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

AADL Talks To Argus Camera's Art Parker

In this episode, AADL talks to Art Parker, an avowed “Townie” who spent nearly 20 years with Argus Camera. During its heyday in the 1940s and 50s, Argus was one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world. Art talks about his family’s long history with Argus and the company’s social life that included Christmas parties, teen dances, summer camp, scholarships and profit-sharing.

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-Art_Parker.mp3 18.13 MB

Police Beat: Punk Rocker's Bad Gig

In 1989 Kevin Michael Allin, aka G.G. Allin, and his punk rock band Toilet Rockers gave a concert at the East Quad's Halfway Inn. The band was known for it's in-your-face onstage antics that included self-inflicted beatings, nudity and fights with the audience. Unfortunately, things got out of hand and Allin was charged with three counts of assault including kicking a member of the audience, hitting another one with a chair and then following the concert, beating and burning a "groupie." After declaring Charles Manson his "hero", Allin was ordered to undergo psychiatric examination. He eventually pleaded no contest to the charges.

While serving his term Allin vowed to begin a hunger strike that never materialized and was considered a publicity stunt . Not long after his parole Allin was again arrested in Milwaukee on disorderly conduct charges that included throwing bodily discharges at the audience. After more than 50 arrests the leader of the Murder Junkies, Toilet Rockers and Disappointments, died in New York City of an apparent overdose. Despite his many run-ins with the law, Allin was a prolific recording artist and his "official "website offers his CDs, DVDs and artwork for sale.

50th Anniversary of the Port Huron Statement

Tom Hayden at Ann Arbor fundraiser, 1985Tom Hayden at Ann Arbor fundraiser, 1985

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the now-legendary Port Huron Statement, a manifesto written by “Students for a Democratic Society” (SDS) at a retreat on Lake Huron in 1962. From October 31 - November 2, the University of Michigan is hosting A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement in Its Time and Ours, a free 3-day public conference exploring the significance of the Port Huron Statement and its social, political and cultural consequences for the New Left of the 1960s - from anti-war movements to civil rights and women’s liberation movements. We’ve pulled together articles from our Oldnews archive about the Students for a Democratic Society, featuring SDS co-founders Tom Hayden and Alan Haber and reflections from other New Left activists over the intervening years.

The Beer Depot sign, 1967

Beer Depot signBeer Depot sign

An article in annarbor.com posted yesterday reports that the historic Beer Depot drive-thru sign will finally be repaired and restored at the East William street business after a storm blew it down last year and owners had to work through city ordinance restrictions.

For this and other signs from 1960s and 1970s-era Ann Arbor, check out our great collection of historic signs.

Attention Genealogists and Historians: The 1940 Census Records are fully indexed!

Back in April we celebrated as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released the 1940 census records for the "Greatest Generation" to the public. Every ten years since 1790, the federal census has provided a snapshot of the American people. The 1940 census recorded that critical period in American history as the country was still recovering from the Great Depression and before its entry into World War II. After 5 months of intensive indexing, the census is now completely searchable on the two most popular genealogy websites, Ancestry.com and Familysearch.org. This includes ALL of the 48 states, as well as territorial censuses for Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Panama Canal, Puerto Rico, and American Virgin Islands. Hooray! One important detail to keep in mind is these two websites were indexed by different groups of people, meaning the results may vary - if you don't find who you are looking for on one site, try the other!

To access the Ancestry Library Edition, visit our Research Database collection at any library location and select Ancestry Library Edition from the Genealogy category. Ancestry.com is currently offering free access to the 1940 Census records online, and Familysearch.org is always free to the public. Clueless about how to start your family tree? Check out some of the genealogy books in our collection.

Farmers Market turns 93!


Saturday | August 4th | 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. | 315 Detroit St. in Kerrytown

This Saturday there is an extra special reason why you should attend the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Free ice cream! At noon, while you wait in line for ice cream, be sure to spout off some of the market history you learned while listening to these oral histories.

Farmers getting together is a long-standing tradition. On August 23, 1884, farmers and friends from Washtenaw, Livingston, and Oakland counties gathered in Whitmore Lake for a pinic. How do I know this? I read an Ann Arbor Courier article in old news!

Don't forget that the Ann Arbor Farmers Market accepts Bridge Cards. Click here for instructions.

For more information, call 734.794.6255, or go online.

AADL Talks to Doug Harvey

In this episode, former Washtenaw County Sheriff Doug Harvey shares his memories of the turbulent 1960s in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. He recalls some of the personal, political, and law enforcement challenges he encountered during his years as sheriff - from the 1966 UFO sightings and the South University Riots, to the Coed murders and the John Norman Collins case. He also responds to some of the controversy surrounding his reputation and he speaks candidly about the community leaders and colleagues he admired during these years - and those he did not.

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-Doug_Harvey.mp3 48.78 MB

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.

Syndicate content