Monthly Archives: January 2016

Collection Spotlight: The John D. Voelker Papers

Remember when we found the bullets from the real murder case that inspired the book  Anatomy of a Murder?


Are you interested in seeing the movie based on Anatomy? You’re in luck! We are pleased to announce that the Archives is partnering with the Beaumier Heritage Center and Campus Cinema for a screening of Anatomy of a Murder! It will be held on February 21 in the main Jamrich auditorium at 6 PM. Doors will open at 5:30. The Beaumier will have an exhibit about the movie and we will be bringing interesting items from Voelker’s papers. The screening is free for students and only $1 for the general public!

John D. Voelker, the author of Anatomy, was an Ishpeming native and graduate of Northern State Normal School (now Northern Michigan University). He was the Prosecuting Attorney for Marquette County from 1935 to 1942 and from 1945 to 1950. From 1956 to 1960, he was a justice on the State of Michigan Supreme Court.

Most famously, Voelker defended Army Lieutenant Coleman Peterson, who was accused of the murder of Mike Chenoweth, owner of the Lumberjack Tavern in Big Bay.  After a six-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. Although the names and some of the details were changed, large swaths of Anatomy of a Murder were taken directly from the court transcripts of the original case.

However, Voelker also wrote other books, both fiction and non-fiction. Besides Anatomy of a Murder and other books about court cases, he wrote about Upper Peninsula characters in books like Danny and the Boys and about his fishing obsession in books like Trout Madness 

The John D. Voelker papers at the Archives contain information about the history of the extended Voelker family, correspondence with Voelker’s family and friends, photographs, documents on his legal career, manuscripts of his books, and records from the making of the Anatomy movie.

You can learn more about the Anatomy of a Murder case at our Fiftieth Anniversary website. To learn more about the whole John D. Voelker collection, you can check out the finding aid or visit the Archives!

Written by Annika Peterson


Collection Spotlight: City of Ishpeming Cemetery Records

Life was precarious in the early part of the twentieth century. Many babies were either stillborn or premature, and children died young from scarlet fever, whooping cough, influenza, and infantile paralysis, better known as polio. Pneumonia was a huge killer in adults, as was tuberculosis, diabetes, heart diseases and cerebral hemorrhage.  Alzheimer’s was not known, but people did die from senility.

Death also came from suicide, accident and workplace hazards, which in mining towns such as Ishpeming were the result of falling rocks, cage malfunctions and other causes. In February of 1911, an explosion of powder, probably from the Hercules powder plant, killed some of the workers.  

Last summer, workers from the archives ventured into the dank, dusty depths of Ishpeming’s City Hall to rescue most of their old records. These records are now being processed, beginning with the Ishpeming Cemetery Records, which gives information about causes of death such as those described above. Some of the records are not very legible, as they are copies and the city clerks did not always change the carbon paper when it was needed. Reading the handwriting is often challenging. Damp conditions damaged many of the records.

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The City of Ishpeming records shortly after retrieval from the basement of City Hall.

The cemetery records can give such information (if known) as name, date of birth, date of death, cause of death, where the deceased lived and names of parents. This information can be helpful to genealogists. There are gaps in the records, as some of the books may have been tossed out at an earlier date.  The archives also has coroner’s inquest records and CCI mining accident records which may have death dates and causes of death. If coming to the archives to look at the cemetery records, it is best to have a death date.

If looking for a burial site in the Ishpeming cemetery there are two additional places to go for information, the sexton’s office, which has records and maps of the cemetery and the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library. To contact the city sexton, go to the City of Ishpeming website, which has a map of all the blocks in the city cemetery.

In addition to the cemetery records, there are voter registration records from the 1890s through the mid-1930s, which give a voter’s name and address. They are organized by ward, however, and we have so far been unable to find useful descriptions of the boundaries of the wards. For someone looking for an address of where an ancestor lived, they may be helpful. Census records were usually organized by wards and may be of help to determine which ledgers to look through. Because women were not allowed to vote until 1919 (in Michigan and 1920 nationwide), they aren’t listed until that year. There are separate ledgers for female voters through the year 1927.

Other ledgers contain minutes of the City Council, committee minutes, payroll details, and more. The assessments for the first sewer and water lines are there (these records may also contain names, but not addresses),  and there are also several boxes full of loose documents which will be processed.   

Interested in learning more about the City of Ishpeming records? Come in and check them out or email us for more information at

Written by Karen Kasper

Winter 2016 – Welcome Back!

A new semester has started and we are happy to have the same group of dedicated staff working here at the Archives. We are also constantly acquiring and processing new collections to bring more of the history of the Central Upper Peninsula to the masses. Keep up on the goings-on at the Archives by following our Social Media sites.

Office Hours:

Monday through Thursday: 10 AM-8 PM

Friday: 10 AM-5 PM

Saturdays: 11AM-3PM

Sundays: Closed

The Archives reading room will be open for walk-in patron support and the Archives Staff will continue to respond to email requests, phone requests, and document retrievals. You may schedule time to meet with our genealogy researcher, Karen Kasper, discuss institutional records with our Records Manager, Sara Kiska, or to consult with the University Archivist, Marcus Robyns, by emailing or by calling us at 906-227-1225.


What you will see if you come to visit the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives!


We are located on the 1st floor of the LRC in room 126, near Fiera’s, the elevator, and the tunnel leading to West Science.

Archives Staff:

The Archives boasts fourteen of the most dedicated team members you will find. Leading the pack is Marcus Robyns, University Archivist, and Sara Kiska, Records Manager/Analyst. The Lydia M. Olson Library provides support for the Archives by sharing the knowledge and expertise of Metadata and Cataloging Services Librarian, Catherine Oliver; Cataloging Assistant, Keith Greising; and Library Systems Specialist, John S. Hambleton.

The rest of our team is made up of student employees and volunteers, all here to help. The multi-talented student staff is represented by Annika Peterson, Senior Student Assistant; Peter Dewan, Marketing and Public Outreach Specialist; Anne Krohn, Digitization Specialist; Kelley Kanon, Web Design Specialist; Stefan Nelson, Records Center Coordinator; Prince Parker, Accessioning Specialist; and Glenda K. Ward, Arrangement and Description Specialist. Our two dedicated volunteers are Karen Kasper, Genealogy Specialist and Research Consultant, and Dr. Steven Peters, Volunteer Project Archivist.

For more information about our staff and to watch short videos explaining what they actually do, visit the About Us section of our website

Archival Collections:

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives houses the historical records of Northern Michigan University and historical materials documenting the history of the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This includes the counties of Alger, Delta, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, and Schoolcraft.

The archives houses extensive collections, including labor, government, and political files; items from Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Co.; the John D. Voelker papers; the Moses Coit Tyler collection of rare books (American history, theology, and literature); genealogical resources; and many other collections from community organizations, the university, and prominent historical figures. Materials include manuscripts, maps, photographs, film and video, oral histories, newspapers, and periodicals.

The Archives is now utilizing a new catalog for its finding aids, ArchivesSpace. ArchivesSpace allows you to browse our collections by title, name of person or institution, or subject, and to search our descriptions of them by keyword.

Social Media:

The Archives leaves its social media footprint on Facebook (Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University), Twitter (@nmuarchives), YouTube (Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives); FlickR (, and our weekly blog ( Keep current on the goings-on at the Archives by following us, subscribing to us, and reading our blog.

Written by Glenda K. Ward

Arrangement and Description Specialist