Microhistory is a historical research method that looks at the history of small--micro--things: specific communities; people or families; and even objects as a way to explore larger historical questions, such as "Why did so many people immigrate to the US at the end of the 19th century?" and "What were working conditions like in early 20th century copper mines?"
Individual life experiences--say, those of a 14 year old girl leaving Croatia in 1888 to work in her aunt's boardinghouse in Calumet, or those of a 21 year old Finnish trammer working 10-12 hour shifts in the Quincy mine in 1904--can help provide specific, relatable answers to those big questions about how people responded to political and economic turbulence, and changing expectations of workplace safety.
The Keweenaw microhistories presented here explore immigrant and migrant stories through primary sources from the 1500s through the early 20th century. These individuals’ life experiences can provide rich, diverse, and specific detail about the history of places, events, and communities. Pieced together, these details reveal a bigger, more complex picture of the Keweenaw’s past.
Last updated: January 21, 2023