of collections are suitable for extensive research on the history of religious conviction in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


St. Peters Cathedral, Marquette, Michigan


Majority of the collections pertain to the history of Catholic groups and Churches in Marquette. Before the city of Marquette was established the area had been explored by Missionaries with the intent to convert natives and immigrants in the area. Marquette, Michigan, was named in honor of a French Jesuit missionary Father Jacques Marquette (1637-1675). Father Marquette founded Michigan’s first European settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, and explored much of what is known today as Upper Peninsula. Today, a large number of Christian denominations are active in the region, including, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Jehovah witness.

Participation in religious associations and activates eased the transitions to a new land. Italian’s are just one of many nationalities to settle in the mining and lumber towns. In 1965, Msgr. David Spelegatti founded the Paisano Club as a benevolent society for Italian immigrants and their children. The Msgr. David P. Spelgatti papers document the early years of the Pisano Club and the activities of St. John’s Catholic Church of Ishpeming, Michigan. Msgr. Spelgatti served the St. John the Evangelist parish from 1958 to 1991.


In 2005 a presentation commemorating St. Louis the King Catholic Church describes the history of the St. Louis the King Catholic Parish in Harvey, Michigan from 1955 to 2005. St. Louis the King Catholic Church was formed in 1954 in Harvey, Michigan, just south of Marquette. After a groundbreaking ceremony for the first church structure in 1955, the congregation grew to nearly 700 families by 1999. A new church structure was opened in 2000 and he original church building became the church social hall. The church operates the Annual Chocolay Summerfest, contributes to the local parish school system, and has had six pastors since its inception. The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan records detail the history and the growth of the Church in the Upper Peninsula. The Archives maintains related religious collections, such as; the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church records, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church records, and First Methodist Church records.

Within other collections you can find leading figures in Marquette’s history including Peter White, Which can be found in the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church records. Peter White is well-known for his contributions to the building of the city of Marquette and major contributions establishing the Peter White Public Library.

Shortly after the Civil War, immigrants from all over Europe began to settle in the Upper Peninsula forming close communities based a similar background’s and common language. Immigrants from Cornwall and other areas of Great Britain began arriving in the Upper Peninsula in the 1840s. They took jobs as iron and copper miners and were members of the Anglican Church. In 1854, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan expanded to the Upper Peninsula and built two churches in Houghton and Ontonagon, Michigan, to address the religions needs of Cornish miners. In 1891, the Dioceses appointed Gershom Mott Williams as the first Archdeacon of the Upper Peninsula. Later in 1895, the archdeaconry became the Episcopal Diocese of Marquette with Archdeacon Williams consecrated as the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.

For more information The Archivist File is open for browsing or scroll through the Manuscript Finding Aids or contact the Archives staff.

Written by Morgan Paavola

Collection Spotlight: The Cambium Club Records

CambiumThe Cambium Club was a student organization for Biology majors and minors at Northern. The name cambium “refers to the vital tissue in the stems of trees and shrubs which makes possible continued growth and development over a period of years” and was supposed to symbolize the students, who were the “cambium of the biological future”.

It was formed in December of 1938 at a meeting at the house of Dr. Luther West (the namesake of the West Science building). A 1960s pamphlet described the activities of the club:

“They socialize–you know, eat cookies, drink Hawaiian Punch and talk semi-intelligently with one another. Sometimes they climb Hogsback Mountain, and sometimes they have camp parties with lots of food, horseshoes, and Pepsi Cola. Sometimes they get serious and listen to speakers who know something about careers in teaching, in medicine, in pharmaceuticals, in microbiology, in fish and wildlife, in forestry. They watch good movies about biology. They pick up litter or plant trees or just make themselves useful in other ways. In other words, the Cambium Club is sort of a coed Biological Boy Scouts. The Cambium Club doesn’t give merit badges, but coed Boy Scouts can be fun, anyhow.”

Members attended talks given by Northern professors and guests on topics such as “Some of my Worst Experiences in Biology”, “The Fishing Habits of the Huron Mountain Club”, “Insects Affecting Farm Animals”, “How Not to Get Lost”, and “The One-Celled Animals of Michigan”. One presentation by Dr. Hunt, “Magic in Chemistry”, “consisted of interesting chemical experiments that were enjoyed by all”. They also watched movies such as “How to Construct a Sanitary Pit Privy” and “The Budding of Yeast”.

The Cambium Club went on collecting trips to Little Presque, Seney, and Saint Ignace and planned environmental teach-ins.  They were also responsible for creating and maintaining trails in Longyear Forest and for running an annual science fair and science newsletter for UP high school and NMU students. The Cambium Club also ran an exhibit every year. Over the years, their exhibits included a Foucault pendulum showing the rotation of the Earth and a vivisected turtle whose heart was subjected to salts while students watched.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Cambium Club was their strange initiation ritual. Prospective members had to write an essay on a topic assigned to them by Cambium members. Topics included “Theories of Causes of Monsters and Anomolies”, “Recent Developments in Hydroponics”, and the “Histogenesis of Leukocytes”. If the paper was approved, students were admitted into the club. During the initiation ritual, Cambium members played the roles of various tree parts, such as “Worthy Cork Cambium”, “Worthy Chloroplast”, “Faithful Keeper of the Annual Rings”, “Epidermal Stoma”, “Medulary Ray”, and the “Principal Storage Cell”. Then, a quartet consisting of a Song Sparrow, Tree Toad, Snowy Tree Cricket, and a Katydid (played by Dr. West) sang a song entitled “The Sad Fate of a Youthful Sponge”. The new members became “undifferentiated parenchyma” who could progress to more specialized roles in the club as time went on.

Sadly, interest in the Cambium Club and its bizarre rituals waned over time, and the club ceased to exist in 1970.

The Cambium Club records include financial records, meeting minutes, publicity and events materials, and photographs. For more information about this collection, check out our finding aid!

Blog PictureWritten by Annika Peterson