MTU awarded grant to uncover Calumet & Hecla Copper Mining Company records

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Michigan Technological University has been awarded a $240,000 grant to uncover Calumet & Hecla Copper Mining Company records.

Researchers will spend the next two years contextualizing, scanning, and digitilizing the 40,000 employee records from Calumet & Hecla Copper Mining Company.

The project is called “Mapping Miners at Home and at Work” and has been made possible by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Most of the cards they are working with are from the early 20th century into the mid-20th century. The cards include individual information such as name, country of origin, what languages they spoke, types of jobs they did, whether they participated in a strike, etc.

“Mapping Miners at Home and at Work” is a collaboration between the social sciences department, Geographic Information Science (GIS) systems at the Great Lakes Research Center, and the Keweenaw Time Travel. MTU students and a professional archivist will also be hired to help sift through the records.

MTU’s University Archivist Lindsay Hiltunen will serve the role of Supervisor for the Digital Archive Specialist. She said this project might help link people to their ancestors.

“So if you had a relative who worked in the mines you can actually come to look at the original cards, document their experience in the mines,” said Hiltunen. “You might have family stories that have been passed down but these cards are a tangible piece that will help fill that gap.”

Sarah Scarlett is a co-project director for the Keweenaw Time Traveler, which is a digital map-based project that allows the general public, as well as social and natural scientists, to explore how the region and its population have changed through time.

Using the census, city directory, and employee records, the researchers will be able to do record linking.

“So you’ll have more ways of really finding out about individual people’s histories, finding out about families, finding out where they moved and who they lived with and who they lived next door to, and where they worked and this kind of thing,” said Scarlett.

The project is aiming to finish by 2022 and have all materials available to the public on Michigan Tech’s online archives and the Keweenaw Time Traveler.

Scarlett and Hiltunen want to reassure that employee confidential information such as social security numbers will not be released or published online.

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