Tag Archives: NMU Archives

Collection Spotlight: Photographic File

This week I was assigned a seemingly impossible task. A file has gone missing at the archives. The process for finding this file includes me looking throughout every file in our twenty drawers of photos, in hopes that the file or photos have not gone far, and has simply been misfiled a drawer away. Sometimes going through the folders can be monotonous and tiresome, but other times I learn new and exciting information that I want to share with whoever will listen. For this post I will be sharing what I learned about NMU, simply by looking through our photo collection.

  1. There used to be a bowling alley in the University Center:

uno2. We have had some very notable and interesting guest speakers over the years including:

  1. A. Vincent Price, 1981
  2. Martin Luther King III, 1987
  3. Eli Wiesel, 1991
  4. President Gerald Ford, 1978:

dos

3. NMU awarded President George H. W. Bush an honorary degree in 1973 when he was head of the CIA: tres

4. Building the dome looked like this:

cuatro

5. Winterfest used to include:

  1. Lunch tray sledding:

cinco

  2. Ice carving.

6. NMU has witnessed/been a part of the world’s largest:

  1. Game of musical chairs, 1977:

seis.jpg

2. Pasty,1978:

siete

3. And most recently, the largest game of flag football in the Superior Dome with Al Roker!

Styles change, buildings are knocked down, Presidents come and go, but Wildcat spirit will always remain! Our photos are available to everyone to look through, and are easily accessible. (If anyone has seen a file titled “Student Life—Protests—Vietnam War; c. 1969,” please inform someone at the Archives!)

We will be open our normal hours next week during finals week, but for over winter break we are open December 18-22, January 2-5, and January 8-12 from 10am-5pm Monday-Friday. Feel free to just come in for a quiet place to study even if you aren’t looking to research something!

(This post was written by Eliza Compton)

 

Advertisements

Feature Spotlight: Christmas Cards in the Martha and Perry Hatch Papers

Happy December! Today is the unofficial start of the Christmas season, with people across the world celebrating the holidays in many different ways. I would like to focus this blog post on one particular holiday tradition that some people have: sending Christmas cards.

I have been given the job of processing the Martha and Perry Hatch Papers here at the Archives. This collection encompasses many different types of documents, with a date range spanning close to 100 years. In the collection, I have found a selection of Christmas cards that Martha and Perry Hatch received from friends and family over the years. Here are just a few that I want to showcase:

Some Christmas cards can be quite humorous:

Card_1

Others are just full of joy and fun:

Card_2Card_3

There are cards with old-fashioned Christmas imagery:

Card_4

Card_5

And some with art that is more religious:

Card_6

Card_7

But some of the best cards are homemade:

Card_8

This last one is not a Christmas card so much as it is a Christmas note. This letter to Martha Breidemeir (before she married Perry Hatch) comes from “Perry.” No last name is given to Perry, but I would say that it is safe to assume that this is Perry Hatch sending a note to his future wife in celebration of the Christmas season:

Card_9

 (Transcription)
Dear Martha,
A very Merry Christmas to you all.
Greet your Mother for me please.
Also your Big Kid Brother.
May you all have the happiest
Holiday Season.
Merry Christmas to you,
Perry

With today’s technology, I think people are more prone to send emails or texts in order to wish someone a Merry Christmas. But my hope is that showcasing Christmas cards from the past will help bring back a tradition that many people have long dismissed. Come in to the Archives to learn more about the Martha and Perry Hatch Papers! Our finals week hours are the same as is normal. Our winter break hours are 10am-5pm Monday-Friday.

(This post was written by Lucas Knapp)

 

Person Spotlight: Norman “Boots” Kakuk

Norman “Boots” Kukuk grew up here in Marquette, Michigan. Growing up, he always had a penchant for sports, especially hockey. In his four years at Northern State Teachers College, Boots earned three varsity letters for football and track and field, while continuing to play hockey for the Marquette Sentinels and maintaining his grades. He held the record for pole vault until 1939 and also earned a gold track shoe for javelin in 1940. In 1939, Boots was recommended to try out for the United States Olympic Hockey Team, but the start of World War II the following year put an end to those hopes. Interestingly, family lore claims that Adolf Hitler actually invited Boots to play hockey against the German team, but Boots’ father destroyed the letter the day he got it.

Upon graduation from Northern State Teachers College, Marquette public schools employed Boots as an Industrial Arts teacher and as a track and football coach. In 1941, Boots considered trying out for the Chicago Blackhawks or the Cleveland Barons Professional Hockey Clubs but was drafted into the army. He entered the U.S. Navy’s flight program on November 24, 1941. Boots was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Heroism Medal in August of 1944. He also earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air Medals during his time in the Navy.

blogpic1

After the War, Boots returned to Marquette and became the Director of Recreation for the City of Marquette. He accomplished a great many things during his time as director, such as installing the first artificial ice plant in the Palestra, the indoor community ice rink. In addition, Boots managed all of the city’s recreational programs, such as sporting events and festivals. Despite all this work, Boots still found the time to play hockey with the Marquette Sentinels for several more years before finally retiring his jersey.

blogpic2

Sand being laid down on the floor in the making of the ice rink in the Palestra.

blogpic3

Getting ready for the Annual Ice Carnival.

blogpic4

Hockey Team on ice rink, year unknown.

If you’d like to learn more about Norman “Boots” Kakuk or our other collections, come on in to the Archives, give us a call (906-227-1225) or send us an email (archives@nmu.edu) and we’ll be happy to help you!

(This post was written by Grace Menter)

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.

Photograph of Granite Island_10.7.1913

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.

BoatWays_July1924

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.

askfdj

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.

333

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.

222

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).

 

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.

bb.png

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).

zzz

This post was written by Grace Mentor.

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.

FullSizeRender

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.

16904746_373244903060025_2595881321006896111_o

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.

marcuscrazy

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.

saravictorious

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.)

marcusdirty

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.

mssexample

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

mssprocessed

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.

archivesgroup2015

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