Collection Feature: The Granite Island Lighthouse Keeper’s Log Books

Shimmering on the horizon about 12 miles north of Marquette, Granite Island is a windswept, desolate outcrop of rock raising about 60 feet above the surface of Lake Superior. Looking something like an overturned boat or the conning tower of a modern day submarine, the Ojibwe Indians aptly named the island Na-Be-Quon (canoe with a hump). By the end of the Civil War, the Island had become a serious threat to the numerous sail and steam ships serving the expanding iron ore mines and bustling town of Marquette. Recognizing the peril, in 1865 Congress approved funds for a lighthouse on the Island, and the following year the state of Michigan condemned the property and seized it by right of eminent domain. Construction began in 1868, and the lighthouse became operational in 1869 with the arrival of its first two keepers.
Granite Island Lighthouse_1904In 1999, NMU alum and chair of the NMU Board of Trustees, Scott Holman, purchased
Granite Island from the U.S. Coast Guard and began a long and expensive process of renovation. This past summer, he loaned the Central Upper Peninsula and NMU Archives photocopies of the Granite Island Lighthouse Keeper’s Log Books maintained by the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The original log books are part of the historical records of the U.S. Coast Guard and document lighthouse operations from 1901 to 1937. The keeper or assistant keeper made daily entries concerning maritime events, work around the lighthouse, and special visits. They would also note weather conditions and report on the visibility of the signal light during periods of poor inclement weather.

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The Keeper’s Log Books offer a partial glimpse into the rugged, isolated, and largely
mundane life of the Granite Island Lighthouse keeper and his assistant. Entries are mainly colorless iterations of the same general work activities, such as scrubbing floors or chopping wood, punctuated from time-to- time with accounts of sudden activity, drama, or horror. John Wheatley was the longest serving Granite Island Lighthouse keeper, retiring at the age of 83 after 30 years (1885-1915) in the company of his assistant keeper, annoying seagulls, and wild rhubarb. In 1898, the long suffering Wheatley lost his son to a sudden gale that overturned the young man’s small sail boat in transit to the Island from Marquette. Five years later, the assistant Keeper, John McMartin, launched the station’s boat on a routine supply run to Marquette. As McMartin rounded the southern tip of the island, Wheatley watched helplessly as rough seas smashed the boat into the jagged rocks, drowning McMartin. His body was never found. Despitethe horror of the incident, Wheatley’s laconic prose for October 2, 1903, departs little insubstance or emotion from all his previous prosaic entries about daily life on the rock.

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Regardless of Wheatley’s stoic powers of observation, the Keeper’s Log Books actually
document the most active and expansive period in the history of the Granite Island Lighthouse. Over the next thirty years, the Coast Guard constructed, among many other improvements, a new seawall; rebuilt the boathouse and relocated it to a more sheltered spot; and built steel boat ways on the north side of the island. In October 1901, a work crew arrived to build a new boat house and lay walkways around the island. Rough weather and seas made boat landings and work often hazardous, as Wheatley’s log entry about the crew’s arrival notes rough weather that included “changeable wind” and “rain squalls.”

Below are some examples of the Keeper’s log book entries.

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Transcription: At 8 AM Mr. J. McMartin went to boat houses got boat and started to sail it round to south side of island by [circling] [preparatory] to going to Marquette. Fierce wind from NE. Sea caught boat and dashed it against front of rocks; boat smashed to [pieces] and Mr. J. McMartin was drowned. Nothing was seen of body.

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Entry for October 3, 1903, documenting the arrival of a work crew to begin construction of a boathouse and walkway around the island. Note the arrival of the steamer USS Amaranth. This steamer continued to service the island well into the 1930s.

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Entry for July 25, 1926, noting an unusual social visit by a family from Marquette.

The Archives has created digital copies of the Granite Island Lighthouse Keeper’s Log Books and plans to make them available online as soon as possible. In the meantime, NMU alumni and the general public are welcome to visit the Archives anytime during our open hours, or contact the University Archivist, Marcus Robyns, for more information about the collection.

(This post was written by the Archivist, Marcus Robyns).

 

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Feature: Upcoming Events

With fall approaching, the Archives has two special events coming up; both of them are a part of our semi-annual showcasing tradition- Evening at the Archives! The first of these is on October 12, the second Thursday of the month, at 7:00 pm in Room 224 of the Harding Learning Resource Center. It is our Genealogy Workshop, back by popular demand. Come and learn about our resources available, and pick up some tips for your own journey of genealogy!

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The second will be coming up on Thursday, November 9, also at 7pm, as always. This Evening at the Archives event will be showcasing the work of Dr. Russell M. Magnaghi, Professor and University Historian. He has a new book titled Prohibition in the Upper Peninsula: Booze & Bootleggers on the Border. The synopsis states,

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This event will be held in the Atrium in the back of the library on the second floor of the LRC. After the presentation, Dr. Magnaghi will be doing book signings. Please come and check it out!

Additionally, two of our student assistants Lydia Henning and Libby Serra will be presenting on a web site they constructed concerning the UP Radio History Talk interviews, which includes numerous interviews between Dr. Magnaghi and others. These talks will be digitized and summarized for public viewing on the website.

Feel free to stop by the Archives for your research needs or to have a quiet place to study. Our hours are 10:00am-5:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; and from 10:00am-7:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

(This post was written by student assistant Lydia Henning)

Feature Spotlight: Mending

One of lesser known functions we perform at the Archives is the process of library book mending. Beginning winter semester, 2017, the book mending duties moved from the Library to the Archives. Archives student assistant collectively spend 10 hours each week mending damaged or worn out books from the Library’s collection. You might ask, “what does book mending entail?” In short, mending consists of repairing various torn, worn, or busted parts of books.

A typical mending slip identifies common problems with the book. In this example, the book has a worn spine that will require spine tape to be glued on to protect the spine from further damage. Other common mending actions include taping rips in pages, erasing pencil markings, reconnecting separated hinges, etc. Archives student assistant, Lydia Henning, reviews a mending slip at the start of her shift at the book mending workstation. Generally, each Archives student assistant conducts book mending duties in two-hour blocks.

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When the text block of a book has broken away from the inside of the cover hinge, a common fix to use is the “Unibind” machine shown below. Basically, it provides a moderate heat for the book to sit on (spine down) to melt the special glue applied to reconnect the back of the text block to the spine hinge. The glue (opaque yellow strips) is also shown below in the bin, and is a cut to size for each book required.

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For thin softcover books or books without many pages, plastic sheeting binders are used to hold the books together better and protect the spine from getting too hot.

When a book is “done” and has been mended, it’s reviewed by Glenda Ward, Archives / Library Senior Clerk. Assuming all mending efforts have been completed correctly, books are then carted back up to the Library and put back on the shelves.

Please feel free to stop by the Archives (LRC Room 126) for your research needs, for a quiet place to study, or just to say “hi” and see what we’re all about. Our hours are 10am-5pm on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, and Friday’s; and from 10am-7pm on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.

(This post was written by Stefan Nelson, Senior Archives Student Assistant, a.k.a “Number One”)

Historical Spotlight: Evolution and Name Updates of NMU

I worked this summer sorting through old undigitized historical photographic negatives about the University.  I came across this photo and loved the simple story and message:

In the beginning, we weren’t a university- we were Northern State Normal in 1899. In 1927, we became Northern State Teachers College. We then turned to Northern Michigan College of Education in 1942. Second-to-lastly, some of our alumni might have gone to our school and known it by this name: Northern Michigan College, or NMC. In the late 1950s, construction of the Mackinac Bridge was completed.

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In March 1963, NMC became NMU. This blog poster (me) believes that the bridge uniting the two peninsulas of Michigan lead to an increase of people living in the lower peninsula taking interest in and attending the College. Thus, the size of the college got big enough to permit another name change. Which brings us to the name currently held: Northern Michigan University.

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Also! A bit on an interesting recent campus events: This past Friday (September 8th) was the  Sonderegger Symposium Friday, which annually highlights the Upper Peninsula’s history! It is free of charge. This years’ Symposium included scholarly presentations about the UP’s life and culture, where lunch and refreshments were provided throughout the day. We hope all who attended enjoyed! We apologize for the slight delay in the publishing of the blog post, the next one will be on schedule this upcoming Friday September 15th.

(This post was written by Lydia Henning)

Collection Spotlight: Local 1477 Superior Grange Patrons of Husbandry Records

The Superior Grange local no. 1477 Patrons of Husbandry was an agricultural group located in Sands Township in the Upper Peninsula. However, the Superior Grange of the U.P. is but one unit in a larger organization called the National Grange. Founded in 1867, “The Grange is a family, community organization with its roots in agriculture,” according to the National Grange website. The Patrons of Husbandry were, historically speaking, farmers and their families who were involved in their community in order to improve life for everyone. However, the Superior Grange wasn’t always as accepting as they would paint themselves.

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Record types we have in this collection include song books, bylaws, correspondence, junior patron manuals, catalogs, membership applications, and member rosters. It can be found on our online database Archives Space under M17-32.20170901_115538

To find out more, come visit the Central Upper Peninsula Archives, located in room 126 of the Learning Resources Center on NMU’s Campus. The Archives has the Superior Grange’s records in house should anyone come calling. Feel free to contact us at archives@nmu.edu or give us a call at 906-227-1225.

This post was written by Grace Menter

Collection Spotlight: History of the U.P. Radio Talks

This upcoming week, the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives spotlight collection is the History of the U.P. Radio Talks, which is a collection of radio discussions from Russell M. Magnaghi from 2004. This collection consists of 44 different discussions that cover a wide range of U.P. history topics, ranging from the roaring 20’s and the effects of the Great Depression on the U.P., to the Upper Peninsula National Parks, and even an examination of the history of weird U.P. weather facts!

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Russell M. Magnaghi, the author of a Sense of Time: The Encyclopedia of Northern Michigan University and director of the Center for U.P. Studies (1999), provides a detailed and fascinating insight into various aspect of U.P. and NMU history. We have several copies of this book at the Archives, and it definitely can be a big help for researching many things. It’s organized alphabetically by subject and covers topics at NMU from 1899-1999.

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This collection is being digitized now and will soon be ready for the public to access. As a reminder, our summer hours are Monday through Friday, 10am-5pm. We look forward to seeing you soon!

(This blog post was written by Libby Serra)

Location Spotlight: The Archives

Hello everybody! Our apologies for not posting anything new in some time. Work this summer at the archives has been busy as usual, which is compounded because half of our student assistants who work here during the schoolyear are pursuing other summer employment. Anyways, this blogpost acts as both a reminder (to our regulars), and new information (to our newcomers) where the archives is, and where to park when visiting us.

For visitors not familiar with NMU’s campus, it can be hard finding the Central UP and NMU Archives. If you are wondering how to get to the Central UP and NMU Archives, be on the lookout for some new updates on our website. In the meantime, you can look at this blog post consisting of helpful links from NMU. Enjoy your scholarly research and investigations!

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Interactive Google Map of NMU:  http://www.nmu.edu/campusmap

Directions to NMU:  http://www.nmu.edu/admissions/node/122

Map of Campus: http://www.nmu.edu/sites/default/files/UserFiles/Pictures/Maps/NEWMAP_webquality.pdf

Parking Map: http://www.nmu.edu/publicsafety/node/229

Visitors to the archives can park in Lot 11, the Commuter/Faculty & Staff lot between Magers Hall dorms and the LRC. From there, you can walk up the hill and into the first level of our LRC. The archives is down the wide hall, and then to the left. You may also park in Lot 28, the smaller parking lot in back of Jamrich (where one can use parking meters). If parking in Lot 28, you may enter the LRC through the Jamrich tunnel and take the elevator or the stairs downstairs to the first level of the LRC, where the archives is.

(This post was written by Lydia Henning)