The Dominic J. Jacobetti Collection

Collection Number: MSS-78
Prepared by Robin Kennedy, NHPRC Project Archivist

INTRODUCTION:

The papers of Dominic J. Jacobetti are comprised of the records he produced during forty years as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, covering the years 1954 to 1994. The collection's total volume is approximately 75 cubic feet. They form manuscript collection MSS-78 in the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives, Marquette, MI. There were three separate accessions to this collection. The first was prior to 1992 when Jacobetti donated a portion of his papers to the University. He had intended to go through this initial donation with the archivist, but this was not done due to his death in November 1994. 

Shortly after his death NMU received the second accession from his office in Lansing. In January, 1995, the final donation came from his home in Negaunee. Archives staff completed a folder inventory in 1995. A State of Michigan Legislative Appropriations Grant provided the funding to process the collection.

The records are open for research under the conditions of the Archives' access policy. A small portion of the records are temporarily restricted. Records may be duplicated for use in individual and scholarly research. Researchers are responsible for obtaining copyright permission to use materials not produced by Dominic J. Jacobetti or the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE:

The son of an Italian immigrant miner, Dominic Jacobetti was born in Negaunee, MI July 20, 1920 to Nicholas and Josephine (Sano) Jacobetti. He graduated from St. Paul's High School in 1938 and went to work in the Athens Mine in 1940. He eventually became President of UAW Local 4950 and United Steel Workers Local 2867. He married Marie Burnette in 1942 and had three children, Judith, Colin and Dominic, Jr. He was elected to office in 1953, and began his 40 years as Representative in 1954. Throughout his career, he served on the following committees: in 1955-56, on the Conservation, Educational Institutions and Tuberculosis Hospitals Committees; from 1957-58, on the Conservation and Fish and Fisheries Committees; 1959-60, on the Educational Institutions Committee; 1963-64, on the Conservation Committee; 1965-66 on the House Policy Committee; 1967-68, on the House Policy and State Affairs Committees; and from 1969 to 1993 he served on the Appropriations Committee, as Vice Chair beginning in 1969, and as Chair of this committee beginning in 1975.

Because of funding Jacobetti obtained for projects in the Upper Peninsula, his constituents and colleagues regarded him as "Puga," "King Jake," and the "Godfather of the U.P." However, he also helped various "down-state" areas obtain the funding they needed as well. Keeping in mind that Jacobetti often considered the entire Upper Peninsula as part of his District, he promoted the interest of industry (sometimes at the expense of the environment), strove to improve educational opportunities, and worked hard to improve economic conditions for both the State and his District.

Jacobetti was also known as "a man of the people" and "the working man's Representative." This characterization is demonstrated in his correspondence and among the many testimonials and awards he has received, wherein he frequently intervened personally on behalf of individuals and organizations both in the Upper Peninsula and down-state. He was honored as one of the "Ten Outstanding State Legislators in the United States" in 1978 for promoting adequate staffing levels in governmental offices, promoting good government and efficient public service, as Upper Peninsula Person of the Year and received The Distinguished Citizens award from Lake Superior State College in 1983, an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Northern Michigan University in 1984, and Good Neighbor of the Year in 1990.

Jacobetti involved himself in state-wide as well as local issues. State-wide issues include abortion/right to life, insurance reform, seat belt legislation, sobriety check lanes and tax limitation. Issues considered to be State level that pertained more specifically to the Upper Peninsula include a nuclear waste dump site, ELF/Seafarer Sanguine, and the effort to make the Upper Peninsula into the fifty-first state, Superior.

Included in his political agenda were the following, which are also considered to be some of his accomplishments:

  • Programs to provide maximum job opportunities throughout Michigan, but especially in the Upper Peninsula;
  • Educational programs at all levels from K-12 to higher education, with emphasis on adult and special education and Vo-Tech Programs;
  • Encouraged and supported programs in law enforcement and the judicial system to provide equal protection under the law for all citizens;
  • Cooperated with and assisted the Michigan Veterans Service Organizations to insure maximum benefits from Federal and State programs;
  • Actively engaged in the development of immediate and long-range plans to improve highway, rail, water and air transportation in the State;
  • Supported social programs to provide an improved quality of life for senior citizens, the indigent, those with catastrophic diseases, and to provide fair and equitable pension plans for both the public and private employees of Michigan;
  • Encouraged and helped create fair and equitable tax legislation for all citizens and businesses in Michigan to insure a healthy, stable economy in Michigan;
  • Supported multiple land-use plans for the maximum wise use of lands;
  • Encouraged and supported equal treatment for all citizens, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, ethnic background or age in all aspects of employment, social or economic opportunities.   

SCOPE AND CONTENT OF THE RECORDS

The Dominic Jacobetti Collection documents his position as Representative from Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula, including his activities on the House Appropriations Committee and several other committees on which he served. His position as Representative encompassed at various times the 108 th, 109 th, and110th Districts. The records cover the years 1954 to 1994, but there is a major gap of material from 1954-1967. However, the records include a wealth of materials pertaining to the following:

  • Upper Peninsula local governments, including requests for funding and documentation of various projects he took a personal interest, such as Project Negaunee, the Pelkie Project and building renovations in various cities, as well as funding for local libraries and the Upper Peninsula branch of the State Library;
  • Law enforcement issues, including adequate staffing by both State and County officers, promoting the building of prisons, support of the UPSET (Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team) Program;
  • Educational issues, such as reorganization of the Baraga and L'Anse School Districts, school funding, and funding for developments and improvements at community colleges and universities throughout the state;
  • Health issues, including funding for clinics and hospitals and the establishment of new clinics, such as substance abuse treatment centers, and promoting adequate care in nursing homes;
  • Environmental issues, such as the bounty on wolves, a Nuclear Waste Dump Site, flooding of the Chocolay and Sturgeon Rivers, the regulation of ORV's, improvement of Grand Marais Harbor, deer management, oil drilling in the Pigeon River basin, and the Bottle Bill;
  • Industry, encompassing the agricultural, fishing, and tourism industries, forestry, promotion of wood and paper products industry development and export, as well as promotion of small business, copper, and gold mining, but especially iron mining, including containment of iron ore and steel imports, and legislation regarding the specific ore tax;
  • Promotion of tourism, including funding of the Marquette Welcome Center, development of the Iron Industry Museum, promotion of Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula State Fair Grounds, as well as funding for historical structures;
  • Transportation issues, including road improvements, the removal of rail lines, and local air and rail services;
  • Veterans issues, including the need for an Upper Peninsula Veterans nursing home (the D.J.J. Veterans Facility) and funding for the various veterans organizations;
  • Movement to have the Upper Peninsula become the 51 st State of Superior, and
    • ELF/Seafarer Sanguine issue;
    • Genealogically and historically significant information in the Resolutions of Tribute as well as in the various congratulatory letters, which have been placed in alphabetical order by last name

The collection well documents the idea of Jacobetti being "a man of the people," especially in Series III, Constituent Correspondence. Also included are documentation of various awards and honors he has received, as well as people and organizations he chose to honor.

ARRANGEMENT AND DESCRIPTION

The records are arranged in Series and Sub-series as follows:

Series I--Legislative, which contains documents pertaining to legislation he proposed, supported, or opposed, and includes copies of the various bills, tracing how the bill was affected/changed. This Series is broken down into the following: Sub-series 1--State, those bills, etc., that pertained to either statewide or primarily down-state issues/legislation, and Sub-series 2--District and Upper Peninsula, those bills, etc., that affected the Upper Peninsula and/or the various districts in which he served.

Series II--Personal, includes documents pertaining to Jacobetti, the man, and is broken down as follows: Sub-series 1--Biographical, Sub-series 2--Campaign, Sub-series 3—General Political Activities, including his correspondence, press releases, and speeches.

Series III--Constituent Correspondence, which documents how Jacobetti helped not only his District, but individual people, as well as the influence his constituents had on Jacobetti's legislative decisions.

Series IV--Photographs and Negatives, which primarily document his involvement with facilities he was instrumental in gaining funding for, awards and honors he received, and various issues, and political poses. There are also some candid shots of him and photos of his family and friends.

Series V--Reports that stand alone, including those assembled by Jacobetti and/or his staff.

Series VI--Audio and Video Cassettes, which include tapings of various meetings he attended, presentations regarding pending legislation/hearings, etc., and honorary activities he participated in.

Series VII--Chronological Correspondence, consisting of correspondence primarily from Jacobetti, but also including correspondence to him in support of various bills, etc., from 1975 to 1990.  This was apparently assembled and arranged by his staff. 

Series VIII--News Clippings, a set of photocopied clippings from 1972 to 1985, divided according to topics, apparently assembled and arranged by Jacobetti's staff.

BOX INVENTORY LIST

Available in the Archives reading room.