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

AADL Talks to Argus Employees and Museum Curator

Do you ever wonder what it was like to work for one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world?

AADL talked to Art Parker, an avowed “Townie” who spent nearly 20 years with Argus Camera. Art talked 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.

We also talked with Milt Campbell, Art Dersham and Elwyn Dersham about their years at Argus during its heyday in the 1940s and 50s and the challenging years of the 1960s and 70s as the company’s fortunes declined and Argus left Ann Arbor forever.

Cheryl Chidester, the Argus Museum curator shared the history of the company, its products and innovations, and its role in United States’ victory in World War II. We also learned about the founding of the Argus Museum, its missions in preserving the history and material culture of this early Ann Arbor industry significant to generations in the community.

AADL Talks to Cheryl Chidester, Argus Museum Curator

We would like to thank the Argus Museum, located in the original Argus Building at 535 W. William St. for generously sharing its resources, artifacts, and archival materials in preparing this AADL exhibit on the Argus Camera, Inc.

A special thank you goes to Cheryl Chidester, the Argus Museum curator. In this podcast, she shared the history of the company, its products and innovations, and its role in United States’ victory in World War II. We also learned about the founding of the Argus Museum, its missions in preserving the history and material culture of this early Ann Arbor industry significant to generations in the community.

We can see photos of the Museum and its exhibits as well as samples of the Argus Eye, a monthly newsletter produced by the Argus employees from the Museum’s archive.

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AADL_Talks_To-Cheryl_Chedister.mp3 13.14 MB

AADL Talks to Argus Camera's Milt Campbell, Art & Elwyn Dersham

In this episode, AADL talks to former employees of Argus Camera. In 1931, a group of Ann Arbor businessmen got together to address the problem of unemployment amid the Great Depression. They raised stock and formed a company that would become Argus Camera. Argus went on to become one of the largest employers in Ann Arbor and one of the most prestigious and well-known camera manufacturers in the world.

We talked with Milt Campbell, Art Dersham and Elwyn Dersham about their years at Argus during its heyday in the 1940s and 50s and the challenging years of the 1960s and 70s as the company’s fortunes declined and Argus left Ann Arbor forever.

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AADL_Talks_To-Argus_Employees.mp3 15.21 MB

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.

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AADL_Talks_To-Doug_Harvey.mp3 48.78 MB
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