The Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock—formerly part of shuttered Finlandia University and now managed by Finlandia Foundation National—has joined UPLINK, an effort to digitize Upper Peninsula historical materials to facilitate online access and preservation. The Central U.P. and Northern Michigan University Archives hosts the UPLINK website and is the principal service site in the region.
“Our university president [Brock Tessman] has expressed great interest in increasing Northern's community engagement in the region,” said Marcus Robyns, NMU archivist. “That's precisely the idea behind UPLINK. We are using our tools and expertise to partner with U.P. heritage organizations on a low-cost method for increasing awareness of the historical records available, and ensuring easy access for generations to come. It's good that a national entity stepped in to run the center after Finlandia shut down so these important collections weren't dispersed elsewhere.”
According to its website, the Finnish American Heritage Center Joanna Chopp, the archivist at the Finnish American Heritage Center, attended an early meeting during which Robyn's outlined his vision for UPLINK. She has wanted her organization to join ever since, but the opportunity did not materialize until now.
“I look forward to being able to share even small parts of our collection online so they can be accessible to anyone,” Chopp said. “We've had researchers from as far as Finland, Japan and Canada come here. When people know we exist, they are excited to discover the wide range of materials we have here. Things will be better under the Finlandia Foundation National umbrella. They are very supportive of digitizing materials and doing outreach in the communities that may not realize we have things here they could be using.”
Chopp added that most of those doing research are genealogists. For that purpose, the center has Watia Funeral Home records and congregational church records. There is also documentation related to businesses and material on the temperance societies that used to operate in communities throughout the U.P. While the center has announced its intent to join UPLINK, digitization of its records will take some time.
UPLINK, or the Upper Peninsula Digital Network, began in 2021 with a two-year implementation grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. It is a consortium of heritage organizations—archives, libraries, museums and historical societies—intended to pool resources and skills to make digitization and digital preservation affordable.
Visit the UPLINK website here.