Saturday, February 3, 2018

February 2018 Program

Capitol Women: Librarians, Clerks, Janitresses, and Lawmakers 1879-1940
by Valerie Marvin
Thursday, February 22 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo

            When the present Capitol opened, Harriet Tenney, Michigan’s first female state librarian, held control over almost an entire wing of the building. The first professional woman to hold a top tier gubernatorial appointment in the peninsular state, Tenney was aware of her significance. In her first report to the governor she wrote that “By the advice of the Chief Executive of the State and with the unanimous consent and approbation of the Senate, on the 31st day of March, 1869, this Library was placed in charge of a WOMAN.”

            In the years that followed, Tenney was joined at the Capitol by an ever-increasing number of women who worked as assistant librarians, clerks, secretaries, telephone operators, and janitresses. Laboring day in and day out, these women fulfilled vital roles in state government as they kept careful records, operated new technologies, and, in the case of Harriet’s protégé, Mary Spencer, built a statewide lending library program that benefitted Michigan residents for decades. Among Mary’s contemporaries was another fascinating figure, Belle Maniates, who clerked during the day and wrote short stories and novels at night. In 1912 Maniates published her first novel, David Dunne, about a boy who grows up to be governor. Several scenes in it are set in the Capitol building.

            The dawn of women’s suffrage in 1920 brought Michigan’s first female legislators to the Capitol, including Grand Rapids suffrage leader Eva McCall Hamilton, and, in 1924, Cora Reynolds Anderson, a Native American educator and health activist from L’Anse. Bold advocates for women and children, Hamilton and Anderson were praised by some, and loathed by others, who saw them as distractions and interlopers in the male legislature.

            Learn about these trailblazing women and the rules—written and unspoken—that both limited and inspired their successes.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 2018 Events

A History of Rock and Roll Postcards

Tuesday, January 9 - 6:00 p.m.
Delta Township District Library - 5130 Davenport Dr., Delta Township (just NE of the Lansing Mall)

Wally Jung, a postcard collector for over 25 years, will present a history of popular music form the 1940s through the present, as illustrated in picture postcards. The program follows how radio and television shaped music into a major cultural force in the 1950s and 1960s.

Besides being a collector, Wally Jung is also a portcard dealer and show promotor. His interest in pop cuture led to a degree in American Studies from Michigan State University, and another degree in photography from Lansing Community College.

War and Speech: Propaganda, Patriotism, and Dissent in the Great War
Exhibit Tour with Curator Shirley Wajda

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 6:00 p.m.
Michigan State University Museum - 409 West Circle Drive
Exhibit Open November 11, 2017 – November 11, 2018

War and Speech: Propaganda, Patriotism, and Dissent in the Great War explores, through the MSU Museum’s extensive World War I poster and militaria collections, the new ways in which Americans understood civic duty and civic speech.

The techniques of persuasion that helped to shape the modern world were developed for and during the Great War (1914-1918).  In the United States, posters, cartoons, songs, and other popular culture were designed to mobilize the entire home front, to make every adult and child feel intimately involved with the war effort. At the same time, Liberty Loan campaigns, military parades, and other activities to support the troops as they trained and fought featured all aspects of military life, from the doughboy’s field kit to hard-won battlefield trophies brought back in victory.

Paradoxically, during this first world war to defend ideals of democracy and freedom, state surveillance and restrictions on dissent increased. These powerful images of persuasion simultaneously extended a promise of inclusion to all Americans in the life of the nation, even as women, African Americans, Native Americans, and others struggled for long-denied civil and political rights. 

Propaganda posters produced by the United States government, by commercial lithographers, and by average citizens created a new, modern way of signifying patriotism and the American people.  War and Speech provides a window to that moment, framing Americans' ideas about nation and citizenship in this critical historic era.

New Date, Location for Postcard Show
The next Lansing Postcard Show will be held Saturday, January 27, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 2175 Hamilton Rd., Okemos. For more information, check the website:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century
by Hendrik Meijer
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 6:30 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo St

            It would be a fair question to ask why the portrait of Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg is displayed alongside those of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert M. La Follette Sr., and Robert Taft in the U.S. Senate Reception Room in the nation’s Capitol. What distinguishes him to be among those important luminaries?

            A new biography of the Grand Rapids Republican senator by Hendrik Meijer, CEO and executive chairman of Meijer Inc., helps illuminate why Vandenberg is so important to the political history of the United States. Meijer’s book, Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century, took 27 years to research and write, but it was worth waiting for. The author found that a major impediment to writing a book was his day job at the helm of one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains.

            Meijer will join Lansing Community College history professor David Siwik to talk about his new book. The event is free and books will be for sale.

            Vandenberg, who in the first half of his career was a newspaper editor and publisher of the now defunct Grand Rapids Herald, believed strongly that man makes his own destiny. He also strongly advocated for neutrality during World War I until the United States was forced into the conflict.

            The Michigan senator also was noted for his ability to cross the aisle and seek consensus. During the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt he was responsible for the establishment of the FDIC. He later sought the Republican nomination for president.

            Meijer also discovered in his research that Vandenberg became close with the author Sinclair Lewis, despite their differing political views. It is thought that Lewis used Vandenberg as the prototype for two characters in his book It Couldn’t Happen Here.

            Vandenberg may be best known for his speech following Pearl Harbor which became known as the “speech heard ’round the world.” Following World War II he was instrumental in the establishment of NATO, the Marshall Plan, and the United Nations.

            The author was aided in his research by numerous scrapbooks, diaries and journals of both Vandenberg and his spouse Hazel. He discovered the family held back one page from a scrapbook…but, you’ll learn more it about if you come to the event!

            Meijer’s book suggests that there is a role in politics for that one person who steps up and puts the good of the country ahead of the party.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From the Wilderness to the Heights

 From the Wilderness to the Heights: 
The Transformation of the University of Michigan 1852-1900
Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 7:00 pm
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo St.

            This year marks the University of Michigan's bicentennial--an auspicious time to reconsider the history of this important institution. Join HSGL and the Library of Michigan for a talk by Prof. Fran Blouin, who will discuss how this once remote school, founded when Michigan was still a territory, blossomed into one of the most important universities in the nation by the turn of the twentieth century.

            Blouin's carefully researched and eloquently told story reveals how presidents Henry Tappan and James Angell, along with some remarkable faculty members and deep-thinking students, fostered exciting discussions about the very essence of humanity, challenging both the academic and religious status quo. These extraordinary ideas, which were discussed, debated, and challenged in ordinary classrooms in Ann Arbor, would transform all of higher education, laying the foundation for our modern research institutions.

            Fran Blouin is Professor of History and Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He has been on the faculty of the University since 1978, serving as the director of the University's Bentley Historical Library from 1981 to 2013. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Malcolm X's Daughter To Speak At MSU

The Life of Malcolm X
Thursday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.
Erickson Kiva, Erickson Hall, MSU - 620 Farm Lane

            Michigan State University’s Center for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, the Michigan Humanities Council, and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing are sponsoring an appearance by Ilyasah Shabazz the daughter of Malcolm X.

            Shabazz will participate in a facilitated discussion with audience members led by MSU’s John Aerni-Flessner, Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH), on the life of Malcolm X at 7 p.m., Thursday, October 12, in Erickson Hall Kiva on the campus of MSU. The Kiva was the site of an important speech delivered by Malcolm X on January 23, 1963. The event is free.

            Shabazz is touring the state as part of the Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read, which selected Shabazz’s book X: A Novel for its 2017-2018 program. The novel, co-authored by young adult writer Kekla Magoon, is a fictionalized version of the life of a young Malcolm X, then Malcolm Little, who lived in Lansing and Mason from 1928-1940. The book, which has been called a “tale of reinvention and redemption” about one of the most important Civil Rights leaders of the 20th century, also was a 2016 Michigan Notable Book.

            On the morning of Friday, October 13, Shabazz will place a simple roadside marker in memory of her grandfather, Earl Little, who was killed in 1931 under suspicious circumstances (some say killed by a streetcar, others say by the Black Legion) at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Detroit Street on Lansing’s east side.

            Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society, said, “It is important to recognize the life of Malcolm X and his formative years in Lansing. He is one of the most outspoken and important figures in the Civil Rights Movement.” 

            The homes in Lansing where Malcolm lived with his mother, father, and siblings have all been destroyed or torn down. The family’s first home on Lansing’s northwest side was set on fire by the Black Legion and burned to the ground in 1929.

            Malcolm X often returned to the Lansing area as an adult visiting family and friends. In 1958 Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz married in Lansing.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright Okemos Home Tour

Frank Lloyd Wright Lecture & Okemos Home Tour
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Lecture 12:00 noon in Room Rm 188, Psychology Bldg, MSU
Home Tour 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Mid-Michigan has an opportunity to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright, the man dubbed as "the greatest American architect of all time," by the American Institute of Architects. On Sunday, October 8, from 1:00-4:00 p.m., the four Wright homes in Okemos, Michigan, will be on a home tour sponsored by the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and DOCOMOMO-MI. 

Wright designed 33 homes in Michigan between 1939 and 1958, including the four in Okemos. The homes are in the "Usonian" style. Each is a single-story dwelling without a garage or much storage. The homes are often L-shaped to fit around gardens and terraces, incorporating the natural surroundings into Wright's design.

This is the first time all four homes, built between 1940 and 1958, will be open to the public at one time. The homes on the tour are:

The Erling and Katherine Brauner House
2527 Arrowhead

The James and Dolores Edwards House
2504 Arrowhead

The Alma Goetsch and Katherine Winckler House
2410 Hulett Road

The Donald and Mary Lou Schaberg House
1155 Wrightwind Drive

Photography by Kim Kauffman

The tour is self-directed. No photographs in the homes, and no children under 12, please. 

Prior to the tour, Susan J. Bandes--author, director of the Museum Studies Program at MSU, and professor of Art History--will give a free lecture on the homes that Wright designed in Okemos, including several that were not built, and the continued importance of Frank Lloyd Wright. The lecture will begin in Room 188 in the Psychology Building on the MSU Campus.

The Okemos tour and lecture is part of a statewide recognition organized by DOCOMOMO-MI on the occasion of what would have been Wright's 150th birthday. Celebrations of Wright's birth are also being organized across the country.

Tickets costing $20 are available to purchase online using the Paypal button below and will be available at the lecture and at the Goetsch Winckler House between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. during the tour.

Bandes, the former director of the Kresge Art Museum, is an expert on Modernism and recently authored Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie, published by MSU Press in October 2016. Bandes's book will also be available for purchase at the lecture and at the Goetsch Winckler House. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Moores River Drive Historic Home Tour

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the Moores River Drive and Cambridge Road Historic Home Tour!! It was a great day!

Moores River Drive Historic Home Tour
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Brunch 11:00 a.m -1:00 p.m., Home Tour 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Join HSGL for a peek into some of Lansing’s grandest and most beautiful historic homes in the Moores River Drive neighborhood on Sunday, September 17.  The group includes a variety of architectural styles, including Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and arguably Lansing’s most stylish bungalow.

The homes on the tour include:        

The home of Brian Huggler and Ken Ross - 1408 Cambridge
Originally built for Harry and Ragna Harper
~ ~ ~
The home of Don LeDuc and Susan Coley - 1435 Cambridge
Originally built for Joseph and Catherine Knapp
~ ~ ~
The home of Paul and Joette Yauk - 2011 Moores River Drive
Originally built for Theodore and Margaret Foster
~ ~ ~
The home of Larry Lee - 1908 Moores River Drive
Originally built for Wallace and Harriet Olds
~ ~ ~
The home of Ted and Gloria Rozeboom - 1607 Moores River Drive
Originally built for Carl and Etta Pearson 

The day begins at 11:00 a.m. for brunch at the Country Club of Lansing, followed by the Home Tour, which starts at 1:00 p.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. Tickets for the tour only are $20, and tickets for the brunch and the tour are $50.

Tour tickets may be purchased online using the Paypal button below, sending in this order form with payment, or at the Country Club of Lansing the day of the event.  Brunch tickets must be purchased by September 11 online or by calling 517-282-0671.

Order Moores River Drive Historic Home Tour Tickets


HSGL is also looking to partner with area businesses and supporters who wish to sponsor the event, or buy an advertisement in the program to show their support for Lansing history.

Sponsorships are available at the following levels:
  • $2,500 Platinum Sponsor - Top billing on all promotional materials, full-page advertisement in tour booklet (back cover or inside covers), 8 home tour tickets, 8 brunch tickets.
  • $1,000 Gold Sponsor - Full-page advertisement in tour booklet, 6 home tour tickets, 6 brunch tickets
  • $500 Silver Sponsor - Half-page advertisement in tour booklet, 4 home tour tickets, 4 brunch tickets
  • $250 Bronze Sponsor - Quarter-page advertisement in tour booklet, 2 home tour tickets, 2 brunch tickets
  • $100 Copper Sponsor - Name included in list of sponsors in tour booklet, 2 home tour tickets
Advertisements are available at the following levels:
  • $200 - Full page advertisement in tour booklet. Full page ads are 5" wide by 8" tall.
  • $100 - Half-page advertisement in tour booklet. Half-page ads are 5" wide by 4" tall
  • $50 - Quarter-page advertisement in tour booklet. Quarter-page ads are 2.5" wide by 4" tall.

Purchase Sponsorships & Advertisements
Your black and white camera-ready artwork should be in PDF or JPG format at 300 dpi resolution, if possible. Please e-mail artwork by August 25, 2017, to If you have any questions or would like us to prepare an advertisement, please feel free to call 517-282-0671.

Please note that advertisers do not receive complimentary tickets.

This fundraiser for the Historical Society of Greater Lansing is being generously hosted by the Moores River Drive Neighborhood Association and the Riverside Home Association. All proceeds benefit HSGL.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017 Summer Walking Tour Schedule

2017 Summer Walking Tours

Old East Campus - MSU Tour Series
Saturday, August 19 - 10:00 a.m.
Tour meets at the Student Services Building, 556 E. Circle Dr.

            The 2017 MSU campus tour will cover the history of MSU’s old east campus, which is closely intertwined with the explosive growth of the campus before and after World War II, when President John Hannah found the resources to convert a small cow college into a major university. Highlights of the tour will include Berkey, the Student Services Building, the East Campus residence halls, the Natural Sciences Building, Giltner, and the Auditorium.

Beal Botanical Garden - A Historical Perspective
Thursday, August 24 - 6:30 p.m.
Tour meets at the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden, 40 W. Circle Dr.

            MSU’s Beal Garden owes its existence and its name to Prof. William James Beal, who decided not long after arriving at Michigan State Agricultural College in 1871 that the school needed a campus botanic garden. Within a year this able and ambitious man established a nursery featuring plants from around the world, including England’s Kew Garden. Over the next several years he worked across the campus cultivating trees, plants, and grasses in the area known as Sleepy Hollow and the arboretum. He worked tirelessly to grow these humble efforts throughout his career, and in 1924, following his death, the State Board of Agriculture named the botanic garden in his honor at the request of the Department of Botany. The tour will include stories of Beal’s work, as well as the efforts of his successors who reimagined and redesigned the garden in the mid-20th century, inspiring the American Society of Horticultural Science in 1955 to pronounce the newly organized garden the finest teaching facility in the country.

Monday, May 8, 2017

May Events

Rock, Rebellion And Brownies
Tuesday, May 16 – 6:30 p.m.
Delta Township Library, 5130 Davenport Dr., Delta Township

            Join the Historical Society of Greater Lansing for a look back at the tumultuous Sixties through the eyes and ears of two MSU graduates: Bob Pearson and Bill Castanier. There’s the old saw: “If you remember the ‘60s, you really weren’t there.” This presentation, taken from the pages of the State News and the airwaves of WILS Radio, will help you fill in the blanks. Castanier was a State News staffer in the 1960s and Pearson worked as a DJ at Lansing’s leading rock station WILS.
Bath School Bombing Remembered
Thursday, May 18, 2017 – 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Bath Middle School, 13675 Webster Rd., Bath Township

            Join HSGL and The Bath School Museum Committee for an evening of activities remembering the tragic Bath School Bombing on May 18, 1927, when 38 children and 6 adults were killed when more than 1,000 pounds of explosives were planted and set off by a disgruntled board member. To this day the tragedy remains the largest act of school violence in the U.S.

            The evening includes a tour of the Bath School Museum from 4:00-6:00 p.m., a viewing of the 2011 documentary featuring survivors and their families from 6:00-7:00 p.m., and a panel discussion with three second-generation survivors: Michelle Allen, Sue Hagerman, and Jim Church at 7:15 p.m. The panel will be moderated by retired archivist and local historian Geneva Wiskemann.

1937: An Exhibit Opening
Friday, June 2 – 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Lansing City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

             HSGL will open its new exhibit “1937–The Year” on Friday evening, June 2, in the lobby of Lansing City Hall. The exhibit looks at many different aspects of life in the Lansing area. We'll be talking about everything from Spam (which was introduced in 1937) to major national and international events swirling around the world, including the Spanish Civil War, the Depression, and the emergence of what would become WWII. The exhibit will cover many different parts of culture, from movies and books to the WPA, local lawmakers, fashion, architecture, and flight. 

Lansing Labor Holiday Historical Marker Dedication and Reenactment
Saturday, June 3 – 1:00 p.m.
Lansing City Hall Plaza, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

            Visitors to downtown Lansing will run into a purposeful traffic jam created to commemorate a monumental labor rally held in 1937 and which became known as the “Lansing Labor Holiday” on Saturday, June 3. The holiday occurred on June 7, 1937, only a few months after the settlement of the Flint and REO sit-down strikes. For one day Lansing became the center of union activity when a general strike was called in response to the arrest of several local union leaders. Thousands poured into downtown, abandoning their cars and shutting down the city temporarily. 

            On June 3 the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Lansing Labor Holiday Commemoration Committee, a group representing area unions, and MSU and LCC historians, will gather to recreate that famous traffic jam and dedicate a new historical marker in downtown Lansing. The events are being held in conjunction with the annual Be A Tourist In Your Own Town celebration in the community.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April & Early May Events

Labor Rises Up in Lansing: The 1937 Labor Holiday and Its Wider State and National Context*
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Downtown CADL - 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Join Professors Lisa Fine and John Beck as they discuss the 1937 Lansing Labor Holiday, a city-wide general strike on June 7, 1937. Only a few days earlier, on May 21, workers at the Capital City Wrecking Company struck. On June 1 an Ingham County judge granted an injunction, which strikers largely ignored. In response the local Ingham County Sheriff arrested the wife of strike leader Lester Washburn in the middle of the night. Her husband, who was out of town, returned later in the morning to find his children at home alone and his wife in jail. In response to this event, local union leaders called for a general strike, which ended up involving several thousand people, including so-called “flying squadrons,” union picketers who traveled from strike to strike. The city was virtually shut down as cars were parked across major streets and stores closed.

            Beck and Fine will discuss the Labor Holiday, and look at its broader state and national context and significance. This program is part of a series of events highlighting the year 1937.

*This program was originally advertised as REO Joe in the March newsletter.

Building a Better World - the Life and Career of Governor Frank Murphy
Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 1:30 p.m.
Lake Michigan Room - Library of Michigan- 702 W. Kalamazoo St.
(Note location change)

            Capitol Historian and HSGL Vice President Valerie Marvin will give a talk on Governor Frank Murphy, who held the chief executive’s office from 1937-1938, in conjunction with HSGL’s series on the historic events of 1937.

            Murphy today remains one of Michigan’s most accomplished sons. Born in the small Thumb town of Harbor Beach in 1890, he attended school at the University of Michigan and served in World War I as a young man. After practicing law privately in Detroit for several years, Murphy became the Chief Assistant Attorney General for the eastern District of Michigan and then served on the Recorder’s Court from 1923-1930. It was here that he gained fame as the judge for the Sweet Trial, a nationally watched case involving an African-American family who moved into a white neighborhood and was subsequently attacked. He served as Mayor of Detroit 1930-1933, when he was appointed the Governor General of the Philippines by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

            Murphy returned to Michigan in 1936 to defeat Frank Fitzgerald for the governor’s office. As chief executive he famously negotiated the Flint Sit-down Strike. Upon losing his reelection bid to Fitzgerald in 1938 he turned his attention to Washington, where he served as U.S. Attorney General for one year. On January 18, 1940, FDR nominated Murphy to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until his death in 1949.

The Michigan State Police: 100 Years of History 1917-2018
Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Classroom C-1, MSP Training Academy
7426 N. Canal, Lansing

            The Michigan State Police (MSP) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. MSP historian Phil Schertzing will describe the origins and evolution of the department over the past century. The presentation will include a number of significant connections to major cases, locations, and events in the Greater Lansing area.