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.

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What’s that over there?

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Ah-ha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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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Archivist File: Carey Hall

While looking through the Archivist File and ruffling through folders full of different memorabilia, I came across an interesting packet of papers.

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As stated above, this packet would have been sent out to the parents of female students at Northern Michigan College. The Girls’ Organization of Carey Hall, or G.O.O.C.H., was comprised of girls living in Carey hall who created the rules for the dorm and decided the consequences for breaking said rules. While I completely agree that there is a need for rules in dormitories and that it would be comforting for parents to know that their children are living in well structured and disciplined places, to have curfews for only the female students is quite unnecessary.

Now, obviously I can detach myself and my ideals from our current era — where a packet with rules like this would never happen without severe backlash — and I can see that for the era it was made in this would have been normal. It would have been normal for a parent to feel the need to control their daughter who, although legally an adult, by societal standards would have needed to abide by her parents rules until she found a husband to abide by.

Something that I do want to look at, however, is the language used throughout the packet. Written by G.O.O.C.H, I would have assumed that many of the girls would have bonded together and tried to advertise the “Blanket” permission option as the best, in order for the girls to have more freedom. It is surprising to find that much of the wording is meant to shame the female students and their parents.

“Our problem we have taken into consideration is “overnights” after dances…,” is the first example of shaming the female students. G.O.O.C.H. is clearly tattle-taling to the parents of female students, essentially saying “ Hey we noticed that after these dances, some of our female students are participating in “adult activities” and we feel that it may be inappropriate.” Not only is that a total breach of  privacy, but it is also a window into the past of how little control women had with making their own choices.

On the second page is where we can see the shaming of the parent. It is easy to see how the choices of permissions were written in order to shame parents into taking more control. When one reads the options on their own, each one sounds okay, but when reading down the row, like many parents would have, one can read the change is tone in the 4th option. The first three options begin their sentences with an authoritarian phrasing of “a girl may not” or “a girl is permitted” which implies power and control. The final option begins with a weaker, lenient tone, not even bothering to mention the girl, but instead flipping the wording to “ If a parent wishes”. This is a subtle change, but it has a major impact on how parents would have read the choices and how they would have made their choice. It becomes a basic question. Which kind of parent would you want to be? Do you want to have power and control, or are you weak?

It is interesting to look back and see how the everyday woman would have been treated and what rules and power struggles she would have faced. It is hard to see that even other women, at that time, would have been so willing to enforce such sexist rules. Today, rules like this would never happen, but it is strange to look back at a not so distant past and see such a different frame of mind.

This post was written by Kyleigh Sapp.

Collection Highlight: Math Problem Sets in the John Kiltinen Papers

Earlier this week, math lovers all across the world celebrated March 14 as Pi Day, named for the mathematical symbol used in practically every branch of mathematics. To celebrate Pi Day, this week’s blog post revolves around the subject of math.

As a mathematics major working in the Archives, I wasn’t 100% certain that I’d fit in here. So far, however, my job has shown me that everyone can make use of archival material.

Take, for example, the John Kiltinen papers. Dr. Kiltinen was a professor here at Northern from 1971 until his retirement in 2007. He taught in the Mathematics and Computer Science department, and was also involved in the development of the Seaborg Center.

In the Kiltinen papers, there is a series revolving around the Seaborg Summer Science Academy, of which Dr. Kiltinen was the director. This series includes some things that I never would have expected to find in an archive: math worksheets.

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Unfortunately, the series doesn’t include the SOLUTIONS to the problems sets, which, as someone who really likes to make sure my answers are correct, really frustrates me.

If you’d like to view these problem sets yourself, or anything else in the Kiltinen papers, come on into the Archives during our business hours (10-5 MWF; 10-7 TTh). There’s more math worksheets to look at than what I’ve shared here. We’re also here to help with any reference requests you have regarding NMU or the Central UP, so feel free to stop by!

Plus, as a bonus feature, we have an Evening at the Archives event coming up on March 29 at 7pm. The head archivist, Marcus Robyns, will give a presentation, entitled “Pasties, Beer, Revolution, and God: Immigrant Miners and Their Communities on the Marquette Iron Range, 1900-1930,” where he will review the social, cultural, and political nature of immigrant iron miners in the early twentieth century with particular emphasis on the experience of Finnish immigrants. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. Feel free to come in and enjoy!

(This post was written by Lucas Knapp)