Doctoral Program in Industrial Heritage and Archeology

“Ph.D. students in industrial archeology are beginning to emerge…There are not yet enough of them….”
Marilyn Palmer, University of Leicester in , “Archeology or Heritage Management: The Conflict of Objectives in the Training of Industrial Archeologists,” IA vol. 26, no. 2 (2000): 54.

In fall 2005, the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech will launch a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Industrial Heritage and Archeology, building upon a successful and unique Masters program in industrial archeology (IA). About that program, one observer commented, “[A]lthough a number of U.S. institutions of higher learning offer programs of study in archeology, only Michigan Technological University offers a degree specifically in industrial archeology. MTU’s Master of Arts program stresses an interdisciplinary approach to the field that includes the study of archaeology, historic preservation, the history of technology, and anthropology.” (William Crandall, Alan Rowe, and John A. Parnell, “New Frontiers in Management Research: The Case for Industrial Archeology,” The Coastal Business Journal 2, no. 1 (Fall 2003): 57.) Indeed, only a handful of schools in the world – most notably the Ironbridge Institute in England—offer graduate degrees in this field.

The Department’s faculty is committed to expanding this program of study to the doctoral level. We see an opportunity emerging for graduates who are broadly prepared to study and interpret the history of industry and work through its material culture, and who possess an understanding of intellectual issues related to heritage studies and cultural resource management. Our efforts are in line with the suggestion of Marilyn Palmer quoted above, that a need exists for Ph.D. holders in this area of study.

Special Features

International Activities
We intend the program to have an international flavor, largely in recognition of the fact that European nations have been leaders in industrial heritage issues. The program seeks to insure the continuous presence of at least one international participant (postdoctoral fellow or visiting faculty member). We already have expressions of interest from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm (Dr. Marie Nisser); the Ironbridge Iinstitute in England (Dr. Roger White); Bergakademie Freiburg (Mining Institute) and the Technische Universität Freiberg, Germany; scholars at the Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya (MNACTEC) in Barcelona, Spain, and faculty with the National Technical University of Norway in Trondheim. In addition, we are developing international research experiences.

Program Resources
The Keweenaw peninsula of upper Michigan was the center of an extensive copper mining industry from the 1840s through the 1960s. The physical remains of industry, engineering and transportation works, and workers housing are samples of the industrial heritage of the region. Within the immediate area, the Department has cooperated with two national parks and two national forests, as well as with the State of Michigan. All of this amounts to a natural laboratory for industrial archeology and heritage studies.

Michigan Tech, a mining & engineering school founded in 1885 boasts marvelous library and archival holdings for historical studies of technology, engineering, mining, and local industry. The Copper Country Historical Collection includes 7,500 books, 10,000 images, 300 rolls of microfilm; and corporate and personal records related to local history and industry, especially local copper mining.

Industrial Archeology Research Laboratory. This Departmental facility includes space for cataloguing, curation, conservation, and preservation of artifacts, as well as pottery kilns. Lab equipment includes an array of photographic equipment and GPS hardware. The facility also provides computers and office space for IA graduate students, and includes a WiFi network to connect personal notebook computers to the University net. Included are a computer graphics facility with a mix of Macintosh and PC computers, with a color scanner, digitizing tablets, laser printers, and a plotter. The lab supports several different programs for computer assisted drafting (CAD) and ArcView for GIS analysis. A video image capture system an create digital images from a either a low-power or polarizing microscope.

The Society for Industrial Archeology is headquartered in the Department, with Patrick Martin serving as editor and Terry Reynolds as book review editor for the Society’s journal, IA.

Admissions Information

Both the MS and Ph.D. programs are inherently interdisciplinary, and we encourage applications from students with backgrounds in archeology and anthropology, history, American civilization, and other areas as well, including engineering. Applicants to the program need to fulfill the general application requirements of the Graduate School. Applications are reviewed for admission by the faculty in the IA program. We use a mix of criteria for admissions decisions, such as undergraduate record, standardized test scores, recommendations, writing ability, work experience, and demonstrated interest in the field. We require the following item for consideration for admission:

1. A completed application form (sent to the Graduate School) with the application fee and official transcripts from all previous university study.

2. Results of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test. The TOEFL is required for students from countries where the native language is not English.

3. A Statement of Purpose and writing sample. Please send these directly to the Director of Graduate Studies in IA.

4. Three letters of recommendation, again, sent to the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Program currently maintains an open-ended applications policy, with no deadlines for receipt of applications. We strongly encourage students to begin their course of study in the Fall term, but exceptions are made. In all cases, however, financial support decisions are made only in the Spring. To be considered for support in September, please complete your application by March 1.

You may request an application packet by email from Bruce Seely, Acting Director of Graduate Studies in IA;, or call (906) 487-2113. The main application to Michigan Tech is accessible on-line. Please go to

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