Monday, November 12, 2018

November Event

Capitols and Capitals:
The State’s Odyssey from Detroit to Lansing
by Valerie R. Marvin, Michigan Capitol Historian
Thursday, November 29, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan
702 W. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing

Join Valerie Marvin, Michigan Capitol Historian, as she discusses how Michigan’s three state capitals came to be.
Michigan’s current capitol, the state’s third, opened to great acclaim on January 1, 1879. Students of Michigan history, however, know that the road to that day was a long and winding one.
When Michigan declared herself a state in 1835, Detroit served as the seat of government. The city’s hold on the capital was tenuous at best as the 1835 constitution stated that a permanent seat of government had to be established by 1847. The battle to choose the permanent site took place in the state’s first capitol building, a two-story brick Federal style structure with a thin, steeple-like central tower built 1823-1828. Here legislators from across Michigan voted on dozens of proposed sites before finally compromising on rural Lansing Township—then-home to only eight voters.
Moving the seat of government meant that the state would need to construct a new capitol building. Hastily erected in the last months of 1847, the wooden structure was always intended to be temporary. Poor economic conditions and the Civil War ultimately extended its use 30 years, during which time everyone in government complained about its cramped quarters, poor ventilation, and the ever-present threat of fire. Finally, in 1871, Governor Henry P. Baldwin called for the construction of a third capitol and challenged the legislature to appropriate money for the project, which was soon underway.
From 1872 to 1878, Lansing residents watched eagerly as the new state capitol began to rise up. Crafted of brick, sandstone, and cast and wrought iron, Michigan’s new building clearly echoed the appearance of the newly enlarged national capitol in Washington D.C., a sign of the state’s loyalty to the Union. When it opened on January 1, 1879, eager citizens poured in from across the state to visit the state’s new treasure, confident that Michigan finally had a dignified capitol that would stand for the ages.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

October Events

Double-Take: Greater Lansing in the Age of Stereographs

By Craig Whitford and Jacob McCormick
Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing

We'll have you seeing double through the entertainment media of the late 19th and early 20th century - the stereograph. Historians Jacob McCormick and Craig Whitford will introduce you to the little-known world of greater Lansing stereoview images. They'll provide you with the history of the stereograph as well as an overview of those local and national photographers that created them. You'll be treated to a tour of images captured as a double-photograph that, when view with a stereoscope, produces a three-dimensional view. Many of the images Jacob and Craig will present have not been seen before. 

Duffy Daughtery: A Man Ahead of His Time

By David Claerbaut
Thursday, October 25, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing

Duffy Daugherty may have led the MSU Spartans to a winning record of 109 wins, 69 losses, and five ties during his tenure from 1954-1972, but he is still remembered for a 1966 tie with Notre Dame while playing for the National Championship. Author David Claerbaut writes about that infamous tie and other highlights of Duffy's life in his new book Duffy Daughtery: A Man Ahead of His Time, published by Michigan State University Press. Claerbaut will join HSGL at the Library of Michigan (not the East Lansing Public Library, as previously announced) for a free event to discuss and sign his new book. 

In his career Daugherty coached 33 first-team All Americans, but probably more rewarding to him was the fact he recruited 59 black players to play football at MSU during a time when they could not play for the powerhouse Southern teams like Alabama. His 1965 and 1966 teams either won or tied for the National Championship.

Daughtery also was credited with starting an African American quarterback, Jimmy Raye, one of the first for a major college. Raye said in his autobiography that Daughtery "was color-blind." Other coaches may ultimately win more games at MSU but it's unlikely any will gave the cover of Time Magazine as Duffy did on October 8, 1956. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Upcoming September & October Events

HSGL Returning to Moores River Drive for New Home Tour!

Sunday, September 16, 2018
Brunch 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Home Tour 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

            HSGL is excited to announce that we are returning to Moores River Drive for a second tour featuring a new slate of homes this fall! Join us on Sunday, September 16 and visit some of Lansing's most beautiful homes, including the Potter House and a house designed by architect Lee Black. The homes range in style from Tudor Revivals to sophisticated Four Squares and a new retro Modern home with touches of Art Deco. To learn more, click on the "2018 Moores River Drive Home Tour" tab at the top.

            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.

Kickstepping Through the Years:
The History of the Spartan Marching Band
by Jacob McCormick
Thursday, September 27, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing

            Join HSGL for a program on the historic 148 years of tradition, innovation, and excellence of the Michigan State University Spartan Marching Band. Historian and Spartan Marching Band alumnus Jacob McCormick will share the history of the Big Ten’s oldest band and its deeply rooted traditions. From its military origins beginning in 1870 through the introduction to the Big Ten in the 1950s, the SMB has performed nationwide and even internationally to much high acclaim. A collection of Spartan Marching Band artifacts will also be on exhibit during the program.

            You are also encouraged to visit the Spartan Marching Band rehearsal, Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the Forest Akers Trust Practice Complex on the corner of Shaw Lane and Chestnut Road on the campus of Michigan State University. 

Greater Lansing in the Age of Stereographs
by Craig Whitford and Jacob McCormick
Thursday October 18, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing

            We’ll have you seeing double through the entertainment media of the late 19th and early 20th century¾the stereograph. Historians Jacob McCormick and Craig Whitford will introduce you to the little-known world of greater Lansing stereoview images. They’ll provide you with the history of the stereograph as well as an overview of those local and national photographers that created them. You’ll be treated to a tour of images captured as a double-photograph that, when viewed with a stereoscope, produces a three-dimensional view. Many of the images Jacob and Craig will present have not been seen before.

Friday, June 29, 2018

July 2018 Events

South Capitol Ave. Walking Tour
Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 10:00 a.m.
Tour meets on Capitol Square

            Join HSGL for a walk down South Capitol Ave. where we'll be discussing architecture, people, and the growth of the city on Saturday, July 28. Once home to the wooden capitol building, beautiful brownstones, and elegant residences, South Capitol Ave has morphed into a place of business and civic pleasure with the construction of two Masonic Temples, the development and beautification of Reutter Park, and the creation of the downtown branch of the Capitol Area District Library. The tour will also wander by some properties west of Capitol Ave., including the Porter Apartment Building/Hotel and the old YMCA.

Congratulations to the 2018 Morris Peckham Award Winners!

            Sgt. Justin Moore and Msgr. George Michalek J.C.L. were honored at the annual meeting of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing for their efforts to preserve Lansing history.

            The Robert J. Morris and Linda R. Peckham Towering Achievement Award was presented by Linda Peckham, spouse of the late Robert Morris. The award was created by Peckham as a way to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation of Lansing history.
Morris and Peckham were among the first to recognize the importance of preserving Lansing history and were also pioneers in adaptive reuse when they restored the St. Mary’s Convent and converted it into condominiums.

            Moore was recognized for his efforts in leading the Lansing Police Department’s 125th Anniversary celebration and Michalek for his role in the establishment of the Diocese of Lansing Archive.

            Each of the award winners received a personalized plaque illustrated with a stylized version of the Olds Tower made from a “found” printing plate from the 1930s.

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 2018 Events

Upcoming Events

1968: A Year in American History and Its Impact on the East Lansing Area
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
East Lansing High School Student Union - 509 Burcham Dr.

            The year 1968 brought more fighting in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Locally in East Lansing there were issues like open housing and ending the ban on alcohol sales in East Lansing.
            A panel of area residents, including Clarence Underwood, Sarah Fryer, and Nelson Brown will revisit this dramatic year and what it meant for the East Lansing area. Lynn Jondahl will moderate. The event is sponsored by the East Lansing Foundation and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.

HSGL Annual Meeting, Cherry Hill Walking Tour
Thursday, June 14, 2018  - 6:30 p.m.
Cherry Hill Park - 515 River St.

            On Thursday, June 14, HSGL members are asked to attend a very brief annual meeting, at which we’ll vote on next year’s board and enjoy some ice cream! The proposed slate of officers for the 2018-2019 HSGL year is:

President - Bill Castanier
Vice President - Valerie Marvin
Secretary - Ron Emery
Treasurer - Tim Kaltenback
Trustee - Cathy Babcock
Trustee - Helen Mickens
Trustee - Zig Olds
Trustee - Mary Kwas

            An all-new tour of the Cherry Hill neighborhood will begin at 7:00 p.m. One of Lansing’s last surviving late-19th century neighborhoods, Cherry Hill is full of architectural gems that were once home to some of the city’s best-known business and civic leaders. Learn about the people who originally built Cherry Hill and the evolution of the neighborhood into a one-time home of the arts and business, while enjoying a pleasant evening walk.

Learn more about HSGL’s July and August walking tours at

Modern as Tomorrow:
Mid-Century Modern Architecture Along the Michigan Roadside
by Christine Byron & Tom Wilson
Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan 702 W. Kalamazoo

            The Michigan roadside landscape changed dramatically after WWII with the rise of “mid-century modern” architecture. Sometimes referred to as “googie,” “jetset,” “space-age,” “Jetsons,” or “populuxe,” this style of architecture is characterized by flat planes, geometric angles, large glass windows, 1950’s colors, and oftentimes flat roofs. Although Michigan produced a wealth of well-known architects, such as Alden B. Dow and Eero Saarinen, most of the motels, restaurants, and gas stations in this presentation were not created by such well-known figures. And unlike the buildings by these famous architects, most of the roadside mid-century modern buildings have beed razed, significantly changed, or “remuddled.” Through their postcard and ephemera collection, Byron and Wilson have tried to document this architectural period that was once seen on every major highway in Michigan. 

Christine and Tom share a love of Michigan and a fascination with its history. They are co-authors of the five books in the Vintage Views series. The pictorial histories, illustrated with vintage images and ephemera, explore the development of tourism in Michigan. They also have a regular column in Michigan Blue magazine. They live in Grand Rapids.

Lansing Police Department 125th Anniversary Exhibit

            Stop by Lansing City Hall anytime during normal business hours (Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) to see HSGL’s 2018 summer exhibit celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Lansing Police Department. The exhibit chronicles the evolution of the police department from its official founding in 1893 to the present day through dozens of photographs, unique artifacts (like an old blue call box), police-related equipment, educational puppets, uniforms, and memorabilia from the old charity Bull Bowls, better known as Pigs vs. Freaks. Special thanks to LPD for partnering with HSGL for this one-of-a-kind anniversary celebration.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

May 2018 Upcoming Events

The German Backlash
Tuesday, May 15 – 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo St.

            Sara Kosiba, English Professor at Troy University in Alabama and biographer of Lansing’s John Herrmann, will be featured at a book release party and signing for a rediscovered Herrmann manuscript. Lansing’s forgotten author, John Herrmann, pal of Hemingway and grandson of the founder of John Herrmann’s Sons, a bespoke Lansing tailor, often turned to his hometown for inspiration in his writing. His recently discovered manuscript Foreign Born is a fictionalized account of the anti-German backlash in Lansing during WWI.

            In Foreign Born Herrmann describes tar-and-featherings and other actions against German citizens who espoused pro-German feelings. Included in the manuscript is a nasty libel trial against the Lansing State Journal regarding their description of what led to the tar-and-feathering of a Lansing butcher.

            The manuscript was rediscovered by Kosiba, who uncovered it while researching the author’s life at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. Kosiba then shepherded the manuscript through to publication. The book release party is free and books will be available for sale.

Old Germantown Walking Tour
Thursday, May 17 – 7:00 p.m.
LCC Administration Building, Board Room, 610 Capitol Ave.

            A companion walking tour of Lansing’s old Germantown neighborhood, adjacent to Lansing Community College, will be led by LCC history Professor David Siwik.

            When German families immigrated to the United States, they often settled in close proximity, forming “Germantowns” in many communities. Germans who settled in Lansing gravitated to an area along Capitol and Seymour Streets. Many of the new immigrants also started businesses in downtown and Old Town, including such notables as Herrmann’s, Kositchek’s, and Bissinger’s Flowers. Bissinger’s was located where the Lansing Community College Administration Building now stands.

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: