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MARQUETTE, Mich.—Longtime Northern Michigan University professor and historian Russell Magnaghi will be honored with the release of a new volume of essays titled Northern Border: History and Lore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Beyond. A public celebration is planned for Wednesday, June 4. The event includes a 5:30 p.m. reception in the atrium area of C.B. Hedgcock and a 6:30 p.m. reading by four of the featured writers in Reynolds Recital Hall.
Northern Border includes stories of immigrants fighting for fair working conditions in the iron and copper mines; modern-day deer hunters meditating in their blinds; writers who have found inspiration in the U.P.’s splendor; a widow making a living at the Gossard lingerie factory; 19th century soldiers stationed at isolated Fort Wilkins; “shackers” who remained long after the loggers left the upper Great Lakes; dedicated worshippers who have kept alive Ste. Anne’s Parish on Mackinac Island for five centuries; and WWII-era Detroit factory workers who lobbied for the right to smoke. It also explores NMU’s role in the Upper Peninsula and Ely Township during the Great Depression.
The volume was compiled in the academic tradition of a “festschrift,” a collection of writing by colleagues, friends and students to honor a respected teacher. It marks Magnaghi’s 45 years on the NMU faculty. One of his first students was Ishpeming native Robert Archibald, editor of the book. In his introduction, Archibald describes how his mentor went from transplanted Californian with expertise in Latin American history and the Spanish Borderlands to a “devout Yooper” who fully embraced local and regional history by offering related courses.
“No one before Russ Magnaghi has studied, researched and written about the Upper Peninsula in such a comprehensive fashion,” he writes. “He has shown all of us that the Upper Peninsula really is someplace special. He has demonstrated that this place has a rich and varied history, in which people have interacted with each other and the amazing geography to produce a distinct culture that imparts a rich quality of life and deep appreciation for our surroundings. Russ Magnaghi has demonstrated for all of us that history is a powerful tool for connecting people to each other and to their place.”
Northern Border will be available for purchase at the event and afterward at the NMU Bookstore, along with other book stores and gift shops.