BYLINE: Ernest Dempsey, Petoskey News
The Historical Society of Michigan has nominated historian, author, and editor Mikel Bruce Classen for the next Charles Follo Award, which is presented annually at the Upper Peninsula History Conference.
Mikel Bruce Classen has been an active historian in the Sault Ste. Marie area since 1985, when he began writing feature articles on the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) history for various publications. Later, Classen continued with hands-on restoration work as well as writing historical books that make the rich tapestry of U.P. history accessible to the layman.
In 2018, Modern History Press published his book Lake Superior Tales: Stories of Humor and Adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, 2nd Edition followed by Points North: Discover Hidden Campgrounds, Natural Wonders, and Waterways of the Upper Peninsula in 2019. In addition, he has published 4 books with Modern History Press in the series of anthology of U.P. stories called the U.P. Reader.
Classen has literally dedicated most of his professional life as a writer to the promotion of U.P. history. His nomination for the Charles Follo Award comes as a token of appreciation by the Historical Society of Michigan for this dedication.
“I’m quite surprised and honored to receive such a prestigious award from The Historical Society of Michigan,” says Mikel Bruce Classen. “Over the years, I’ve tried to unearth the lost stories and histories of the Upper Peninsula. The historical heritage that abounds in the U.P. is vital to telling the story of the settling and the rise of industry in this nation.”
Classen underscores the need to look harder at preservation of the past, particularly with the historical buildings, which he says are quickly disappearing and need to be renovated and preserved. In his words:
“We need to look harder at historical properties to ensure they aren’t lost to development or the ravages of weather. I would like to see more support for our historical societies from local communities.”
In his view, the Upper Peninsula has often been overlooked for its historical value. Its history is rich and unique filled with heroes and villains, great riches and fantastic losses.
The Historical Society of Michigan has cancelled this year’s Upper Peninsula History Conferences, scheduled for June 19 – June 21 in Bay Mills/Brimley, due to the coronavirus (COVID 19) emergency. It will be held next year and details will be posted on the Society’s website.