The Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab faculty, staff, and students presented a number of new projects at the Social Science History Association meeting in Philadelphia this week.
Tim Stone (Senior Research Associate) The Daily Space of Youth: Investigating the Importance of Built and Social Environments to Health in the Industrial City.
Dr. Don Lafreniere (Project Director) What Historical Micro-Spatial Data Can Teach us about Schools as Vectors of Epidemiological Events like COVID-19.
Gary Spikberg (Senior Research Associate) Integrating Deep Mapping and Virtual Reality for Heritage Interpretation.
James Juip (Senior Research Associate) Utilizing the IPUMS Multigenerational Longitudinal Panel to trace industrial worker migration throughout the rust belt and beyond.
Dr. Dan Trepal (Senior Geospatial Research Scientist) Visualizing Narratives of Persistence in Flint: The Flash Project.
While the Keweenaw Time Traveler Team have been busy planning future public events, we have also continued doing scholarly research using the Time Traveler. Team member Dan Trepal, writing with co-authors and fellow team members Don Lafreniere and Tim Stone, have published a paper in the Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, part of a special issue on ‘Spatial Computation in Archaeology and History.’ Our paper demonstrates how the Time Traveler team uses historical spatial data to aid in archaeological research. Using case study projects undertaken by MTU researchers in places like Calumet and at the Quincy Smelter in Ripley, we explain how our detailed and layered representations of past landscapes can benefit archaeologists working in the Copper Country in several ways. These include: using the historical data in the Time Traveler to help plan fieldwork and contextualize discoveries at specific locations such as the site of a Chinese Laundry in Calumet; visually combining multiple historical maps, blueprints, and aerial photos to guide remote sensing investigations at the Quincy Copper Smelter looking for buried structures within the complex; and modeling past industrial pollution generation to identify the highest-risk neighborhoods in the Calumet-Laurium area a century ago. The paper has been published electronically and is available here.
Michigan Tech students are the lifeblood of the Michigan Miners at Home and Work project. Since January 2020, our team has been scanning and transcribing employee cards in the Calumet & Hecla Mining Companies collection in the Michigan Tech Archives. One of our most dedicated students is leaving and we want to celebrate her achievements!
Cas Tuson has transcribed over 7000 employee cards. That's almost 20 cards a day over the course of a year and about 20% of the total cards transcribed for the project. That's a lot! We will miss her dedication and the energy she brought to the team.
Cas received a B.S. in Applied Physics in Spring 2021 (and she made Dean's List!). We asked her how her skills from Physics lab helped her work on the Mapping Michigan Miners project:
After spending a year reading and creating metadata from these employee cards, Cas also reflected on just how much she could get to know a person's story from the information kept by the Calumet & Hecla company:
Cas is heading off to the University of Idaho to study planetary physics. Best of luck in all your future endeavors and please stay in touch! You can follow our progress on this project by keeping an eye on this Project News page and our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
On Wednesday morning, Time Traveler Timothy Stone, recent graduate of our BS in Sustainability Sciences and Society program (and incoming Industrial Heritage & Archaeology MS student) presented a paper at the Society for the History of Children and Youth International Conference. Timothy’s presentation was modelled off a paper that is currently under review which attempts to illuminate the importance of using individual-level records (as we do in the Keweenaw Time Traveler) when studying children’s spaces. Whereas many researchers use only census locations to examine children’s spaces, we were able to integrate school records as well, giving us a more wholistic understanding of the quality and hazards these students faced every day. Stay tuned for more updates.
Mary Probovich, an 8th grade student in Washington High School, travelled through some heavily industrialized areas on her way to and from school each day. In addition, her school was bordered by railroad tracks, and was about 100 meters away from Calumet and Hecla’s Shaft #2. Despite her home being in a residential location, we predict she experienced some of the harshest built environments throughout the day out of our sample!
Combining the predicted quality of children’s various activity spaces shows much more variation than when scholars simply rely on census locations, which essentially provide a picture of night-time exposure. This ignores children’s mobility and the fact that they are exposed to hazards as they move throughout the day.
Did you know the Keweenaw is hosting the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s annual conference in 2024? Members of the Geospatial Research Facility, Michigan Tech’s Social Science Department, and local community members are already hard at work preparing for this event.
The Vernacular Architecture Forum is known as North America’s premier organization focused on the study of ordinary buildings and structures. Members come from all across North America and are interested in a wide variety of scholarly fields including history, geography, landscape history, historic preservation, and architectural history. Recent conferences have been held in Durham NC, Salt Lake City UT, Philadelphia PA. The future conference schedule includes trips to San Antonio Tx, and Plymouth MA, before arriving in the Keweenaw in 2024.
In the fall of 2020, Dr. Sarah Fayen Scarlett and nine students in the Documentation of Historic Structures class worked to document the tourism landscapes present in Copper Harbor for their inclusion into the 2024 conference tour and guidebook. Field work in Copper Harbor centered around the Minnetonka Resort which was founded in 1938 as a cabin camp to accommodate automobile tourists attracted to the area by the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge and other tourist infrastructure developed by the Keweenaw County Road Commission and funded by the WPA. Students used a mixed methods approach based in architectural fieldwork and historical research to interpret how, over the following eighty years, the Minnetonka Resort worked to adapt to national trends in automobile travel and outdoor recreation.
This research in Keweenaw County is continuing over the summer. Dr. Scarlett and 4 graduate students from the Social Science department and the University of Wisconsin—Madison have arrived back from a week of field work in Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor. The team documented the assistant lightkeepers’ houses and other structures at the Eagle Harbor lighthouse (whose original design plans exist in U.S. Coast Guard Records) as well as a group of 1930s cabins on Harbor Lane in Copper Harbor. This kind of documentation includes measuring the buildings inside and out to create field notes using graph paper and an architectural scale. Later in the summer, students will create final drawings using SketchUp, a computer drafting program. These floor plans (and a few elevations) will appear in the guidebook created for VAF conference attendees to use as they visit the sites in 2024. Thank you to the Keweenaw County Historical Society and the homeowners who hosted the group!
Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming VAF conference, and how you can help contribute to making this exciting event a reality! Over the next few years, Dr. Scarlett will be working with students and colleagues to develop tours that highlight industrial mining landscapes as well as sites in southern Houghton County.
Dr. Scarlett has a forthcoming book titled Company Suburbs: Architecture, Power, and The Transformation of Michigan's Mining Frontier (University of Tennessee Press 2021), and she being the Project Director for the major grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, Digitizing Hidden and Special Collections and Archives for Michigan Miners at Home and Work: Digitizing, Mapping, and Sharing Employment Records, a project focusing on transcribing, mapping, and record linking 40,000 employee cards from the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company.
Under Drs. Scarlett and Lafreniere, the Keweenaw Time Traveler has continued to grow. We recently received an additional National Endowment for the Humanities, Digital Humanities grant which will fund our deep mapping efforts through 2023.
Financial assistance for this project was provided, in part, by the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and is supported through a grant under the National Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, administered by the Office for Coastal Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.