Keweenaw Time Traveler wins 2024 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation

Collaborative efforts of the Keweenaw Time Traveler project help to protect the cultural legacy of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Pictured from left: Rep. Greg Markkanen; Lindsay Hiltunen, MTU Archives; Dan Trepal, Geospatial Research Facility; Sarah Fayen Scarlett, Department of Social Sciences; Don Lafreniere and James Juip, Department of Social Sciences/Geospatial Research Facility; Larry Molloy of the Keweenaw County Historical Society; and Matthew Monte of Monte Consulting. 

What's happening: The Keweenaw Time Traveler, a new digital online atlas of Copper Country, has won the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation for its contributions to protect the area’s history. Researchers and students at Michigan Technological University’s Department of Social Sciences, Geospatial Research Facility and the Michigan Tech Archives paired with partners from the Keweenaw County Historical Society, Monte Consulting and the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw to put together the expansive project protecting the area’s culture and heritage.

Cultural context: With more than 2,000 maps, databases filled with census and city directory information -- and even employment records from 1870 to 1940 -- the atlas pairs real data with oral histories of the area, finding a way to quantify the local legends reminisced at coffee clutches and barstools around the area. In 2022, the program expanded again to include a staggering 600,000 new records with 14 million different data variables to increase user experiences. 

What they're saying: “The Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation celebrates the collaborative spirit fueling MTU’s Keweenaw Time Traveler project,” said Don Lafreniere, the project's director and Department of Social Sciences chair. “We are very honored to have been recognized by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the State Historic Preservation Office for our work.” 

What's next: Continuing the expansion of the atlas happens organically, as the program is included in schools, libraries, local festivals and heritage sites in various forms of public engagement. Getting new people to experience the atlas helps spark new conversations about the area, both protecting the history of the Keweenaw and creating more interest in its future.
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