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