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

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

Samuel P. Sturgis, Local Photographer Remembered

Celebrated Ann Arbor photographer Samuel Payne Sturgis passed away on March 11 (see obituary).

A graduate of the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology, Mr. Sturgis served in the Naval Reserve as photo reconnaissance pilot on USS Bennington in the South Pacific, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medals as a combat pilot, retiring in the early 1950's.

He joined the Dey Studio in Ann Arbor as a portrait photographer, earning "Michigan Photographer of the Year" Award from the Michigan Association of Professional Photographers in 1959. In 1962, he opened his own studio at 1112 South University, a space designed by local architect David Osler.

His extensive collection of antique photographs of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and surrounding areas, donated to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, is available as the Sam Sturgis Photograph Collection. A few of these outstanding photographs are part of the Making of Ann Arbor collection and the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit program.

Over the years, Mr. Sturgis's works have been widely exhibited and he has been active in community service. See Ann Arbor News articles.

AADL Talks to George Pomey

Local businessman and community leader George Pomey was a member of the illustrious 1964 and 1965 Michigan Wolverine Basketball teams that won back-to-back Big Ten titles, and took Michigan to the NCAA Tournaments. This March, he sat down and talked about those glory days.

Pomey remembered clearly his recruiting trip to Ann Arbor along with another teammate from his high school in Illinois; his warm relationships with his Wolverine coaches and teammates throughout his playing career; and their friendship over the years (they still have frequent reunions!). He also remembered the comparatively "primitive" sports facilities; playing to the capacity crowds at Yost Fieldhouse; his brief coaching and radio/television broadcasting experience after graduation; and his continued involvement with Michigan sports.

On March 16, 1965 Pomey and Teammate Larry Tregoning were named 2nd team Big Ten all Academic, Pomey talked about the tough schedule for athletes, and his admiration for the current Wolverine team.

Pomey also brought along these photos from the scrapbook his mother kept.

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AADL_Talks_To-George_Pomey.mp3 24.8 MB

Going to the PowWow?

If this weekend's Dance For Mother Earth Pow Wow inspires you, check out the CD More Kid's Pow Wow Songs. The Library also has many other recordings of Native American music.

You can read a story about a young Jingle Dancer in this book by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Or, try the photo essay, Pow Wow by George Ancona, and Pow Wow: A Good Day to Dance by Jacqueline Dembar Greene.

Cloudwalker; Contemporary Native American Stories is a collection of six short stories about modern Native American children's lives and how they blend traditional Native culture with mainstream American culture. Children of Native America Today is a photo essay featuring 25 of the more than 500 native cultures of the U.S. as well as a section on urban Indians.

This year's Dance For Mother Earth is the 40th annual Pow Wow at U.M. Here's a link to articles and photographs from past Pow Wows.

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