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Julia K. Tibbitts papers

Identifier: MSS-145

Scope and Contents note

The collection is composed primarily of research materials collected by Julia K. Tibbitts for use in her case against the expansion of the Upper Peninsula Generating Company’s power plant in Marquette, Michigan. The materials include court documents highlighting the accomplishments of Superior Public Rights, Inc. and their fight to protect the environment, correspondence, newspaper articles, research documents, maps, blueprints, and legal reference documents. The court documents are nearly complete, as Ms. Tibbitts gathered most of the court proceedings for her own records. However, a weakness within the collection is that at times there appears to be no direct connection as to how Tibbitts used them in her research. Also included are photographs and a scrapbook. The inclusive dates of this collection are 1964 – 1979 and the bulk dates are 1973 – 1977.

For preservation purposes, the newspaper articles were photocopied onto acid-free paper and the original clippings were discarded. Also, all duplicate materials were discarded.

Julia’s primary objective was to protect historical Presque Isle, a unique and beautiful island designated as a park, from hazard and destruction by the expansion of the Upper Peninsula Generating Company power plant in Marquette, Michigan (located at the mouth of the dead river, .25 miles from Presque Isle). She did everything in her power “to stop the steps of destruction which would eventually lead to the environmental poisoning of Presque Isle” (Tibbitts). Tibbitts used her own personal fortune to hire a lawyer, and file a lawsuit against the Upper Peninsula Generating Company to stop expansion of the power plant. Also, Tibbitts gathered with her lawyer Peter Shumar, and several courageous homeowners, in the power plant vicinity, to form Superior Public Rights Incorporated, dedicated to protect Marquette’s shore front by any means, within compliance of the law.

To learn more about Julia Tibbitts and her case against the Upper Peninsula Generating Company, please see: Tibbitts, Julia K. Let's Go Around the Island. Marquette, MI: J.K. Tibbitts, 1992.


  • 1964-1979
  • Majority of material found within 1973 - 1979


Conditions Governing Access note

No restrictions. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish material from the Julia K Tibbitts papers, MSS-145, must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1225, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.

Biographical note

Julia Koch Tibbitts was born on October 1, 1917 to Otto and Onota (Schaffer) Koch. She was a life-long resident of the Marquette area. Born and raised in Onota just 25 miles east of Marquette. She later travelled and graduated from Principia Upper School in St. Louis, Missouri (1936), Ogontz School for Young Ladies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1938), and Northern Michigan University (1965).

Julia’s husband of 33 years, Munro Longyear Tibbitts, had passed away in April 1973, while they were staying at their winter home in Nogales, Arizona. Julia and her sister then drove back to Marquette. Once they arrived, they decided “let’s go around the island.” However, as they approached Presque Isle, they found disaster: bulldozers, barges, and large pipes everywhere – the beach was a catastrophe! This angered Julia very much, “what [were] they trying to do to the island?” She had soon composed a letter to the local newspaper, The Mining Journal. The letter was successful and she received many responses from the townspeople, all equally angered by the situation. Thus began Julia’s long journey.

Julia died on March 12, 2008, at the Tendercare Health Center in Munising, Michigan. She was 90 yrs old. Julia had lived a long and accomplished life, making a difference in this world.


2 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

This collection is arranged into six series: I. Newspaper articles; II. Correspondence; III. Research; IV. Legal reference documents; V. Published manuscript; VI. Court documents; VII. Photographs and scrapbook. Materials within each series are arranged chronologically and then by subject.

The series' contents are as follows:

I. Newspaper Articles, 9 folders, 1970 – 1979. For preservation purposes, the articles have all been photocopied and organized chronologically. These articles pertain to the legal challenges against the Upper Peninsula Generating Company’s expansion plans at Presque Isle. Additionally, there are articles that summarize the progress of Superior Public Rights, Inc. and their legal challenges against the expansion.

II. Correspondence,19 folders, 1967 – 1977. The series is arranged chronologically. It consists mostly of documents that were sent to Julia Tibbitts and used in her research against the power plant expansion. The documents include: U.P. Generating Plant excavating permits, expansion plans, environmental findings, etc.

III. Research, 1967-1975 The series is organized by subject and then chronologically, with the bulk dates 1967 – 1975. There is an assortment of papers all relating to Tibbitts’ research, including personal notes, research documents/essays, commission meetings, maps, etc.

IV. Legal reference documents Published materials used in Tibbitts’ research. These materials include: power company stock shares, magazine articles concerning the environmental protection act, state senate journals, commission reports, and excavation of the Great Lakes Bottomlands papers.

V. Published manuscript, 1 folder, 1981 Contains the draft of James M. Olson’s Michigan Environmental Law (1981).

VI. Court documents, 63 folders, 1964-1977 Represents the bulk of the collection. These documents are the court proceedings between Superior Public Rights, Inc. and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, The Upper Peninsula Generating Company, and the Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad. The sub-series also include subpoenas, legal references, and interview transcriptions.

VII. Photographs and scrapbook Contains photographs and a scrapbook of and related to Ms. Tibbitts' activities.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Julia Tibbitts donated the Julia K. Tibbitts papers to the Northern Michigan University Archives on September 10, 2008.

Separated Materials note

Oversized blueprints and photographs were separated from the collection and placed in oversized, flat storage.

Julia K. Tibbitts papers
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


This collection guide includes collections from member organizations of UPLINK (the Upper Peninsula Digital Network) as well as the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. UPLINK collections document the history of the Upper Peninsula broadly, while the Central UP & NMU Archives focuses on such topics as Northern Michigan University history, the local iron mining industry, and the politics, economics, religion, environment, and culture of the Central Upper Peninsula region.

These finding aids will give you an overview of the contents and context of each collection. Finding aids only exist for collections that each organization has shared with UPLINK or (in the case of the NMU Archives) for processed collections. For a more comprehensive list of collections that might help with your research, please contact the relevant heritage organization(s) directly.

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1401 Presque Isle Ave. • Marquette, MI 49855-5301 • 906–227–1000
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