NMU Center for U.P. Studies Continues with New Director
The Center for Upper Peninsula Studies at NMU is moving forward under new leadership. Gabe Logan (History) will direct the center in the wake of Russell Magnaghi’s retirement. Logan has a background in immigration, sport and labor histories. His research focus has increasingly become more localized.
“We plan to continue the wonderful work Russ did while expanding our use of technology to make more material available to the public,” said Logan. “Russ recorded hundreds of oral interviews with U.P. residents and people associated with the university. We would like to post online the transcribed text of those interviews and others we complete in the future for genealogical or academic research. We also have middle and high school social studies’ lesson plans related to Michigan, with 60 percent of those specific to the Upper Peninsula. We want teachers to be able to access those plans so they can continue to bring local history into their classrooms.”
The NMU Board of Control established the Center for U.P. Studies in 1996 to facilitate teaching and research about the geographic, economic, political, social and cultural aspects of the region. The center has hosted the annual Sonderegger Symposium that offers several public presentations on U.P. topics. It supports related scholarly research through a grant from the late Grace Magnaghi. It also has co-sponsored publications and compiled “Portals to the Past,” an online bibliographical and resource guide to the Upper Peninsula.
Magnaghi said the center’s mission complements two other campus entities: the NMU and Central U.P. Archives, which serves as a repository for documents, books and photos; and the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, a museum that offers revolving exhibits and public programs.
“The center is like the academic wing and serves a unique purpose,” he added. “It will be in good hands with Gabe’s capable leadership. He is knowledgeable about the U.P. and has developed important connections through his research.”
Future projects for the center will revolve around musical heritage, Native American history in the eastern Upper Peninsula and agricultural history—from the celery farms near Newberry to abandoned apple orchards across the region. Students are working to identify the varieties of heirloom apples planted in the 19th century that continue to thrive, even though their surroundings did not.