Grant Administration

Northern Michigan University invites applications for the Grace H. Magnaghi Upper Peninsula Research Grant for research at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives/Lydia M. Olson Library and other supporting resources in the Upper Peninsula. The grant monies are given in order to further scholarly research about the history and culture of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and to aid the researcher with some of the expenses incurred in this endeavor.

The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives is a repository for manuscript collections that document the history of the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan and archival records that document the history of Northern Michigan University. The Archives also has an online bibliography of the Upper Peninsula entitled “Portals to the Past” (Magnaghi). Possible topical research areas include the history of education, the labor movement, politics and government, environmental preservation, religion, linguistics, immigration, literature and culture.

Applications will be drawn from proposed projects that extensively use the archives and library collections. Proposed projects must be scholarly in scope and may include thesis, dissertations, research papers and publications.


The Grace H. Magnaghi Upper Peninsula Research Grant was established by Grace Magnaghi in 1999, for the support of research on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


The amount and number of awards will vary based on the NMU Foundation Spending Policy. A recipient may be funded for only two consecutive years on the same research.

Selection Committee

The Selection Committee will consist of the University Archivist, History Department Head, a faculty member with knowledge of the topic, and the Dean of Graduate Studies or designee.  

Grant Requirements

Upon completion of the research, successful applicants will:

  • Write a short one-page report of their activity in the archives/library and include receipts for expenses.
  • Conduct a public presentation within the Upper Peninsula, such as at the Sonderegger Symposium on regional history at NMU, a presentation for the public at the Archives, or within a classroom on the topic of study, etc.
  • Provide a hard copy (book, periodical, paper or dissertation, etc.) upon publication or completion of research to the NMU Archives which will further additional studies on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan--within a year of receiving the grant unless the recipient has applied for another year.

Applicants must submit:

  • A completed application form.
  • A current resume/vita and two letters of recommendation.
  • Evidence of Institutional Review Board clearance if necessary.

Suggested places to present your research locally:

The Soderegger Symposium, NMU Archive's Lecture Series, The Maritime Museum, The Iron Industry Museum, The Marquette Regional Museum, NMU's Science on Tap, The Historical Society of Michigan, The U.P. History Conference, Peter White Public Library, Michigan Historical Society Publications, The Chronicle of Michigan History. 

Please contact the organizations you are interested in working with for more information.

For graduate student winners, additional options are the Celebration of Student Scholarship, the Three Minute Thesis competition.


Grace Magnaghi

Grace H. Magnaghi was born on February 8, 1911 in her beloved San Francisco, to Martin and Catherine (Claverie) Mendiara, natives of France. After graduating from Galileo High School and attending commercial-business school, she was employed as a bookkeeper for numerous San Francisco firms for over a decade. She married Mario V. Magnaghi on August 2, 1931. They had two sons, Russell and Roger Magnaghi.

Throughout her life, Grace Magnaghi enjoyed history and traveling to historic sites which meant she kept journals of each of her trips. While visiting the Gettysburg battlefield, she recited the Gettysburg Address—by heart. Always interested in the news whether on TV or the San Francisco Chronicle, she kept abreast of the late breaking news stories, especially politics and history.

In high school, Grace Magnaghi first learned about iron ore shipments at the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula. During the summer months, she visited-- Mackinac Island, Copper Harbor and the Soo. While visiting the canal she finally saw what she had learned so many years before.

Grace Magnaghi moved to Marquette in1999 because of declining health to be nearer her family where she developed a new life in the Upper Peninsula. She played the piano/keyboard, had a wonderful sense of humor, went to the gym, went to the Landmark for a “burger and beer” or celebrated Bastille Day (France Independence) with “crepes and Champagne” and an “Ala Santé”. Although she spoke English, French was her first language, which she constantly promoted to anyone who wished to learn it. After 10 years in Marquette and celebrating 100 years, she died on March 9, 2011.

Since 1999, she had been interested in seeing that the heritage of the region was promoted by researchers and scholars and thus created this endowment--Grace H. Magnaghi Upper Peninsula Research Grant Endowment which supports scholarly research about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (education, the labor movement, politics and government, environmental preservation, religion, linguistics, immigration, literature, and culture).

Evaluating Acceptance and Commitment Training on Life Satisfaction with Veterans, Focusing on Values, Quality of Life, and Mindfulness.


Julianna Weir, Northern Michigan University's first graduate recipient of the Grace Magnaghi Research Grant, examined whether or not there is any increase in life satisfaction and value recognition with the involvement of mindfulness while using Acceptance and Commitment Training by Veterans of the US Armed Forces. Her goal was to determine what values, if any, were able to contribute to one's overall sense of life satisfaction while adjusting back to the role of a civilian. In doing so, Weir accumulated data to determine ultimately how effective mindfulness training was on this particular demographic.

A Land Apart: Life and Explorations of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’ a biography of George Shiras III.


James McCommons became acquainted with George Shiras III while leafing through the two-volume set by Shiras titled Hunting Wild Life with Camera and Flashlight, which featured more than 950 photographs Shiras had taken over 65 years of traversing the woods and waters of the Upper Peninsula and across North America.   After learning about Shiras’s groundbreaking photographs and contributions toward wildlife conservation, McCommons felt Shiras warranted more attention and credit for his impressive accomplishments.  

McCommons set out to complete a definitive biography of George Shiras III. His research included sources such as an unfinished Shiras autobiography, letters and scrapbooks which were gifted to the NMU and Central U.P. Archives by the University of Pittsburgh, as well as early images housed in NMU's DeVos Art Museum.  McCommons published his findings in 2019 in a biography titled, Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography.  The book recounts Shiras's life and craft as he traveled to wild country in Upper Michigan and North America, refined his trail-camera techniques, and advocated for the protection of wildlife.  The biography was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan.

Researching the Venerable: Frederic Baraga and the Catholic Hierarchy


Frederic Baraga is one of the most recognizable names in Upper Peninsula history. Dr. James Seelye of Kent State University at Stark and recipient of the Grace Magnaghi Visiting Research Grant, has been researching and writing about Frederic Baraga in a scholarly capacity for over ten years. His presentation discusses how Baraga is remembered by different people, as well as the challenges, obstacles, and rewards involved in conducing research on a man who is, quite literally, Venerable.

This presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

The Embezzling Bishop


On October 15th, 2015, Liz Fielding-Oliver presented “The Embezzling Bishop”. The Embezzling Bishop is about Hayward Abelwhite, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan in the 1930s, who was found guilty of embezzling up to $99,000. The story involved dark secrets, chorus girls, Chicago nightclubs, a devastating fire, and a record setting blizzard: all set against the background of the Great Depression.

Ms. Oliver's presentation can be viewed on YouTube here.

Cordwood at Coalwood


Aaron Howe presented what he learned through his research at the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives during the summer prior. In summary, Coalwood, located roughly ten miles south of Munising, was a large cordwood camp that provided fuel for the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company's nearby furnaces. Combining archival and archaeological​ data, Aaron Howe's presentation focused on the history of Coalwood, which operated from c. 1900-1912, and its relation to the functioning of Cleveland-Cliffs. Hundreds of men, women, and children made Coalwood their home while cutting cordwood during a period of rapid diversification for the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company.

Julia Tibbitt's Battle for Presque Isle


Kathy Warnes was one of the recipients of the Grace H. Magnaghi Visiting Researcher Grant in 2013. Kathy's research focused on Julia Tibbitts, one of Marquette's most famous environmental activist in the 1970s. Kathy used the Julia Tibbitts papers housed in the Central U.P and NMU Archives for her research and presented as part of our National Archives Month celebration.