1841, Douglass Houghton, state geologist, wrote a report
on the copper deposits of Upper Michigan. Haphazard exploration
of the area and ineffective early mining methods made evident
the need for miners and geologists to get the copper out
of these rock formations economically. Men concerned about
the task of trained miners decided there had to be a school
specifically oriented toward mining and related subjects.
This was to be in the mining area where they were most needed.
1885, Senator D.J. Hubbell was instrumental in securing
passage of the act establishing the Michigan Mining School.
This began in the fall of 1886, in the Houghton Firehall.
In 1888, the school moved into Hubbell Hall, a fine new
building of Jacobsville sandstone, with a copper-roofed
the 1886-87 school catalog, a drawing of the second floor
plan included a room labeled "museum and lecture room,"
but it was relabeled"physical laboratory" in the
catalog for the following year. At least, there was a large
mineralogical laboratory in this building, which was needed
for a fast-growing collection of reference minerals and
Arthur Edmund Seaman came to the Upper Peninsula. He started
work as a timberman but developed a knowledge of rocks and
minerals on his own and was taken into the Michigan Geological
Survey by C.E. Wright in 1885. After Wright died, Dr. Wadsworth
of the geological survey and also director at the Michigan
Mining School, retained Seaman.
1890-91 school catalog states that "20,000 mineral
specimens were added to the mineralogical collection during
1889 and 1890, making this institution second to none in
its means employed in giving instruction in practical Determinative
Mineralogy. The entire collections number over 27,000 specimens
of minerals." Each student studied and recited on these
until he determined between 3,000 and 6,000 minerals, and
could identify, by sight over 300 species.
The catalog for 1891-92 not only described
courses taught, but actually listed the minerals used in
the lecture collection, arranged according to the sixth
edition of Dana's System of Mineralogy. For the crystallography
courses, 1,800 natural crystals were used, as well as models.
For the other mineralogy courses, there were 10,000 specimens
in the lecture collection and over 17,000 comprising the
practice collection and unlabeled test specimens. That still
doesn't make a museum, but an inventory of the geology department
in 1896 listed cases in the hall at $200, and minerals in
those cases at $500. This collection could very well have
been the nucleus of a future museum.
addition to donations, the mineralogy and geology department
continually built up the collections by purchases, field
collection and trades. At one time, students were assessed
$1.00 per course, which was to be used for mineral purchases,
but according to old invoices, the state paid for most of
the minerals during this period.
acquisition of some of the most outstanding specimens, presumably
purchased just at the turn of the century, must have been
the result of a very special invitation. Professor Seaman
wrote a formal note to college President F. W. McNair,
telling him that A. C. Baker, Lieut. U.S. Navy, had asked
if the college could take part in the Paris Exposition of
1900. An outstanding collection of top quality museum specimens
from classic localities went to Paris in 1900. The fine
case in which the collection was displayed was made in Paris
and returned with the specimens. This exhibit won awards
for displays of minerals, maps, and mine models at Paris
and other exhibitions, such as Pan American Exposition at
Buffalo, New York, 1901, and Louisiana Purchase Exposition
at St. Louis, Missouri in 1904. The awards have been on
exhibit since that time.
museum became a reality in 1902 it was mentioned in the
1902-03 MCM catalog as being set up in the former Qualitative
Laboratory room. In
1907, the legislature provided for a fire-proof building
to house the library, administrative offices, and "the
geological and mineralogical museum collection." The
museum inventory for 1908 listed mineral totaling $6,700
and polished marbles totaling $300. This
new library-museum building (later known as the Administration
Building) was constructed in 1908, and the museum specimens
were moved from their crowded quarters in Hubbell Hall to
their new home, using the entire second floor of the new
brick building, according to the 1908-09 catalog. In 1931 the museum was relocated to the Hotchkiss Hall.
1928, Professor A.E. Seaman was officially named curator
of the museum, when he retired from active teaching. In
1937, Professor Seaman died. The museum door was adorned
with a bronze plaque honoring the memory of this fine man
who was instrumental in organizing and devoted much of his
life to developing a world renowned mineral collection.
After Seaman's death, Spiroff was appointed curator in 1938. From
1943 to 1948, Professor Wyllis Seaman held the position
of curator. After 1948 he retired and became associated
with Republic Steel. In 1964, Professor Spiroff was reappointed curator,
a position he held past his retirement from teaching in
October 1975, Jean Peterman Kemp, one of Spiroff's best mineralogy students, was given the title of curator.
June of 1976 the museum collections were relocated once again to the 5th floor of the EERC building. This was intended to be a temporary home for the museum until a visitors center for Michigan Tech was built.
1986 Stanley J Dyl II was made curator. In
1992 Dr. John A. Jaszczak, Assistant Professor in the Department
of Physics, was named Adjunct Curator in order to help advance
the academic role of the museum on and off campus. The
Seaman Mineral Museum Society was started in 1995 to help
promote and advance the museum. In
1996 Dr. George W. Robinson was hired as curator of the
museum, and also professor of mineralogy. Stan Dyl was apointed to the title of Museum
Director. In 2003, Dr. Theodore J. Bornhorst, a professor of economic geology, joined the museum staff as Director of Administration. Stan Dyl's title was changed to Director of Advancement and Planning.
Check Back for Additional History to be posted Fall 2013