Over two years ago I posted a blog about the origin and first use of the word Yooper. My source for the blog was Professor Richard W. Bailey from the University of Michigan who did a more extensive write-up on the history of Yooper. It cites a contest that was held August 5, 1979 by the Escanaba Daily Press. Brett Crawford of Bark River was credited with submitting Yooper.
Many people commented that they had heard the word used earlier than 1979, many stating that they recall hearing it used during their college days in the 70s. I have no doubt that it may have been used earlier, but when was it first published?
Introducing Dan Rosandich…
Then editor, and U.P. evangelist, Bob Skuggen asked Dan to contribute a comic bi-weekly to the Mining Gazette. At the time Dan, an Ontonagon High School graduate, was just 21 years old. This was the very first comic which was published on May 11, 1979.
Dan had the following to say:
“Bob Skuggen has since passed away, but was a big promoter of the Upper Peninsula back in those days, when tourism wasn’t promoted like it is now. Initially the cartoons I showed him back in those days had no title, so he insisted I think one up… I showed all of these U.P. cartoons to a few friends and we brainstormed one day and eventually after saying “U.P. , U.P.’er….YOOPER hit me in the head like a ton of bricks and it stuck.”
When I posted the original blog entry there was a lot of conversation (mainly on the Yooper Steez Fan Page) if this was the first use of the word Yooper, or at least the first time being published which is what I focused on.
I think we can agree that it’s not difficult to derive the word Yooper.
U.P. —> U.P.-er —> and finally Yooper.
Regardless, I have to hand it to Dan Rosandich, Bob Skuggen, and Brett Crawford. They have helped give the people of the Upper Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula itself a strong identity. Well done gentleman, well done. I owe you all a lot of credit (perhaps a beer and a pasty?) and it’s now a word that I use daily. I find it pretty remarkable how strong of an identity Yoopers and the Upper Peninsula have. There are only a few places across the country that can compare.
By all means, let the conversation continue. Leave a comment and share what you think. Perhaps you can dig up some more resources on the early publications of the word Yooper.
(click the photos for a larger version)