Overview of the Collections
Based upon an article originally published by Robert D. Patterson and David H.
Thomas in the Historical Society of Michigan's Chronicle, 1973
Revised and updated by Erik C. Nordberg, 1999
Newspaper on Microfilm
Mining Company Collections
Area Business Collections
Collections of Personal Papers
Local Public Records
The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical
Collections includes a wide variety of print, graphic and manuscript resources.
Subject coverage includes University and campus life, towns and cities in the
Keweenaw, and companies, social organizations, events and personalities of the
Copper Country and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The department maintains a collection of books and journals comprising over
7500 titles. Many date to the earliest days of the University (founded in 1885
as the Michigan Mining School) and include a fine collection of nineteenth
century mining and engineering texts and magazines. A variety of Keweenaw
mining company publications have been amassed, including a collection of annual
reports covering the activities of area copper mining companies from the 1840's
to the present. The Archives continues to acquire published material, with a
focus on Upper Peninsula and Keweenaw history. Although books and serial titles
do not circulate outside the department (and are generally not available to
other institutions through interlibrary loan), all titles are described on the
library's online catalog and
are available for research use in the Archives Reading Room.
The Archives has maintained subject-oriented vertical files, also known as
clippings files, since the late 1970's, though many individual files contain
information dating to much earlier periods. Material is clipped from a variety
of local newspapers and magazines as well as pamphlets, flyers and other
published items. Clippings files cover the full range of subject areas,
including companies, towns, events and people. Files compiled by the Archives
staff on specific mining companies are augmented by a separate set of abstract
files compiled by the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company. Updated daily, the
vertical files of the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
provide an important ongoing historical resource to the University campus and
local historical communities.
The Archives collections of photographs is comprised of well over ten thousand
photographic images deposited with the Library and Archives over the years.
This invaluable visual resource includes prints, negatives and slides covering
many aspects of University and Copper Country history. A selection of reference
prints, arranged by subject content, are accessible to researchers in the
Reading Room and other collections are available for review by request.
The Archives may produce prints of images for a fee and arrangements can be
made for use of images in publications.
The department's historical map collection is composed of lake survey charts,
mineral and mining, land ownership, topographical and road maps dating from
1855 to the present. An important series of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are
available on microfilm, charting Keweenaw Peninsula towns and mining locations
in great detail for the period 1884-1949. These maps are a useful addition to
other collections, graphically charting the development of towns, cities,
industry and society in the Copper Country.
A wide variety of engineering drawings, tracings and blueprints have been
acquired with the department's manuscript collections. Material donated by
Universal Oil Products in 1979, for instance, includes collection of over
18,000 engineering drawings compiled by the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company.
Although some of this material is not currently available for general research
use, these items promise to provide important insights into technological
developments in nineteenth century hard rock mining and the companies, towns
and individuals that guided their growth.
NEWSPAPERS ON MICROFILM
Recognizing the important place of newspapers in the historical record, there
is an ongoing effort to obtain and preserve as many local titles as possible.
In cooperation with the Michigan Newspapers on Microfilm Project and subsequent
Upper Peninsula Newspapers Project, numerous local newspapers have been
collected and made available for filming. To date the Archives has more than
twenty Copper Country newspaper titles on over 300 rolls of microfilm, covering
daily and weekly newspapers form 1856 to the present. To facilitate access to
these materials, microfilm readers and printers are available.
One of the primary missions of the department is to record the development and
history of the University. While the Archives does not function at the present
time as a comprehensive records retention facility, a variety of university
records are sought and collected as being of permanent historical value. These
include faculty and departmental publications, minutes of significant
administrative bodies and many noncurrent documents from key University
departments. The department is also home to the University's primary collection
of graduate theses and dissertations. Detailed information concerning
University records is available from the Archives
The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections maintains a rich
variety of manuscript material on the people, towns, companies and social
organizations of Michigan's Copper Country, particularly during the boom era
running from the 1870's through the 1920's. While each of the department's
manuscript collections contains unique information of interest to prospective
researchers, several groups of material deserve to be highlighted:
MINING COMPANY COLLECTIONS
The Archives' manuscript collections include broad coverage of the complex web
of copper mining companies that have operated on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Three
of the more important companies represented through large manuscript
collections are the Copper Range Company, the Quincy
Mining Company and the Calumet & Hecla Consolidated
Mining Company. These three key collections, measuring well over 1200 cubic
feet (excluding engineering drawings), include manuscript material concerning
other enterprises subsumed in their operations and compliment smaller
collections documenting hundreds of other Keweenaw mine, mill, and smelter
operations. Mining collections contain many types of material of interest to
historical researchers, including (but not limited to) records of capital stock
and boards of directors, financial statements and accounting records, various
sets of correspondence, underground survey documents and maps charting
development work, ore production and shipment records, and personnel records,
including employment and medical records. In conjunction with the department's
books, clippings files, abstract files and graphic collections, these unique
primary documents offer unique opportunities for research on individual mining
ventures dating to the 1840's as well as broader historical analyses of the
Lake Superior copper industry as a whole.
AREA BUSINESS COLLECTIONS
One of the department's ongoing interests has been to acquire the records of
non-mining business ventures in the Copper Country. Among the many sets of
documents in the collections are records of the Copper Range Railroad, Copper
Range Motor Bus Company, and the Bosch Brewing Company. The Wesley Perron
Collection includes photos and information about numerous area railroad
companies, abstracted from a wide range of sources. Among the thousand items in
the Roy Drier Collection are land, personal and business records from the R.S.
Shelden Company and several other Keweenaw County businesses. Other industries
are represented in collections like the Hamar Collection, with its maps, photos
and personal recollections of the Worcester and Sturgeon River Lumber
Companies. Further acquisitions are sought in this area to round out the
economic picture of the Northern Upper Peninsula during the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries.
COLLECTIONS OF PERSONAL PAPERS
In addition to corporate and business records, the Archives has also acquired a
number of important collections of personal papers. One of these, the Brockway
Family Collection, includes diaries-contained within the
Brockway Diary Collection, correspondence, and photographs
describing the lives of Daniel and Lucena Brockway, two of Keweenaw County's
early residents. Mrs. Brockway was one of the first white women to reside west
of the Sault and her thirty diaries,
dating from 1865 to 1897, reveal the day-to-day struggles of the earliest
pioneers in the Lake Superior copper country.
Other collections of personal papers span a wide range of topical and temporal
areas. The Hoffman Collection contains the personal correspondence of Dr. L.L.
Hubbard, state geologist, professor and mine manager. The James Fisher
Collection consists largely of his correspondence during a long association
with the Michigan Tech campus. Fisher was very active with the school's alumni
association and published a variety of material concerning the history of
Michigan's Copper Country. The Scott Turner Collection charts his tenure as
Director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines and also documents his management of the
Longyear mining interests in Spitzbergen. Researchers interested in Isle Royale
should examine the Ben Chenoweth Collection. The materials cover many aspects
of the Lake Superior island, including prehistoric and historic mining sites,
as well as fishing, lumbering, marine and tourism activities. Correspondence,
personal recollections as well as historic documents, photographs and maps
round out this collection.
LOCAL PUBLIC RECORDS
In the summer of 1972, the Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical
Collections became a Regional Depository for state, county and municipal
documents. Working through the Michigan State Archives, governmental agencies
may place certain noncurrent records on deposit in the Archives for use by
residents, genealogists and historical researchers. The region embraces six
counties in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula: Iron and Gogebic counties and
the four Copper Country counties of Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga and Ontonagan.
Governmental records currently on deposit are predominantly from Houghton and
Keweenaw counties and include survey and tax records, voting rolls, Circuit
Court documents (including divorce decrees), jail records and records of
district school boards. See the index to Local
Public Records for a detailed listing of these holdings.
The Archives is committed to making historical materials available to all
researchers who may profit from the use of its holdings. Efforts to develop a
regional history collection, accessible to layman and scholar alike, have been
rewarded by an increasing amount of use. Development of curricula in the social
sciences, particularly the University's graduate program in industrial
archaeology, along with the recent establishment of the Keweenaw National
Historical Park, underlie a new awareness of potential areas of research for
students, faculty and other historical researchers.
The Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical
Collections is open Monday through Friday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Registration
forms and information are available at the Archives reference desk on
the garden level of the J.R. Van Pelt Library in the heart of the Michigan Tech
campus in Houghton, Michigan.
Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
J.R. Van Pelt Library
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295