Learning the history of Ishpeming’s Gossard Building

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula was the focus of Northern Michigan University’s Sonderegger Symposium Friday.

One topic presented was the historic Gossard Building in Ishpeming.

NMU student Glenda Ward told the history of the people who worked at the old Gossard Building during its 56-years of operation in Ishpeming.  In the 1940’s, the factory employed over 600 people, mostly women.  It was one of the few opportunities women had to work outside the home.

“If you weren’t a nurse and you weren’t a teacher and you weren’t a secretary, the Gossard gave women an opportunity to earn money,” NMU history department professor Robert Archibald said, “and that’s exactly why the Gossard Plant was located here (in Ishpeming) because the Gossards saw a number of women who were seeking employment.”
“So I think that if you live in the U.P., and you’re interested in how opportunities for women have evolved in the area, this is a really important topic.”

Ward said it is important to remember the Gossard Building because it has such a rich community history.

“It’s important to remember about the Gossard because that is where there’s a tie to unions, there’s a tie to labor, there’s a tie to family and community, and it’s still there today,” she said. “The building isn’t gone, the building is still there and they’re [the Ishpeming Area Historical Society] still actively involved in keeping the stories of the Gossard alive.”

The Sonderegger Symposium started fourteen years ago as a way to honor Professor Russell Magnaghi to celebrate U.P. culture and history.