Monday, November 28, 2016

A Tour Through Mid-Michigan Modern


Sunday, December 4, 2016 – 1:30 p.m.
Michigan Historical Museum, 702 W. Kalamazoo

            Learn first-hand about modernist architecture from Susan Bandes, author of Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie, as she leads a tour of the new exhibit Minds of Modernism which is on display at the Michigan History Museum. Bandes, who teaches art history and is director of museum studies at MSU, acted as advisor/curator for the exhibit and will conduct the free curated tour. Parking is free and Bandes’s book will be available for purchase.

            In her new book, Bandes has collected photographs, art, and oral histories featuring more than 130 modernist structures that were built in East Lansing and Lansing between 1940 and 1970. Included are homes, offices, and sacred places you drive by every day, but really don’t know the story behind the building. For example, the Michigan Medical Society building on Saginaw in East Lansing is a classic example of modernism and was designed by the architect of the Twin Towers, Minoru Yamasaki. She also delves into the architects who designed the modernist buildings and looks at what might be considered mundane structures like East Lansing’s Dawn Donuts. One classic example of a home designed in the modernist vein is the soaring “airplane house” on Moores River Dr., which was designed for the aviator-entrepreneur Talbert Abrams and built to look like the shadow a plane casts while in the air.

            The Minds of Modernism exhibit includes architectural drawings, building models, and representative commercial products from noted designers, such as Eero Saarinen, that reflect the Modernist era. The exhibit was curated by the Archives of Michigan, the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, the Michigan Historical Center, and Susan Bandes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rock, Rebellion and Brownies - the 1960s at MSU

Thursday, November 17 – 6:30 p.m.
East Lansing Public Library – 950 Abbot Rd.

To be sung to the tune “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel:

Sigma Chi, SDS, segregation, what a mess!
John Hannah, Madam Nhu, Mary Poppins, She Loves You
Stevie Wonder, Grace Slick, McNamara, Tricky Dick   
Roger Daltry and The Who, Lennon and McCartney too

Draft dodgers, “RotCee,” Vietnam, and LSD
Goldfinger, James Bond, Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde
Gary Powers, U-2, Sergeant Pepper, Kind Of Blue
Kent State, Green Berets, Ole Miss, and JFK

Rowan, Martin, Smothers Brothers, Frank Zappa and The Mothers
Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, The Graduate, homecoming day
Woodstock, Vonnegut, downtown Lansing, “cruise the gut”
Draft status 1-A, ATL, no PDA

Bubba Smith, Notre Dame, Tiger’s pennant, Rose Bowl game
Smoking weed, women’s rights, everything will be all right
Coral Gables, Union grill, also Frandor open still
Walter Adams, Mr. Kite, Beaumont Tower, Green & White!
(With apologies to Billy Joel and thanks to Bob Mainfort, Mary Kwas and Bill Castanier.)

                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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October 2016 Programs

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

            Transportation history will be the focus of three co-sponsored HSGL programs during October. Come join us for a look at Lansing’s history of “Trains, Planes & Automobiles.”

Babe Ruth: Airport Kid
Wednesday, October 26 – 6:30 p.m.
East Lansing Public Library – 950 Abbot Rd.

            Lansing’s own aviatrix, Marion “Babe” Ruth, will be the subject of a program by Lansing historian Craig Whitford. Ruth lived next to the Lansing airport and became fascinated with flying, taking her first flight in 1931 at age 13. She soloed in 1936, receiving her pilot’s license the following year and her commercial license four years later. During WWII Ruth served as an flight instructor using a flight simulator. She has been inducted into both the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame and Women’s Hall of Fame. Presenter Craig Whitford has written Airport Kid: Learning to Fly, which details Ruth’s early life in aviation. The event is free.

And Back to the 19th Century

Civil War in Michigan
Thursday, October 27 – 7:00 p.m.
CADL-Downtown Branch – 401 S. Capitol Ave.

            Staff from the MSU Archives will discuss their Civil War online website and some of the more interesting documents in the collections. The MSU Civil War website was created during the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and features diaries, letters, and photographs from this period of American history. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fifty Years of Journalism with Berl Schwarz, Lansing City Pulse

50 Years of Journalism with Berl Schwartz
Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

 Berl Schwartz, publisher of the Lansing City Pulse, will discuss his 50-year career in journalism with HSGL. In his newspaper career, Schwartz has interviewed hundreds of newsmakers and entertainers, including the late Muhammed Ali and John Lennon. He will weave into his stories how journalism has changed dramatically over 50 years. This fall, the Lansing City Pulse will also reach a milestone celebrating 15 years of publishing.

Schwartz started as a copy boy at the The Blade (Toledo); was the executive editor of the York (Pa.) Daily Record; managing editor of The Knoxville (Tenn.); and a Washington correspondent for several other publications and news services. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more about Schwarz's career in this week's Lansing City Pulse.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Riverside Cemetery Tour

Riverside Cemetery Tour
Sunday, September 17, 2016 - 2:00 p.m.
Riverside Cemetery, 2389 Hamilton Rd., Okemos

Dead men (and women) do talk.

The names of those emblazoned on tombstones at Riverside Cemetery in Meridian Township are a roll call of the area’s pioneer settlers.

Williams, Burcham, Marsh, Gretttenberger, Proctor, Bray, Hamilton and Gibson are among the families who are buried in this forlorn, but historically important cemetery.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a walking tour of Riverside Cemetery 2 p.m., Sunday September 18. The Cemetery is located on Hamilton Rd. just off the south side of Grand River, over the viaduct and right before Baryames Tuxedo Shop and Playmakers. Park at Playmakers and bring/wear bug spray. 

Tucked between Hamilton Rd. and the Grand River, the Cemetery is mostly forgotten since very few burials have occurred since 1935. The earliest grave in the Cemetery is 1842. Many of the gravestones have toppled or are unreadable, but those left leave a history of hard work and dedication to building a successful community.

The Riverside Cemetery, once called Riverbend, is located on a 2.8 acre site surrounded by quaint fieldstone and iron fences. A number of the graves are marked with white bronze (zinc) markers which were ordered from a catalog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September Events

An Evening with Scrabble World Champion Peter Morris
Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Lansing City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

Twenty-five years ago this fall, young gamer and MSU graduate student Peter Morris was on the lookout for just the right word on his way to win the first ever World Scrabble Championship in London.

Morris, who is considered one of the best writers on the history of baseball, will kick off the HSGL's fall lecture and event series on September 8 in the lobby of Lansing City Hall when he talks about how he won the Championship. Artifacts from that championship match, including the world championship trophy, are among the items on display in the HSGL exhibit "Lansing Has Fun" which looks at what Lansing residents did to have fun over the last 100 years.

Riverside Cemetery Tour
Sunday, September 18, 2016 - 2:00 p.m.
Riverside Cemetery, 2389 Hamilton Road, Okemos
*Plan to park in the nearby Baryames Tuxedo in Okemos

HSGL's annual cemetery tour will be at Riverside Cemetery in Okemos.
Riverside Cemetery can be called a “forgotten “cemetery as it is tucked between Grand River Ave and the Red Cedar River. It sits on 2.9 acres and approximately 411 burials marked by headstones along with about 100 graves that are not marked are present representing some of Okemos’ early families including Hamilton, Grettenberger, and Bennett.

There are six Civil War veterans, one Spanish American War veteran and two WWI veterans buried in the cemetery. The earliest burial is 1842 with very few burials after 1935. The cemetery has a quaint field stone wall and its original iron fences.

Riverside Cemetery is located just over the viaduct on Grand River Ave (going east) and is located on the south side. Parking is available at Baryames Tuxedo Shop or Playmakers.

50 Years of Journalism with Berl Schwarz
Thursday, September 30, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Another man who has a way with words, Berl Schwartz, publisher of the Lansing City Pulse, will discuss his 50-year career in journalism. In his newspaper career, Schwartz has interviewed hundreds of newsmakers and entertainers, including the late Muhammed Ali and John Lennon. He will weave into his stories how journalism has changed dramatically over 50 years. This fall, the Lansing City Pulse will also reach a milestone celebrating 15 years of publishing.

Schwartz started as a copy boy at the The Blade (Toledo); was the executive editor of the York (Pa.) Daily Record; managing editor of The Knoxville (Tenn.); and a Washington correspondent for several other publications and news services. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

Monday, August 8, 2016

"Whatcha Got?" Evening of Antiques Fundraiser

HSGL and Wonder Women Estate Sales Present

"Whatcha Got?" Evening of Antiques Fundraiser
Thursday, August 25, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
108 E. Grand River - Lansing's Old Town
$20.00 per person

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Wonder Women Estate Sales Gallery are hosting a summer fundraiser for HSGL at Wonder Women's new estate sale outlet at 108 E. Grand River in Lansing's Old Town on Thursday, August 26, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Admission is $20.00.

The event will feature a talk by noted author and nationally recognized antiques expert Harry L. Rinker.  Rinker has authored more than 20 books on antiques and collectibles. He also hosts a syndicated call-in radio show, "Whatcha Got?" that airs on Sundays from 8:00-10:00 a.m.

In addition to talking about what's hot in antiques, Rinker will interact with the audience in a live version of "Whatcha Got?" 

Attendees can each bring a small antique (it must be able to be held in your hand) and ask Rinker, "What is it?" and "What's it's value?"

In addition to the presentation, staff from Wonder Women and HSGL will be stationed around the store to tell specific stories about some selected unique antiques that are for sale during the fundraiser.

This is a special event co-hosted by Wonder Women. Specially selected antiques will be available for sale during the event. Rinker's books will also be available. For more information on Rinker visit

Light summer desserts and refreshments are included. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Moores River Drive Walking Tour

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a historical and architectural walking tour of Moores River Dr., 7 p.m., Thursday, August 4. The tour is free and meets near the sign marking the entrance to the Lansing Country Club. Please park on city streets or at Frances Park--not at the country club.

Valerie Marvin, who will act as tour guide, said the Moores River Dr. area is considered the first major suburban development in the Lansing area.

Marvin said, when James Henry Moores, a Lansing businessman and timber baron, built his summer home there in 1907, it was for recreation and relaxation.

"Moores lead many of the early efforts to improve and develop the area, including donating two parks: Moores Park, and Frances Park. He also wanted a golf course - and in 1908, The Lansing Golf Club - the parent organization of today's Lansing County Club - was formed as a result," Marvin said.

She said the design of the road itself represents James Moore’s desire to live the “English Dream.”

“Moores's development quickly caught the attention of many successful Lansing businessmen who would build their mansions on or near Moores River Drive. Many of the early homes were heavily influenced by English architecture. These American titans of lumber and industry built themselves homes that resembled English country manors - an interesting juxtaposition of old and new."

Moores River Drive was also considered a prime location for recreation. Many of the homes enjoyed easy access to the river. And in those days, even the act of driving on a beautiful, meandering, tree-lined street was considered a pleasure activity.

Homes that will be discussed on the tour are the Moore’s summer home at 2126 Moores River Dr.; a home built in 1916 for Harriett and Wallace Olds (R.E. Olds’ brother); a home built for Norman and Florence Cove, president of Cove Lumber and Finishing; a grand Arts and Crafts bungalow; and a split-level home built for Lynn and Phyllis Kestenholtz, the son of a barber, who rose to become president of Lanco Electric Supply Co.

Marvin called the neighborhood "a virtual textbook of every major American residential architectural style popular between 1900 and World War II."

"It's the greatest collection of early 20th century homes in the Lansing area."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oak Park Walking Tour on Saturday, July 23

Oak Park Historical Walking Tour
Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 10:00 a.m.
Tour meets at the parking lot across from the Neogen Administrative Offices - 620 Lesher 

The creators of Pokemon Go probably didn’t know that their app would lead gamers to the location of a former Lansing cemetery where it’s been rumored ghosts played in a wading pool.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a walking tour of Oak Park and the adjoining eastside neighborhood 10 a.m. Saturday, July 23. 

The tour is free and will meet near the parking lot across from the Neogen Administrative offices at 620 Lesher Place. The 16 acre historical park is accessible off North Pennsylvania on Linden place or off Shiawassee on Durance St.

Oak Park, also known as East Side Park, was once a cemetery which was moved in the late 19th century to Mt. Hope Cemetery. In 1900 the site became Lansing’s second park and it featured a wading pool which attracted thousands on hot summer days.

In the center of the pool was a large cast iron fountain which served as a launching point for youngsters.

The park was immensely popular and hosted numerous youth pageants which would attract upwards of 10,000 viewers. Today, it used for soccer and softball and has a popular children’s playground.

The tour also will include the Oak Park School (now Neogen) and the 1929 Lansing Children’s Home adjacent to it. A short walk away on Pennsylvania Ave. are two Darius Moon homes which will be viewed and discussed.

Today, Oak Park is just as likely to attract Pokegon Go followers Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society, said.

“The tour delves into a period of time when outdoor recreation was at its height and there were daily summer programs at the Park for neighborhood youth,” he said.

“The kind of fun children had in the early twentieth century is an amazing contrast to today’s search for Drowzee and Vulpix, two Pokemon Go characters which can be found in the Park, among others,” Castanier said.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

North Washington Walking Tour

North Washington Walking Tour
Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 7:00
Tour begins at 800 N. Washington Ave.

Most of us drive by the remarkable homes on North Washington wondering "who lived there" before the street became a direct path to Lansing's Old Town.

A historical and architectural walking tour of the 800, 900, 1000 blocks of North Washington will be held on Thursday, July 14 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Creyts' House 800 N. Washington.

The tour will include three homes designed or altered by the Lansing architect Darius Moon. Darius Moon's homes are located at 915, 1003, and 1025 N. Washington. Over time the homes were occupied by a doctor, a lumber baron and a former major of Lansing and congressman. The home at 1003 N. Washington also served as a Lavey Funeral Home and is on the National Register.

Other homes along the tour were once occupied by Lansing businessmen who ran insurance, real estate and dray firms. Although the homes started as single family dwellings over time they became rental units, offices, and sites for trade associations.

The homes include a variety of architectural styles including Colonial Revival, Modernism, and Greek Revival.

The north Lansing neighborhood was self-contained with churches, shopping, groceries and meat markets in nearby North Town, now called Old Town. The area was connected to Downtown Lansing and North Town by a streetcar and several North Town business owners lived along North Washington.

Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, said North Washington represents both an important time in Lansing's growth and later its transformation in a modern city.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

HSGL Annual Meeting - A History of Fenner Nature Center

HSGL Annual Meeting - A History of Fenner Nature Center
Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 7:00 pm
Fenner Nature Center - 2020 E. Mount Hope Ave.

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy one of our city's greatest treasures - Fenner Nature Center. We'll join longtime member and former President of the Friends of Fenner Nature Center Ron Eggleston for a talk on the history of Fenner Nature Center for our annual meeting. Ron's presentation will take place in the Visitors Center. Interested members are encouraged to arrive early and  hike the trails before the meeting.

The property that is today Fenner Nature Center was once part of Springdale, a large farm owned by J.M. Turner. The farm passed down through the Turner family through multiple generations. By the time Scott Turner acquired the farm around 1900, it had dwindled to less than 150 acres. In 1952 Scott offered to sell the farm to the City of Lansing, stating that he wished it to remain in a somewhat primitive state. Lansing's City Council agreed to purchase the land for a park late that same year.

In 1958 Carl Fenner, a forester educated at MAC, became the new head of the Lansing Parks Department. Inspired by the Morton Arboretum in Illinois, Fenner set out to create an ambitious park where Lansing area residents could pursue "information, instruction and general knowledge concerning landscaping, gardening, forestry, botany, and related subjects." Arboretum Park, as it was then known, opened on August 1, 1959, to a crowd of 11,000 visitors. In 1965 the City of Lansing renamed the park The Carl G. Fenner Arboretum.

Today "the Arb", as it is still known to some Lansing residents, is jointly managed by the City of Lansing and the Friends of Fenner Nature Center. Every year Fenner hosts dozens of school tours, a series of summer camps, and the ever-popular Apple Butter Festival and Maple Syrup Festival. It continues to be an excellent resource for Lansing area residents.

As our bylaws require, we will be voting on the HSGL Board for the 2016-2017 year at the meeting. The proposed slate of candidates for the board includes:

Bill Castanier, President
Valerie Marvin, Vice President
Ron Emery, Secretary
Tim Kaltenbach, Treasurer
Jesse LaSorda, Trustee
Zig Olds, Trustee

Mary Kwas, Trustee

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Most Memorable Moments of MSU Sports

Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Downtown CADL - 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Every Spartan fan has a favorite sports memory. Perhaps yours was when Magic Johnson led the Spartans to the 1977 NCAA Basketball Championship, the career of Jumping Johnny Green, or the 2015 Women's Cross Country NCAA Championship. Join longtime sports journalist Jack Ebling, current host of the weekday radio program "The Drive" as he discusses some of his favorite moments in MSU sports.

"The Drive" is live weekdays from 3:00-6:00 pm on The Team 92.1 WQTX.

Ebling has covered sports and more as a writer and broadcaster in mid-Michigan since 1978. A three-time Michigan Sportswriter of the Year, he was a 2006 inductee into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame.

He has authored several books on Spartan sports including Heart of a Spartan: The Story of Michigan State Football Renaissance, Spartan Champions JUD: A Magical Journey, Magic Moments, and Green Glory.

A Redford Township native and two-time graduate of MSU, Ebling has contributed more than 125 pieces for national publications, including The Sporting News, Basketball Times, Street & Smith's College Football, and College Basketball, and Sports Illustrated. He also has made frequent television guest appearances on the Big Ten Network.

He is currently the columnist for 247Sports Spartan Tailgate premium website. He also served as editor/columnist for Greater Lansing SPORT magazine from 2008-2012. The former English teacher and coach in Lapeer spent nearly a quart-century as a beat writer and columnist for the Lansing State Journal and won 21 major writing awards.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own lists of most memorable Spartan sports moments.

The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ink Trails II: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Library of Michigan are hosting Dave and Jack Dempsey, authors of "Ink Trails II: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors" at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 28 at the Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing MI. The event is free and open to the public.

The book is the second in the Ink Trails series and explores the life and writings of 17 Michigan authors, both forgotten and luminaries. 

Ink Trails II looks at four authors with ties to Michigan State University and East Lansing who created literary treasures. Glendon Swarthout, author of "Where the Boys Are" and "Road to Cordura," the MAC graduate, muckraker, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ray Stannard Baker, Emma Gertrude Shore Thornton, a poet, MSU Professor and an advocate for peace, and Russel Kirk, author of the seminal book "The Conservative Mind" are all included in the new volume. Kirk is an MSC graduate and was owner of Red Cedar Bookshop.

Other authors include Detroiter Donald Goines, considered one of the first authors of the "pimp" novel, children book author Frances Margaret Fox, from Mackinac City, bodice ripper author and educator Mary Frances Doner, also of Mackinac City, and, of course, Ernest Hemingway.

Valerie Marvin, Society president, said "The book is a delightful look at both famous and overlooked authors. It is filled with tidbits about authors and poet and will lead to further adventures in reading."

David Dempsey, an environmental consultant, is the author of six books includung the 2009 Michigan Notable Book Winner "William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate." He co-edited the 2014 Michigan Notable Book "The Great Lake Sturgeon" and co-authored the award winning "Ink Trails I."

Jack Dempsey is an Ann Arbor attorney and author of several books on Michigan and the Civil War. He is also the chair of the Michigan History Foundation, vice president of the Michigan Historical Commission and was chair of the Michigan Sesquicentennial Commission. he has also won Michigan Notable Book Awards for "Ink Trails I" and "Michigan and the Civil War."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wolf Mouth Book Event with author John Smolens

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Everybody Reads Books is hosting a discussion and book signing with Upper Peninsula author John Smolens for his new book Wolf's Mouth at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 at Everybody Reads Books, 2019 Michigan Ave.

Smolens, who is the author of nine works of fiction, has written an epic historical novel revolving around the escape of a German Prisoner of War from one of Michigan's many POW camps during WWII.

The prisoner, with the help of a local woman, escapes to Detroit where many years later his past comes back with a vengeance as the former camp commandant tracks him with a sentence of death.

During World War II there were several prisoner of war camps in Michigan, including five in the Upper Peninsula and four in the Lower Peninsular, including nearby Owosso. There were multiple escapees, including one upon which Smolen has built his book.

Smolens will provide a history of the camps and the work that prisoners did there.

Smolens, who was for years a professor of English at Northern Michigan University, lives in Marquette, MI. His books include Cold, Quarantine, and The Schoolmaster's Daughter.

Smolens is Professor Emeritus and former director of the MFA program in creative writing at Northern Michigan University. During the past three decades he has taught at Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, as well as NMU, where he has been the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award.

In 2010 he received the Michigan Author of the Year Award from the Michigan Library Association.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity

Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity Exhibit Tour
Thursday, March 10, 2016  7:00 p.m.
MSU Museum, 409 W. Circle Drive
*Please note that this event coincides with MSU's spring break, so parking should be readily available.

HSGL will tour the MSU Museum's newest exhibit, Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity with curator Shirley Wajda. The exhibit explores how fashion reflects the politics, economics, and social changes of the Jazz Age. "Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity" features apparel and textile design collections with the iconic bell-shaped hat (the cloche) as the centerpiece.

The exhibit draws from the history and culture collections of the MSU Museum, including a striking array of 33 cloche hats, as well as other period fashion, and depictions to tell a story and reveal history.

"The exhibition highlights how identity and changes in society are reflected in changing styles of fashion," explains Shirley T. Wajda, MSU Museum curator of history, who organized the exhibition along with the MSU Museum's Lynne Swanson and Mary Worrall. "The post-World War I period was an exciting era of rapid social change, especially for women, who were finally able to break free to some extent from economic and social restraints, and literally break free of physical restraints of fashion." 

The exhibit will be on display through the end of August.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Library of Michigan History and Tour of Rare Book Room

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Library of Michigan are hosting a program at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 27 on the various services the Library offers and Library history followed by a chance to view some rare documents and books that relate to Lansing and Michigan history in the Library's rare book room at 2:30 p.m.

Valerie Marvin, President of the Society, said the Library of Michigan is a tremendous resource for researchers of all kinds from those wanting to know more about their family history to authors and for those doing business-related research.

"The Library services are available at no cost and the Library is open six days a week," she said. "It's a hidden gem where some of the greatest secrets of Michigan history lay in wait, just waiting to be discovered."

The program will start at 1:00 p.m. with an overview of the Library of Michigan's history by Librarian Bernadette Bartlett.

Bartlett said the Library is one of the oldest state government agencies in existence, predating statehood.

The State Library was established in 1828 as a territorial library. Today, it has the largest collection of Michigan newspapers on microfiche and the largest collection of fiction books by Michigan authors or about Michigan, Bartlett said.

Attendees will also learn about some of the library's often forgotten historical trials including the 1951 fire in the Lewis Cass building that threatened the existence of the State Library, destroying 20,000 books and damaging another 30,000 books.

Bartlett will also discuss the Library's groundbreaking travelling library program that began in the late 1890s. The traveling library program was created by Mrs. Mary Clare Spencer, who was named State Librarian in 1893. She soon committed the Library to making books available to all people of Michigan. Books "of the best literature" were sent across the state in oak cases. The books covered topics ranging from ethics and religion to biography and travel and were sent to Granges, women's clubs, and virtually any legitimate group.

Marvin said that early librarians like Mary Clare Spencer and Harriet Tenney were early career women. "Tenney knew her historical significance. In her first report to the Governor she wore 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.'"

At 2:30 interested participants will tour the rare book room and see early photos and rare books including books made from birch bark, foredge painted books and miniature books. Also on display will be rare sheet music written by a Lansing resident and an employee of REO Motors also with other treasures.

In addition birders will be given the opportunity to see several forms of an Audubon etching along with the original lithographic stone. 

The event is free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary. More information on the Library's virtual collections along with curated content can be found at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cupid Draw Back Your Bow....

Lansing's "lost generation" author John Herrmann met his spouse to be, Josephine Herbst, at a romantic cafe in Paris. He was hungover. Betty and Ange Vlahakis (proprietor of the former Jim's Tiffany in downtown Lansing) met on an airplane returning from Greece. Susan Kitzman married her boss, Matt Kitzman, after working with him at Schuler Books; Ray Stannard Baker, muckraker extraordinaire, married his botany professor's daughter, Jessie Beal; and Scott Harris and his spouse Marcy, both grieving losses, met in a bookstore.

You'll hear more about these pairings in the days leading to Valentine's Day as the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Lansing State Journal cooperate in the "Love Lansing" promotion to identify the most unusual romantic circumstances which brought two people together.

Judy Putnam, the award winning columnist, for the Lansing State Journal, has already written about other unusual pairings in her column, which you can read here.  One of them is downright eerie and involves an auto accident which brings a couple together 20 years later.

Tell us about the quirky, fateful, or romantic meeting between you and your significant other. The Lansing State Journal and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing will select one winner and nine runners up. All ten stories will be featured in the Historical Society's "Dating, Love, and Marriage" portion of the "Lansing Has Fun!" exhibit in Lansing City Hall. The winner will receive a box of chocolates from Fabiano's.

Submit your story by using the Lansing State Journal's letters to the editor option here. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Life in Greater Lansing 100 Years Ago

Life in Greater Lansing 100 Years Ago
Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Downtown CADL, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

President of Historical Society of Greater Lansing Valerie Marvin will present a talk 7:00 pm, Thursday, January 28 on "Life in Greater Lansing 100 Years Ago" which will explore the Capital City during an era of immense growth, the prelude to World War I, and an influx of immigrants. The address will be in the lobby of City Hall and will be preceded by the opening of the Society's newest exhibit.

The discussion complements the Society's new exhibit on Prohibition: the Wets vs the Drys, which is the first installment of the year-long celebration "Lansing Has Fun" which will be on display in the Lobby of Lansing City Hall. Marvin said each month during 2016, a new thematic mini-exhibit will be added. For example, February will celebrate love, dating, and marriage.

The Prohibition exhibit covers the period 1874-1933 and includes the prelude to Prohibition, the Temperance Movement, which was very active in Lansing and 1920-1933, which saw the emergence of speakeasies, stills, flapper girls, and police busts.

Marvin said one police bust ended with a life sentence for Etta Mae Miller for alcohol violations and created a national furor which contributed to the end of Prohibition. The Chicago Tribune compared it to the Salem Witch Trials. 

"It also surprises people that Lansing was "dry" well before prohibition," Marvin said.

Included in the exhibit are artifacts from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Lansing Brewing Company, Carrie Nation, and some unique items from Lansing taverns.

Marvin said the decade of 1910-1920 brought about the construction of many of the buildings, churches and homes that are still part of Lansing today. She also said that even given some of the anti-German sentiment in the U.S. Lansing still elected a German born mayor who served during World War I, Mayor Reutter. Interestingly, the City renamed the old City Park in his honor during World War II.

She also said that then, as now, Michigan Agricultural College was beginning to grow and influencing the community.

Marvin said that immigration was an important issue in the 1900s and immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans, along with the Great Migration fromt eh South, and the general movement from rural areas to the cities helped fill the need for workers driven by the expanding auto industry.

"A REO newsletter from that era reported that 87 Syrians who worked for the company became U.S. citizens through the company's night school program," Marvin said. "Also, in 1916 the largest number of students at MAC from any one foreign country were from China!"

"It's interesting--it seems the world should be so different, but it really wasn't!" she said.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

At the Crossroads of Fear & Freedom

At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom

Dr. Robert L. Green
Tuesday, January 19 - 7:00 pm
Downtown CADL
401 S. Capitol Ave.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting Dr. Robert L. Green, a civil rights activist and friend and colleague of Martin Luther King, 7:00 pm, Tuesday, January 19 at the downtown branch of the Capital Area District Library for a discussion and book signing of his new book, At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom." The event is free and open to the public.

Green, while completing his PhD at Michigan State University, not only worked locally to assure open housing in East Lansing, but was recruited by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 to serve as the education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 

In the role he advocated for educational equity and led the crucial 1966 March Against Fear which, despite Ku Klux Klan threats and attacks by southern state troopers, advanced Civil Rights legislation.

At the book release, Green will not only describe the time he spent with King, but also will provide his views on relationships with MSU President John Hannah, Walter Adams, and Clifton Wharton.

In the 1970s, Green would become the first Dean of the newly formed College of Urban Development at MSU. He later became an expert implementing court-ordered desegregation for previously segregated school districts. He continues the role of education consultant from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and, in 2012, he participated in President Obama's education summit.

Valerie Marvin, President of the Historical Society, said his memoir is a virtual who's who of the Civil Rights Movement in this country, as well as internationally.

"In addition to being on the front line of momentous change, Green also advanced the use of persons of color in textbooks which until the 1960s showed only white faces," she said. "He changed how children see history."

"His passionate dedication to Civil Rights has touched so many people's lives and the Historical Society is proud to be a part of the launch of this important book," Marvin said. 

"If you ever doubt the impact one person can have you much read this book."

Marin said that although Green was already active in social justice concerns and knew Martin Luther King prior to King's visit to MSU's campus in 1965 it was there that King turned to Green and said, "Brother Green, you ought to join us in the struggle."

Former Mayor David Hollister, a friend of Green and himself an activist  in the 1960s Civil Rights battles will welcome Green.

Books will be available for purchase at the event.