Last week, Time Traveler team member Dan Trepal presented a paper at the Society for Historical Archaeology 2020 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology in Boston. Dan’s presentation showcased the ways that the Keweenaw Time Traveler serves as a great tool for public archaeology. The Keweenaw Time Traveler helps archaeologists to engage with the public by focusing on sites or even specific artifacts, while using the Time Traveler apps to provide a broader historical context – or perhaps connecting their research to specific people who lived in the Copper Country in the past. Conferences such as this are a great place for the Time Traveler team to share their findings and compare notes with other researchers who use similar methods or study similar themes and subjects. And, of course, to spread the word about the Keweenaw Time Traveler!
We are excited to announce that the Keweenaw Time Traveler has been awarded a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).
This project, called Michigan Miners at Home and Work: Digitizing, Mapping, and Sharing Employee Records, will support 6 Undergraduate students, 1 Master’s student, and 1 Archivist over 2 years. These new team members will help make a rare collection of 40,000 employee records from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company available for both academic and public use. Through partnerships between the Michigan Technological University Archives, Michigan Tech Social Sciences Department, and the Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab, this project will digitize and map an archival collection that provides insights into the lives of mine company workers and their families unavailable in other public records, including details like the types of jobs they worked, wages, previous employers, as well as injury and death records.
The Time Traveler team will be working to link these employee records through space and time by integrating them into the Keweenaw Time Traveler. These employee records contain addresses and family information that will help the student team to connect them at the household level with census and city directory records already in the Keweenaw Time Traveler. Once completed, users will be able to learn even more about how where miners lived and worked effected their life experiences. Digital images of the fully scanned employee cards will also be shared in the new Copper Mining Employee Card database on the MTU Archives’ Preservica-based platform much like the Copper Country Historical Images. We anticipate these new resources to be available to the public in early 2022.
Look for updates in this blog as the project moves forward! Public programming will include a few “Night at the Archives” programs, when you will be invited to come in after hours to learn more about the data extraction process and see the employee cards in person. You can even transcribe some of the hand-written cards yourself! Our Facebook and Twitter accounts will also keep you up-to-date. Check out WJMN to see more.
Principle investigators for this $240,014 grant are Sarah Fayen Scarlett (SS), Don Lafreniere (SS), and Lindsay Hiltunen (University Archivist). The CLIR grant program and its 2019 awards are made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. To learn more, visit www.clir.org and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Congratulations to Rose Hildebrandt our long-time Time Traveler on her graduation from Michigan Tech this weekend. She finished her degree in Psychology and is looking towards graduation school in the fall.
Faculty and students from the Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab were well represented at the annual meeting of the Social Science History Association in Chicago this past week.
Tim Stone and Don Lafreniere presented "Built Environment Determinants of Childhood Health in the Early 20th Century City." The paper uses data from the Copper Country Historical Spatial Data Infrastructure (The back end of the Keweenaw Time Traveler) to follow 1600 students in Calumet and Laurium through their daily journey to school and measure the potential risk from industrial activities in the region.
Gary Spikberg, Robert Pastel, and Don Lafreniere presented "A Semiautomated approach to Creating Record Linkages and High Resolution Geocoding Across Historical Datasets." This paper outlines the algorithms used to parse and map local city directories. Read more about them here.
Dan Trepal and Don Lafreniere presented "Understanding Cumulative Hazards in a Rustbelt City: Integrating GIS, Archaeology, and Spatial History." This paper presents a methodology for modelling industrial hazards across a city. It utilized data from the Imagining London Project
Director Don Lafreniere presented "Socio-Spatial Mobility and Urban Environments in the 19th Century City" and participated as a panelist discussing challenges and lessons learned in multi-year historical GIS projects.
See our new StoryMap about the Calumet Colosseum at:
The former mining town of Calumet is a prominent place within the Keweenaw Time Traveler. Recently Calumet’s indoor hockey rink, the Calumet Colosseum, was voted Kraft Hockeyville USA 2019. This annual competition recognizes important community hockey rinks across the USA and the finalists are nominated largely based on the strength of their “community story.” Each year’s winner receives $100,000 in rink upgrades and plays host to an NHL preseason match. This year, the Detroit Red Wings will play the St Louis Blues on September 26th – in the Calumet Colosseum!
So what makes the Calumet Colosseum’s story special enough to win a national competition? For starters, it is the oldest indoor hockey rink in the United States that is still in use, with the first puck having dropped way back in 1913! But that’s just the beginning. To help share the Colosseum’s story, the Keweenaw Time Traveler Team has built an interactive StoryMap to take a deeper dive into the Colosseum’s long history.
The KeTT team has pored over the collection of historical resources in the Keweenaw Time Traveler – historical maps, city directories, and other records – to shed light on the early years of the Colosseum, and the town of Calumet’s long association with hockey. Despite being located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, far from today’s NHL teams, the Colosseum is no stranger to professional hockey. In fact, in 1905 the very first professional hockey league season ever played in the USA was won by a team from Calumet!
But the most important part of the Colosseum’s story is the role it played, and continues to play, in the community. Thousands of professional, amateur, high school, and collegiate players have passed through its doors over the last century, and many thousands more spectators have come to see them play. We couldn’t possibly capture all of those stories in this StoryMap – but YOU can help us share the Colosseum’s story by sharing your own memories of this historic rink in the Keweenaw Time Traveler. Just go to the Keweenaw Time Traveler’s Explore app and click the “Share a Story” button to get started. Let’s show the world why there is no place that deserves the title “Hockeyville USA!” better than Calumet and the Colosseum!
(Today's blog post goes behind-the-scenes and features one of our Time Traveler Team members describing one of the many projects we've undertaken to expand the Keweenaw Time Traveler!)
Hi, my name is Charles and I’m one of the new research associates working on the Keweenaw Time Traveller. I’m a fourth-year anthropology student at Michigan Tech and this summer I’ve been mainly working on adding story points to the Keweenaw Time Traveler from historic sources. These help to give additional context to areas and buildings. So far, most of these stories have been from the National Park Service (NPS) which has done a terrific job of recording the past. For example, the article “Windows Into the Past” from the NPS website listed a number of locations in Calumet, formerly the town of Red Jacket, their addresses, and a small blurb about the history of the site. These are perfect for adding to the Time Traveler as the information is well researched and can somewhat easily be linked to specific places.
Now, for those who have used the Time Traveler, adding this information might seem like an easy task, given that it’s just finding an address and adding a story point. However, there’s a lot more to it than one may think. It’s a lot like detective work, using clues to find the exact location of a story. One of the biggest issues is actually finding the right address.
Compare these two pictures from the 200 block on Main Street Calumet, one from 1900 and the other from 1917. As you can see the numbering systems are entirely different! This makes putting down a story point difficult, though not impossible. This is where the detective work comes in. For one, reading the location’s story gives some good indicators, as it can show what the building was used for and when it was built. The historical maps help in this regard, as they often tell what a building was used for and you can change the year in the Time Traveler to get close to the date when it was built. Additionally, Google Maps street view is a big help. Each location listed in the NPS article has a picture of the building attached, which can be compared to buildings in street view.
While not all of the architectural features remain, such as the storefront above, larger features like columns and crenellations remain and can confirm a building's location and identity. This helped locate a number of buildings, although if major renovations happened or if the place got torn down it was a lot less help.
Finally, sometimes the description of locations would include who lived or owned the building. Using the Time Travellers ‘people’ search tool, it was easy to see who lived where and when, and then compare that with the story attached to the location. This cracked some of the tougher mysteries of location which didn’t have an address attached. Oftentimes, the owners of buildings would have their stores on the bottom floor while the families private residences would be on the upper ones. So by searching for a family name, you could find the buildings they owned rather easily.
Hopefully, going forward, regular contributors to the Time Traveller can use these same methods to add stories from other historical databases. It made it quite easy for me to add story points and learn about the historical context of the area. One of my favorite locations was the Lake Superior Produce building, which supplied Calumet with a good deal of its food in the early 1900s. The building and most of the surroundings are no longer there, and it’s interesting to see how much of the landscape of the town changed in 100 years. That’s all from me so far! I hope these techniques inspire other fellow time travelers to add some more stories about hard to find places!
In blog posts one and two, we described business directories and the methods we used to incorporate them into the historic spatial data infrastructure which enables the Keweenaw Time Traveler’s Explore app. In this post, we want to focus on the recently-added 1917 Houghton County business directory and demonstrate ways we use it for outreach and research. Specifically:
What separates business directories from city directories?
Business directories were not separate documents from city directories. The business directories were a sub-section of the larger city directory. In the Polk & Co. County Directory for 1917, city directories containing personal listings appear first, the business directory is second, and a farmer directory is third.
Many of our older Citizen Historians are familiar with phonebooks; our younger Citizen Historians possibly not. This same arrangement was used through the twentieth century in phonebooks. In phonebooks, residential information was listed at the front of the book in the white pages with businesses listed in the yellow pages and government offices listed in the blue pages. Yes, the pages were actually white, yellow, and blue enabling people to quickly navigate hundreds of pages. If you were looking for a mechanic, you might check in the category for “Automobile-Auto Repair.” We might also see category listings for "Mechanics" as their skills were not confined to automobiles.
Here’s an example of a business directory listing from the Keweenaw Time Traveler:
In the example above, Ruppe P & Sons ran a department store in the Village of Calumet in 1917. During this period, small businesses specializing in a single industry still existed. Women might go to a milliner to obtain a hat and then take their children to a confectioner for something sweet. Because Ruppe P & Sons sold many kinds of goods, they needed to advertise in multiple categories including:
Polk directories were printed bi-annually and could not be edited until a newer directory was developed two years later. This made listing in multiple categories both a necessity and a careful strategy for business owners. For younger Citizen Historians, imagine your favorite shop. Now, think about the different services they offer. What categories would they need to advertise within to make potential customers aware of all the services they offer?
How can we use business directory listings to delve into Copper Country history?
During our Copper TRACES programming, we use business directories and maps. We refer to ourselves and our fourth graders as detectives. We use these archival materials in ways they were never intended to be used, and we guide our Junior Detectives as they uncover historical clues.
The business directories are one of our clues, allowing us to better understand what took place within a building's walls. Sanborn fire insurance plans provide a great deal of information about our historic cities, but they cannot list every activity housed in a building. Business directories can help flesh out the story.
Using the geolocated business directories, we can identify some of the building's other uses:
Can our junior detectives answer all of these questions with the information available?
No, they cannot. The goal is to teach them how to get inspired by mapped archival records and develop questions we previously did not think to ask.
How can you access the business directory?
The 1917 Polk & Co. Houghton County Directory is already incorporated within the Keweenaw Time Traveler. When you select a building on the map, it will be outlined in red.
For buildings with multiple entries, the important thing to remember is that they are not duplicates. Each entry comes from a different category in the business directory and can be selected individually to see all of the records. You can confirm the category by viewing Details and the Source as Business Directory 1917.
Lessons from building the Keweenaw Time Traveler explored in a new publication in Journal of Community Heritage & Archaeology
HESAL Post-Doctoral researcher Dan Trepal, KeTT co-director Sarah Fayen Scarlett, and director Don Lafreniere have just published an article proposing that community-driven digital geospatial projects like the Keweenaw Time Traveler can help develop a sustainable compromise between protecting community heritage values and fostering economic development and regeneration in postindustrial communities.
This paper grew out of presentations given by Trepal and Scarlett at the Society for Historical Archaeology annual conference in New Orleans in January 2018. Thanks to Kaeleigh Herstad @RustBeltAnthro for co-organizing that panel and co-editing this special issue.
If you are connected to a research library you can access the paper here. If not, contact us for a copy!
HESAL Director Don Lafreniere recently co-authored an introductory article to a special issue on historical crowdsourcing in the journal Historical Methods.
You can read the paper "Working with the public in historical data creation" here.
HESAL Post-Doctoral Researcher Dan Trepal and Director Don Lafreniere recently published an article titled “Understanding Cumulative Hazards in a Rustbelt City: Integrating GIS, Archaeology, and Spatial History” in the journal Urban Science.
The article explores how researchers can use the same technology that underpins projects like the Keweenaw Time Traveler to understand the cumulative impact of industrial activity within modern postindustrial cities. This project examines the city of London, Ontario from the 1880s to the present. HESAL researchers drew on hundreds of historical maps and other records to digitally reconstruct a city’s historical built environment across 130 years of industrialization and deindustrialization. This reconstruction allowed us to identify ‘hotspots’ where industrial hazards may remain, even when hidden by later development.