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

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.

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.

Attachment Size
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.

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