Archives Obtains Stupak, Prusi Papers

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives has obtained the papers of former Congressman Bart Stupak and former Michigan State Senator and State Representative Mike Prusi. Another recent acquisition are records of the Bay de Noquet Lumber Company and Oconto Lumber Company, which offer a glimpse of the logging industry and its pivotal role in the formative history of the region.


Marcus Robyns (Archives) said the archives had never collected congressional papers before Stupak agreed to turn over many documents from his 18 years in office.


“There are memos, notes, correspondence, calendars, a visitors’ registry and audio-visual materials produced by his office,” Robyns said. “It amounts to great documentation of what happened in the Upper Peninsula and the nation and how Bart was involved. His tenure included some newsworthy events: Iraq, Clinton’s impeachment, free trade and the Accutane controversy. There are a lot of interchanges with other congressmen and drafts of legislation.”


With assistance from NMU Trustee Jon LaSalle, Robyns worked with the congressman’s office to determine which papers would be donated and which would be retained by Stupak. The latter includes material related to the Obama administration’s health care bill. About 120 cubic feet of printed and electronic material was transferred to campus. Robyns plans to write a federal grant through the National Archives to process the records.


Prusi completed an eight-year term in the Michigan Senate in December. He previously served three terms with the state Legislature, succeeding Dominic Jacobetti. Robyns said he spent a day in Lansing with Prusi’s staff to offer guidance on the type of records that could be turned over to the archives.


“His papers don’t just cover his senatorial career, but his days as a representative and as president of United Steelworkers of America Local 4950 in Negaunee.”


Robyns collected the Bay de Noquet Lumber Company and Oconto Lumber Company records from Nahma, a small town on the Garden Peninsula. Russ Magnaghi (History) had stopped by the Nahma Historical Society, located in an old church. He discovered it held a mountain of old records from the lumber company, which owned most of the land in Delta County. Magnaghi told Robyns, who contacted the society president, made a trip to the museum and secured the donation after discussing long-term use and preservation of the collection.


“This builds on the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mining Company (CCI) records we previously obtained. When you combine Bay de Noquet’s with CCI’s lumber and land division—the biggest lumber land owner in the U.P.—you get a good idea of the peak lumber period in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. The Bay de Noquet documents include extensive board of directors’ minutes and information on the species of trees and the amount of each that was harvested. The local school board met in a company building, so those are also in the collection and offer interesting insight into rural education during the Depression. Scholars interested in Upper Great Lakes logging history or students of history, archaeology or environmental history stand to benefit from this collection.”


Retired Olson Library cataloger Stephen Peters has volunteered to process the records. He reported that the Oconto Company was based in northern Wisconsin and began to sell Bay Noquet shares to its stockholders and employees because of state tax laws. Each company had a separate management structure, but there was a single board of directors. Both appear to have ceased operations in the 1950s.



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Updated: March 31, 2011

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