Deo and Johnson to Receive U.P. Folklife Awards

Jack Deo and Alice Johnson

Historic photograph preservationist Jack Deo of Marquette and local quilter and textile preservationist Alice Johnson are the 2022 recipients of the Upper Peninsula Folklife Awards presented by the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University. They will be honored at noon Friday, Nov. 4, at the Sonderegger Symposium luncheon in Ballroom III of the Northern Center. The event is free and open to the public. 

Deo is a 1975 NMU alumnus. Since the 1970s, he has made it his mission to collect photographic images of the Upper Peninsula and the state of Michigan. His collection numbers several hundred thousand, if not a million. Deo has rescued many collections from destruction. People contact him as a knowledgeable photographic archivist and either drop off photos to be copied or leave him collections.

Deo has maintained a history of local photographers, which enhances his massive collection. He has provided photographs critical to illustrating the heritage and folklore of the Upper Peninsula to researchers and writers to enhance their publications, and to museum exhibitions and documentaries. Deo has created more than 20 slide presentations featuring his collection, which he has presented throughout the State of Michigan for schools, historical societies and public libraries.

Johnson is a local quilter who has spent many hours advising and helping to conserve quilts—and possibly other fabric items—at the Marquette Regional History Center. She was honored as one of the top quilters in the Marquette County Quilters Association at its most recent Autumn Comforts show. 

Johnson served as president of the Michigan Quilt Network before it disbanded in 2015. With Karen Suski and Nancy Henderson, she invested more than 100 hours studying and updating the quilt collection at the Marquette Regional History Center. The resulting documentation and photos pertaining to 60 items were submitted to the online Quilt Index hosted by Michigan State University.

Following that project, Johnson stayed at the MRHC as a volunteer in the curator's department. She assisted with sewing labels, writing catalog descriptions for new textile donations, and repairing more than a dozen garments while studying their construction. She has worked on bodices more than 100 years old, gowns from the 1930s, and a variety of other textiles of different types and eras. Johnson has also written related articles and given presentations on textiles at the MRHC. 

The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center created the Upper Peninsula Folklife Awards in 2009 to honor individuals and organizations that have made a difference in preserving and promoting the folk culture of the region. Since 2009, 18 individuals and three organizations have received the award.

Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU