University collects oral histories from mining families

HOUGHTON — If your family has a history in the Copper Country mines, your story could have a place in the Michigan Tech Archives. ABC 10’s Amanda L’Esperance has more.

The Michigan Tech Archives are on a mission to put history in the hands of those who lived it. They’re doing this by collecting oral histories from copper mining families.

The Archives are a collection of records, photographs and documents of Michigan Tech and the surrounding Copper Country area. It’s available for the community to find out more about the history of the area and even their own heritage. Senior Archivist Linsday Hiltunen says the upcoming project, serves to fill in those official records with personal accounts of Copper Country history.

Hiltunen said, “We have a lot of things related to corporate records and official documents from the copper companies, but these oral histories will allow people to, sort of, create the narrative and be a part of that local heritage. Instead of just one side of history, we’ll get the personal side as well.”

Many archived records are from the 19th into the 20th centuries, so these personal histories could fill gaps in the collection, such as how the closing of the mines affected traditional mining families. Communications and Research Assistant Sawyer Newman says the archives are looking for miners and their families or anyone with a story to tell about the mining community.

Newman said, “So, we’re going to be starting interviews in January and we’re working to schedule those now. So they’re going to go on for a couple of months and after that point we’re going to work on transcribing so that we can get them into our collections. People can contact us by emailing us at], or they can call us at 906–487–2505. And we’re going to have flyers distributed around the community too, so you can look for those.”

In Summer, 2016, the Archives will host an event to publicly display the collection.