HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Lindsay Hiltunen, who is the University Archivist at the Michigan Tech Archives has been named the President of the Michigan Archival Association (MAA).
Hiltunen, who has been a board member of the MAA since 2016, was elected as Vice President in 2020 and then to President during the MAA annual meeting in Grand Rapids earlier in June. She will serve two years in the role.
We spoke with Hiltunen about the role with MAA, what it means to her, the U.P. and the state.
“So to be an Upper Peninsula archivist, representing one of the largest state archives associations is major in and of itself. But also I think, just in terms of representation, most of our membership, most of the major institutions are downstate.” Hiltunen continued, “There’s only a handful of professional archivists in the U.P. So to be able to represent our small community up here and to represent our universities and our community heritage orgs and those that interact with archival material. It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to dive in.”
Hiltunen has worked at Michigan Tech as an archivist since 2014. She said her small but mighty team does big things in the community and beyond, including working with researchers from all over the world. She said her role as an archivist and the support she’s received has given her the confidence to take on new things.
“Within the Michigan Tech Community, I’ve gotten just a lot of support and encouragement, to keep fighting the good fight and trying to do our best to be vocal about what archives needs are throughout the state, not just within our own backyard. But also, what can we do to leverage resources across the state. So a lot of faculty members and just friends and colleagues on campus have been, championing efforts for me to be visible and to help represent things,” said Hiltunen.
Hiltunen said the previous President started a Diversity Equity and Inclusion fund where the MAA created a scholarship to give monetary assistance to community museums or historical societies and libraries. She says her big initiative will be empowering youth
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“In talks with the State Coordinator for Michigan History Day, we realized that there are opportunities to improve how students that are partaking in that program interact with primary sources. Like they don’t always know how to use archival material. They don’t know that they’re open to the public, that students can access them. And then even as they’re creating their papers for their projects, when they’re having to cite their sources. There’s sometimes a disconnect, like they don’t always know the difference between a secondary source and a primary source. So we’re looking at creating an outreach initiative where we can get resource guides into the hands of teachers and we can actually push archivists into the classroom to do site visits in their local communities. To help encourage kids to enjoy Michigan history. Learn more about projects and then]just letting people know that archives are for everyone,” said Hiltunen.
Archive work isn’t something that happened by accident for Hiltunen. She shared a family connection to the work she’s doing.
“My grandpa Dave, he used to teach history at Michigan Tech. He was actually a faculty member in the social sciences department, and he passed away in 2009. But he was my inspiration for why I got into the history field in the first place. My undergrad was in history. I thought I wanted to follow directly in his footsteps and teach at the university level. But I realized as I was going through my program, I worked under Eric Nordberg, who was the previous archivist at Michigan Tech and he’s the one that inspired me to become an archivist. And so it’s kind of come full circle. I started as a student assistant at Tech and now I’m the director of the department. And my grandpa Dave is still with me because I can go back into the stacks and I can hear his voice because there are oral histories that he conducted. If I miss him, I can just go back pop in a tape, and listen to him interviewing folks. To me, having that very personal connection to these professional collections, can’t make this stuff up. It’s just I feel like it was so meant to be,” said Hiltunen.
MAA supports the community of organizations and individuals who care for the state’s materials of cultural heritage and the documentary record through communication and education, and seeks to foster a collaborative and inclusive professional network. You can learn more about their work, here.