I need to catch up with what has occurred at the Archives of Michigan in the last few months.  Nothing has been more time consuming than the launch of seekingmichigan.org. We went live yesterday and the site teetered for 3-4 hours before succumbing to high traffic.  It illustrated a typical problem with a new website launch.  Namely, you don’t know what you are going to get for traffic.

This site is already a Frankenstein mash-up of OCLC’s CONTENTdm and WordPress. The php nature of CONTENTdm, caching issues, high site traffic, high link traffic and our server situation all played into the temporary demise.  We started the site on a virtual host thinking there would be demand, but not huge demand and we failed to consider load testing the site (not that it would have helped in the end).  As I write this, we have seen site traffic increase 2600% since the beginning of the month.  We are in the process of moving to dedicated servers on both ends (CONTENTdm and WordPress).  It may be overkill but will help us as we launch huge record sets.

We do DO other work besides Seekingmichigan.  Archivists are working on the private collections of the Campbell Construction Company, Detroit, MI.  They pioneered the construction of prefabricated steel buildings.  Final steps are being made to open the North Country Trail collection and a large collection of Mackinac County Clerk records.

New acquisitions and collections on the horizon include the Wexford County naturalization records and the Washtenaw County Probate Records.

I will be presenting at the National Archives Preservation Conference on March 26 in Washington D.C.  The topic will be an overview of our NHPRC grant project, “Thank God for Michigan.”

Drop us a line on Twitter @seekingmichigan or visit us on youtube.com/lookaboutyou or vimeo.com/seekingmichigan.


We have been steadily moving forward with our launch of Seeking Michigan.  If you have not heard me talk about this, it is a new joint effort with the Library of Michigan.  It appears that we are slated to launch on February 1, 2009.  We will hit you with a news blast nearer that date.  

One component of the site is “Look.”  This will feature fun and interesting stories about Michigan’s past and present.  A team of twenty-seven history professionals will be adding content.  We hope to open it up to the public so you too can share your stories and photographs.

Our November projects include:

1. Trout Unlimited 50th Anniversary celebration.  Art Nuemann is one of the founding fathers of Trout Unlimited.   Art is a Michigan treasure.  I had the privilege of interviewing Art on three separate visits to Saginaw.   We are working on a book detailing TU’s early history.  It will come out next year to coincide with the anniversary.

2. Legislative Advisory Committee: Archives staff has created a committee to seek the advice of current legislative leadership.  The bi-partisan committee makes recommendations on significant legislators and important issues.  From these recommendations, the Archives works to preserve the records of certain outgoing legislators.

3. Internal Strategic Plan:  With the assistance of Archivist Bob Garrett, we have completed a draft of the Archives policies and procedures.  We hope to post this online in the near future.

4. Donations: The Archives will soon officially announce some major donations of archival materials.  Keep in mind,  these have not been processed and are not quite ready for public access.  

Military records continue to be a strong topic area.  We took in the Freeman McClintock papers this month.  Mr. McClintock worked in the motor pool for senior dignitaries in World War I.  He cared for the vehicles of Woodrow Wilson and General Pershing, among others.  After the war, he came back to Lansing and opened McClintock Cadillac (now Capitol Cadillac).  There are more donations that we will highlight in months to come.  

We must make special mention of donors Wallace and Jane Ewing.  The Ewings recently donated the Mac and Nan Ewing Civil War letters.  The collection includes a 291-letter conversation between Mac and Nan during the Civil War.  We are actively scanning all the original letters.  We will then present these scans online with transcriptions that Wally Ewing has already prepared.

Jane and Wally Ewing donating the Mac and Nan Ewing Civil War letters.

Jane and Wally Ewing donating the Mac and Nan Ewing Civil War letters.

5. Workshops: On November 20th, I made a trip to the Algonac Public Library and delivered three consecutive workshops on naturalization, military and other genealogical records.

Here are some more highlights:

Collections completed:

Clark, Beverly. MS. 92-21. Civil Rights Commission Material. (Clark a Commissioner from 1983-1991) 1983-1991. 8.5 cubic feet.

Balcolm Family Collection, 1827, 1847-1863, 1887, 1907. 10 items. Family letters. 3 during the Civil War, documenting William and Justus Balcom, who were in the 21st Michigan Infantry, Company G. Justus died of disease during the War. 

Barnett, Leroy. MS 2004-1. Maps of Michigan Lower and Upper Peninsulas, compiled using land grant documentation from 1820 to 1900. (Compilation date: 1980) 2 items (45 inches x 74 inches) 

Michigan Archival Association,1964-2001
Accession number: MS 2004-6
Cubic Feet: 6.2
Series: 1. Michigan Archival Association Records. 2.Open Entry 3.Photographs 4. Video, VHS—WLUC TV, Marquette Workshop at NMU, 1988.


Archivist Julie Meyerle gave three tours for Crossroads, an alternative education program for disadvantaged youth.  Julie also provided a tour for the Advent House program, a local homeless shelter that provides education programs to assist with personal productivity.


Archivist Bob Garrett is processing the North Country Trail Collection (MS 2008-28).  This collection documents the life of Peter Wolfe, advocate for the NCT and one of the first to walk the entire length of the trail.

Web Updates:

December image of the month: Ozz Warbach (Bob Garrett collaborated with Helen Taylor on the article.) go to: http://www.mi.gov/archivesofmi

For January, we’ll have an article on Governor John Swainson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oral Histories:

Archivist Bob Garrett attended the 2008 Michigan Oral History Association Conference in Rogers City, Michigan on November 7-8. Bob spoke at the oral history workshop (It was a basic overview on “How to do oral history”).  He also reported on veterans’ oral histories in the Archives of Michigan.

Bob completed an oral history with local resident Ernest Floeter, a German POW and professional photographer.

Next MAA Board Meeting is scheduled for February 27, 2009.