Tag Archives: NMU Archives

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.

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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).

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This post was written by Grace Mentor.

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Personnel Spotlight: New Staff Members!

As is tradition, we welcome incoming new members of our staff here at the Archives with you on the blog. Two more have joined our team, Lydia and Tricia, and both are getting well into the swing of things after working for a few weeks.

Patricia Griffin is a junior here at NMU from Austin, Texas. She joins Grace as another accessioning specialist, but with a focus on processing and reorganizing our massive American Association of University Professors (AAUP) records collection with Marcus. Tricia is excited to be working on processing the AAUP records because she is very interested in collective bargaining. She also really enjoys hiking and exploring the Marquette area- “especially if I can find a dog to accompany me”- and is also a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, a social sorority here at Northern. She goes by Tricia.

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Lydia Henning is a senior Spanish major with a minor in Art and Design, from Fowlerville, Michigan (who’ll be with us at the Archives next year too). She joins Libby as another digitization/web specialist here. You might also see Lydia working upstairs from us at the Library. Lydia is excited to learn more about the history of the U.P. and gain experience working! She likes to eat many kinds of foods (like sushi!). She enjoys learning Spanish and reading historical fiction.

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Please welcome Lydia and Tricia to the Archives!

(Written by Stefan Nelson)

How and Why I Became an Archivist

In her usual forthright, stern, and disapproving manner, Sara Kiszka reminded me last Thursday (12/17) that I was responsible for the last post of the year to The Northern Tradition. For most of Friday, I diddled around trying to conjure up an interesting and useful topic. By late afternoon, I had nothing. Each Archives staff member is responsible for at least one blog post each semester, and they generally write about one of the historical manuscript collections. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of being the “big Kahuna,” “Big Cheese,” or “Dude that Makes the Big Bucks” is that I don’t get much time, if any, to actually work on the collections (Glenda Ward might disagree). Faculty responsibilities, instructional sessions, largely useless committee meetings, and a litany of problems threatening to end all life on the planet unless I resolve them immediately, dominate most of my days (time to take a deep breath!). At the end of the week, I generally appear unkempt and slightly unstable.

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A typical Friday afternoon in the Archives.

I like to believe that I am a fairly decent archivist but not a very good records manager, which is why we have Sara Kiszka. Records managers are responsible for the day-to-day use of institutional records with short-term value. They rarely concern themselves with the “permanent,” archival stuff. Records managers love to work in the institution’s bureaucratic fray and lurk about like KGB agents ready to pounce on unsuspecting office workers who fail to follow the approved records disposition schedules dogma. They are possessed by a genetic code infused with a deep desire to control the Universe and everything but without the towel.

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Sara Kiszka all excited about some silly records management thing (Fall, 2015).

Sadly, my genetic code is a mess of mutations, and I have trouble controlling anything. Not surprisingly, in her first year, Sara had a particularly vexing time trying to fix problems and errors in my records management program (I like to think that what did not kill her made her stronger). I do, however, have a very nice towel (so there, Sara!). I am simply predisposed to working with archives and love to acquire and develop regional historical manuscript collections. Manuscript collections are the personal papers (letters, diaries, FB posts, photographs, etc.) or organizational records (correspondence, memorandum, meeting minutes, financial) created by individuals, civic groups, local government entities, and businesses. Archivists call these collections “manuscripts” because they are unpublished, unique, and what historians call primary sources. These records and papers are the traces left behind that become our collective memory. Archivists are the professionals who find and save them for posterity. It’s a heady and awesome responsibility.

Over the last year, Archives’ staff members have contributed a number of excellent posts to this blog, highlighting some of our more interesting historical manuscript collections. However, these collections just don’t miraculously appear at the Archives’ doorstep. Unlike librarians, we don’t have an acquisition budget to purchase the latest and greatest information databases (librarians don’t really collect or work with books anymore) or primary sources (even if there were such things). While they wile away the time in their comfy offices, I have to leave campus and go out among the unwashed masses, sometimes facing nameless dangers, to find manuscript collections. I often spend years negotiating with donors and confronting untold horrors in dang basements and sweltering attics (in Texas, I once was nearly bitten by a deadly water moccasin snake while retrieving a valuable manuscript collection from a farm house out building.)

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Me pulling archival records out of the Ishpeming City Hall basement. There’s a desiccated rat carcass about three feet above my head and mold spores in the air (Summer, 2015).

Like the house cat with its latest kill (mouse, bird, lizard, whatever), I tend to drag cool historical manuscript collections into the Archives, play around with them for a few minutes, and then leave the stuff to someone else to clean-up. “Processing” a collection is what archivists do to make primary sources available and useful to historians and others. The fancy term is “arrangement and description.” Some archivists believe that the work is one of the most fascinating and satisfying aspects of archival management and is often the main reason they entered the profession. I once processed the papers of a beloved music teacher that started with a picture of her as a small child and ended with one on her death bed. In between, were all the memories of her life on this planet. It was very solemn and humbling work.

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Part of a historical manuscript collection upon arrival in the Archives.

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One box of a historical manuscript collection after processing.

Just the other day, I realized that I haven’t processed a collection in 15 years – far too long. I’ve worked as a professional archivist for the last 25 years, 19 at NMU. In the fall of 1986 (almost 30 years ago!), I was an undergraduate history major at the University of Oregon. Like many history majors, I had no idea what I would do with my degree upon graduation. For a time, I dabbled in secondary education but that was a disastrous and dismal affair. One day, my good friend, Matt Faatz (ironically, a secondary education teacher in Salem, Oregon), and I met with the undergraduate history club’s faculty advisor, Dr. Lang (Matt enjoyed calling him “Dr. Lung,” and I can’t remember why). We were having difficulty developing an exciting list of club activities for the year. At some point, I remember, Lang suddenly recommended a visit to the University Archives. The what? I thought. Matt and I gave each other a perplexed look, since neither of us had any idea that the University had an archives and only a very vague idea of what an archives was!

A rather pathetic response for a pair of history majors, but one that was, and to some extent still is, indicative of an undergraduate education in history (not at NMU, I am very proud to state!). I subsequently called the University Archivist, Keith Richard (not the Rolling Stone dude), and he graciously gave the history club a tour of the Archives the following week. It was a wonderful and revelatory experience. Although a classically doddering old archivist by this time, Keith went through the whole process of archival management with enthusiasm and showed us some really cool old documents and photographs. Moreover, his reading room was crammed with all sorts of artifacts (somewhat unusual in archives). Since the University didn’t have a museum, Keith would gather and accept all sorts of stuff from alumni and campus offices. At times, one might even see him dumpster diving.

By the end of the tour, I was apoplectic with joy and practically jumping up and down unable to control myself! Finally, I thought, a history-type job that doesn’t involve teaching snotty nosed and drug altered adolescents (apologies, Matt)! In that instant, I was teleported back to 1983 and was once again the young soldier on leave in Paris, sitting in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles and contemplating Bismarck declaring the establishment of the Germany Empire after the Franco-Prussian War (1872) or watching the signing of the infamous Treaty of Versailles (1919). History was suddenly very real again. “Are there jobs in this field,” I loudly blurted out before anyone else had a chance to ask a question. And that’s how I became an archivist – not a premeditated or very well-thought out choice, just a gut reaction to a moment of joy that I don’t regret.

I went on to graduate school, completing my MA in history with a concentration in archival management (1990). I told friends that I would go anywhere for my first archival job except the South. The Universe dislikes a tempter of fate, so I soon found myself as the first professional archivist for the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont, Texas, just about as south as one can get. It was a great first archival job despite the snakes, fleas, and cockroaches. The rest, as we say, is history. Now, I am an old, tired, and doddering archivist trying to avoid becoming a caricature and wondering if there is anything more. Ah, yes, of course. Sara just reminded me (for the umpteenth time) to do the copier counts and check the email. Sigh, time marches on.

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Best wishes for a great new year in 2016 from the staff of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives.

Post written by University Archivist Marcus Robyns

Collection Spotlight: Philip Legler Papers

Prior to my graduate studies in Library Science, I was an undergraduate student studying literature (and in particular poetry) at Ball State University. The NMU Archives has many collections which focus on the talents of local authors, but I wanted to focus on one individual in particular – Philip Legler.

During his tenure as an English professor at NMU, Legler established himself as an internationally acclaimed academic and poet. In addition to being listed in prominent academic directories, Legler’s poems were widely published in anthologies, poetry magazines, and newspapers such as the “New York Times.” Legler joined NMU in 1968, earning a Distinguished Faculty Merit Award in 1984, and continued to teach and publish until his death in 1992.

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Collection of poetry published in 1964.

The collection includes Legler’s publication A Change of View, assorted literary magazines in which Legler’s poetry was published, and articles which feature Legler and his work. However, of most interest to literary scholars and students of poetry is Legler’s unpublished manuscript titled Earthbound. The manuscript documents poetry written towards the end of Legler’s life, and serves as the culmination of Legler’s work and maturation in the field. The unpublished manuscript includes a draft with extensive notes and comments regarding revision.

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A page from Earthbound.

If you are interested in the papers of other authors from the Central Upper Peninsula, please see the NMU Archives’ additional holdings here. For more on the Philip Legler Papers, (MSS-327) please check out the resource record.

 

During the holidays, the NMU Archives will be open Monday – Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. We will be closed December 24th to January 3rd, but will resume services on Monday, January 4th. For more, please see our website.

Post written by Sara Kiszka.

 

 

Summer Skeletons

This summer the archives is cleaning out all the old skeletons in our vast closet and dusting them off. During the summer months our staff is able to work longer hours on projects left untouched during the school year. Many of these projects involve cleaning or organizing archival material so that it’s more accessible to patrons. Here is what our staff will be working on:

Annika Peterson aka Boss Lady

Over the past few weeks Annika has been working on various projects while also handling patron requests. Some of the larger projects she has done are the organization of the supply aisle and the disassembly of ledger books from the Bay de Noquet collection so they can be properly stored.

During the next six weeks Annika will be splitting her time between work and research. In April she was awarded the “Rich and Anna Lundin Honors Summer Research Fellowship” granting her the opportunity to research a topic of her choosing and then write a paper about it. Annika will be researching the relationship between the Marquette community and NMU during 1940 – 1970.

Kelley Kanon aka BFF

Kelley is continuing to work on our newest web exhibit about the student protests in the 1960s. This project was started last summer when Annika and Anne started gathering resources and doing research. Now, one year later, the project has come full circle as Kelley finishes the last touches on the website. If you are interested in finding out more check out the website here.

It hasn’t been decided what Kelley’s next big project will be but she is looking forward to working on something new and different.

Glenda Ward aka The Great and Powerful

Each day for the past two weeks Glenda has been processing at least one small collection a day including scrapbooks like John Lowe’s. He was a professor who came to Northern in 1919 and died in 1938 on a field trip after hiking Hogsback. Glenda is also working on processing the Tsu-Ming Han collection, a famous geologist who discovered fossils in the Empire mine dating back a billion years ago. She wants to continue processing as much as she can of the back log that has been built up over the past few years.

 Prince Parker aka Handy Man

This past semester our previous accessioner, Jessica Ulrich, graduated, so Prince has taken over as our new accessioner for the summer.  However, he is still working at the Records Center reorganizing and reboxing materials while also finishing the last of the comprehensive record survey with our Records Analyst Sara Kiszka. Prince has also been working on various projects including relabeling the photographic file, and organizing our slide collection.

Anne Krohn aka Original BFF

The Academic Information and Services department recently approved the archives to update all of our very outdated digital equipment. Anne is very excited to revamp the digitization station and procedures including making our digital archival material more easily accessible in our database with the help of our metadata and cataloging services librarian Catherine Oliver.

Along with updating and revising the digital station, Anne plans on gathering all the reel to reels, tapes, and 16mm film to inventory and prepare for digitization.

Sara Kiszka aka No-AH!

On May 9th Sara and our recently graduated Record Center Coordinator Morgan Paavola gave a presentation about our Comprehensive Records Survey (CRS) project at the Midwest Archives Conference held in Lexington, Kentucky. Sara will be talking more about CRS and the conference in the next blog post so be on the look out for that next week.

For the summer, Sara plans on moving university records from the Archives, which primarily houses permanent manuscript collections, to our Records Center. She will continue giving presentations including a presentation on digital archives tomorrow at the Northland Consortium in Ishpeming and a presentation on CRS in June at the Michigan Archival Association conference in Holland, Michigan.

Marcus Robyns aka Pops

For the summer Marcus is working hard to obtain records from different local places, including records from the Marquette Women’s Center and the city of Ishpeming. He is also developing an online study guide for the archivist certification exam while still maintaining his regular duties as the University Archivist.

Additionally, he is preparing for the archives to be renovated starting in July. We will be building a new office for Sara and a small hallway that will lead to the back of the archives. The room next door will be converted into a conference and break room with an adjacent door.

 

Written by Anne Krohn

End of the Semester Updates and Summer Projects at the Archives!

As the semester winds down, we at the Archives are starting to do our “spring cleaning” and plan out our summer projects.

In the past few weeks, as our Comprehensive Records Survey has been winding down, Prince Parker and Stefan Nelson, two of the Archives staff involved in the survey, have been shelf reading. While not a particularly exciting part of archival work, regular shelf reads are necessary for keeping our records organized and making sure that everything is where it is supposed to be and has not been accidentally misfiled. Our “spring cleaning” has also extended to our internal office files, which we are currently in the process of re-organizing.

In other news, we recently received an exciting collection from the Peter White Public Library—many boxes of recordings from meetings of the City of Marquette’s Board of Commissioners! These recordings span several decades. While we already had paper minutes from these meetings (which have been digitized and are available here), the recordings will be a valuable addition for those interested in researching local governmental history.

In other news, our processor, Glenda Ward, is about to finish a collection of two hundred CCI old age pension records. They range in date from 1908-1917. The names on the pension records will be available in our database, so if you have a relative who worked at CCI during that time period, be sure to check it out!

Speaking of the CCI collection, one of our major summer projects is to create a better inventory of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Company Records. At the moment, our decades-old index contains such helpful headings as “correspondence—multiple companies; unknown date range.” With thousands of volumes in the collection and no locations in our database, researching in the CCI collection can be quite difficult. A better summary of the collection and exactly where each volume is located will allow us to provide better access to the collection so that researchers can use these valuable records more easily.

The summer will also provide us with time to catch up of a backlog of preservation, accessioning, and processing, and other such activities. This includes flattening and encapsulating maps, getting a slide collection into proper slide envelopes, checking and fixing broken links on our website, and more. And as always, we will also be working on the continuing digitization of our audio and film collections as well.

Finally, the end of this semester marks the graduation of two of our staff: Morgan Paavola and Jessica Ulrich. Morgan, the Records Center Coordinator, is going on to the Archives and Records Administration program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jessica, the Accessioning Specialist, received a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship and will be attending Ball State University for science education.

We will all miss Morgan and Jessica, but we know that they will do well in all of their future endeavors.

Changes in our Schedule

Our hours will be changing for the summer: Starting Monday, April 27 (the first day of finals week), our hours will change to Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM.

We are also going to be experimenting with a new schedule during the fall semester. In an attempt to better suit the needs of patrons who cannot come in during the work day, our fall hours will be Monday through Friday 10 AM – 8 PM and Saturday 11 AM to 3 PM. Have an opinion on the schedule changes? Feel free to e-mail feedback, comments, or questions, to us at archives@nmu.edu.

Written by Annika Peterson

Meet Our New Records Analyst Sara Kiszka!

DSCF0442The Archives has a new full-time employee–Sara Kiszka! She is responsible for the Records Center and the management of university records. She is already involved in several projects, such as creating a disaster recovery plan for the Archives and Records Center, updating Records Center protocol, and re-organizing the Records Center. In the fall, she will be conducting a university-wide records survey to determine whether departments are donating the proper records and managing their records efficiently. She will also be working with creating a larger electronic Archives for NMU in order to help preserve documents and prevent records being lost due to obsolete recording methods.

Sara says that she likes working with records management and electronic archives. She is particularly interested in how records show migration and auditing trails.

Sara is originally from Chesterton, IN and has a younger brother and sister. She likes dogs, reading, and watching bad reality television. She received her Bachelor’s in English Literature from Ball State and earned a Master’s in Library Science with a specialization in Archives and Records Management from Indiana University.

This is her first professional job, and she is excited to be here and to learn from this experience. She also hopes to survive her first winter in the UP!

Marcus says that he has waited seventeen long years for a records analyst. She is already finding and correcting problems at the Records Center, and he is thrilled that she is here.

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Blog written by Annika Peterson.