A Superior Award

Center for Upper Peninsula Studies honored by state history group

Russell Magnaghi, left, a co-founder of the Center for Upper Peninsula Studies, accepts the 2018 Superior Award from Historical Society of Michigan Trustee Kendall Wingrove. The recognition went to CUPS for its work in preserving and advancing U.P. history. (Photo courtesy of the HSM)

MARQUETTE — The Center for Upper Peninsula Studies is the recipient of this year’s Superior Award, given by the Historical Society of Michigan.

CUPS, as well as Lindsay Hiltunen of Hancock, who won the Charles Follo Award, took the top honors at the society’s 69th annual Upper Peninsula History Conference held June 23 at the Little Bear East Arena & Community Center in St. Ignace.

The Superior Award recognizes the achievements of historical societies, museums and other history-related organizations. The Charles Follo Award acknowledges the work of an individual.

CUPS Director Gabe Logan is a history professor at Northern Michigan University.

“The center’s mission is to preserve and disseminate the history of the Upper Peninsula,” Logan said. “We do a lot of recording of that history and make it available to the public, and this takes its form usually in oral interviews, but we also do a peer review academic journal that’s centered on life in the Upper Peninsula.”

The annual publication is called “Upper Country: A Journal of the Lake Superior Region.”

It’s one of the few peer review journals, if not the only peer review journal, that comes out of NMU, Logan said.

It generally includes articles contributed by academics and laypeople that focus on some aspect of the U.P. and at times the Great Lakes region.

“It can be anything from history to geography,” Logan said. “We’ve had literature, photography. We try to keep those boundaries loose. We just tend to emphasize the focus of our region.”

People submit their articles to CUPS, with the articles sent to other academics to proofread, challenge their arguments and ensure the footnotes and documentation are accurate, he said. The pieces then are sent back to the authors for revisions if needed.

Founded in 1994, CUPS is located in Gries Hall. Logan said the Center was founded by Russell Magnaghi, professor of history emeritus and CUPS research associate, and the late John Anderton, who was a geography professor and head of NMU’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Geological Sciences.

“I’m standing on the shoulder of giants with this one,” Logan said.

Magnaghi said CUPS was the brainchild of Michael Marsden, dean of the NMU College of Arts and Sciences at the time.

“The whole thing was to promote the heritage of the entire Upper Peninsula,” said Magnaghi, who pointed out that even today, there’s no one entity that promotes the entire U.P., even with the presence of different historical societies that he said do a good job.

He noted parts of the U.P. are disconnected.

“For instance, Menominee has a whole different history — industrial, agricultural — and when you go down there and talk to the people, they’re, like, ‘Gee, nobody from Marquette has ever visited us,'” Magnaghi said.

The focus of CUPS is to change that disconnection.

The idea of the center was to work with the local people and pull the “unknown history” together, said Magnaghi, who was gratified to see local historians create things like videos and books, and CUPS ultimately receiving recognition.

CUPS also hosts the annual Sonderegger Symposium, sponsored by the Sonderegger family, which Logan said includes speakers addressing a variety of topics.

This year’s symposium, he said, is set for Sept. 7 on the NMU campus, where presenters will speak about everything from President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to the U.P. to the history of the Hiawatha Music Festival.

Logan said that Magnaghi and several of his colleagues and friends collected about 25 years of oral histories, which were in the archives.

“With the advent of technology, we’ve been able to take those tapes and transcribe them and put them over the internet,” Logan said.

An online search starting from nmu.edu/upperpeninsulastudies/home-page would bring up topics such as mining and logging. A talk by prospector and explorer Robert Mahin dated Nov. 23, 2004, for example, focuses on the discovery of rich zinc mineral deposits in Menominee County and gold prospecting in the U.P.

Under the category of athletics, Tom Sodergren talks about his involvement with the Ishpeming Ski Club, ski jumping in general and ski jump engineers.

“It has a two-fold purpose with this,” Logan said. “It preserves the snapshots of living in the Upper Peninsula and it also provides a resource for scholars and interested laypeople that are looking at our region.”

Does CUPS complement the Marquette Regional History Center in its mission?

Logan said CUPS does collaborate, but there’s at least one difference.

“I think we tend to look more at the academic aspect of it as opposed to a popular history,” he said.

The Superior Award generally has been given to institutions in smaller towns, said Logan, who noted that when he showed the historical society what CUPS was doing in the realm of oral histories, its publication and the Sonderegger Symposium, it realized the center should be recognized for its efforts.

According to the HSM, this year’s Upper Peninsula History Conference was a record-setting event, with nearly 300 participants — about a 35 percent increase over previous years.

Hiltunen, who received the Charles Follo Award, transformed the Michigan Technological University Archives and enhanced the access, research and outreach programs. As the MTU archivist, Hiltunen introduced the university’s archival collections to K-12 students with local school programs, spearheaded projects focusing on underrepresented aspects of U.P. history and worked with newsrooms to introduce U.P. topics into stories and news features throughout Michigan.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal .net.