Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

People, Place and Time
Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara, 1874-1934
J. W. Nara in Uniform
Image #:
Nara No Neg 2010-02-04-01


John W. Nara
Emigrating from Finland in the 1890s, J.W. Nara became one of the Copper Country’s first commercial photographers. His images of the rural, urban, and industrial life of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula represent one of the best documents of the growing copper mining region. Nara translated the success of his studio into a growing portfolio of timber lands in the region, becoming one of the first advocates for selective logging practices.

Onni Nara
Image #: Acc-05-097A-015
William O. Nara
The only child of the professional photographer, William Onni Nara’s childhood is particularly well-documented in photographs. Known as “Onni” to his family and childhood friends, William eventually resettled to lower Michigan and served as a professional fire fighter for the City of Detroit for more than 20 years. Upon his retirement back to the Copper Country, he was instrumental in forming the Bootjack Fire Department. William Nara was responsible for preserving many of his father’s original photographs and entrusting them to the care of the Michigan Tech Archives.
Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara
Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara
Growing up on the lands of his father and grandfather in Bootjack, Robert Nara completed his schooling at Lake Linden High School, undertook dental training, and operated a dental practice in Houghton for several decades. Founder of Oramedics International, an organization promoting preventative dentistry, Dr. Nara and Ruth, his wife of more than 50 years, continue to work the family’s forest lands near Bootjack. The couple practices “catalyst philanthropy” through the Nara Foundation, providing funding to local heritage organizations, recreational trail systems, and animal protection agencies.
Visit Nara Nature Park on the web

About this exhibit

People, Place and Time is a multimedia exhibit available as a walk-through display, pamphlet and web site.

Information about hosting the traveling exhibit

Download the pamphlet (3 megs)

The exhibit's text was written by Erik Nordberg and Julia Blair.

Layout and graphic design by Cranking Graphics.

A sampling of J.W. Nara's photos are also available in Copper Country Chronicler: The Best of J.W. Nara by Deborah K. Frontiera.
Each purchase provides a $10 donation to Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections.