Reading Room Highlight: Michigan Pioneer Collections

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

I suffer from perpetual writer’s block. In fact the only difference between me and Ta-Nehisi Coates is that I can just never think of something to write about. This time, however, I had planned ahead! I knew this blog post was coming up, and had made notes to myself whenever an idea crossed my mind. This is why I am the smartest!

Smart enough to write ideas down, not smart enough to keep track of all the scraps of paper I wrote them on. Also, have you seen my handwriting? It’s the worst. I could only find and decipher two of my notes to myself. One had already been done, and the other was too similar to the last blog post. All was lost, and I collapsed into my natural state, a heap of self-pity.

Eventually I recovered enough to remember that I work in one of the most interesting places on campus (the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, for those of you just joining us. Follow us on social media!), and all I had to do to find a new idea was look around for a moment.


What’s that over there?









On the shelves in our reading room is a series of volumes titled the Michigan Pioneer Collections. They’re a collection of essays, speeches, reports and poetry, spanning the years from 1650 to about 1920. Most of the content is from the nineteenth century. The quality of writing is generally mediocre, but it is invaluable for students of Michigan history, both casual and professional. In volume III there is an article about the Upper Peninsula from 1861, and to tell the truth it’s a little dry, since it’s mostly concerned with the production of grain and how much ore had passed through the Sault Canal. However, the articles immediately before and after make up for it. The first is a letter to the editor from an 1879 Detroit paper that throws shade on Michigan’s first state fair (alleged), and makes reference to using “Michigan wildcat” as currency. The next is “A Michigan Emigrant Song”, supposedly from 1833. The lyrics are terrible, and I look forward to using them the next time someone starts telling me how much better music used to be.


Still better than Crocodile Rock.

You can find all this and more in the reading room of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, located on the first floor of the Learning Resources Center. Come visit us today!

This post was written by Emily Wros.


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