MARQUETTE – The papers of three former, prominent Upper Peninsula state representatives – Dominic Jacobetti, Charles Varnum and Pat Gagliardi – were processed recently by the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. The project was funded by a $50,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
It has produced a valuable resource on political history, according to NMU Archivist Marcus Robyns.
“It also resulted in a set of digitized finding aids for area high school social studies teachers that have been published on our Web site,” he said. “There are lesson plans that focus on the use of critical thinking skills in the analysis of primary sources. Each addresses a different topic the particular person dealt with while in office. It shows their decision-making process, from how they interacted with constituents to the final outcome. For Jacobetti, it was an ore tax in the late '80s that related specifically to the Tilden Mine. Varnum’s has to do with mental health issues, which he was very involved in. Gagliardi’s addresses tribal and commercial fishing rights.”
The Jacobetti collection is comprised of records the Negaunee Democrat produced during 40 years as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, covering the years 1954-1994. The Varnum collection documents the political career of the Manistique Republican as a state representative and city manager from 1967-1988. The Gagliardi collection documents the political career of the Drummond Island Democrat from 1983-1998. All are open for research under conditions of the Archives access policy.
Papers include correspondence, memorandums, hand-written notes, meeting notes and correspondence with constituents.
“You would be amazed at the variety and some of the subjects they deal with – from help with local bureaucracy to disputes with neighbors,” Robyns added. “Taken together, they represent almost 50 years of U.P. political history.”
Jacobetti’s collection was donated to the Archives upon his death. Robyns solicited the other two. He said he pulled 66 cubic feet of material out of Varnum’s garage in Manistique. He also visited Gagliardi in Lansing and conducted an appraisal of his office materials.
“I would like to embark on a more aggressive acquisitions process so that NMU will be seen as a repository for the personal and professional records of politicians – from the city and county level to the regional, state and federal level. We would also like to consistently start digitizing aspects of the collections we have.”
Information on the political and other collections housed in the Central U.P. and NMU Archives is available at www.nmu.edu/archives/collections.