Monthly Archives: October 2015

LGBT History at the Archives

October is a special month here in the Upper Peninsula. The changing of the leaves hits full swing, the temperature takes a sharp downturn, and more often than not we get our first dustings of snow. October also happens to be LGBTQ History Month as well as Archives Month! I had the pleasure of collaborating with Dr. Chet DeFonso, a professor of history at NMU and active member of the LGBTQ organizations on campus, on a tandem celebration of the two events in the form of an Evening at the Archives presentation on the role of archives in the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ Evening at the ArchivesThe archives staff created a wonderful poster to advertise the event around Marquette and the NMU campus.

Dr. Defonso’s presentation centered around the use of archives as a community space for LGBTQ communities at repositories in metropolitan areas across the Midwest and online. He detailed the general historiography of LGBTQ scholarship, and provided examples of archival spaces being used by the LGBTQ community to gather, develop social movements, and create stories and bonds to be passed down to their posterity. One such example is the Leather Archives and Museum ( The Leather Archives serve as a repository for the compilation, preservation and maintenance of leather, kink, and fetish lifestyles.

Kinky collegeKinky Kollege is a collaboration by the nation’s top Alternative Lifestyle Educators to provide a community of fellowship and education related to fetishes and alternative lifestyles. This is just one example of what one might find while perusing the Leather Archives and Museum website.

My own contribution to the event was to detail the collections and resources available in the Upper Peninsula, and, more specifically, here at the NMU archives. Although it may not be readily apparent, we offer a wide variety of collections related to the LGBTQ community! With a cursory glance researchers will find that we have the ALLIES and OUTlook organizational records from 1993-2003. This collection provides documentation of the numerous events hosted by the organizations, constitutional records and meeting minutes, attendance sheets, informational flyers, and clippings of community reactions to their activities and statements. We also have several printed publications by and for the LGBTQ community such as the Aurora newsletter that was dedicated to the dissemination of local and national LGBTQ news to citizens of the Upper Peninsula.

Drag Show PosterOUTlook has hosted the Upper Peninsula Drag Show since 1997 when it made the transition from being the Gay, Bi-sexual, and Lesbian Student Union.

Delving a little deeper into the stacks researchers will find that we offer numerous collections on religious organizations, legislators, and a large collection of newsprints available on microfilm that also have connections to the LGBTQ community. That list is by no means inclusive of all the subjects that may help researchers in their LGBTQ scholarly endeavors. The community at large strengthens when these collections are used for student and non-student papers, publications, and in the pursuit of knowledge. As they gain visibility so too does the history of the LGBTQ community, and in conjunction with the larger national movement for LGBTQ rights, scholars can help do their part to challenge the status quo and create a more accepting societal norm.

A video of the presentation will be available on Youtube, and will be linked to on the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives website under the public presentations heading

Written by Nikki Wilhelm


A Brief Announcement: Event Cancelled for November 1

We announced in a previous blog post that we would be holding a screening of the movie Anatomy of a Murder on November 1. Due to unforeseen complications, we will no longer be holding that screening this semester. However, we plan on rescheduling the movie for next semester. Please check here or on our Facebook page for updates about this event. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Collection Spotlight: Seney National Wildlife Refuge Records

Enjoy hiking, wildlife viewing, canoeing, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, biking, berry or mushroom picking, or just enjoying the great outdoors? Than this week’s post is for you! About 80 miles east of campus lies the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, 95,455 acres of forest, field, and marsh full of outdoor opportunities. Created in 1935 by the federal government, the land that became the refuge was heartily logged for pines, hardwoods, and swamp conifer species. After logging, fires were lit to clear away debris and open up the land to prospective surveyors. Capitalizing on the work already done, a land development company dug some 7,000 drainage ditches and proceeded to sell the newly drained land parcels claiming prodigious agricultural productivity. The parcels were bought and soon abandoned by the farmers, and the land went back to the state.

Manuscript collection MSS-108 is just one of many collections highlighting nature in the Upper Peninsula. The Seney National Wildlife Refuge collection consists of annual narrative reports, Harvey C. Saunders’ memoirs, and photographs which span from 1938 to 1982. Saunders (1878-1967) was primarily a logger, and worked along the Manistique and Indian Rivers in Michigan. He wrote multiple manuscripts about the process of logging, logging camps, and log drives (Box 2, Location: 11-04-08). The annual narrative reports describe, among other things, weather and climate conditions, resource management, fire control, species inventories and conditions, land use planning, pesticide studies, water management practices, and habitat management. Also included are field notes, photographs, and personal accounts of early Seney conditions at the turn of the century by Saunders, including histories of Germfask and Grand Marais.

To see more photographs like the ones below (all from Box 3, Location: 35-03-06), stop by the NMU Archives in LRC 126 and check out the collection for yourself!


Workers inspect a sign scheduled for replacement, noting it may have historical value.


A staff member instructs a member of a local Boy Scout troop on the proper technique to plant spruce. Pictured is one of more than 5,000 seedlings planted in the ‘70’s on the refuge.


Geese cross the road at their designated site through the park.


An example of a group about to go fishing at one of the lakes within the park.


Park guests look at a bear caught in a bear trap that had been causing trouble for refuge guests.


A bulldozer clears a bumpy area into a smoother one, with the new frame for the welcome sign in the background on the left and the old one on the right.

Blog post written by Stefan Nelson

Forest Roberts Theatre

Many of you may be familiar with Forest Roberts Theatre, but do you know about its history? Do you know who Forest Roberts was and why the building was named after him? Do you know about the ghost who haunts the theatre?

Before the building was dedicated, it was known as the Little Theatre. It was part of a three-unit complex that was completed in 1963. The complex includes the Thomas Fine Arts Building and the McClintock Building. The Little Theatre was dedicated and renamed for Forest A. Roberts on May 31st, 1969.


Forest Roberts was the first chairman of the department of speech at Northern Michigan University. He came to Northern in 1928 and soon became the first director of forensics at NMU. Roberts became the department head and was appointed full professor in 1957. He retired in 1966 after serving Northern for 38 years. While at Northern, Roberts was actively involved in theatre groups and served as president of both the Marquette Summer Theatre (1935-39) and the Marquette Community Concert Association (1956-58). He holds a life membership in the National Education Association and an honorary life membership in the Michigan Speech Association. Due to his service to Northern Michigan University, the Department of Speech, and local theater groups, the building was named after him. The Little Theatre quickly became known as the Forest Roberts Theatre.

frt-001The “Little Theatre” prior to being named for Forest Roberts

frt-002The Forest Roberts Theatre after its dedication.

What may not be as widely known is the story of the ghost who haunts the halls of the theatre. For many years, the building had a custodian named Perry. He was a friendly guy who had worked at Northern for nearly 30 years. However, Perry was known for being a heavy drinker and also suffered from heart problems. One day, he had a heart attack and died in the elevator of the theater. A student janitor found him a few hours later. Since his death the elevator has reportedly acted strangely. For example it will go down when you push the up button and makes weird mechanical sounds even though the elevator doesn’t move. Student employees also claim to sometimes feel a draft and a sense of a presence while in the building. Some believe Perry never left the Forest Roberts Theatre and that his ghost will haunt it forever more.

Come and learn more about the Forest Roberts Theatre at the Archives!

Blog post written by Anne Krohn

Renovations Nearly Complete

Over the past three months the archives has been undergoing a large amount of construction. Sara Kizska, our Records Analyst, has received a new office; the microfilm readers have been moved to her old office, and the Archives has acquired a new conference room and kitchenette. The reading room has experienced multiple layout changes throughout the process, which has made it difficult for patrons to conduct research. We are still waiting on carpet for Sara’s office but the rest of the Archives is fully functional! (get it Marcus?). We are excited to host patrons in a comfortable environment.

The new conference room.

The new conference room.

A wonderful kitchenette.

A wonderful kitchenette.

Another view of the conference room.

Another view of the conference room.

Our lovely archives reading room!

Our lovely archives reading room!

The construction ended in perfect timing for the upcoming events in October. On the 15th at 7:00pm in room 126 of the LRC Liz Oliver-Fielding will be giving a presentation on the “The Embezzling Bishop.” On October 29th at 7:00pm in room 126 of the LRC Professor Chet DeFonso and Nikki Wilhelm will be discussing the resources the archives has that are relevant to LGBTQ topics. Come check out the Archives!

Written by Peter Dewan

Happy Archives Month!

October 1st was Ask an Archivist day on Twitter (#AskAnArchivist). We had multiple people and groups that tweeted questions and comments to us. People asked about alumni at NMU, current projects the Archives is working on, and our favorite photographs of previous strikes in Marquette County. Here are a few of the pictures that we posted on Ask an Archivist day:

blog pic 1In December of 1968, the Black Student Union sat in at an NMU basketball game to protest unfair treatment of African American students by NMU security police among other concerns.

blog pic 2USWA strike April 25, 1946 at the Mather Mine in Ishpeming. Singer Paul Robeson happened to be in Marquette for a performance and came to support the strikers.

blog pic 31949 Gossard Factory strike picket line. The Gossard was a factory in Ishpeming, MI which made bras and underwear. Other than the mines, it was the main employer in Ishpeming in the first half of the twentieth century.

We have multiple events coming up later in October to celebrate Archives month.

October 15th at 6:30/7 PM: Archives Open House and Evening at the Archives: The Embezzling Bishop: The renovations at the Archives are finally complete! To celebrate, we will be holding an open house before our Evening at the Archives event. Come get a tour of the Archives, including our processing area and stacks which are normally closed to the public.

The presentation will begin at 7 PM. Elizabeth Oliver, one of our Magnaghi visiting scholars over the summer, will present on Hayward Ablewhite, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan in the 1930s who went to jail for embezzlement. In a bizarre twist of events, he worked at the Ford Foundation after his release from jail. Refreshments will be provided.

Embezzling Bishop PosterPoster for the upcoming Evening at the Archives event.

October 29th at 7 PM: Dr. Chet Defonso will speak on the role of Archives in documenting LGBT history. He will also discuss materials related to LGBT history here at the NMU Archives. Refreshments will be provided. We’ll keep you posted with more details about the event as we have them.

Edit: Please note: this posting previously contained an announcement for a screening of the movie Anatomy of a Murder on November 1. Due to complications, we have cancelled the event for this semester but do plan on hosting a screening next semester. Check our blog and Facebook for upcoming announcements regarding this event!

Happy Archives Month everyone!