Monthly Archives: July 2015

Collection Spotlight: The Peace Newspapers

Peace

The underground press movement started in the 1940s during the Nazis’ occupation of Europe. People in countries like France, Denmark, Poland, and the Soviet Union published illegal newspapers while under oppressive regimes. However, the movement continued well into the 1960s and 1970s and is now most associated with the counterculture of that time. These underground newspapers and publications began to spring up all over the United States and Northern Michigan University was no exception.

The term “underground” did not necessarily mean it was illegal, though this was the case in some other countries. In America, “underground newspaper” usually referred to a small independent newspaper focusing on unpopular themes and counterculture issues. In fact the First Amendment, and cases like Near vs. Minnesota, made it nearly impossible for the government to intervene or stop these publications unless people were violating laws while reporting on a news item or while selling the newspapers.

Northern’s first underground newspaper was Cogito (Latin for “to think”) that started in 1967. There were many publications after this including Campus Mirror (1969), Student Action (1969), Black and White (1972), and Broadsheet (1977). However, the one newspaper that stood out among all the rest for its popularity and controversial issues was Peace.

Peace was an underground newspaper published by the student organization Zaca, which was founded on February 25th, 1969. Fred Pentz was the founding president and in their application to become a student organization he wrote that the purpose for Zaca was to “promote student participation in University affairs through various creative adventures including the publishing of a newspaper.”

Many of the articles that Zaca published dealt with University issues such as the closing of the Job Corps, controversy over canceling the ROTC program, and the unequal treatment of black students. They often would write letters to President John X. Jamrich openly ridiculing him and the administration for their policy decisions. A reoccurring column that appeared in Peace issues were letters from King Johannes (President Jamrich) issuing a decree over the Realm of Iswas (Northern) that had to be followed by all the peasants (students) of the land.

King Johannes

An example of an Iswas column, which was posted on the stairs of Kaye Hall after the university banned the distribution of Peace.

The University couldn’t stop Zaca from publishing Peace. However, they were in control of how the paper was distributed. President Jamrich wrote in a memorandum on March 20, 1969 to the Faculty Senate, “The Student Activities Committee has, with Dean Niemi concurring, withheld permission for the distribution of the paper in university facilities because of its content.” He also wrote to the Student Affairs Committee that same day to ask them to meet and discuss recommendations for what action he should take regarding this matter. Over the course of the next few days, they decided that Zaca would be able to sell Peace in the University Center and the Golden N (an old cafeteria). In a memo to Zaca, the Student Activities Committee wrote, “[this committee] which is hereby affording the privilege of sale of your publication, PEACE, also has the right to withdraw this privilege at any time. Withdrawal of this privilege will only occur, however, if your organization is involved in (a) active solicitation; (b) interference with normal traffic on campus; or (c) in the opinion of the Student Activities Committee there has been flagrant use of obscenity in any issue of PEACE.”

Eventually, Jamrich and the Student Activities Committee ordered the termination of distributing Peace on university grounds after an issue was published with vulgar language. For a while Zaca tried to continue publishing the newspaper but with no proper facility for printing or distribution, the newspaper disbanded.

IsWas Pin

These posters were put up all around campus after the banning of Peace. They asked students to wear the paper bow-tie in protest. (Then-President Jamrich was famous for almost always wearing a bow-tie).

Interested in reading more about Zaca and the Peace newspaper? Come visit the Archives!

Blog written by Anne Krohn     

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A Brief Announcement

Starting next week, construction is happening at the Archives! We will be getting a hole knocked through one wall so that we can use part of the room next door as extra reading room space and will be having an office and hallway built in one part of our current reading room. We expect this construction to continue for about eight weeks.

For the time being, patrons can still research in our reading room, but please be advised that it will be extremely noisy. It would be a good idea to contact us before coming in so that we can let you know what days may be quieter.

There may come a point at which researching in the reading room will be untenable. At that point, we will be open by appointment only. Please contact us for more information.

Records Analyst Sara Kiszka’s phone, (906) 227-1241, is not working for the time being. Sara can be contacted directly at skiszka@nmu.edu. She can also be reached via the main office phone, (906) 227-1225.

Our Recent Trip to Ishpeming!

NMU is a local government records depository for the state of Michigan, which means the Archives maintains archival records of local governments in the central UP. Rather than these permanent historical records going to Lansing, they remain here in the UP accessible to the public. Ishpeming’s former City Clerk contacted Marcus about old city records that they had on file. She wanted them transferred to the Archives to be properly cared for. Marcus, the former City Clerk, and the former City Manager of Ishpeming had a meeting about these records. Shortly after the meeting, the city clerk retired and the city manager left for a new job.

A few months ago, Marcus contacted Mark Slown, the current City Manager, about the old city records. On Tuesday, July 14th, University Archivist Marcus Robyns, Records Analyst, Sara Kiszka, and student employees Annika Peterson and Prince Parker, took a trip to Ishpeming City Hall. We were on a mission to look through the ledgers and books that contained information about the city. We met up with Karen Kasper, our Genealogy Specialist and Research Consultant, at ten o’clock at City Hall.

Shortly after a small greeting with the wonderful staff in the building, the archives team went straight to work. Mark Slown took us to the basement of the building where most of their records are kept so we could begin our search. Marcus pointed out that we were looking for information that would be of use to historians and genealogist. The records were in a back room. The door was closed, which had caused a lot of dust to accumulate. We only looked through the ledgers and books that City Hall had no space for.

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Annika removing records from the room
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Marcus determining which records we should keep

After two hours of hard work finding the information that was of use to the archives, the team went to lunch with the very nice Mark Slown, who offered to buy us lunch. Ending our break, we got back to work transferring all the materials from the building to the van. After moving many books and ledgers, it was time to head back to the Records Center in Marquette where the records were put in storage for inventory. Annika just finished an inventory of the material and will be completing the accession record shortly. The collection will be processed at some point in the hopefully near future.

Some of the materials in the collection are voter registration records dating from the 1880’s–1930’s, a registration book enrolling women to vote right after the 19th amendment, cemetery records from 1900-1940, birth records for the year 1900, correspondence about local government issues, Many volumes are from the Public Works department, which was in charge of the water, the sewers, and the highways. They contain general correspondence, payroll, and specifications for the sewers.

It was a very dirty job, but someone had to do it, so we took on the challenge and won.

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The end result: boxes and ledgers neatly stacked on temporary shelving at the Records Center until the collection can be processed

Written by Prince Parker