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.
During our current pandemic, we all have had a lot of concerns about how COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person. One area we do not know a lot about is how the coronavirus disease is transmitted between school children in their day-to-day lives. To begin to answer these questions, researchers from Michigan Tech's Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab and the Keweenaw Time Traveler project have recently published a paper entitled, Schools as Vectors of Infectious Disease Transmission during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.
Conceptual contact network with schools as primary vectors for disease transmission
This study integrated three types of historical micro-data with a spatially–temporally linked Historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS) known as the Copper Country Historical Spatial Data Infrastructure (CC-HSDI). The CC-HSDI (also known as the Keweenaw Time Traveler) is built on temporally accurate Sanborn Fire Insurance Plans linking built, social, and environmental variables from 1880 to 1950. The paper utilizes a number of big historical, spatial datasets embedded with the Keweenaw Time Traveler to map and presents a novel model of ways that infectious disease evidently traveled through three schools in Calumet and Laurium during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The study highlights the utility of using historical microdata from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), which is data at the finest, non-aggregated level of precision. Together with HGIS to overcome challenges other studies have had in tracing historical pandemics.
Microdata-generated spatio-temporal patterns of disease transmission in schools during the 1918 pandemic
The results are a quasi-contact tracing method that highlights the key role that schools play as vectors of infectious disease transmission. By utilizing historical big data, like that found in the Keweenaw Time Traveler, we can inform present day models that aim to combat our most infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and others.
This past week, Drs. Sarah Fayen Scarlett and Don Lafreniere took part in separate presentations, connecting the Copper Country to larger patterns of migration in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Students of Copper Country history are well-acquainted with histories of Cornish, Italian, and Finnish immigrants, but by the early 1900s, the Keweenaw Peninsula hosted many more immigrant groups about which we are still learning. These groups of people lived and worked in our communities which inspire us to research their stories. With immigrant groups arriving from dozens of countries, there is a richness to our history worth researching. Their stories are worth telling.
One such group are the Francophone (French-speaking) immigrants, who came primarily from Quebec, Canada. French-Canadians and other Francophones represented nearly 25% of the entire population of the Copper Country from 1880-1900. Calumet's St. Anne Roman Catholic Church, now the Keweenaw Heritage Center, and Lake Linden's St. Joseph both served as spiritual homes for French Canadian Catholics in the Keweenaw, architectural footprints that testify to their numbers. Where did these people arrive from? What were their lives like in the Copper Country? How did they move about their communities? If they left, where did they move to?
St. Anne Roman Catholic Church (Calumet) and St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Lake Linden, courtesy of the Keweenaw Time Traveler
The Keweenaw Heritage Center and St. Joseph, courtesy of Copper Country Architects
anThe Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab and Keweenaw Time Traveler teams are partners in an international collaborative research project called Three Centuries of Francophone Migration in North America 1640–1940, which unites over 40 researchers in Canada, the US, the Caribbean, and Europe to better understand the historical experiences and contemporary relevance of French-speaking people throughout the continent. At Michigan Tech, researchers will use the Keweenaw Time Traveler and other resources to investigate the lives of French-Canadian migrants to the Copper Country, exploring their greater significance in the development of society and industry in the Upper Peninsula.
Dr. Scarlett had the honor of joining a bilingual public program hosted by the Centre De La Francophonie Des Amériques and the Québec Government Offices in Chicago, Boston, and Houston examining 3 centuries of French-Canadians in the United States. For those interested, their page hosts a free, bilingual recording of the program available for viewing. While other presenters gave broader overviews, Dr. Fayen-Scarlett presented a more specific microhistory, focusing on the life of Joseph Grégoire. Grégoire was born in Québec, Canada in 1833 and moved to the Copper Country, setting up a lumber mill and establishing a town named Gregoryville. Gregoryville reflected the anglicization of his family name and was a home for approximately 310 French-Canadians in 1870. Grégoire's influence is still felt in the Copper Country today thanks to his support of the first St. Joseph Church in Lake Linden by donating the necessary lumber for its construction. This first building was later replaced in 1912 by the Jacobsville Sandstone building we recognize today. Some of this research was completed with undergraduate history major Brooke Batterson. Check out the story map she made!
Joseph Grégoire courtesy of Dr. Du Long's Acadian and French Canadian Genealogy (left) and the Gregoryville Sawmill courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives Copper Country Historical Images (right)
Dr. Lafreniere, presented as part the Midis du Centre interuniversitaire d'études québécoises on the integration of the Francophone Migration project and the Keweenaw Time Traveler's historic spatial databases. Dr. Lafreniere began with an overview of the concept of Deep Mapping, which is a way of studying spatial patterns while also developing rich, spatial narratives through the use of maps, aerial photos, oral interviews, newspaper articles, and letters and journals. By providing this background information, Dr. Lafreniere was able to contextualize the power and research capacity of a historical spatial data infrastructure (HSDI), such as the one powering the Keweenaw Time Traveler.
A Deep Map's consolidation of archival sources courtesy of Dr. Don Lafreniere
The HSDI powering the Keweenaw Time Traveler hosts the records and powers our inquiry into the Francophone migration across North America including census data between the years 1870 and 1940, city directories, enumeration district maps and descriptions, and French Canadian surname dictionaries. Dr. Lafreniere highlighted the challenges of this research such as inconsistent census questions, the anglicization of names (such as Gregory instead of Grégoire), and enumeration/transcription errors. His presentation highlighted the tools we use to face these challenges, explored the indicators of social mobility, and introduced the Francophone Migration Project Portal for those interested in exploring the data.
The Keweenaw Time Traveler Team is honored to share the importance of our region's heritage, and we are pleased and humbled that we may share these stories to national and international audiences. We also want to thank our teammate Gary Spikberg for his research in identifying the French-Canadian diaspora and his efforts in their mapping.
The Keweenaw Time Traveler's Explore App is getting an overhaul—at last! Since we launched in late 2017, the Explore App has been growing. The city directory data already connected to Sanborn Fire Insurance Plans have been joined by business directories and additional color maps. The most exciting growth has come from users adding story points. People add newspaper clips, memories of their families, and students add their historical research. There's even a recent marriage proposal story!
But also a lot of growth has been happening behind the scenes. Faculty, staff, and students in Michigan Tech's Geospatial Research Facility have been developing historical data sets to be mapped. An amazing set of records from the Calumet Schools have been transcribed and mapped. Census records from 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 are almost complete. A set of almost 40,000 Calumet & Hecla employee cards are also being digitized, transcribed, and mapped thanks to a major grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources. Most importantly, the individual names in all of these records are being connected to one another and to residences on the maps so you will be able see connections between people and places over time.
Until now, however, the Explore App has not had the capacity to make these additional historical records available. But thanks to a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and additional funding from the Advisory Commission of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, we are redesigning the Explore App to make more data more accessible to more people. We have teamed up with Monte Consulting in Houghton, a nationally recognized web developer to create a powerful and beautiful new Explore App.
In December 2020, we held the first of several design charrettes to get guidance from users and colleagues. Thanks to all who participated! Your feedback helped us and Monte move forward. Right now, programming is underway and we can't wait to show you an updated version and get more of your ideas. Keep an eye open for announcements in the Spring!
History is about the people who lived it, and archival material has allowed us a glimpse into the lives of early migrants from Quebec, Canada to the Keweenaw. The HESA Lab is a partner in an international collaborative research project called Three Centuries of Francophone Migration in North America 1640–1940, which unites over 40 researchers in Canada, the US, the Caribbean, and Europe to better understand the historical experiences and contemporary relevance of French-speaking people throughout the continent. At Michigan Tech, researchers will use the Keweenaw Time Traveler and other resources to investigate the lives of French-Canadian migrants to the Copper Country explore their greater significance for the development of society and industry in the Upper Peninsula.
Undergraduate history major Brooke Batterson has been learning more about one of the first families to arrive from Québec after industrial mining got underway who settled in a place that came to be known as Gregoryville (near Lake Linden). She has created a Story Map, which provides an immersive experience with historical maps and archival images to explore, as well as stories to read and share.
Sarah Scarlett, assistant professor of history, and Don Lafreniere, associate professor of geography and GIS, in the Social Sciences department, will use the Keweenaw Time Traveler and a combination of spatial and archival datasets to focus specifically on whether French-Canadians were socially mobile as they migrated from Canada to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the period of 1860 to 1940.