preload preload preload preload

Beyond the Boundaries: Life and Landscape at the Lake Superior Copper Mines 1840-1875 Oxford University Press USA Larry Lankton


12th November 2012 History Books 9 Comments

Spanning the years 1840-1875, Beyond the Boundaries focuses on the settlement of Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, telling the story of reluctant pioneers who attempted to establish a decent measure of comfort, control, and security in what was in many ways a hostile environment. Moving beyond the technological history of the period found in his previous book Cradle to the Grave: Life, Work, and Death at the Lake Superior Copper Mines (OUP 1991), Lankton here focuses on the people of this region and how the copper mining affected their daily lives.

A truly first-rate social history, Beyond the Boundaries will appeal to historians of the frontier and of Michigan and the Great Lakes region, as well as historians of technology, labor, and everyday life.

“The social history of the mining frontier should be written and researched as well as Larry Lankton’s Beyond the Boundaries….The book is a treat to read and a worthy contribution to helping us understand frontier mining societies.”–Mining History News

“To tell his story, the author has mined diaries, manuscripts, newspapers, and company records, as well as a wealth of other primary and secondary literature. What emerges is a richly textured story that Lankton recounts with authority and gusto. It is a book that will interest local historians and those whose focus is social or western history.”–Labor History

“With clarity, precision, and sound scholarship, Lankton examines everyday life on the Keweenaw fronteir from 1840-1875, the years of growing pains for the infant copper industry…Lankton describes with vivid detail the tedious day of a hard rock miner…Beyond the Boundaries is local history at its best. Lankton has provided a scholarly look at early life on the copper range in Michigan amid the transformation of a wilderness. the net of topics is widely thrown, but Lankton articulates everyday life based on the facts and with eloquent interpretation…Beyond the Boundaries belongs on the shelf of every library in Michigan next to its copy of Cradle to Grave.”–Michigan Historical Review

Larry Lankton is Professor of History at Michigan Technological University. His previous publications include Cradle to Grave: Life, Work, and Death at the Lake Superior Copper Mines (OUP 1991), winner of the 1992 Great Lakes History Prize.

“The social history of the mining frontier should be written and researched as well as Larry Lankton’s Beyond the Boundaries….The book is a treat to read and a worthy contribution to helping us understand frontier mining societies.”–Mining History News

“To tell his story, the author has mined diaries, manuscripts, newspapers, and company records, as well as a wealth of other primary and secondary literature. What emerges is a richly textured story that Lankton recounts with authority and gusto. It is a book that will interest local historians and those whose focus is social or western history.”–Labor History

“With clarity, precision, and sound scholarship, Lankton examines everyday life on the Keweenaw fronteir from 1840-1875, the years of growing pains for the infant copper industry…Lankton describes with vivid detail the tedious day of a hard rock miner…Beyond the Boundaries is local history at its best. Lankton has provided a scholarly look at early life on the copper range in Michigan amid the transformation of a wilderness. the net of topics is widely thrown, but Lankton articulates everyday life based on the facts and with eloquent interpretation…Beyond the Boundaries belongs on the shelf of every library in Michigan next to its copy of Cradle to Grave.”–Michigan Historical Review

Beyond the Boundaries: Life and Landscape at the Lake Superior Copper Mines, 1840-1875 (Michigan)










  • 9 responses to "Beyond the Boundaries: Life and Landscape at the Lake Superior Copper Mines 1840-1875 Oxford University Press USA Larry Lankton"

  • mudfarmer
    5:34 on November 12th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Having first encountered both Mr. Lankton and this book while a student at Michigan Technological University, I found the book both engrossing as well as informative, which made taking the classs that much easier. Not overly techincal, but just enough to keep the reader informed. This is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Copper Country. It is also a good source of information on pre-WWII mining practices, including paternalism and labor strife. It also includes details of life outside of the copper mines. Enjoy

  • Yeah, you are
    10:05 on November 12th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    In my senior year at Michigan Tech, I was forced into the reality that I couldn’t take only engineering and science class’s. I reluctantly signed up for Mr. Lanktons class and subsequently read the course text, “Cradle to Grave”. This book was outstanding in it’s detail of the area during the mining boom and it’s decline. It gives a great account of the miner and the miner’s family. What it means to be “owned by the company store”. To get all of these accounts was very interesting having done plenty of “exploration” in the Keweenaw on my own. In my professional life Larry’s book has proven a valuble refrence for understanding the difficulties in introducing new technology into a heavy labor-intensive industry.

  • klacbakaw
    19:26 on November 12th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    While tracing my ancestry back to Polish copper miners in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I picked this book up simply to help me learn more about life in those times. Though I was looking for something lighter than this scholarly work, I was captivated nonetheless. The relevance of this work extends far beyond just copper mining, and describes conflict between labor and management on several fronts- finding balance between social welfare vs. social control; technological innovation vs. resistance to change, improved efficiency vs. diminishing resources, and the ultimate labor union vs. management showdown.

    Without wholly casting management as a villain, this book uncovers some raw truths by delving into management correspondence. Everything’s under a microscope- the management’s fear of lawsuits from injured workers, resistance to conceding an eight hour work day, resistance to development of a railroad (a threat to facilitate striking?!), spying on suspected union activists, and surreptitious infiltration of the Finnish press to manipulate employee morale. At the same time, management is often portrayed for being humane- sparing jobs for the men with the largest families, providing decent housing for most employees, and giving back to the community during economic depressions. Lankton perhaps best acknowledges the double-edged sword of corporate paternalism in the closing chapter – “paternalism was not only a means of social welfare, but a means of social control, and the companies had no intentions whatsoever of sharing control with their men.”

    Unfortunately, we get much more of a glimpse of the internal conflicts of management rather than the day-to-day life of the miners, presumably because management correspondence is much better documented.

    The only other criticism I have of this book, which is common to most other works of its type, is its often thoughtless avalanche of statistics. Lankton description of costs of mining equipment, wages, numbers of injuries and deaths, etc. isn’t put into context by displaying overall rates and dollar figures adjusted by inflation. So the Quincy mining company spent $26,557 on rock-drill equipment in 1872-73… what does that mean in today’s dollars? So what if “In 1906, men took 24,675 baths courtesy of their company”… how many is that per person? Some tables and charts would also help illustrate statistical trends, but there’s not a one in this book.

    But that doesn’t even put a dent in the value of this sweeping review of technology in society.

  • John Meyer
    2:07 on November 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    I would never have known the extent of what happened in my own back yard had I not come across this book in my local library. As a resident of the Upper Peninsula and a descendant of several copper miners from Hancock, I read with rapt attention the first concise and informative work to really explain the great magnitude and importance of what really went on in the Keewenaw area. Mr. Lankton was focused and gave his readers tremendous amounts of detail without losing sight of the incredible historical significance copper mining had on this area. Thank you for telling me what my great grandfathers endured. My great admiration for them increased even more thanks to you.

  • Brian T
    10:34 on November 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Cradle to Grave is an somewhat academic history of copper mining in the Keweenaw Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Written by a history professor at Michigan Technological University (formerly the Michigan College of Mines), the book gives insights into the life of miners, many of them first-generation immigrants, in this rather remote region of the Midwest. For a span of about a hundred years from shortly before the civil war, until labor demands forced the final shuttering of the last mine in 1970, men and machines pulled ore from the depths of the Keweenaw through great exertion, with few luxuries and frequent loss of life.

    The book covers much of the sociology of the mining environment stressing the influence of technological change over the decades, as well as the paternalistic control that mine owners eventually exerted over nearly all aspects of workers’ lives. The last two chapters are perhaps the most interesting to the person primarily interested in local history. These cover the strike of 1913-14, the Italian Hall tragedy, and final decline of copper mining in the Lake Superior
    area. These latter chapters are also a good introduction to those visiting the Quincy Mine and Hoist (Part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park) or the Quincy Smelter during parents’ Weekend at Michigan Tech. The book also puts into perspective the many decaying and overgrown remnants of the mining era that are impossible to miss as one traverses this beautiful area of the country.

  • Kirby Mateja
    12:48 on November 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Lankton’s book is a welcome change from so many modern histories crammed with academic jargon. It is concise, easy to read, and chock-full of excellent primary source material. Lankton gives the reader a real feel for the place and period, and paints a balanced picture both of mine workers and management. All of the conflicting and complimentary motivations and incentives come out well, in one of the few works on American mine labor that look fairly at both sides and don’t read like an IWW tract. Actually hard to put down – not something you can say often about a labor history book! Great work.

    Really gave me a feel for my Finnish ancestors, who worked the mines from turn of the century until the Big Strike. A great documentation of a period whose physical remnants are fast disappearing.

  • Dave C
    13:15 on November 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    An Amazon search for my family’s rare Italian surname turned up a brief mention in this book, and when I realized the reference was to my great grandfather who immigrated to the Lake Superior Copper Mines in 1907 from near Turin, Italy, I decided to order it. Knowing little of the story of my ancestors, it helped paint a picture of what life was like in the years following their arrival in Keweenaw Peninsula. And for that I am grateful to Lankton.

    My favorite parts of the book are those that provide social context to what life was like in the mining communities, as well as those passages on the struggle between labor and management. Imagining Italians, Finns, Austrians, Irish, Germans and Cornish workers “fresh off the boat” working, living, organizing side by side in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan 100-150 years ago is fascinating.

  • Michael Alan
    19:35 on November 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    I found this book tremendous in explaining why people first came to such a cold and snowy land and why there are all these rotting hulks of machines and buildings everywhere. My father and grandfathers worked in the iron mines of Michigan’s Marquette Range, but on it there is much less physical evidence of the mining that occurred. Mr. Lankton’s book is facinating in it’s exploration of so many facets of life in the Copper Country and life’s rise and fall when tied to one industry. I hope to find a book like this about the Marquette Iron Range.

  • etahra
    14:17 on November 14th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The well-researched history of the Copper Country region during the prime years of mining provided insights that were of personal interest to me. My grandfather worked at the largest copper mine, Calumet and Hecla, before he died in 1919. Of course, there are still unanswered questions which I will have to pursue elsewhere but this book included a great deal of social and industrial information.. Other relatives worked in the mines early in this century but no one now living could provide the details offered in Cradle to Grave.

  • Leave a Reply

    * Required
    ** Your Email is never shared