Tag Archives: NMU

The Largest Wooden Dome in the World

In 1971, the Northern Michigan University (NMU) administration proposed building an All-Events Center  for sports, concerts, and other community activities. In a campus referendum on May 5, 1971, NMU students voted “no” to the proposed all-events center. This happened despite the support of the Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU), the on-campus student government. Students  opposed the All-Events Center because the administration planned to charge students a $20 per semester use fee to partially support construction. In addition, the previous year the administration had proposed the construction of a new physical education building, making an additional sports center appear redundant to both NMU students and the citizens of Marquette.



A brochure put out by ASNMU in support of an All-Events Center.


The official vote tally.

In 1977, the administration reintroduced the idea of constructing an all-events center, but the proposal again received strong negative responses. Students and citizens of Marquette  believed the project was too expensive or unnecessary. However, in 1985 NMU became a site for a U.S. Olympic training/education center. As a result, the Michigan legislature approved $21,800,000 for the construction of a Sports Training Complex.

On September 14, 1991, the Superior Dome opened its doors for the first football game. A capacity crowd of 7,942 fans watched Northern Michigan University defeat the University of Indianapolis, 31-20.



The Dome was not fully completed until 1995 with the addition of locker rooms, classrooms, offices, ticket sales, and repairs of ice damage to the roof.


The Superior Dome stands 14 stories and covers 5.1 acres, making it the largest wooden dome in the world. The Tacoma Dome in Washington State is smaller by only six feet in diameter. Construction required 781 Douglas fir beams and 108.5 miles of fir decking. The seating capacity is 8,000, but the building can hold 16,000. The artificial turf is the largest single piece of retractable turf in the world. It takes about two hours to set up and 30 minutes to put it away. The artificial turf accommodates football, soccer, softball, and field hockey. A hardwood floor beneath the turf supports basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton, and includes a 200-meter track. NMU and the community use the dome for commencement, builders’ shows, car shows, craft shows, public school events, and more.


The exterior of the Superior Dome.


The interior of the Superior Dome.

This post was written by Eliza Compton.



Northern Michigan University Women

 In 1926, the Faculty Wives Club at Northern State Normal School was formed. Ethel Carey, then Dean of Women at the school (Carey Hall, now torn down, was named after her) helped to form the group. The records of this club’s existence are now being processed at the Archives.


Ethel Carey

 The club stated its purpose very plainly in its constitution:

 The objects of this organization are social and educational; to preserve and strengthen friendship among its members; to assist any committee of the Northern State Normal School in carrying out such activities as shall be deemed by a joint committee to be a co-operative function; and to foster a true spirit of service in the community.

 Membership in the group was limited to “the wife of any member of the Northern State Normal School Faculty.”  The wives of former members of the faculty could become honorary members with a two thirds vote by secret ballot of the active membership.

 In 1970, the group, then known as University Wives, amended its by-laws to include female faculty and professional staff members and honorary memberships for the wives of retired faculty and professional staff and retired female faculty and staff. By 1985, the group had changed its name to Northern Michigan University Women and included wives of faculty and professional staff as well as female faculty and professional staff. Emeritus membership was granted to “all wives of retired or deceased members of the faculty or professional staff, retired faculty women or women on the professional staff upon their retirement.”

 The organizational meeting was held on March 18, 1926, at Ethel Carey’s home and during that meeting, officers were elected. The first regular meeting of the group was on March 24 at the home of Mrs. J. Lautner. (The mother of famed architect John Lautner). Presiding over the meeting was the group’s president, Mrs. McClintock. In the early years, official club records only recorded a member’s last name, with “Mrs” firmly attached to the front.

 In 1927, the February meeting was particularly well received as stated in the minutes.

We owe the hilarious time we had today to a very able committee and a very charming hostess; Mesdames Lowe, Ebersole and Mattson, committee; and Mrs. L.A. Chase, hostess. Many unusual stunts and tasks were set for the members, who agreed that the price of ten pennies was too small and entrance fee for such a fine afternoon. No business hampered the meeting or the afternoon’s enjoyment.

Members did help out at some school events. The minutes of April 4, 1926, record that “many good suggestions were made to aid Miss Carey in carrying out the plans for the Open House tea to be given for the women of Marquette.” In May of 1926, the group lent assistance to the picnic at Presque Isle for the annual Northern State Normal (N.S.N) Rush Day and the group would continue to assist with other school functions.  Service activities, particularly sewing projects first show up in the 1936-1937 directory. In 1937, February’s activity was a sewing project for the hospital.

Most meetings were in the afternoon but there were several evening meetings scattered throughout the year, including an event with member’s husbands that included a meal and an evening tea for the female faculty members. In 1934, the first children’s party was held in the J.D. Pierce gym and in following years there was either a party in May or a picnic in June. The group did not meet much during the summer, although there was almost always an outing to someone’s camp.

Many of the meetings had a program with speakers, games, music, and more. In 1928, the group published its first membership directory, listing the officers and the schedule of programs for the year. The November 14 meeting featured Travel Talks by Mrs. W. F. Lewis and on February 13, Miss Mildred Magers talked about her experiences in China. Miss Magers was a French professor at Northern, and in 1944 became the first female professor to earn a PhD. She also had a residence hall named after her.


The cover of the 1937-1938 directory.


The inside title page.


While the first few membership directories were handwritten, the later ones were typed. The directory for 1937-1938 has a printed photograph on the front, maybe of Presque Isle and on the inside, a dedication to Laila Bottum, who died in 1937 from breast cancer. It also features a complete list of members, numbering only 28. (Faculty size in 1937 was 54) 1938-39’s membership directory featured a photograph of a vine covered Kaye Hall, another dedication – this time in memory of Margaret McCollom and a membership list complete with phone numbers.


Kaye Hall. From the cover of the 1938-39 Faculty Wives Club directory.


 The collection’s last membership directory is for 2007 and lists only 55 members, a sign of the changing times. Membership directories for the 70’s and 80’s had longer listings but by 2007, many of the faculty wives worked outside the home. Organizational meeting minutes end in 1994. The collection also has financial information, meeting agendas, constitutions and more. There are gaps in many parts of this collection, but it gives a glimpse into a nearly forgotten piece of Northern Michigan University’s history. The collection is still being processed. Upon completion, the collection finding aid will be available on ArchiveSpace, the Archives’ collection management system.

This post was written by Karen Kasper.

The Summer Musings of a Student Archivist

Summer is finally here, with the weather in Marquette beginning to move away from the 40’s and 50’s and toward the beautiful 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s. Although most of us have to work during the height of the heat, I know many still take their free time and spend it outside as much as possible.

While trying to come up with an idea for this blog post, I ran across the “Student Life” category in the Archives’ photographic file. I found one folder containing a handful of photos labeled “recreation- on the beach”. These pictures had no specific date on them, though I assume they were taken in the 1970’s (mostly based on the fashion and hairstyles of the students).


For those who do not know, the Archives has  four file cabinets full of photographs covering numerous historical topics and events on this campus. Mock GOP Convention of 1948? Check. Winterfest 1980? Check. All Mens Dinner 1931? Check. Although fascinating,most of the photographs do not identify the pictured individuals. Hundreds and hundreds of photographs of previous Northern students remain anonymous.

summer 1

Sure, I work in an office, and maybe I was escaping the mid-day blues with these photographs; a daydream of the beach to be squandered with the next task. However, the more I tried to move on from the file, and look for something else to feature, I soon returned to the file with a realization.

summer 2

summer 3

Today, we live in the world of technology, full of facial-recognition, automatic-tagging, and algorithms that will continuously work to categorize our social groups and peers to perfection. This is a stark contrast to the anonymity of the past and it gives people who stumble across these photographs a reason to stop and think. Constantly, we are bombarded by images and media, scrolling through our friends and family — double-tapping and liking without thought. With these photographs look and find our own memories reflected in the smiles and flipped canoes; giggle at the style of the past (looking at you– man in shortie-shorts and tall socks!); or appreciate the couples holding hands or friends singing and playing guitar on the beach. None of the people on the photographs are performing for a Facebook or Twitter following, hoping to get likes.

summer 4

Don’t take me wrong, I like social media and participate daily. I would never want to push the idea that somehow we – as a society – need to return to the “greatness” of the past. Though I like these photographs, I think technology and modern forms of socialization are fine but should be judged within a contemporary context.

Let’s just hope that in the future, whether near or far, another person may stumble upon this article on a summer afternoon and think about all of the little snapshots and memories that exist, immortalizing our lives — whether the names are included or not.

This post was written by Kyleigh Sapp.