Information for Potential Applicants

Industrial Heritage & Archeology at Michigan Tech

The key features of the program are the integration of the history of technology with historical archeology to produce a strong emphasis upon the material culture of industry. This approach is evident in the composition of the faculty, the structure of the curriculum, and the research undertaken. The intellectual basis of our attention to material culture can be found in the work of scholars such as Henry Glassie, Thomas Schlereth, and Kenneth Ames, but it also is informed by researchers oriented to technology, including David Kingery, Patrick Malone, Robert Gordon, and Steven Lubar. Both the annual field school and individual courses offer means of connecting this academic material to the real world of field research.

In the doctoral program, we will add to these concerns significant attention to industrial heritage, an emerging area of interest in which some fundamental issues remain to be worked out. Several scholars have problematized the very idea of heritage, offering a range of concerns. Some have been openly critical of the whole idea, emphasizing episodes such as the “Enola Gay” fiasco at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum to demonstrate how heritage considerations misappropriate history for political and business purposes. Historian Mike Wallace has been especially forceful in this regard. David Lowenthal has offered perhaps the most thoughtful critique, beginning with his book, The Past is a Foreign Country. More recently, Lowenthal observed in The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History that “All at once, heritage is everywhere—in the news, in the movies, in the marketplace – in everything from galaxies to genes. It is the chief focus of patriotism and a prime lure of tourism. One can barely move without bumping into a heritage site.” (p. xiii). At the core of his critique is the call to recognize the important distinction between history and heritage – a point that often is overwhelmed by the needs of politicians, business, and media. In an article in the Park Service’s journal CRM, he calls for stewardship that “tempers[s] the clamorous demands of the immediate present with a compelling rationale for the claims of both the past and the future” ]vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 2003): 11].

Michigan Tech’s new doctoral program seeks to educate professionals who can work across this divide between history and heritage. The program combines history and archeology in ways that link sites, artifacts, and documents through extended research projects. We hope to educate such stewards for history and heritage by continuing to impress upon them ideas and approaches from other fields. In the process, we believe we can help define heritage studies as an academic domain.

Some approaches are suggested by the emergence of concepts such as ecology and landscapes, which have been adapted by many social scientists because of their analytical utility. Such insights, argues IA scholar Fred Quivik in a recent article in IA, are especially promising for industrial archeology, as they force attention to the overall picture and away from single elements. “We can now not only illuminate how machines worked or were made but also how workers interacted with each other or their bosses, for example, based on the patterns of buildings people developed to carry out those interactions” (vol. 26, no. 2 (2000): 56). A focus on landscapes, Quivik argues, is a central lesson to be drawn from environmental historians. In the end, we believe our program offers a new research agenda for scholarship on material culture that spans the boundary between history of technology and industrial archeology, even while touching on such related fields as architectural and environmental history, historic preservation, and cultural anthropology and historical archeology.


The Social Sciences faculty at Michigan Tech is uniquely suited to offering this type of educational program. Four historians and four archeologists/anthropologists have IA field experience, while faculty from other departments offer opportunities for developing skills and tool sets in this area.

Patrick Martin (Michigan State: historical archeology, archeological sciences, industrial archeology) Since 1991, Pat has guided the IA graduate program and he always directed the Department’s annual field school. Beginning in 1994, Pat assumed the editorship of the journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, continuing a pattern of professional service he began in the 1980s as editor of the quarterly Bulletin of the Society for Archeological Sciences.

Larry Lankton (University of Pennsylvania: history of technology, American studies). Before joining Michigan Tech, Lankton was Curator of Power and Shop Machinery at the Henry Ford Museum, and historian at the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), National Park Service.

Alison Hoagland (George Washington University, American Studies – architectural history, historic preservation) . Before coming to Michigan Tech, Hoagland was senior historian at the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) of the National Park Service

Terry Reynolds (Kansas, History of Science and Technology – industrial archeology, iron industry) Reynolds taught at the University of Wisconsin before coming to Michigan Tech. He also has worked for HAER as a summer historian, and twice been honored by the Society for Industrial. Archeology with its Norton Prize for the best article.

Carol MacLennan (Berkeley: cultural anthropology – industrial communities, political ecology). Arrived at Michigan Tech after a stint at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Currently, she focuses on work and workers in various venues, the anthropology of industry, and theoretical considerations, especially those related to the concept of political ecology.

Susan Martin (Michigan State: anthropology – Native Americans & copper, heritage management) Susan’s graduate teaching focus is on heritage management, while her research is on the Native American utilization of copper. She oversees artifact curation for two National Forests in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Timothy Scarlett (Nevada-Reno: archeology – historical archeology, pottery and ceramics) Tim joined the department from graduate school in 2001. His research interests include the Utah pottery industry.

Bruce Seely (Delaware – History of Technology - history of engineering, iron industry, transportation) At MTU since 1986, Seely also worked for HAER as a summer historian. He also received the SIA’s Norton Prize, as well as other awards from the Society for the History of Technology (which he served as secretary from 1990-1996), the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, American Public Works Association, and the American Society for Engineering Education.

Hugh Gorman (Carnegie Mellon, history of technology – environmental history) Contributes expertise in environmental history and policy – a matter of increasing importance at industrial sites.

Faculty From Other Departments

Charles Young (Geological Sciences and Engineering): Teaches use and interpretation of geophysical technologies, including ground penetrating radar.

Anne Maclean, Michael Hyslop (Forest Resources and Environmental Science): Both faculty work with Social Sciences students and faculty on the use of GIS and GPS technologies for mapping.

Eric Nordberg (University Archives): As as expert on the history of mining and resources in this field, as well as for his expertise as an archivist, Nordberg is a valued contributor to the doctoral program.

Bruce Pletka (Materials Science and Engineering): Materials scientist who has collaborated on projects involving the interpretation of metal artifacts.

Curriculum and Educational Program

Like our Masters course, the doctoral program combines history of technology and archeology in the context of industrial heritage. Beyond the core courses intended to provide a common foundation, students will pursue individualized programs of study that rely heavily upon directed reading with faculty.

Core classes for MS program:
Two proseminars in Industrial Archeology; and courses in Heritage Management; Industrial Archaeology; Archaeological Field Methods; and Documentation of Historic Structures.

Core Ph.D. Courses:
Seminar: Topics in Industrial Heritage. Course will cover the nature of heritage, the relationship of heritage to history, questions related to advanced cultural resource and heritage management, heritage tourism, industrial heritage field methods, and perhaps material culture and museum studies. For aspects of this course, we can draw upon professional staff at the Keweenaw National Historic Park, of which Michigan Tech is a cooperating partner.

Seminar: Topics in Industrial History. This will be a global history of industrialization that considers theoretical models of industrial evolution (cross-disciplinary: geography, anthropology, history, political economy), and the social history of technology and work.

Ph.D. students normally will earn the MS as part of their course of study, and then complete an additional 45 additional hours, including about 30 hours of coursework or directed reading and 15 hours of dissertation research. The actual degree requirements adhere to the general rules established by the Graduate School. This is a research degree, and the coursework is designed to prepare students for comprehensive examinations in three fields, chosen from the list below. After this examination, students will select a 4-person dissertation committee, whose members may be different than their initial advisory committee. One member of this committee should be from outside the department.

Fields of Study: Industrial Archeology, History of Technology, Architectural History, Cultural Anthropology/Archeology, Historic Preservation, Material Culture, Museum Studies, Archival Management, Cultural Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Policy.

Graduate Research

MS students are required to gain field experience, usually as part of an annual field school. Students master excavation techniques as well as scientific tools, such as ground penetrating radar, dating technologies, and global positioning (GPS) and geographic information (GIS) technologies. These formal archeological skills combined with historical studies distinguish Michigan Tech’s program and other archeology education programs.

MS students also complete a thesis or project report, often on research questions growing out of the field school. (Past projects are described elsewhere on the graduate program web page.) Many activities have been located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, including a blacksmith’s shop and lighthouse at Ft. Wilkins in Copper Harbor; iron furnaces, bloomary forges, and kilns at Munising and Negaunee; and copper mining activities near Victoria. Other projects, such as that undertaken at Fayette, MI, focused on work and workers, as students excavated a boarding house and accompanying two-story privy at a 19th century iron working community. Other externally-funded projects have taken our students and faculty to sugar plantations in the West Indies, lumber camps in Wisconsin, iron making sites in Kentucky, national parks in Alaska and California.

Doctoral students will be encouraged to pursue projects of greater scope. Two especially important research efforts are unfolding that indicate possible lines of inquiry and approach.

1. A multi-year investigation of the site of the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, NY, was started in 2001. The foundry became one of America’s most important antebellum manufacturing centers, producing steam engines and locomotives as well as cannon. By the end of the 19th century, the buildings were being turned to other purposes. By the 1950s a battery making plant occupied part of the site, eventually necessitating a Superfund clean-up. In 2000, the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, current owners of the site, approached the Department to investigate and interpret the history of this former industrial complex. For the past three years, we have conducted our annual field school on the 90-acre site. The sheer size of the complex poses challenges, as does the re-use and destruction of most facilities. Today, building foundations and rubble cover much of the re-forested site. Deciphering the West Point foundry site’s history may require another 5-7 years of field work. Several MS theses have been completed, and others are underway. But we envision doctoral dissertations emerging on the history of the foundry and its industrial archeology, as well studies of workers’ life and housing in Cold Spring. Another opportunity is related to examine the environmental history of the West Point Foundry, a project that will enlist the assistance of the Department’s environmental policy faculty. This attention to the industry and the environment opens an important avenue that Department faculty believe will be of increasing importance for IA and industrial heritage. We are eager to move work in this direction.

2. In August 2004, Professor Patrick Martin and Michigan Tech students led an international team to document coal mining activities on the Svalbard archipelago north of Norway. Participants came from Norway’s National Technical University in Trondheim; Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (Marie Nisser); England (Miles Ogelthorpe, Ian West); and the Netherlands (L. Hacquebord). Located about 600 miles from the North Pole, Svalbard served as the launching point for Norwegian dirigibles that in the 1920s attempted to reach the North Pole. But the coal mines, which were opened at the turn of the 20th century by Michigan native John M. Longyear, constitute an important industrial heritage resource. The early mine managers were graduates of the Michigan School of Mines, forerunner to Michigan Tech, and Longyear’s letters, photographs, and company records are deposited at the University’s archives. Documenting the archipelago’s many physical remains of industry highlights the intimate relationship between the history of technology and material culture. Significantly, the material culture of every scientific or industrial endeavor on Svalbard from before 1946 is specifically protected by historic preservation laws. Michigan Tech’s involvement on Svalbard was made possible by an SGER from the STS and Polar Programs at NSF. We intend this to be first of many international cooperative research projects.

Financial Support

The application forms for admission to the IA program are also regarded as application forms for assistantships. All students admitted to the program are considered for these awards. Applications must be received by March 1 to be considered for support for the ensuing academic year. Recipients of awards are notified by letter as soon as the awards are made.

Most students in our program work as teaching assistants their first year and as research assistants in their second year.  Teaching assistantships are awarded by the department, and include a stipend plus payment of tuition. For students holding a half-time teaching assistantship, the base stipend is currently $4,375 per semester. All duties associated with the appointment are expected to total not more than twenty hours per week.

Research assistantships, usually associated with a specific research grant or contract, are awarded by the professor supervising the research activity, in consultation with the IA graduate committee. The appointment is usually for the academic year, but frequently includes the summer term, as well. The award includes a stipend and payment of tuition. The stipend levels are the same as teaching assistantships.

The IA program views assistantships as a means of attracting qualified and motivated students, and supporting them during their graduate studies. Currently all of our full-time graduate students are receiving some type of assistantship, a pattern that has held for the past several years. While we cannot guarantee future arrangements, we make a significant effort to help find financial support for successful graduate students.

Additional information about financial assistance is available from the graduate school at

Prospects and Jobs for Graduates

Michigan Tech's MS in Industrial Archaeology has a strongly applied character designed to furnish students with the skills and tools needed to succeed in the future work. Course work includes exposure to specific practical and professional skills in addition to theoretical and intellectual content. Thesis projects are often developed in conjunction with outside sponsors, and incorporate real-world situations concerned with site identification, interpretation, preservation, and management.

The Masters program logically leads to four potential career trajectories:
• Museum work
• Government agencies
• Private industry.
• Ph.D. Programs

We envision the doctoral program serving similar purposes, as the emerging market for advanced degree-holders in the industrial heritage areas includes both academic and non-academic careers. We seek to prepare students for opportunities in such academic fields as historical archeology, the history of technology, and material culture studies. We also intend to position graduates for opportunities in the private sector and in government agencies where an advanced degree is likely to become a useful and important certification.

To date, all of the MS graduates from Michigan Tech who have applied to Ph.D. programs have been accepted. They have enrolled at Brown University, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, University of Nevada-Reno (2), and University of Arizona (2). Several graduates have accepted jobs with state or regional museums; one was curator at Sloss Furnaces National Historical Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama before moving to the Detroit Historical Museums. Another is the curator at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, a third is historian at the Soudan Mines State Park in Minnesota, while a fourth works as an archaeologist with the New York State Museum. Other government agencies that have hired our graduates include the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, Oklahoma State Historical Society, the Historic American Engineering Record/National Park Service, and the US Forest Service. In addition, several program graduates have gone on to successful careers in private CRM and engineering consulting firms throughout the USA. One MS graduate who completed a doctorate at Nevada-Reno is now teaching at the University of Montana.

Overall placement record
Entering students (1991-2004): 63 students (40 males, 23 females)
Completed degrees: 43 students (27 males, 16 females).
Currently enrolled: 11 students ( 8 males, 3 females)

Positions secured:
Seeking advanced degrees: 10 graduates
CRM firms 26 graduates

Backgrounds of entering students:
Anthropology 28
History 11
Art/photography/design 6
Engineering and math/physics 3
Business, IT, computer science 4
Humanities/social sciences 4

Countries represented: Canada, New Zealand, Virgin Islands, Italy.


If you have additional questions about the application process or specific aspects of the program please feel free to contact:

Dr. Patrick Martin, Director of Graduate Studies in IA
Dept. of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Dr, Houghton, MI, 49931
(906) 487-2070
email Patrick Martin at

Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 49931
Email | Phone: (906) 487-2113 | Fax: (906) 487-2468