Need a Place to “Waste” Time?

Do you find yourself having free time during your day and absolutely no idea how to spend it?

Well, we can help with that.

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Come to the NMU Archives, located in the lower level of the Learning Resources Center in Room 126, and BROWSE.  In the Archives we have a wide and varied selection of materials that are readily available for patrons to look through in our Reading Room and in our Conference Room.  You could also talk to our plants Yogi and Castor or spend some time with the Lone Arranger.

In the Reading Room you will find a collection of books related to the history, peoples, and cultures of NMU and the local area.  On these shelves you will also find copies of the Marquette County Commission meeting minutes and Marquette County Budgets, Harlow’s Wooden Man journals, and the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections.  There is a collection of Polk Directories for Marquette County (1886-2011), mining reports, indexes to the Cleveland-Cliffs materials available at the Archives, NMU Yearbooks from 1910 to 1980, starting with the Olive and Gold in 1910, and school bulletins back to Northern State Normal School’s bulletin from 1901.  Sitting on top of the microfilm cabinets are three large ledgers that contain an index of the court cases in Marquette County from 1852-1981, while we don’t have the actual court case files in the Archives, we do have them in our off-site facility and can have them here for you to view usually within 24-48 hours.

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There are microfilm collections of newspapers from cities across the Central Upper Peninsula, including the Mining Journal (1846-2016); Marquette Monthly (1987-2013); NMU newspapers (1919-2013); and the Nishnawbe News (1971-1982).  There are also microfilm collections of materials from the Office of Indian Affairs (1780-1940); Henry Schoolcraft papers (1782-1878); diaries and correspondence of Baptist missionary Abel Bingham and his wife Hannah (1778-1858) and of Methodist minister John H. Pitezel (1824-1889).  In the Reading Room you can also view Cemetery Transcripts (MSS-382) from Marquette, Alger, Mackinac, Schoolcraft, and Luce counties.

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Not enough time for books or microfilm?  Then walk on through to our Conference Room and browse the twelve file cabinets you will find there.  These file cabinets contain what we lovingly refer to as “Archivist Files” and are meant to be quick and ready reference material.  These drawers are filled with materials relating to the Central Upper Peninsula (ARCHIV-001); Northern Michigan University (ARCHIV-002); a Vertical File (ARCHIV-003); and a large collection of NMU photographs (ARCHIV-014).  Each of the four collections are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and to make it even easier we labeled the front of each drawer.  (WARNING:  Whatever you do, DO NOT open the boxes sitting on top of the file cabinets…they contain secret information and we may have to keep you here FOREVER if you do!) (Oh, what the heck.  Go ahead – live dangerously!)

The archivist file for the Central Upper Peninsula fills five drawers and covers not only mining, lumbering, railroads, shipping, and tourism; but also, economics and education; churches and organizations; history, ethnic groups, people, places, and war; events, sports, and theater.  Let me not forget controversies, crime, disasters, and mysteries, along with lots of other subjects in between.  The NMU archivist file takes up twelve drawers and covers a wide array of topics all relating to NMU and representing various periods of the University’s history.  You will find information on people, faculty/staff, buildings, administration, and organizations.  Here you will also find files on controversies, mysteries, and tragedies.  Feeling a little nostalgic and want to take a trip to the past, then wander through the files of NMU memorabilia we have compiled.

The materials contained in the three drawers of the Vertical File fall in line with our book collection.  These materials are cataloged and arranged by library standards.  You will find information related to any number of topics from the business and economic history of the Upper Peninsula to politics and government of the Upper Peninsula.  Then look at information on the people, culture, and literature of the Upper Peninsula.  The materials on the history of the Upper Peninsula include information on Native American Indians, emigrants and immigrants, missionaries and explorers, historical sites, as well as, the Upper Peninsula at War and the Holocaust.

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You could spend hours looking through the sixteen drawers that contain part of our Photographic collection.  (Yes, sixteen drawers!)  But this is only a small part of the collection, there are approximately another 75 boxes of photographs of NMU and the region in our collection storage area.  The files in the conference room hold pictures of NMU at different times in its history and are of many different subjects.  There are pictures relating to academics, administration, alumni (yes, even famous ones, but then aren’t we all famous), faculty and staff, sports and sporting events, buildings and the campus, and commencements (you can even see the first graduating class at Northern from 1901).  Student life photographs will keep you entertained with the assortment of things that have gone on at NMU, from orientations, to checking into the dorms to married student life and we could never forget the “Mud Festival.”  The Homecoming files will show you events like the “World’s Largest Game of Musical Chairs,” the “World’s Largest Pasty,” and those wonderful homecoming parades.  My favorites are the Events files, they are massive!  Only a portion of what you can see are photos of campus visitors, like Muhammed Ali in 1977; concerts, among them are BB King, BTO, and Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman; performances given by Yakov Smirnoff, Nancy Hauser Dance Co., the American Indian Dance Theatre and many others; and political visitors that include governors, congressmen, representatives, presidents and presidential candidates.  There are also pictures of the many speakers that have come to NMU (and there have been a lot).  To name just a few of the people our students have had the honor to hear we have:  Ansel Adams, Edward Albee, Vernon Bellecourt, Cesar Chavez, Alexander Ginzburg, Dick Gregory, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alex Hailey, Spike Lee, Abbie Hoffman, Elie Wiesel, and Simon Wiesenthal.

Now you have no excuses for not having anything to do before, between, or after classes and during your breaks from work.  Remember this has been just a glimpse into the treasure trove of materials and information readily available to you for browsing, there is oh so much more.  Come to the Archives and find out about things you never knew happened here at NMU or in the Central Upper Peninsula, you might find both areas more interesting than you ever realized.  We would love to have you visit and help us make it through our day.

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We are in Room 126 on the Lower Level of the LRC and are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am to 5pm and on Tuesday and Thursday from 10am to 7pm.  You can also contact us via email at archives@nmu.edu, call us at 906-227-1225.  Follow us on our Facebook page, Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, subscribe to our Blog, The Northern Tradition,and check out our webpage.

You can find additional information on the collections mentioned here, as well as all of our other collections on ArchivesSpace.

Thanks to our two new student assistants, Grace and Libby, for jumping in and being our models today.  More on them next week so stay tuned.

Written by Glenda Ward, Arrangement and Description Specialist

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