Saturday, March 3, 2018

March Programs

Spiritualism in Our Own Backyard
 by Penny Swartz
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a program, “Spiritualism in Our Own Backyard,” by retired clergy person Penelope Swartz at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 15, at the Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing. The program is free and open to the public.

The American socio-religious movement which started in upstate New York in 1848 spread like wildfire across the United States arriving in the Lansing area in 1882 when Lucretia Shaw opened a spiritualism camp at Pine Lake, now Lake Lansing. Spiritualists believed it was possible to communicate with the dead.  Even the parents of R.E. Olds, Pliny and Sarah Olds and were among the founders of the Namoka Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association which evolved into the Haslett Spiritualist Camp when James Haslett bought the camp in 1887 and began  attracting thousands of campers each summer.

The camp operated for six weeks during the summer, until about 1910, when Haslett’s spouse could no longer operate the camp profitably. In its heyday, the camp owners had erected an auditorium holding 2000 and a dining hall for 250 on a 100 acre piece of land. In addition, a special building for mediums and medium training was built with 16 private rooms.

In addition to spiritualist programs, campers had a vibrant range of other activities including dances and lectures which were also open to the public. To accommodate the public, rooming houses and a hotel cropped up nearby serviced by a trolley and a train which brought a steady stream of spiritualists and curiosity seekers.

The spiritualist movement attracted some notable international and U.S. personalities including Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Mary Todd Lincoln. Locally, the Mason area Meads, Mary Jeannete and George, were spiritualists.  The movement also attracted the attention of famed magician Harry Houdini who was instrumental in debunking spiritualists and mediums.

Mrs. Mead, a practicing medium, went by the professional name of “Lady” and was assisted by Yunundeo and Yokie.

Mediums were early adopters of emerging technology such as the telegraph, telephone, electricity and photography. Michigan also had an association of mediums which issued certificates certifying mediums to be a “trusted medium” and exhibiting “spotless purity.”

In addition to the Pine Lake spiritualism camp, Grand Ledge also hosted summer camps that delved into similar aspects of the movement. As late as 1948 the Lansing City Directory listed eight spiritualist churches in Lansing.

Today, the infamous Ouija Board continues the tradition of certain mediums who used the talking writing technique of allegedly communicating with the dead.  

Growing (Up In) Lansing's Catholic Church

by Rev. Msgr. George C. Michalek
Wednesday, March 21 – 6:30 p.m.
St. Mary Cathedral - 219 Seymour

            The first recorded Catholic activity in Lansing dates to 1853, with construction of the first church beginning in 1859. The name St. Mary was attached to the community. At the time, Lansing was regularly visited by the priest from Corunna, who moved to Lansing in 1966. New parishes were established in the “Roaring Twenties” and again in the post-WWII boom. Now there are nine worship sites in Lansing and East Lansing.

            Join Monsignor George C. Michalek, archivist of the diocese of Lansing  since 1979, who will explore the development of the Catholic parishes, the establishment of the diocese in 1937, and what it meant to grow-up Catholic in the greater Lansing area. The talk will be given at St. Mary Cathedral. Following his presentation attendees will have the opportunity to visit the small museum at the Cathedral dedicated to the history of the Lansing diocese.

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: