Revealing Hidden Historical Collections of the Upper Peninsula

Mikel B Classen

The Upper Peninsula Digital Network (UPLINK) will host a two-day public event at the community room of the Bayliss Public Library in Sault Ste. Maria, Michigan, on June 10-11, 10am-4pm. The event will feature local historian and writer, Mikel Classen, on June 10 at 11am. Mr. Classen will give a presentation on the importance of preserving local history. UPLINK is a collaborative, regional digital preservation and access network funded by a National Historical Publications and Records (NHPRC) implementation grant. UPLINK invites local community members to digitize their family memorabilia, photographs, and cassette audio recordings. Event staff will also be available at the Kenneth J. Shouldice Library on the campus of Lake Superior State University to digitally record community members’ stories and memories of life in the eastern Upper Peninsula. Project staff will encourage participants to donate their digital surrogates for inclusion in UPLINK. The event will include two mobile digitization units, a morning workshop on digital preservation and the importance of community archiving, and two oral history recording booths. The event is made possible with a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC).

Numerous small heritage organizations, families, and individuals in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula maintain primary source material that, taken together, offer important documentation of the region’s historical development. Unfortunately, these collections languish from disuse due to lack of access and deficient availability of resources, and frequently are in jeopardy due to poor storage conditions. For the most part, volunteers in heritage organizations with no archival training manage historical collections on shoestring budgets. Their commitment of time and energy, however, is a testament to their recognition of the historical value of their collections. Similarly, individuals and families take great pride in their local heritage, and their ancestors’ historical contributions to their communities. As a result, UPLINK hopes that many will choose  donate the material to a professional institution for a digitization project that would preserve and provide online access to the digital material.  

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