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Norman "Boots" Kukuk papers

 Collection — Box: 28-01-04
Identifier: MSS-400

Content Description

This collection contains three scrapbooks of photographic and paper materials. It consists mostly of photographic material that documents Boots’ career as the Director of Education for the City of Marquette, from about 1944 to 1951, as well as other photographs that depict Boots’ time as both a sports coach and player, from about 1936-1941. The photographs depict various events and sports that he oversaw. Especially notable subjects from the photographs include the Palestra, which was an ice skating rink in Marquette; the VJ Day Parade; Ice Hockey; and Baseball. Part of what makes these photos so unique is that there are not many pictures of the former subjects in existence anymore. The few newspaper articles in the collection concern events during Boots’ life, from 1936-1985.


  • 1936 - 1985

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on this collection. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the records of the Norman “Boots” Kukuk papers, MSS-400, 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 / Historical

Norman Edward Kukuk, also known as “Boots” Kukuk, was born in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, on October 8th, 1918, to Edward Hugo Kukuk and Martha Maria Magdalene (Bohlmann) Kukuk. When he was only a year old, his family moved to Marquette, making it the true hometown of “Boots” Kukuk. Growing up, Boots was always playing sports like hockey, football, and track. He was even selected to play hockey for the Marquette Millennials at the unusually young age of 17. Despite the fact that Boots was 4 years younger than most other players, he managed to win many awards and break records. Before graduating from Marquette public schools in 1936, Boots earned three varsity letters in track and field. In his four years at Northern State Teachers College, Boots earned three varsity letters for football and track and field while continuing to play hockey for the Marquette Sentinels and maintaining his grades. He held the record for pole vault until 1939 and also earned a gold track shoe for javelin in 1940. In the same year, Boots was recommended to try out for the United States Olympic Hockey Team, but the state of World War II the following year put an end to those hopes. However, family lore claims that Adolf Hitler actually invited Boots to play hockey against the German team, but Boots’ father destroyed the letter the day he got it. Upon graduation from Northern State Teachers College, Marquette public schools employed Boots as an Industrial Arts teacher and as a track and football coach. In 1941, Boots considered trying out for the Chicago Blackhawks or the Cleveland Barons Professional Hockey Clubs but was drafted into the army. He entered the U.S. Navy’s flight program on November 24, 1941. Boots was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Heroism Medal in August of 1944. He also earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air Medals during his time in the Navy. After the War, Boots returned to Marquette and became the Director of Recreation for the City of Marquette. He accomplished a great many things during his time as director, such as installing the first artificial ice plant in the Palestra, the indoor community ice rink. In addition, Boots managed all of the city’s recreational programs, such as sporting events and festivals. Despite all this work, Boots still found the time to play hockey with the Marquette Sentinels for several more years before finally retiring his jersey. Boots married Grace Hawken on June 12, 1948, at the First Presbyterian Church in Marquette. Together they had two children: Jon Norman and Nancy Lynn. Grace also had another child, Carol, from a previous marriage. In 1951, Boots earned his Master’s degree in Educational and Municipal Administration from Michigan State University. Before returning to Marquette, Boots worked as a superintendent for a school district in downstate Michigan until 1957, when he accepted a position as the Recreational Director of the Marquette Branch Prison. In 1959, Boots was promoted to the Director of Education and became the first full-time educational administrator at the prison. Boots’ most significant achievement as Director of Education was the establishment of the Adult Basic Education Programs at the prison. By 1974, the program allowed prisoners to earn a degree from NMU. That same year, Boots won the NMU Distinguished Alumni award. Boots retired in 1975 and was inducted into the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame in 1978 and the NMU Sports Hall of Fame in 1984.


1 box (1/2 cubic foot box, archival quality.)

Language of Materials



The original order of the three scrapbooks has been maintained, while the content of each scrapbook has been divided into groups of fifteen or so in the order that they were in the scrapbook. EX: Recreation Scrapbook 1: Hockey-Baseball, Folder 1/14.

Custodial History

This collection was donated to the Central Upper Peninsula Archives by Sue Kukuk, wife of Boots' son, Jon Norman Kukuk in September of 2017.

Condition Description

Pictures and paper are yellowing and in some cases are cracked and brittle. Some repair work will need to be done and the photographs, for the most part, should be sleeved in new protective plastic. (UPDATE: 11-14-17) Photographs have all been sleeved and repaired to the best of our abilities. Newspaper articles in Folder 1/14 have been copied and the copies have replaced the originals. All material has been put in acid-free folders.

Norman "Boots" Kukuk papers
Grace A. Menter
November 9, 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

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.

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