MQT history center celebrates its 100th year

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The Marquette History Center’s “Centennials” celebrates the Center’s 100th year as an organization and also Marquette history and culture dating back to 1918. Photo by: Emma Case

Brianna MacLean

In 1918, World War I came to a close, the worst flu epidemic in history killed around 675,000 Americans, and Mississippi became the first state to ratify the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the making, selling and transportation of alcohol. Women’s dress hems rose, scandalously, to the ankle. Entertainment boomed with ballroom dancing, ragtime, blues, jazz and the magic of Houdini.

The year 1918 also saw the Marquette Regional History Center established. Now the center, which is located at 145 W. Spring St., celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The City of Marquette was just shy of its 70th birthday when the non-profit organization, originally called the Marquette County Historical Society, was founded by local residents who wished to retain and preserve Marquette County’s rich cultural heritage. The first museum built was located on Front Street in 1937. However, the first visitors of the facility occurred in 1949 when the museum officially opened to the public.

As the museum curator since 2001, Jo DeYoung develops and installs the special exhibits, usually three every year, as well as maintains the main exhibit gallery. DeYoung said she feels proud to be working for an organization that is now over 100 years old.

“It still amazes me to hold a flapper dress, an early board game or a mason’s hand tool and not know how old it is,” DeYoung said. “All this time, people have been saving items to tell Marquette’s stories. People 50 or 100 years ago wanted to share their stories as much as people do today.”

In celebration of its 100 years, the museum is holding a special exhibit titled “Centennials.” This exhibit explores farms, old family camps, businesses, people and more that are also celebrating their centennial year. It also showcases what was going on in Marquette County and the nation in 1918.

DeYoung is especially proud of the camp display in the exhibit.

“[The camp display] covers not only the Huron Mountain Club and Middle Island Point, but also Stewart’s Cove—a camp owned by the same family for well over 100 years. We have excerpts from the camp log to read. There were many local visitors and several pairs of honeymooners,” DeYoung said.

The exhibit includes pictures from the beginnings of Donckers in 1896 when it was a fruit, candy and tobacco stand. There are also artifacts from and the history of Northern State Normal School, which later became Northern Michigan University. The exhibit even includes outfits from that time, including a Marquette City Band uniform from 1923.

The “Centennials” exhibit will be showcased at the Marquette Regional History Center until May 12. Admission for NMU students is $3 with student ID, $7 for the general public, and $2 for visitors age 12 and under.