Oral History Collections of the Upper Peninsula


The Northern Michigan University and Regional Oral History Collection

The Northern Michigan University Audio Collection consists of faculty, staff, alumni, and student life interviews. The collection also contains historical interviews concerning the university and the former J.D. Pierce School. The collection includes lectures from the McGoff Lecture series with lectures from Gerald Ford and Alexander Ginzberg, among others. The collection also consists of debates, press conferences, presidential addresses, and special events, such as dedications, musical events, and commencements. Personal collections are also included from Lulu Ervast and Sam Cohodas. Student oral history projects include interviews pertaining to World War II and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Regional Oral History interviews include topics such as the Ishpeming Ski Hall of Fame, iron mining, local celebrations, and events. Some of the interviews also deal with ethnicities in the Upper Peninsula, including an interview with Carl Pallompaa, known for his Sunday morning Finnish related television program.

The Red Dust Project Oral History Collection

Students of the former National Mine School followed by Aspen Ridge Middle School conducted numerous oral history interviews from 1983-2000. From these interviews, they wrote and produced 17 books titled “Red Dust” as part of the Red Dust local history project. Maxine Honkala, Sharon Richards and Bobbi Ameen directed the project. The student’s received national and state awards for the documentaries which they produced for National History Day. This collection contains 800 interviews.

The Italian-American Immigrant Oral History Collection

This project deals with Italian immigration into the Upper Peninsula and contains interviews with over 150 individuals with a variety of backgrounds. The project visited every Italian-American community in Upper Michigan, neighboring Wisconsin, and Ontario. Among other things, the tapes also give insight into the way these immigrants made a living and into their social activities, their religious ideas and practices, their political views and behavior, their views of America and of the “old world”, their relations with other ethnic and American groups, and the kind of people they have become. Some of the interviews have been transcribed. Click here for a folder list of transcriptions.

The Oral History Project 

The Oral History Project at the Central Upper Peninsula & NMU Archives involves identifying and digitizing important interviews on cassette tapes for preservation. Simultaneously, these audio files are being entered into a cataloging site linked to the Lydia Olson Library, giving researchers the ability to listen to the tapes in the comfort of their own homes.


Women's Center Oral History Project

As part of the 40th Anniversary of The Marquette Women's Center in 2013, Jane Ryan began a series of oral history interviews of women who founded, volunteered, received services at, or worked at the center. The oral histories describe how and why women organized and established the Women's Center. Interviewees discuss the nature of early educational workshops and programs benefiting women and families in the Marquette area. Recipients of the Center's services summarize the life-changing effects these services had on them. Interviews with current and former staff members provide firsthand accounts on operational procedures and the evolution of the Center over time. 

Watch the interviews online here.