HESAL Director, Dr. Don Lafreniere and Dr. Richelle Winker (MTU Sociologist) were recognized this week by the Dean Hemmer of the College of Sciences and Arts and for their creative, out-of-the-box approach to providing students with an experiential/service-learning opportunity.
In Fall 2019, students in two classes, Dr. Winkler's ‘SS4700 Communities and Research’ and Dr. Lafreniere's ‘SS4050/5050 Advanced GIS’, worked together on a project to conduct research to inform decision-making related to applying the 'Safe Routes to School' program to Houghton. This is a national program that promotes walking and biking to school in conjunction with safety education, infrastructure improvements, traffic enforcement, and incentives.
In the project, students analyzed current practices associated with students getting to and from Houghton schools, assessed the level of community interest in the goals of the Safe Routes program, determined potential issues associated with pursuing those goals. The goal was to provide community members with a solid base of data to inform decisions related to the Safe Routes program. Neither class could have conducted the research independently as well as they did through collaboration. Students in ‘Communities and Research’ could and did collect data through surveys, interviews, public meetings, and meetings with school and city officials (as that class focused on methodologies for accomplishing such tasks) but they could not perform the spatial analysis at a level needed to be useful. On the other hand, students in ‘Advanced GIS’ could perform the desired spatial analysis but they were not in a position to engage stakeholders at the level required to get this project going.
Winkler and Lafreniere came up with the idea of collaboration well before the semester started. They proactively scheduled their classes in overlapping time slots, which allowed students in the two classes to meet together for 50 minutes each week. The small class sizes--seven students were enrolled in one class and eight in the other—meant the group was small enough to keep everyone fully engaged.
All data and the final report are available on the Houghton Safe Routes to School website. The project also resulted in the establishment of a group to address the actions in the report called the Houghton Safe Routes to School Core Planning team.
Dean Hemmer praised their work as “an innovative way to integrate the work from two different courses into an exciting community research project.” He continued, “It is wonderful when Michigan Tech can give back to the community while simultaneously giving our students interesting and relevant research opportunities.”
Students saw extraordinary benefits; in addition to the typical course work, they learned from each other. Students in “Communities and Research” learned a good deal about spatial analysis using GIS and the “Advanced GIS” students learned a lot about how to conduct community-engaged research. Because of this synergy, both see the potential for implementing these kinds of collaborations in a variety of disciplines.
This week Geospatial Research Scientist Daniel J. Lizzadro-McPherson presented a paper at the Underwater Cultural Resources Public Access and Research Conference. Daniel's presentation examined how climate change, rising lake levels, and severe storm events are significantly impacting shores on Michigan's Great Lakes. Watch the video above from MLive to see the impacts of shoreline erosion on lakeside communities. The HESAL lab is assisting researchers, the public, and local agencies to plan and develop sustainably by using historical aerial imagery in a GIS to study historical shoreline change and identify areas that are at high risk of erosion. You can explore our work on this project in this interactive web-mapping application.
Students working on the Michigan Miners at Home and Work: Digitizing, Mapping, and Sharing Employee Records project recently visited the Michigan Tech Archives to take a tour and get acquainted with the employee records they will be scanning and transcribing.
These employee records are vast! They currently take up many shelves of storage in the archives. In addition to making these records available online for researchers, students, community members, and anyone interested, this project will also allow the archivists to move the physical records into deeper storage and free up the more readily accessible shelf space for other highly requested materials that are not online yet. This also provides a safer way to access these documents as it restricts over-handling of the materials.
Students also got a chance to take an in-depth look at the actual employee cards with archivists and project directors. These Calumet and Hecla Mining Company employee records have a host of work and personal information and will be a valuable resource to researchers and students. Students are currently training with the document scanner and are eager to start! Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates as this project grows.
See the new Story Map here!
The Keweenaw Time Traveler team uncovered over 50 student record books in the CLK High School in 2018. Since then a sample of the records have been scanned, transcribed, and mapped.
In order to map these student records, we utilized the Keweenaw Time Traveler’s historical geocoder (a tool used for rapidly mapping archival information). This linked the school records to specific locations of the homes and schools the children lived in and attended. To learn more about this mapping process, see the video below or visit our YouTube channel.
These records are especially valuable as they contain student information such as names, ages, grades, addresses, attendance records, and vaccination records. There are also notes recording when a student left the school, if applicable. Not only does this information tell us a lot about the children, but it can also be used to connect the children to other records in the Keweenaw Time Traveler through addresses and family members. This allows us to follow a person’s story through space and time.
We have also recently been invited to work on a book chapter concerning historical children’s mobility and migration. Historians and geographers have been studying adults and their home and work places for decades, but the daily activity spaces of children have received much less attention. This remains an area of fascination for researchers at the Keweenaw Time Traveler and we are using these school records to examine children's journey to school. Currently, we are analyzing the data and looking for relationships between student absences and vaccine rates, children's exposures to industrial pollutants, and to uncover the daily patterns of children's journeys to school. To see more about this project see the video below or visit our YouTube channel.
Now it’s your turn! Use the StoryMap to explore school children and their classes or visit the Keweenaw Time Traveler Explore App to find more family connections. Let us know what you find!
This StoryMap showcases some of the early work of this project and we are working to make these records available on the Explore App in the next year.
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!