Keweenaw Time Traveler expands the immersive experience

The famous Keweenaw Time Traveler (KeTT) is getting a major update. On June 1, the online interactive historical atlas will add 600,000 records across 14 million data variables, an exponential increase from its current 25,000.

Moreover, KeTT will significantly improve the user experience. A newly designed user interface makes it easier to find information about people, places and past stories.

The KeTT is a one-of-a-kind example deep mapping – a living map connecting layers of archival, geological and geospatial data across time and space. Started in 2016 and launched publicly a year later, KeTT is changing the way we learn, share, and research the history and heritage of Michigan’s copper country. The atlas contains historical data from archival collections throughout the region – including the Michigan Technological University Archives, the Keweenaw History Center in Keweenaw National Historical Park, county historical societies from Keweenaw and Houghton and census data from United States — collected and connected using high resolution scans of hundreds of historical maps.

“The Keweenaw Time Traveler provides an immersive mapping experience in which to explore and research people and places in Copper Country from approximately 1880 to 1970,” says Don Lafrenière, KeTT Project Director and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech. “It facilitates engagement with the humanities and brings history and geography to life through the use of advanced digital spatial technologies. With the launch of our new interface on June 1, researchers and citizen historians will have access to even more data – data that will be so much easier to search now.

“The Keweenaw Time Traveler is a great example of what can be done with history and technology at a flagship tech university like Michigan Tech.”Don Lafrenière, KeTT Project Director and Chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Social Sciences

Lafreniere says previous versions of the KeTT have garnered global attention and acclaim, inspiring similar projects from New York to Madrid, Spain. Sarah Fayen Scarlett, co-director of the KeTT project and associate professor of history at Michigan Tech, believes the expanded capabilities of the new release will only increase that exposure. “KeTT is Google Maps for history,” she says. “It’s a way for individuals to better understand their roots, their place in history and the story behind their place. Now, with the new upgrades we’ve built, it will be even more accessible and useful than before.

The Keweenaw Time Traveler

The Keweenaw Time Traveler is an interactive online historical atlas that is changing the way we learn, share and research the history and heritage of Michigan’s Copper Country. It is the public face of the Copper Country Historical Spatial Data Infrastructure hosted in Michigan Tech Historical Environments Spatial Analysis Laboratory.

The KeTT is one of the oldest continuously funded projects in the Department of Social Sciences. It has received over $1.4 million in financial support, including the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities. Other funders and partners include the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Portage Health Foundation, and the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw.

Keweenaw citizen historians and others interested in KeTT are invited to attend a relaunch celebration on June 2 at 6 p.m. at the Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw (105 Huron St., Houghton). Please register on

An online launch celebration will take place on Facebook Live on June 3 at 3 p.m. EDT. For more details, visit

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and enrolls more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the top universities in the nation for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate programs in science and technology, engineering, computer science, forestry, business and economics, health professions, science humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is located a few miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, providing year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

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