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

Welcome to AADL's local history page!

We have a large local history collection located on the second floor of the Downtown Library where you'll find a variety of sources for genealogy research. We've also produced several online collections you may be interested in, including...

50 Years of Originality: A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair The 50 year history of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair including an exhibit on the path the Art Fair has taken, a collection of over 100 images including photos and promotional materials, audio memories of art fair participants and visitors, and videos.
Ann Arbor Architecture Archive Learn the history of the buildings around us with this gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic structures. Includes the full text of Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Minutes A chance to view the history of Ann Arbor through the eyes of its governing body. Search the full text of Ann Arbor City Council meeting minutes from 1891-1930 or browse available meetings. All sets of minutes can be viewed as images or as searchable pdfs.
Ann Arbor Cooks Online collection of heirloom recipes and cookbooks from Ann Arbor area community organizations, churches and businesses. Browse or search recipes, or view cookbooks in their entirety. Includes access to Repast, the acclaimed culinary history magazine.
AACHM Living Oral History An oral history project in partnership with the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County. The interviews serve as a road map illustrating what local African-Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today.
Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive The history of North America's longest running festival for independent and experimental film is told through programs, posters, flyers, photographs, newspaper articles and original interviews.
Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now Online collection of over 130 articles from the Ann Arbor Observer covering a wide variety of local history topics, fully searchable and browsable by subject. Also has an image gallery of historic Ann Arbor photos.
Ann Arbor Police Department History An online exhibit of the history of the Ann Arbor Police Department. Includes full-text of True Crimes and the History of the AAPD, The History of the Outdoor Range and hundreds of photographs and images of memorabilia collected by the department since 1847.
Ann Arbor Summer Festival Archive Learn about the history of one of Ann Arbor's largest cultural events, featuring programs and posters from each year, contemporary newspaper articles, hundreds of photos, and original interviews with past Festival directors.
Downtown A2 Historical Street Exhibit Program Tour the permanent sidewalk exhibits at sixteen landmark sites throughout downtown Ann Arbor. Includes full-text and keyword access to an image database of hundreds of images from each location.
The Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders Who are the people who made Ann Arbor the city we all know and love? From the earliest pioneers to twentieth-century philanthropists, here are the stories of businessmen and women, visionaries and artists, educators and entrepreneurs, doctors, ministers, and mayors.
Freeing John Sinclair: The Day Legends Came to Town Learn about a piece of Ann Arbor's radical past with photos, essays, newspaper articles, the entire run of the Ann Arbor Sun, and original interviews. This website documents the activities of John Sinclair, the day John Lennon and Stevie Wonder played a concert in Ann Arbor, how an Ann Arborite ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and the actions the White Panther/Rainbow People's Party.
Making of Ann Arbor Discover the history of Ann Arbor through full-text access to several books and several image collections. Includes a collection of postcards, historic buildings, advertisements, and maps of early Ann Arbor.
Old News Read newspapers from Ann Arbor's past to learn more about the places around you. Old News includes over 115,000 articles and photos from the Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor Courier, Ann Arbor Argus, and Ann Arbor Argus-Democrat. Read full issues of 19th century newspapers and browse or search articles and photos from the 20th.
pictureAnnArbor An online photo collection of Ann Arbor past and present. Search for images of Ann Arbor and add some of your own.
Signal of Liberty Ann Arbor's prominent abolitionist newspaper, with issues from 1841-1847 now available online. Browse the articles in the original or search all newspaper items.
University Musical Society: A History of Great Performances This collection includes full text searching and browsing access to the first 100 years of historical programs from University Musical Society concerts, as well as hundreds of photographs from their 131-year history.
Ypsilanti Gleanings Ypsilanti Gleanings is the official publication of the Ypsilanti Historical Society, which through painstakingly-researched articles, first-hand accounts, and historical photographs, presents a clear picture of the Ypsilanti that once was and still is all around us. Explore this online archive by searching, browsing by issue or browsing by subject, and check out the image gallery of photographs and illustrations from the collection of the YHS.

We've also invited some local historians to contribute to a local history blog, which begins below. Thanks for your interest, and enjoy!

Databases for the History Buff

A click on the aadl.org Research tab at the top of the page will introduce you to a wealth of databases covering such subjects as Car Repair, Literature, and Investing.

For those with a history interest, the databases are especially rich.

Start at the History and Biography Page and go from there. You'll find local history aadl.org-hosted sites like Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now, Freeing John Sinclair, and Old News. An exploration of Other Sites reveals a yield so diverse, you can find, within minutes, the legend of the Birth of Hatshepsut, National Security discussions between Henry Kissinger and President Gerald Ford, a transcript of the 1783 Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War, and the actual scanned pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from May 24, 1883 touting the Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge (click on "View" and then "View Item in PDF" to get the full article) along with the May 31, 1883 edition recording the subsequent, deadly Panic on the Bridge and much more.

The Newspaper section allows you to browse historical editions of the Ann Arbor News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and others. If you know what you're looking for, you can easily track down such unusual items as the Washington Post's 1933 Obituary of Mrs. George A. Custer.

Let your love of history go wild and see what you can find.

AADL is a Community Partner at the Ann Arbor Film Festival

The 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival is only days away and the Ann Arbor District Library is participating as a Community Partner for "Film Competition 5" featuring filmmakers ages 6 and up.

The screening takes place Saturday, March 29 at 11am at the Michigan Theater. Take a look at the list of films and if you enter this code - AAFF52_AADL - when buying online tickets, you will get 10% off the advance ticket price ($5 standard)!

The Ann Arbor Film Festival is the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America. The 52nd AAFF takes place March 25 - 30, 2014 and presents over 200 films, videos and performances from more than 20 countries with dozens of U.S., North American and world premieres.

I Remember When: a 1974 video series made during Ann Arbor's sesquicentennial celebrations

Just in time for Ann Arbor’s 190th anniversary, AADL is pleased to release - for the first time! - I Remember When, a seven-part video series made during the city's sesquicentennial celebrations in 1974 "to tell the story of the important events that have happened in Ann Arbor's 150-year-old history."

In the first show, host Ted Trost says, "...the entire series will be recorded on videotape so that future generations of Ann Arborites may see and hear what it was like, way back when in 1974 - the year Ann Arbor celebrated her sesquicentennial.” And today, 40 years later, all seven episodes are available at aadl.org/irw for streaming and downloading!

Following an overview in the first show, each episode focuses on a specific topic - from city politics, the business community and religion, to entertainment, music and theater, and Ann Arbor’s Greek and German communities - and features interviews with several prominent citizens from that era. Together these films provide a snapshot of our city at a unique time and place in its history.

I Remember When was sponsored by the (at that time) Ann Arbor Public Library, in conjunction with the Ann Arbor Sesquicentennial Commission, and produced by students in the University of Michigan’s Speech Department.

"Time Has Little Effect on Valentine Sentiments"

Valentine greeting cards have been around since the second half of the 19th century, and popular with local collectors, and the topic of museum exhibitions. One of the most endearing collection is that of Ellen Gould, with some items dated back to 1917, from her former students.

Over the last 50 years, the Ann Arbor News has focus its coverage on how area children and families observed the holiday.

Valentine's Day was also a reason to celebrate for local businesses especially for florists and confectioners.

For the serious-minded, academics and researchers were consulted on the subject of romance.

 

AADL Talks To Bill Hart of Seyfried Jewelers

Media Player

December 9, 2014 at Downtown Library

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
aadl_talks_to-bill_hart.mp313.4 MBAudio

Bill and Jim Hart have owned Seyfried Jewelers in Downtown Ann Arbor for more than 35 years. The store closed in December 2013 after 100 years in Ann Arbor.

Bill talked with AADL about taking over the shop from the Seyfried family, the longevity of the store, how selling jewelry becomes a lifelong relationship with the customer and the changes to retailing in Ann Arbor.

Rights Held By: 
Ann Arbor District Library
Length: 
29:04

Blue Front Bids Farewell

In 1927, Ray E. Collins bought the Blue Front Cigar Store at the corner of Packard & State, and the rest, as they say, is history. Ray was a legend in Ann Arbor, sitting behind his counter stacked with newspapers, gruffly answering questions and keeping his eyes peeled for ne'er-do-wells. Ray had some troubles with the law himself, getting cited over the years for fire hazards that were a result of his commitment to carrying every newspaper he could find and putting it anywhere he could find.

Ray died in 1974, willing the Blue Front to his long-time employee Jill Warren. Jill kept the Blue Front pretty much the same, widening the aisles a little, organizing the papers a bit more but leaving the hanging bulbs, thank you. In 1981, Jill sold the Blue Front to William Graving while maintaining ownership of the building. Ray started out as an employee of the Blue Front, so did Jill, and later employees would continue to have a fierce loyalty to the store and its traditions.

We may never know how the Blue Front got its name (Ray didn't know). We know the name was first used in the 1922 Polk City Directory. We were able to trace ownership back to 1908 when 701 Packard first appears in the City Directory with James R. Reed, News Depot followed by Davis & Konold in 1913, Clinton H. Davis in 1915, and Ernest C. Rumbelow in 1916. In 1921 it became Reynolds & Webb Cigars, the first time cigars overtakes newspapers in the store's name. In 1922 R. M. Housel bought the store, hired Ray sometime after that, changed the name to the Blue Front and then sold it to Ray. Goodbye, Blue Front.

Dave Strack - Wolverines Basketball Coach Who Launched Cazzie & Company

Dave Strack, a star player and later coach of the University of Michigan basketball team, died Jan. 25 in Tucson, Arizona. He was 90. Strack coached the Wolverines from 1960 to 1968, leading the team to three consecutive Big 10 championships, two consecutive appearances in the NCAA Final Four, including a championship game against UCLA. Strack came to the University of Michigan as a player and lettered in 1943, 1944 and 1946. He took a leave from the team in 1945 to serve as a Marine captain during World War II. He received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree at Michigan. After working as an assistant coach at Michigan and head coach for a year the University of Idaho, Strack replaced Bill Perigo as Wolverines head coach.

Strack's teams led by All-American Cazzie Russell won the Big 10 championship in 1964, 1965 and 1966. The team went to the Final Four in 1964 and 1965. In the 1965 UM went into the final game ranked No. 1 in the country to face the No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins coached by the legendary John Wooden. UM lost the game 91-80, a hard end to an amazing season. In addition to Russell, Strack's players included high-scoring Bill Buntin, team captain Oliver Darden, George Pomey and Larry Tregoning. Strack was named UPI coach of the year in 1965. Russell, a highly recruited Chicago high school player, was won over by Strack to attend UM. He went on to set scoring records and win praise as one of the best players of his time. In December 1964, the Wolverines faced off against Princeton, a showdown between Russell and Princeton's Bill Bradley. With two minutes remaining in the game, Michigan was behind by 10 points, Russell took command of the game to lead Michigan to an 80-78 victory. Bradley did score 41 points in the game. But Russell and Buntin combined for 51. Russell and Bradley would late become teammates on the NBA champion New York Knicks.

Strack left the UM coaching position to manage the athletic department business operations in 1968. He was replaced by Johnny Orr, who died last year. Strack left the university in 1972 to become athletic director at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

 

AADL Talks to Bob Dascola

Media Player

January 13, 2014

Downloads:

File NameSizeType
aadl_talks_to-bob_dascola.mp320.1 MBAudio

Dascola Barber Shop has been a fixture of downtown Ann Arbor since 1938 when Dominic Dascola first struck out on his own as a business owner. Bob Dascola, his son, has been a part of this tradition for the past 45 years, keeping shop first in his father's original location on E Liberty St and now in his own space on S State St. In that time, he's grown from being one member of the family business to being a small business owner, then a community leader, and now a candidate for City Council in the 3rd Ward. When Bob sat down with us, we talked about going into the family business, how a community member can make a difference, and the things he's learned just by talking with people who come in and sit down in his chair.

Rights Held By: 
Ann Arbor District Library
Length: 
41:57

"They know things most men can never dream about"

On January 27, we remember the astronauts who gave their lives during the prelaunch testing for the first manned Apollo mission at Cape Canaveral in 1967. Edward Higgins White II, the first man to walk in space, died along with his fellow astronauts Virgil 'Gus" Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee.

Less than two years prior, the City of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan rolled out the red carpet to welcome and honor White and fellow Michigan grad James Alton McDivitt (often referred to as the Gemini Space Twins) in a day-long celebration and convocation.

Michigan's connection to the United States Aerospace Program also included another of the three astronauts lost in the tragic accident - Roger B. Chaffee who came from a prominent Grand Rapids family.

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