1847 - Year of Beginnings
by Professor Emeritus Ann Harrison
Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Downtown CADL, 401 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting former Michigan State University Professor Ann Harrison who will present “1847: Year of Beginnings” 7 p.m., Thursday, January 15 at the downtown branch of the Capital District Library, 401 S. Capitol. Harrison chose 1847 since it was the year Lansing was selected as the State Capital.
She said it was only one of many unlikely events that would occur that year.
“It was very strange for Lansing to be chosen, but it turned out quite well,” Harrison said.
“No one expected Lansing to become the Capitol in 1847,” Historical Society President Valerie Marvin agreed. “Lansing didn’t even officially exist at the time. The entire township was then home to exactly eight registered voters, and the total population likely was less than 100. It was a bit of an odd choice.”
Harrison who is a life-long Lansing resident said began lecturing with a focus on one-year in world history after retiring from teaching French for 34 years.
“It’s an interesting way to explore history and it’s always quite surprising what occurred during a specific year,” she said.
“Lansing as the Capital may have been unlikely, but certainly not more unlikely than Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis both in Congress,” Harrison said.
Harrison also will delve into famous individuals who were born; the outstanding books published; the formation of social movements and other significant events.
For example, she said Thomas Edison, Jesse James and Graham Bell all were born in 1847 and the Communist Party was founded that year. 1847 was the year of the first U.S. postage stamp and the books “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” were both published.\
“When you pick a year you don’t know what you are going to find,” she said.
Harrison said she decided to go in a totally different direction after retirement and began teaching history by-the-year in MSU’s Evening College until it was eliminated. Since then, she has been exploring the years for the residents of Burcham Hills in East Lansing.