Monthly Archives: November 2016

Evening at the Archives: Italian American Immigration in the Upper Peninsula

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This past Tuesday, we held our bi-annual Evening at the Archives event. Senior history major Austin Bannister gave a fascinating presentation about Italian American immigration in the Upper Peninsula in the early twentieth century. His research was part of his HS 390 project, a class required of all history majors in which they must do a research project at the archives.

He discussed general trends of immigration to the United States in the early twentieth century. Many Italians, he said, came here only temporarily to work in the mines and later returned home. Others frequently went back and forth between the US and Italy. Some remained here and even arranged marriages. Mining conditions and fraternal organizations created by the miners were also discussed.

Interested in this topic? Want to do some research yourself? Here are useful resources at the archives:

  • Italian American Oral History Collection: This incredibly helpful resource consists of hundreds of oral history interviews conducted by Dr. Russell Magnaghi and others.
  • Marquette County Articles of Incorporation: As mentioned above, Italian immigrants created fraternal organizations to help support each other in times of need. Many of these organization registered their bylaws and other materials with the county.
  • Marquette County Naturalization Records: The naturalization records document how many Italians (and other nationalities) were becoming citizens, where they were from, what their job was, if they were married or had children, etc. They can be quite important for researchers.
  • Russell Magnaghi papers: Besides creating the Italian American oral history collection, Dr. Magnaghi has done much research into Italian Americans (and many other topics!). His papers document his research and can be extremely helpful to researchers seeking sources.
  • Il Minatore: A few issues of an Italian language newspaper from the UP
  • Many other regional newspapers: While time-consuming, looking through newspapers can yield fantastic results!

Come into the Archives and check out these and other collections today! Please note that we will be closed Wednesday-Friday of next week for Thanksgiving.

Written by Annika Peterson

Collection Feature: Maps and Plans

For this blog post, I thought I’d highlight a style of record we have here at the archives that receives less attention than many of our other collections and archives- the maps and plans. Maps and plans can shed insight into the knowledge of the times of the area and the landscape, and the extent of exploration and societal interaction that was occurring. Plans typically focus on proposed construction projects, or architectural designs for buildings and other structures. The breadth and depth of the types of maps and plans here at the archives is one of its greatest strengths. We have maps of the UP, of Lake Superior, of the Marquette area, of individual localities such as farms, as well as forestry and property maps, in addition to numerous differing mining-related maps, maps of the University here and aerial views over time, and much more. Some of these maps even go back into the 1700s, making them some of the oldest materials we have at the archives! Below are pictured a small sampling of such maps.

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Here is a map of the U.P. and Lake Superior from the 1900s.

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This map from the 1700s (in French) is one of the oldest maps we have. Members of our staff are currently working on specially preserving it to ensure it lasts in years to come. The artistry and the knowledge of the time make this map especially interesting. Many of the maps we have are found in our map cabinet in the processing room, and all are accessible to the public. One large collection is Archiv-016. It contains maps and plans from the Marquette area, Delta and Menomonee Counties in the UP, the Upper Peninsula, Michigan and Wisconsin, and the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

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This map is a map of some of the different copper mines in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the UP from the 1860s to the 1960s. Cool stuff! This map was only just “discovered” as I went through some two-to-three dozen unprocessed maps and plans currently sitting on top of our map cabinet which for varying reasons were never properly catalogued or accessioned. So, I’m going through them. First, I check to see if they’re in our Archives Space database. If not, I determine whether they can be grouped with existing collections or if new accession records need to be made.

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A more local chart here, this one shows a proposed floor plan for a building at the Sawyer International Airport near Gwinn from ca. the 1970s.

Come and check out these maps and more at the Archives!

Written by Stefan Nelson

The Political Opinions of Students in 1970

Dr. Robert Kulisheck was a distinguished professor of Political Science at Northern Michigan University (NMU) from 1969 until his retirement in 2007. He served as head of the Political Science Department (1975-1998) and was the director of the Graduate Program in Public Administration (1977- 2001). Kulisheck had just completed his PhD in Political Science at the University of Iowa when he began teaching at NMU in the fall of 1969. During his long career at NMU, Kulisheck was a strong proponent of experiential education. He developed a successful Congressional internship program and was instrumental in the creation of NMU’s graduate program in Public Administration. Kulisheck was also very active in Marquette politics, having served as a Marquette city commissioner, mayor pro tem, mayor, and chair of the Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee.

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The Dr. Robert Kulisheck papers document nearly four decades of teaching, administrative work, and consulting services. The collection comprises five cubic feet of correspondence, class materials, reports, and studies. Kulisheck taught a wide range of political science courses, including public policy analysis and the politics of United States foreign policy. Of particular interest to historians and social science scholars are the collection’s two cubic feet of “student information forms.” Happily, Kulisheck retained all of the completed forms for his classes. Requesting and gathering basic information about their students is a time-honored professorial function, and in this regard Kulisheck’s form was hardly remarkable. What set his effort apart from his peers’, however, was the form’s final question, “What do you think is the major problem in the United States today?”

Answers varied widely and evolved over time. In Kulisheck’s lower division classes, students generally offered only a terse word or phrase, such as race relations, Viet Nam, and Nixon. Others revealed impatient cynicism with more pejorative clichés like “people are stupid” or “politicians are all corrupt criminals.” Thankfully and not surprisingly, the quality in the scope and content of the answers becomes increasingly more thoughtful, reflective, and better written as students progressed in their college career. By the time students reached Kulisheck’s 400 level seminars, most answers were short essays of several paragraphs in length and addressed all sorts of issues, including environmental protection, government bureaucracy, gender equality, and the mal-distribution of wealth. Taken together, reactions to the question, “What do you think . . .”, shed some light on how NMU students perceived and understood political, social, and economic challenges besetting the nation during the latter decades of the twentieth century.

Despite the school’s remote, peripheral location, NMU students were very much aware and attuned to the World below the bridge. By the end of the 1960s, the NMU community had weathered a number of serious political and social convulsions that reflected or responded to wider national events. Reverberations and the clean-up from these storms would continue to define and shape the campus throughout the ensuing decades. [For a complete history of these events, please see the NMU Archives online exhibit, entitled Student Protests at Northern Michigan University.]

The following quotes are selected excerpts of student responses to the question “What do you think . . .” for Kulisheck’s PS 401, Senior Seminar (Winter, 1970). These commentaries are nearly fifty years old and suggest each student’s struggle to intellectually process one of the most trying decades in United States history. Depending upon one’s perspective, these commentaries also spark a strong and dispiriting familiarity to current events.

What do you think is the major problem in the United States today?

  • The present government which is, in reality, a bureaucratic system, impersonal to the real needs of the people, based upon the interests of special power elites such as the military, military-industrial complex, the super-rich and their giant corporations. Government must be redirected to the people and domestic problems, such as racism, pollution, the cities, education, etc.
  • Democracy isn’t really as neat as it appears to be. Democracy has become the American dilemma. It is too slow and can probably never be had. It seems the minority is always sacrificed by the majority.
  • I feel a major problem is that of apathy . . . This apathy goes beyond simply failing to vote or being concerned with political issues. It extends to every aspect of daily living, from pollution of our air to neglect of the migrant workers.
  • The inability of people to handle the inputs going into their perceptive systems . . . [People] are not adaptive to the revolution in communications systems (live television from all parts of the globe, etc) . . . This seeming speed-up in time, and constant news of cataclysmic events increases tension and anxiety.
  • We must stop spending so much on defense and work on our many problems at home; such as alienation of the young, poor, or black people. In doing this we must create a better understanding between people. Instead of spending on our war machine we must spend on education, pollution control, and our other problems at home.
  • Alienation of the individual and of society. I agree with Albert Camus that man is confronted with an existence with an inevitable doom . . . I feel that this has affected enough individuals so as to create a social problem for society. People are turning to existentialism, hedonism and other alternatives to religion which do not seem to furnish the security of Christianity.
  • A large part of the American population has lost faith in the American system. The minority groups feel the government has no concern for their particular problems. The youth are fed up with the slow progress of our government on such topics as war, air and water pollution, and other factors that are affecting our environment.
  • The desire of man the animal to dominate and control other members of his species . . . When man is taught, has learned or realizes that he needs to develop a working relationship to his environment and surrounding individuals, the other problems such as pollution, waste, murder, and disruption of the social order will be greatly decreased.
  • The failure of the “establishment” to incorporate all segments of society into the “system.” American youth, the poor, and black people plus other minorities have the attitude that they do not have a stake in the nation.
  • The political, social, and economic inequities which are prevalent represent the major problems facing America. From these great inequities, comes anger, hatred, violence, suppression, fear, bigotry, and racism. If these inequities cannot be eliminated, then America will succumb to revolution and ruin.

Written by Marcus Robyns, University Archivist