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

"Back Page: A Super Colossal Production" from the Ann Arbor News

In 1936, the Ann Arbor News produced this 16-mm silent film titled "Back Page: A Super Colossal Production." Inspired by The Front Page (1931), this tongue-in-cheek feature chronicles a day in the life of the Display Advertising Department staff as they go about securing an ad from a local business in time for the paper's daily run. 1936 marks the year the Ann Arbor News acquired its new printing press and completed the News building at 340 E. Huron--both of which feature prominently in the film. You'll even catch a glimpse of the Bell Tower under construction and also completed that year.

You may have read that the Library received the Ann Arbor News archive after the News closed last year. Although we have a lot of work to do before this material becomes available, we couldn't resist sharing this film with you right away. You can view the film above or download it here.

University School of Music Building, 325 Maynard St.

School of Music building, 325 MaynardSchool of Music building, 325 Maynard

"In 1893, about two hundred citizens of Ann Arbor formed a School of Music Building Association, buying shares of stock in the total amount of $25,000, to erect a building at 325 Maynard Street. In 1916, the original building was reconfigured and heavily remodeled, to appear as it does in this photograph. The west end of the Nickels Arcade then went up next door, abutting the Music School on the south. Brick on the new facade was laid in alternating courses of stringers and headers, with half-timbering above -- Tudor-style ornament that closely matched the woodwork on the the home of Albert Lockwood, at 700 Oxford Road, which was built in 1910. In 1925, ownership of the School of Music Building was transferred to the University Musical Society. This building was torn down in 1965, after the school had moved to its present location on North Campus. At left is the old Ann Arbor Press Building, which was demolished soon after, clearing the site for construction of an addition to Jacobson's department store (now Borders) and the parking structure above. The Nickels Arcade remains, but an alleyway -- "Ant Alley" -- now runs along its north wall." ~Wystan Stevens

100 Years of UMS programs and photographs now online

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Now you can relive your favorite UMS concerts online. AADL has collaborated with University Musical Society (UMS) to create an online archive, University Musical Society: A History of Great Performances. The site currently provides browsing and full-text searching access to historical programs from the first 100 UMS seasons. We've also started a collection of photographs that captures both rare backstage and performance photographs from 131 years of UMS history.

A sneak peek into the future of the University Musical Society's past

Bernstein conducting

Join us on Sunday, March 14, when the Ann Arbor District Library and the University Musical Society (UMS) will unveil two new collections as part of an ongoing collaboration to bring UMS archives online. We'll demonstrate how to browse and search thousands of pages of historical programs from the Society's first 100 seasons. We'll also provide a glimpse into our growing collection of over 900 photographs featuring backstage and candid shots of performers throughout UMS's rich history. Following a brief demonstration of each collection, UMS President Ken Fischer will highlight some memorable events and anecdotes from seasons past.

Sunday, March 14, 2-4 p.m. | Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room

AADL Productions Podcast: Bring It Back, Take It Forward Conference

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Bring It Back, Take It Forward (BIBTIF), a 3-day conference celebrating 50 years of activism in southeast Michigan, will take place March 12-14, 2010. In this podcast, we talk with two of the conference organizers, Elizabeth Gonzalez and James Toy. Gonzalez, a graduate student in the UM School of Social Work, and Toy, a veteran activist and founding member of the University's Lesbian-Gay Male Programs Office in 1971, reflect on the achievements and challenges of activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as their hopes for the conference and the future of the progressive movement.

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AADL_Productions_Podcast-BIBTIF.mp3 28.71 MB

Bring It Back, Take It Forward: March 12-14

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What do Michigan alumni Arturo Rodriguez, Dean Baker, Bill Ayers, and Harvey Wasserman have in common? They were all campus activists in the late-1960s and early 1970s--and they're coming back to the University of Michigan March 12-14 for Bring it Back, Take it Forward (BIBTIF), a three-day conference at the Rackham Building. The conference will feature a dozen panel presentations focusing on several topics including the environment, health care, feminism, immigration rights, the underground media, TBLG issues and the progressive movement itself. Speakers will consider the future of progressive activism and reflect on previous milestones, including the 40th anniversary of the Black Action Movement (BAM) and the 45th anniversary of the first teach-in against the Vietnam War here at the University of Michigan.

A full list of presenters and programs is available here. For additional details and background on the presenters, visit the BIBTIF website.

Germantown: Old but in the news

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Among articles called out in the recent “Proposed Fourth and Fifth Avenues Historic District Study” is Grace Shackman’s Old West Side Story: The Germans in Ann Arbor. In this article, Grace carefully traces the longstanding German influence, back to 1825 when Mannheim baker Conrad Bissinger apparently became the first German to set foot in town. Reading this article, you can see why some people want an historic district that might include Bethlehem United Church of Christ and nearby historic homes. Click here to read a news story from AnnArbor.com. The actual report about the proposed historic district is here.

Winter: Good Season for Plays

Theater has deep roots around here, as Grace Shackman chronicles in her Ann Arbor Observer article about the old Whitney Theater. Today we continue to enjoy a lively drama scene; this weekend (Feb. 27-28), at least three stage productions are running:
1) It Came from Mars! a screwball comedy about a group of radio actors terrified by Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast, playing at Performance Network. Read a review.
2) Gravity, spotlighting the secret life of Isaac Newton, at Purple Rose in Chelsea.
3) Cheaper by the Dozen, based on the book by Frank Gilbreth, at Riverside Arts Center.
Why not pick a drama, style your hat, and head out?

Ice Skating and Winter: A high-performance combination

Ice skating has a long, fascinating history in this area -- and the allure continues today. Earlier this month, U-M students Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates were headed to the national figure skating competition in Spokane, the Ann Arbor Observer reported. To see a dicussion with Samuelson, Bates, and other skaters, check out our DVD The Life of a Figure Skater: Local Ice Dance Medalists Discuss National and International Competition.

Brewed in Ann Arbor

Jan1992Jan1992

With another brewery set to open, this seems like a good time to reflect on the history of drinking and brewing in Ann Arbor. Local historian Grace Shackman has written about the old Ann Arbor Brewing Company on 4th Street and the once-popular Court Tavern. And did you know that an old West Side bar once stood on Bach school's playground? You can feast on several other articles detailing the history of drinking and dining in Ann Arbor...and while you're at it, why not raise a toast to Ann Arbor's Lost Eateries?

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