Tag Archives: NMU Archives

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.

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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.

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

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Getting ready for the Annual Ice Carnival.

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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)

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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).

 

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.

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