Have you filled out the 2020 Census yet? The Census provides important information for funding your community's future by providing certain population statistics. But the Census can also be an important tool for studying the past. Here at the Keweenaw Time Traveler, researchers have been working to map census records from 1870 to 1940 to the exact house where people were living. These records should be available to the public on the Explore App by the end of 2020!
You can visit our YouTube channel to learn more about how we are mapping historical census data. Researchers at the Keweenaw Time Traveler have used census data in a variety of projects, including the Francophone Migration Project and the Historical Children's Health Project. Census data provides rich household information as well as allowing us to connect multiple primary sources across time and space. How have you used the Census?
The Historical Environments Spatial Analytics Lab welcomed Dr. Yves Frenette (Université de Saint-Boniface) and Dr. Marc Saint-Hilaire (Université Laval) from the Three Centuries of Francophone Migration in North America (1640-1940) partnership project. Drs. Frenette and Saint-Hilaire joined MTU HESAL's Dr. Don Lafreniere and Dr. Sarah Scarlett to discuss how to construct continent-wide partnerships with academic and community partners.
Major research initiatives and funding agencies are increasingly demanding the formation of large collaborative teams and partnerships. Formal partnerships between academic researchers and community partners can advance knowledge and understanding on critical issues of intellectual, social, economic and cultural significance. By fostering mutual cooperation and sharing of intellectual leadership, partnerships can innovate, build institutional capacity and mobilize research knowledge in accessible ways.
The Trois siècles de migration francophones en Amérique du Nord (Three Centuries of Francophone Migration in North America) project. This 7 year partnership project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada aims to highlight the central place of Francophone migrations in the genesis and evolution of North American populations over a period of three centuries. The team of community and university partners, researchers and collaborators are studying the collective and individual experience of Francophones, across spatial scales, as they settled the continent with approaches from the geospatial sciences, history, anthropology, geography, heritage, linguistics, folklore, and more. The project includes over 50 academic partners and over a dozen heritage and community partners, including several here in the Keweenaw.
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.