Tag Archives: local history

Collection Spotlight: Hiawatha Festival Record

The Hiawatha Music Co-op will be holding its 39th annual music festival July 21-23 this year in its usual location of the Marquette Tourist Park. Featuring traditional Upper Peninsula Music, the Co-op seeks to promote learning and understanding through music. The very first festival was held in Champion, Michigan in 1979, but in 1984 it was moved to Tourist Park, here in Marquette MI. Every year about three to four thousand people come together to share experiences and listen to great music. This year the headliners have not been announced yet, but they always include local names and faces as well as many well-known musicians.


In addition to putting on the music festival each year for 39 consecutive years, the Hiawatha Music Co-op also sponsors many other local musicians and puts on other music festivals throughout the year. Recently the Co-op has been partnering with the U.P. Beaumier Heritage Center to put on events for the local community. If you’re interested and would like to know more, you can visit their website at: https://hiawathamusic.org/, or you can come down to the NMU Archives as we just received all of their records! As a note though, the records are unprocessed (unorganized), but are still open for viewing. With the end of the school semester at NMU fast approaching, our hours will be changing slightly during the summer- starting Monday May 8- from 10:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday (instead of being open until 7:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays).


This post was written by Grace Mentor.


Evening at the Archives: Genealogy

Evening at the Archives Poster

Are you interested in learning about your family history? Do you have roots in the Upper Peninsula area, or are you interested in local history? Are you curious about genealogy methods and resources?

If so, come to Evening at the Archives: Genealogy on November 6th at 7 PM! This  two-hour event is free to the public and there will be refreshments. The presentations will be at the Archives in room 126 of the LRC.

Featured topics will include how to research the history of your house, how to use our microfilm machines, what our new collection of materials from Bethany Lutheran church contains, and what collections might benefit your genealogy. (Spoiler Alert!: Any collection can potentially be useful for your genealogy. However, there are a few types of records that are traditionally quite helpful for genealogists, and we will focus on these records.)

Although the event will focus on Marquette County and Upper Peninsula genealogy, some of the material will be helpful to genealogists regardless of the location of their research. For instance, we will explain what can be found in city directories, naturalization records, church records, plat maps, and other types of resources. We will also talk about what genealogical resources can be accessed through NMU’s Olson Library and the Peter White Library in Marquette.

Common misconceptions about local Ishpeming records and mine locations will be discussed as well as frequently asked questions about naturalization.

If you are definitely coming to the event, please RSVP at archives@nmu.edu or (906) 227-1225. However, no RSVP is required. We look forward to seeing you!

Written by Annika Peterson

Amazing and Macabre Items (re)Discovered at the Archives!

Sometimes, the most fascinating artifacts are lost and forgotten about in the sands of time until someone stumbles upon them and rediscovers them. Yesterday, we here at the Archives experienced this for ourselves.

Recently we have been cleaning off random, unlabelled boxes of stuff from the top of our shelves, many of which have been sitting there unopened for very long periods of time. We all gathered to open the last box together to celebrate the massive achievement of finishing this project. Cleaning has been interesting–you never know what you might find in these boxes! Our most interesting finds, up to that point, had been some lovely pictures of campus.

The box was soon revealed to be full of items related to John Voelker and Anatomy of a Murder. As many people in the area know, John Voelker was a local lawyer who went on to become Marquette County prosecutor and later a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. He is better known for writing books under the name Robert Traver. His best known work is, of course, Anatomy of a Murder–a fictionalized account of the actual murder in Big Bay for which Voelker was the defense attorney. Anatomy of a Murder was later made into movie that was filmed in Marquette.

We soon realized that these items were already in our collections but had been separated at some point for display and had never been put back. Notable items included John Voelker’s certificate after being elected Marquette County Prosecutor and a book about the making of the Anatomy of a Murder movie. The best discoveries, however, were yet to come.

One item in the box was a Bachelor of Laws certificate for Paul Biegler, the attorney in the movie played by Jimmy Stewart. That’s right, we have props from a famous movie. That by itself may have merited a blog post.

DSCF0007But wait, there’s something ever more amazing–in an unassuming envelope, we found bullets. At first, we wondered whether they were also props from the movie. Upon further inspection, however, we found that they had actually been shot. From the date on the envelope and the court transcripts, we were able to ascertain that they were the actual bullets fired in the actual murder which were later pulled from the body and used as evidence at the trial. This slightly macabre piece of local history will no longer be forgotten back in the stacks!


Interested in more information about Voelker and the case which inspired Anatomy of a Murder? The Archives has all of John Voelker’s papers, including personal correspondence and family photographs, genealogical material, records from his legal career, and his literary papers. Check out the finding aid website and our Anatomy of a Murder 50th Anniversary page!

Prepared by Annika Peterson

Oral Histories

The Archives does not just contain paper documents. It also has many audio and video records which cover a wide range of topics related to both Northern Michigan University, the Marquette County area, and beyond. A website summarizing the oral history interviews and other audio recordings located at the Archives and in other local archives and libraries can be found here.

The Red Dust Project Oral History Collection contains 800 interviews conducted by students of the National Mine School and Aspen Ridge Middle School from 1983 to 2000. The interviews cover topics such as the Depression, immigration, job histories, mining, logging, World War II and military service, education, the polio epidemic in the UP, and social life.

Another oral history project here at the Archives is the Italian-American Immigrant Oral History Collection. It contains interviews with Italian Americans in the UP and beyond and discusses their lives in Italy, the trip to America, and life here, including mining, other work, religious activities, and social life. Recorded in Stone: Voices on the Marquette Iron Range is another oral history project which discusses immigrant populations. Groups for which oral histories were recorded include Finnish, Cornish, and Italian immigrants. Besides oral histories, the website has articles about various ethnic populations in Marquette County. It also contains digital copies of some issues of Clover-Land, a magazine promoting farming settlement in the Upper Peninsula.

Some audio collections relate directly to Northern Michigan University. The Archives contains copies of many commencement speeches given at Northern over the years. It also has tapes of lecture series and debates at Northern from the 1950s to the 1980s. There are also many interviews with Presidents of the University, faculty members, and students. Some of these interviews are listed by name. Others have some indication of the content discussed in the title.

Oral histories relating to the larger area include such topics as underground mining, fishing, and lumber, and the Ishpeming Ski Hall of Fame. Persons of Croatian, Finnish, German, French-Canadian, Slovenian, and Chippewa descent were interviewed about their heritage. Events which occurred in the area, such as the visit of Buckminster Fuller, are also recorded. Meetings and conferences of local groups, including Lutheran synods and Catholic pastoral conferences from the 1980s, the Coalition to Save Longyear Hall, ELF hearings, and meetings about radioactive waste being brought to Marquette. See this page for an incomplete listing of audio relating to Northern Michigan University and the surrounding area.

This fall, Dr. Magnaghi will be training Archives staff to conduct oral history interviews, and the collections will again be expanding. The Archives will also convert remaining analog interviews into a more accessible and lasting digital format.

Prepared by Annika Peterson