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

New Additions to Ann Arbor Historical Signs Collection

Standard Oil, 1973Standard Oil, 1973

The Ann Arbor Historical Signs Collection in pictureAnnArbor just got bigger. We've recently added over 100 new photos, bringing our portrait of 1970's Ann Arbor up to 570 images. These new additions include many businesses from Main, Maple, and East Liberty. We've also reorganized the collection to help you browse through all of the photos more easily. If you happen to want to look at a specific street or find a specific business, just enter those words into our Image Gallery Search at the bottom of any image gallery page and see what pops up.

Ann Arbor Historical Signs is a collection of photographs taken by the Ann Arbor Sign Inspector. Mostly taken in the 1970's, the collection gives a rich picture of the businesses and goings-on in Ann Arbor 35 years ago.

Catalogue of the Ann Arbor High School, 1904-05

a2 high school library

The full view (text and images) of hundreds of books on Ann Arbor history are now available through Google books, including Catalogue of the Ann Arbor High School, 1904-1905. The above photo, of the interior of the Ann Arbor Public Library, first appeared in the Ann Arbor High School catalogue of 1909-1910. Google also delivers a History of Michigan published in 1841, A History of St. Andrew's Church published in 1906, and The City of Ann Arbor, by the Ann Arbor Business Men's Association, published in 1887.

More History on the Streets

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The Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit will be unveiling three new plaques that expand on the history of the German community on Thursday, Oct. 2nd at 5 p.m. outside Sweetwaters Cafe at Washington & Ashley. The contributions of Germans to Ann Arbor are fully developed in the many books and articles available through the Making of Ann Arbor.

I Can't Believe These People!

skyline highskyline high

This week I managed to finagle my way into a very cool meeting at Skyline High School. The mission for the group was to figure out how to use the Downtown Ann Arbor Street Exhibit in the curriculum at the new high school. In the room were 11 community volunteers and five teachers from Skyline. Some of the teachers could only pop in for a moment because, well, they're teachers and if you know a teacher, then you know they are crazy busy.

Just so you know, most of the community volunteers who came are a) retired and b) former educators. Some of them have spent unspeakable hours conceiving of, raising money for, researching and promoting the Street Exhibit. They have rounded up over 60 Ann Arborites willing to donate their time to the cause of helping our kids make the connection between where we've been and where we are.

The energy in the room blew my mind. The teachers (Pam Jenkins totally rocks, by the way) were truly excited about figuring out how to make it work. The whole deal is not out of the standard high school playbook and everyone was totally into it. More on this later, but I can't believe these people. OK, I believe. I believe.

Ann Arbor YMCA celebrates 150 years

old ymca

This Sunday, September 28, from 2-5 p.m. the Ann Arbor YMCA will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a parade, music and other special events. The above image, from the Making of Ann Arbor postcard collection, is of an earlier Ann Arbor YMCA building. More photographs and documents relating to the history of the Ann Arbor Y are on display at the Museum on Main Street until November 22.

Census Records Explained

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Census records are an invaluable tool in genealogical research but they are a tool that presents challenges for both new and seasoned genies. The Geneaolgical Society of Washtenaw County will host a lecture by genealogical masterwonk Barb Snow on Sunday, Sept. 28, 1:30 p.m. at the St. Joseph Merch Education Center Auditorium. AADL has Census records on microfilm, remotely through Heritage Quest and online at the library through AncestryPlus.

New Exhibit at the Argus Museum

argus cameraargus camera

Come and see what a bunch of talented photographers can do with a vintage Argus, once the largest-selling American-made 35mm camera, first produced here in Ann Arbor. The exhibit, "Vintage Argus: Contemporary Images," is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club (A3C3), the Argus Museum, and the Michigan Photographic Historical Society (MiPHS) and is located in the original Argus Building (home of the Argus Museum) at 535 W. William St. The exhibit runs through October 12 and is open to the public 9-5 p.m. weekdays. Opening reception is Friday, September 12, 6-9 p.m.

Do You Own Property in a Local Historic District?

The Washtenaw County Department of Planning & Environment, The Washtenaw County Historic District Commission, and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network are offering a workshop titled Owning Property in Local Historic Districts: Benefits and Practice, featuring Kristine Kidorf, Owner of Kidorf Preservation Consulting. The workshop will cover the basics of local historic district commission processes, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, and the 25% Michigan rehabilitation tax credit.

This workshop will be offered Saturday, September 6, 10:00am to 12:00pm at the Washtenaw County Library Learning Resource Center (LLRC), 4135 Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48107. Please RSVP to: miltonpungm@ewashtenaw.org or (734) 222-6878.

Back to the New High School

skyline highskyline high

As Ann Arbor marks the opening of its newest high school, take a look at this 101-year-old photograph of the then-new Ann Arbor High School in 1907. It was the pride of Ann Arbor, with its attached Carnegie library, but as fate would have it everything but the library facade was torn down last year to make room for the soon-to-be North Quad dormitory. An earlier image of an Ann Arbor high school is this 1859 engraving from the Making of Ann Arbor collection.

True Confessions of an Ann Arbor Historian

History is boring. Local history is even worse. You must be a spectacular geek to be interested in, much less involved with, the local history scene.

Well, that might be true, but here I am anyway. I have loved this town for as long as I can remember and, like the people I love, I want to know Ann Arbor's whole story. That's all historians do. Fall in love with a place, person or era and find out all they can about it.

For example, what did Ann Arbor look like when she was a baby? How about as a teenager? I look at the book Historic buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg like an old family album. I study it and try to recognize something of the past in the town I know today. (FYI, if you click here you can look at this book online.)

I also like to hang around people who will tell me stories about when Ann Arbor was young. So imagine my delight when I heard that Kempf House is having a big ol' party in September. I imagine there will be plenty of folks there who would be more than willing to share a tale or two. There will also be food and beer so count me in!

See you there?

SEPTEMBERFEST

Date: Sun 7 Sep 2008
Time: 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location: Kempf House Museum Garden
Description: Beer and brats! Four flavors of beer from Arbor Brewing, brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, hot pretzels baked specially by the ladies at Bethlehem Church, and ice cream and toppings from the Washtenaw Dairy - all for $40 ($30 for members)!
Contact: 734-994-4898

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