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

University of Michigan Wolverine Great Bob Chappuis

One of the Wolverine's great football players died June 14 in Ann Arbor. A Wolverine MVP, Collier's All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Chappuis also served in WWII. Shot down over Italy, he spent three months hidden in plain sight from the Nazis.

Old News has gathered together a selection of articles from the Ann Arbor News that cover his career at Michigan. Chappuis joined the Wolverines in 1942, served in WWII from 1943 ~ 1945 and rejoined the Wolverines in 1946, setting records in offensive play. In the undefeated 1947 season, Chappuis finished second for the Heisman Trophy and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Michigan went on to win the Rose Bowl with such a decisive win over Southern California, 49 - 0, that AP put out a post-bowl game poll that moved them back in to first place over season-ending first place Notre Dame. We'll be adding stories about Chappuis to the Old News site so keep checking back to read more about one of Michigan's great players.

Tracking down a sketch artist

Here's a cool story we wanted to share! So a woman in Georgia knows her dad was a sketch artist whose work appeared in the Ann Arbor News in the late 1960s and she'd really like to see some of his work. Her friend contacts The Ann Arbor Chronicle whose editor happens to know we're undergoing a massive digitization effort, and he forwards the query to us. Well, it turns out we've already scanned some of those very sketches at ridiculous high quality and color as part of our feature on the John Normans Collins murder and trial during the late 1960s!

Close Encounters in Washtenaw County

In the early morning hours of March 14, 1966, Washtenaw County sheriff's deputies reported sighting "four strange flying objects" in Lima Township. Soon police agencies from Livingston County, Monroe County and Sylvania, Ohio were also reporting "red-green objects . . . moving at fantastic speeds." By the end of the day the Civil Defense and U.S. Air Force were called in to an investigation that has never really ended for many of those involved.

AADL has assembled the articles that dominated the Ann Arbor News for weeks in 1966 and continues to resurface through sightings, interviews and research into UFOs and extraterrestrial life. The UFO story provides an interesting look at the way news events affect the lives of the participants and their communities. Read our feature story in Oldnews and decide for yourselves whether Washtenaw County's history includes close encounters of the first, second or third kind.

Bruce Conforth wins the Golden Apple

Bruce Conforth, professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan and former curator of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has won the 2012 Golden Apple Award. The Golden Apple is given each year to an instructor who "strive[s] not only to disseminate knowledge but to inspire and engage students in its pursuit." Students nominate and vote on which professor should win the award, focusing on teachers who bring subjects to life and make learning a process in which everyone is involved.

Bruce shared some of his expertise with us last year when participating in Freeing John Sinclair. Bruce hosted our panel discussion with members of the Hill Street commune/Rainbow People's Party and brought both a depth of knowledge and an ability to keep the conversation accessible for those unfamiliar with the time period. Bruce also did a podcast on the topic with us, putting the John Sinclair Freedom Rally into context both within Ann Arbor and the larger cultural atmosphere of the early 1970's.

Ann Arbor Open School Family Stories

Mike Derhammer's class at Ann Arbor Open spent this winter interviewing family members and thinking about funny and interesting things that they have experienced. Then they selected one story for us all to enjoy! Storytelling is so much a part of who we are, that sometimes it's fun and enlightening to just stop and listen to each other's tales. We hope you enjoy these stories as much as we did! You can see below what time in the recording a particular student's story comes up.
Happy listening!

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openstories2012.mp3 39.45 MB

AADL Talks To Commander Cody

George Frayne, aka Commander Cody, formed Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen in 1967 while attending the University of Michigan. We had the opportunity to chat with George backstage at the Ark before the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally (Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen performed at the original Rally in 1971). George spoke about the formation of the band, his memories of some of Ann Arbor's musical hot spots, as well as his introduction to boogie-woogie piano, to pot, and to John Sinclair and the White Panther Party.

For more information on Commander Cody, visit commandercody.com and oldnews.aadl.org.

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AADL_Talks_To-Commander_Cody.mp3 22.86 MB

White Market

White Market, a locally owned market at 609 East William Street, has been in business for at least 84 years. While the exact date it opened is unknown, a newspaper article from 1984 indicates that it was "in business as early as 1928." In 1939, the shop was at the retail space next door, 607 E. William St.

White Market, 607 E. William St.

Ann Arbor, Then and Now

The Ann Arbor News' archive highlights major events and news-worthy stories through the city's history. But beyond that, it also gives a glimpse into what life was like for residents on a daily basis. Hidden between photos of big events are images of the stores and streets. They can give us a window into what Ann Arbor was like for the people who lived here, and they can highlight what has changed... and what hasn't.

The following are old images of Ann Arbor paired with views from today, which let you see which buildings have withstood the test of time and where things have grown and developed.

308 South Ashley Street, 1937

1937:
308 South Ashley Street, 1937

Genealogists and Historians are Celebrating! The 1940 Census Records are Here!

Today, after 72 years of waiting, the 1940 U.S. census has been released by the National Archives and Records Administration. Hooray!

At 9:00 am this morning, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) began rolling out the census records for the "Greatest Generation" online. As these records will show, 132 million people were living in the 48 Continental United States in 1940. Tens of millions of people living in the United States in 1940 are still living today, making this a record set that connects people with recent family records. The 1940 census included several standard questions, such as: name, age, gender, race, education, and place of birth. The 1940 census also introduced some new questions. One example is that the enumerator was instructed to mark (with a circled x) who in the household responded to the census questions. Other questions included whether the person worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Project Administration, or National Youth Administration the week of March 24-30, 1940, and the income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939.

These census images will be uploaded and made available on a multitude of websites, including the big genealogy players Ancestry.com, Archives.com, FindMyPast.com, and FamilySearch.org. Don't expect images to be readily searchable by name -- a community of eager volunteer indexers will work to make that possible. A wealth of information about this census can be found at Ancestry.com. Anyone interested in volunteering to index this census may find information here.

Interested in searching for your family history but not sure where to begin? Check out our library's collection of genealogy materials to get yourself started, try your hand at one of our genealogy research databases, or explore some of our recommended genealogy select sites.

P. S. Wondering why this is happening today? Because of The 72 Year Rule: The U.S. government will not release personally identifiable information about an individual to any other individual or agency until 72 years after it is collected for the decennial census. This "72-Year Rule" (92 Stat. 915; Public Law 95-416; October 5, 1978) restricts access to decennial census records to all but the individual named on the record or their legal heir. The census date was April 1, 1940. This means that the census records for 1950 will not be released to the public until April 1, 2022.

Grandma Helen, 1942Grandma Helen, 1942

AADL Talks To David Fenton

While he was in town during the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, we had the chance to sit down with David Fenton, CEO and founder of fenton.com, about his time in Ann Arbor during the late 1960s and early 1970s. During these years David lived at the Hill Street Commune, worked on the Ann Arbor Sun, and helped with the campaign to free John Sinclair. David discusses Sinclair's influence on his personal and professional life; reflects on the excesses - both good and bad - of the countercultural movement as he experienced it, and its legacy 40 years later in its modern counterparts, including moveon.org and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

David also participated in our panel discussion, Culture Jamming: A Long View Back.

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AADL_Talks_To-David_Fenton.mp3 24.8 MB
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