2015

Grant Recipients

African Americans

Michigan Technological University

Black Voices from Copper Country

$22,713 • Houghton

Black Voices in the Copper Country: Exploring Community and Michigan Tech Campus Life, 1850-1990, an exhibit by the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, examines the African American experience in the Keweenaw. This online exhibit is intended to highlight materials that explore the stories of underrepresented individuals and narratives in Michigan history and serves to encourage researchers to consider more inclusivity when telling regional and state history. The Black Voices project is a multifaceted research initiative that has included substantial archival research, public programming and exhibits.

While this project aims to highlight aspects of the African American experience in the western Upper Peninsula, no project can succeed in being a holistic representation of all aspects and perspectives of regional history. This project can serve as an introduction to a topic that deserves to be acknowledged and more deeply investigated. This exhibit includes examples of primary sources related to African American individuals and broader social history in the western Upper Peninsula. We encourage researchers, students and historians to consider how African Americans contributed to the history of the Upper Peninsula. How did they make a living? What were their experiences living in the Copper Country and participating in day-to-day life in the community and at Michigan Tech? In the end, this exhibit can serve as a stepping stone to further research by encouraging critical investigation into collections held by the Michigan Tech Archives and other regional repositories to uncover stories and individuals not widely known, but still important to the rich heritage of the Copper Country and its unique history.

Interior of a barber shop with two barbers at work, one of whom appears to be African American; the portrait on the wall appears to be King George V, so the picture likely is from sometime after 1910, and the owners ought to have a strong connection to the British Empire. Incidentally, a prominent black barber in Houghton, A. R. Richey and his second wife were Canadian born.