Archives Receives Grant


The Northern Michigan University Archives has received a $48,000 grant that will be used to process and organize collections documenting the political activity of former Upper Peninsula lawmakers Dominic Jacobetti, Pat Gagliardi and Charles Varnum.


The funding is provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, or NHPRC.


“This is a big coup for us because it will allow us to hire a professional archivist to work with student staff to prepare these donated collections for research,” said Marcus Robyns, NMU archivist. “We obtained some very good material that covers 50 years of political activity, but right now it is a disheveled mass. The project archivist will make sure the documents are in good condition, repair as necessary, and organize them. He or she will also prepare lesson plan packets for high school social studies classes that will teach students to use critical thinking skills in the analysis of primary sources.”


Robyns said other goals are to develop online search tools and a narrative guide to the collections. Both measures will make it more efficient for the general public to review the material and for students and scholars to conduct academic research. If time and resources permit, Robyns said the project archivist may digitize significant components of the political documents and make them available on the Web.


While the NMU Archives was established to maintain inactive university records, its role has expanded in recent years. It serves as a repository for local government records. Robyns also manages a regional historical manuscript collection.


“I actively identify and collect records of central Upper Peninsula individuals, businesses and civic organizations that may not be directly connected to NMU,” he added. “I have focused on labor as a movement and culture, the iron mining industry over the last 150 years or so, and government activity. The Jacobetti, Gagliardi and Varnum collections are the foundation of the political history material. But now I can approach current and retired Michigan lawmakers with this grant as an example of our success in this area and hopefully grow the collection even more.”


Robyns said he relies on external funding for the regionally focused acquisitions. The NHPRC grant is the first of many he expects to write.


“It is a very competitive grant and it represents acknowledgment on the part of the NHPRC of the success we have had evolving into a regional repository. Processing and organizing the political documents is a component of a larger, long-term goal. We want to document the history of the central Upper Peninsula, but we also want to create a body of material to sustain scholarship and support the curriculum and instruction.”




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Updated: July 27, 2004