Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

"Freeing John Sinclair" website and events coming in December

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, which took place in Ann Arbor on December 10, 1971, the Library will launch a website documenting the history of the White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party in Ann Arbor circa 1968-1975. The site will include the full run of both parties' underground newspaper, the Ann Arbor Sun; a series of original essays; audio files from the Bentley Historical Library's John and Leni Sinclair Papers; and dozens of hours of interviews with people central to this period in Ann Arbor history. For all of this and more, check out freeingjohnsinclair.org on December 9!

To launch the site, the Library is sponsoring a series of events and an exhibit titled "Rock and Revolution", on display at the Downtown Library from December 2 - January 15.

Related events in December are:

December 2, 7:00 pm: "Rock and Revolution" exhibit opening with appearances by Gary Grimshaw, Leni Sinclair and an illustrated talk on Michigan rock poster art by Michael Erlewine. (Downtown Library)

December 9, 8:00 pm: a free concert with the Commander Cody Band and special guest John Sinclair & Beatnik Youth (The Ark, 316, S. Main St, Ann Arbor) (map)

December 10, 1:00 pm: "Culture Jamming: A Long View Back", a panel discussion featuring John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, David Fenton and Genie Parker. With host and moderator, U-M professor Bruce Conforth (Pendleton Room, Michigan Union, 530 S. State St, Ann Arbor) (map)

AADL Talks To Jim Toy and Jackie Simpson

November 18 marks the 40th anniversary of the University of Michigan’s Spectrum Center, making it the oldest LGBT student organization in the country. I spoke with Jackie Simpson, the director of the Spectrum Center, and Jim Toy, one of the two people who founded the organization in 1971. Jackie and Jim talked about the beginning of the organization, its history and ongoing development, and the challenges and joys of the center today. Make sure to visit the Spectrum Center’s website to check out all the great events planned for the anniversary weekend!

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AADL_Talks_To-James_Toy_and_Jackie_Simpson.mp3 23.1 MB

AADL Talks To Veteran Ann Arbor News Reporter Bill Treml

Bill Treml spent forty years at the Ann Arbor News working the police beat--"chasing cops and robbers," as he puts it. In that time he saw and reported on many of the stories we remember: the Coed Murders of John Norman Collins, UFO sightings, a bank robbery in Ypsilanti that left one police officer dead. Much of what we remember we remember from what he wrote. We got a chance to talk to Bill about some of those stories and what kept him at it through all those years. Treml's self-effacing manner cannot hide the fact that he went places most of us have never gone and witnessed things most of us never want to see. He stood in mud in his pajamas at murder scenes. He chased down paddy wagons. He took a front row seat to riots. He sat across the table from one of the worst serial killers in Michigan's history. Treml shared his stories of years as a reporter and told us what it takes to be a great reporter in any age of news reporting. Read some of Bill Treml's articles from the Ann Arbor News at Old News.

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AADL_Talks_To-Bill_Treml.mp3 32.2 MB

AADL Talks To Heritage Business Owners Charles Schlanderer Jr. and Charles Schlanderer Sr.

Schlanderer & Sons, Jewelers and Silversmiths has occupied the same prime location on Main Street for over seven decades. It is one of the few local businesses that survived and thrived continuously in the hands of the same family through cycles of boom-and-bust. Recently we sat down with Charles Schlanderer, Sr. (Charlie) and Charles Schlanderer, Jr. (Chuck) – the third and fourth generation of store owners, for a conversation about history of the family business.

In 1933 C. Henry Schlanderer and his two sons Paul and Arthur opened the store in a historic building at 208 South Main. We learned why, at the height of the Depression, Henry chose to open a store for “luxury goods”; how each successive generation came into the business and the improvements they have made; their decision to stay “downtown” against the gradual exodus of others to the malls; and more importantly, their vision of the retail landscape in the near future.

The Schlanderers also reminisced with us about their most memorable sales over the years, the friendships formed; and loyalty of their clients.

Apart from the discussion about the business, we talked about families; growing up in Ann Arbor, Hillsdale College and Michigan Hockey (Want to know why? Listen to the podcast). You can read articles about Schlanderer & Sons in Old News.

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AADL_Talks_To-Charles_Schlanderer_Jr_and_Sr.mp3 10.7 MB

AADL Talks To Heritage Business Owner David Vogel of Vogel's Lock & Safe

Four generations of Vogels have been giving Ann Arbor what they want and need since 1913, changing the business with the tastes and tempo of life in the town. We talked to David Vogel, the 3rd generation of Vogel's Lock & Safe, who retired and handed over the business to the 4th generation, Rob and Denise Vogel, some years back. Dave has done a lot of research on the family's coming to Ann Arbor area over a hundred years ago and has collected a trove of documents, photos and family stories and shares them with us in this podcast.

The Vogel's began fixing, building and re-building "anything and everything mechanical" that farmers and businesses brought to the shop. Dave gave us a tour of the building's back rooms that house some of the equipment used back then and we've put a selection of those images up with the podcast. The business eventually changed to safes and locks and Dave talks about the "dividing line" in the 1960s, when the townspeople and students at the University of Michigan began asking for locks and deadbolts instead of sporting goods and bicycles. Dave has some interesting stories to tell about raids with the FBI and opening safes with the U.S. military.

The family is one of the older Ann Arbor "townies" and Dave keeps up with the other families that built the businesses, homes and neighborhood that define Ann Arbor. Dave talks about hunting where Pioneer High School now sits, living through World War II in Ann Arbor and the way local heritage businesses still depend on each other for support and growth.

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AADL_Talks_To-David_Vogel.mp3 21.4 MB

Ann Arbor in the Sixties: Were you there?

Girl on CurbGirl on Curb

Students for a Democratic Society. White Panthers. Student Riots. Sit-ins. The Great UFO Chase. Concerts in West Park. Sheriff Doug Harvey.

Were you in Ann Arbor during the Sixties? Do you have a story to tell? Award-winning author and archivist of popular culture Michael Erlewine, founder of the All-Music Guide (and related All-Movie Guide and All-Game Guide), ClassicPosters.com, and lead singer for the Prime Movers Blues Band (Iggy Pop was his drummer), will share some of his personal memories of the cultural shifts that took place in Ann Arbor during the Sixties and early Seventies. If you were there, we'd like to hear from you as well.

We'll also let you know about a related series of events the Library is planning in collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December to mark the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally that took place on December 10, 1971.

Ann Arbor in the Sixties | 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room

Crime & Punishment in Washtenaw County: A Women's History

A more infamous side of Washtenaw County history will come to life in Fallen Women & Female Felons, a presentation by Susan Nenadic that covers everything from pickpocketing to murder by the fairer sex. The program will be held at the Bentley Historical Library on Sunday, Sept. 18th, 2:00 p.m. ~ 4:00 p.m. The WCHS program is free and open to the public. For more information, call 734.662.9092 or email wchs-500@ameritech.net.

AADL Talks to Ed Surovell

The Michigan Library Association recently announced that long-time Trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library, Ed Surovell, will receive this year's MLA Trustee Citation of Merit, the highest award bestowed by the Association for a Library Board Trustee. In this episode, Ed talks with us about the origins of his successful real estate company, Edward Surovell Realtors; his long history with libraries and the book industry; and his personal collections and interests. He also discusses the responsibilities of an elected Trustee and recollects some of the challenges he faced while serving on the inaugural AADL Board of 1996.

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AADL_Talks_To-Ed_Surovell.mp3 20.5 MB

Heritage Quest: Benjamin Franklin as a Genealogist by John W. Jordan

Benjamin Franklin Family TreeBenjamin Franklin Family TreeIn 1899, John Woolf Jordan (historian and genealogy writer of the late 1800's and early 1900's) wrote an article for the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography titled, “Franklin as a Genealogist”. Mr. Jordan obtained original letters and records and wrote about Benjamin Franklin’s genealogical quest. Benjamin Franklin investigated his family line and created what Mr. Jordan referred to as a pedigree (a family tree, a portion of Benjamin Franklin's pedigree is displayed in the blog photo). You too can see the original documents (some in Benjamin Franklin’s own hand) using the Heritage Quest research database.

The Heritage Quest database (available @ AADL) has documents imaged from the 1790 - 1930 U.S. federal censuses and images from over 20,000 book titles, including family and local histories. To access the Heritage Quest database from home, simply login to your online library account. You can search census data, books and local histories, revolutionary war pension and bounty-land-warrant application files, Freedman's Bank documents, and Serial Set documents. I searched for books about Ann Arbor and found several, including: Polk's Ann Arbor City Directory,1915 and the Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County Directory, 1888-9.

African American Downtown Festival & the history of African Americans in Ann Arbor

This Saturday, June 4th, will be the annual African American Downtown Festival in Ann Arbor! The festival will be a multicultural and multi-generational celebration of African American history in Ann Arbor. The location of the festival (4th and Ann) is significant due to it being the historical epicenter in Ann Arbor of African American owned businesses, culture and family life. Fun times to be had by all!

If you're interested in doing some research into the history of African Americans in Washtenaw County, the AADL has several resources for you:

Additional local resources include:

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