The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University has received an $8,500 grant from Michigan Humanities to create a traveling exhibition titled Extraordinary Women of the Upper Peninsula. The exhibition will feature women from the U.P.'s 15 counties who have had a regional, national or international impact through their work in politics, science, international relations, Native American rights, literature and other fields.
Dan Truckey, director and curator of the Beaumier Center, is collaborating with Associate Professor of History Emily Romeo and her women's history class to research and write text for the exhibit.
“We've wanted to really focus on the stories of women in the Upper Peninsula for some time now, and we wanted to coordinate it with Women's History Month,” Truckey said. “Now we have funds to create the traveling panels that are going to go around to schools and libraries across the U.P.”
The featured women are likely to include: Munising native Connie Binsfield, who became the lieutenant governor of Michigan and sponsored some of the strongest legislation on domestic violence; and Viola Turpeinen of Champion, who was the most famous Finnish-American of her time, known for touring the country while performing polka and playing the accordion.
“It's stories like those that we want to share,” said Truckey. “One, to let others know more about these people, but also to inspire young people—especially young women—to say that just because they grew up in a small town in the U.P., it doesn't mean they can't go on to achieve some really significant things and make an impact on the world.”
Truckey said that's the main goal of Extraordinary Women of the Upper Peninsula: to inspire. The exhibit will travel to any schools or public libraries that want to showcase U.P. women's history and expose people to others' influential stories and hopefully inspire them toward impressive achievements as well.
“The internet's great at [reaching people], but oftentimes, it's hard to get their attention,” Truckey said. “If they're walking into a library to get a book and they see this exhibit, then they're more likely to look at it and say, ‘Wow, this is really cool.' I just think it's important to reach as many people as you can, and this is a way of getting the attention of people who aren't looking for things like this online.”
There are plans to showcase the exhibit at museums as well, such as the Iron River Museum or the Carnegie Museum in Houghton.
For more information on the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, as well as its current exhibit, click here.