Michigan Tech Archives Recognized as National Heritage Site

The Michigan Tech Archives in the Van Pelt and Opie Library is now a Keweenaw National HIstorical Park heritage site.
The Michigan Tech Archives in the Van Pelt and Opie Library is now a Keweenaw National Historical Park heritage site.

Michigan Technological University’s Archives has long been a popular spot for students, researchers and locals to find information.  Many come to view the abundant records, search the photographs of the area and Michigan Tech, research family history or look at the collections of old newspapers.  Now, however, the Michigan Tech Archives offer the added attraction of recognition as a Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) heritage site.

“It’s really great,” says Julie Blair, interim University archivist and strategic initiatives librarian. “It’s nice to get the formal recognition. It creates more opportunities for us to collaborate with the other participating heritage sites, such as the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, the Houghton County Historical Museum and the Calumet Theatre. It also makes us eligible for additional support from the park, such as funding for various grants and displays.”

She hopes that now, with heritage site status, the Archives will see an increase in out-of-town visitors, including summer tourists, who come to learn about the area.

“We are working on an exhibit that we hope will be interesting to those anticipated visitors, and we would like to include aspects that appeal to travelers who come here with families,” Blair said.  “They don’t necessarily think of archives as a vacation destination spot.”

The Archives collections focus on social, cultural and economic aspects of the Western Upper Peninsula and Michigan Tech.  They collect, preserve and make accessible the records of the past.

“The Archives is one of the area’s richest cultural resources,” says Blair. “We have the largest collection of historical documents about local history in the western UP. The National Historic Park Establishment Act, which went before the House of Representatives in 1992, actually cited the Michigan Tech Archives as one of the University’s ‘outstanding resources’.”

Blair explains that the Archives has a significant manuscript collection--7,000 cubic feet of books and papers to be exact--and that the Archives can, and has, acted as a referral for the KNHP. The Archives can promote park resources and guide people to other resources as well. Visitors come to the Archives for research, and the Archives always tries to point them in the right direction.  

“It’s neat for people to come and see how things have changed and how things haven’t changed,” Blair remarks.  

When asked if she was proud, Blair responded, “I think that the Archive’s collections really speak for themselves. This is about the collections and the services that we offer.  I think that it adds to, and raises, our national profile as a significant cultural resource, not only for the area but as part of our national history.”  

The Michigan Tech Archives is located on the lower level of the Van Pelt and Opie Library.  It is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.