Sign up for the Journey to Freedom tour

Huron BlockHuron Block

On Sunday, October 18, from 2-5:00 p.m., the African American Cultural & Historical Museum (AACHM) will host a special "Journey to Freedom" bus tour. This popular tour of historical points of interest on the Underground Railroad--an official tour of the National Park Service--is led by Deborah Meadows of the AACHM. The bus departs from the front of the Industrial Technology Building on the campus of Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E. Huron Drive. (map) and tickets are $15. To reserve a seat, call 734-476-3158 or email deborahmeadows2@msn.com. This special tour accompanies the launch of The Signal of Liberty online, Saturday, October 17, from 2-4:00 p.m.

The Signal of Liberty, Ann Arbor's 1840s-era abolitionist newspaper, goes online

Signal of Liberty issueSignal of Liberty issue

Join us at the Traverwood branch on Saturday, October 17, 2-4:00 p.m. to help us launch the online version of Ann Arbor's Signal of Liberty newspaper. The full text of this abolitionist newspaper, published in Ann Arbor in the 1840s, will be available online for the first time. Carol Mull, local historian of the Underground Railroad in Michigan, will be on hand at the launch to talk about some of the unique content in the Signal of Liberty and its role in her research; and Library staff will demonstrate browsing and full text access to over 12,000 articles and 312 issues of the newspaper. This project was done in partnership with the Bentley Historical Library and Digital Library Productions Services.

On Sunday, October 18, from 2-5:00 p.m., the African American Cultural and Historical Museum will host a related "Journey to Freedom" bus tour of local stops on the Underground Railroad. Click here for additional information about the tour.

Striking up the band for Labor Day

Otto's BandOtto's Band

Otto’s Band used to help Ann Arbor celebrate Labor Day, marching from downtown to Schwaben Park at Madison and Fifth for a picnic for labor union members. Starting around 1875 and continuing for about 50 years, this fascinating band drummed up enthusiasm by marching in parades, playing at dances, giving concerts, and sending soldiers off to war. Once the band became professional, participants became the first local members of the musicians’ union. Among other honors was being the first to play the U-M fight song, “The Victors.” Read all about the band in Ann Arbor Observer Then and Now.

AADL Productions Podcast: Madcat Ruth

MadcatMadcat

Peter "Madcat" Ruth, a world-class harmonica player who's lived and played in Ann Arbor for over 30 years, celebrated his 60th birthday last April. We had the privilege of talking with Madcat about his varied career, which included lessons from Chicago blues harmonica legend Big Walter Horton; touring with Dave Brubeck; inventing the Madcat harmonica microphone; and winning a Grammy for his solo performance in Songs of Innocence and Experience. Madcat also reminisces about playing the many lost music venues in Ann Arbor and treats us with his signature harmonica rendition of "Take Five".

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AADL_Productions_Podcast-madcat.mp3 26.3 MB

Walks with Brenda Bentley

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Plan to join Riverwalks Ann Arbor author Brenda Bentley for educational walks around the city this fall. On Thursdays Sept. 3 and Sept. 17, she will lead “Citywalk” a vigorous one-hour exercise loop over varied terrain, starting at 10 a.m. outside Washtenaw County's Meri Lou Murray Recreaction Center on Washtenaw Avenue. Or try a “Riverwalk,” a vigorous one-hour (or longer) hike and history tour from high ground, down to the river, and back by a different route, on Saturdays Sept. 5 and Sept. 19. On Sept. 5, the walk starts at 3 p.m. at the base of Burton Tower (Ingalls Mall), and on Sept. 19, at 3 p.m. at the base of Lurie Tower (North Campus Commons). Walks cost $10 and group size is limited. Register by email bbentley@citywalks.us. More information, 945-9804.

AADL Productions Podcast: Shary Brown

1980 art fair poster1980 art fair poster

This year's art fairs have come and gone, but you can still contribute your memories to 50 Years of Originality: A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. Artists, performers, attendees and fair organizers recall visiting, working; and, in some cases, growing up with the fair over the past half century. If you'd like to contribute your memories, email us at productions@aadl.org. We recently spoke with the outgoing Ann Arbor Street Art Fair executive director, Shary Brown. Shary talks about the challenges of pulling off the Fair during difficult times, some of the innovations and changes that occurred under her guidance, and her personal memories of attending the art fairs while growing up in Ann Arbor.

AADL Productions Podcast: Mr. B

Mr. BMr. B

Local musician Mark Lincoln Braun, aka Mr. B, is celebrating his 30th year playing street boogie-woogie piano as part of the original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. We talked recently with Mr. B about his memories of art fairs past; his musical influences; and his most recent venture, Mr. B's Joybox Express, a 125-mile bike ride he began July 13 for charity, riding a special bike designed to haul his piano. You'll find Mr. B playing every day during the art fair, Wednesday, July 15 through Saturday, July 18, on North University near Ingalls Mall.

AADL is also happy to help the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair celebrate another milestone with 50 Years of Originality: A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, a website of images, text, audio and video from the past half century of Ann Arbor's first fair.

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AADL_production_podcast-mrb.mp3 26.3 MB

Five women cook up some local history in 1899

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While testing the recipes in Ann Arbor Cooks you can savor an extra slice of Ann Arbor history: Several recipes, particularly within the 1899 Ann Arbor Cookbook, bear the names of prominent Ann Arbor citizens. On your next visit to Allmendinger Park you can take along Miss E. C. Allmendinger's Quince Tents; or you can enjoy Mrs. W. B. Hinsdale's Cream Puffs at the Broadway Park near the former intersection of 19th century Indian trails mentioned in her husband's book, The Indians of Washtenaw County. Mrs. Junius Beal probably whipped up her Marguerites at her home on the corner of 5th Avenue and William St., now the site of the Downtown library. Mrs. Samuel W. Beakes, whose husband wrote The Past and Present of Washtenaw County, baked Excellent Cocoanut Cookies, and Mrs. Frank Kelsey actually makes Prune Pudding sound...ok.

The names Allmendinger, Hinsdale, Beal, Beakes and Kelsey are frequently cited within the text and image collections of The Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now, Ann Arbor Founders, The Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit and The Making of Ann Arbor.

AADL Productions Podcast: Grace Shackman

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Last week we had the opportunity to talk with local historian, author and teacher, Grace Shackman, about how Ann Arbor has changed over the years. Throughout the discussion, Grace looks back at articles she's written; how she got her start writing about Ann Arbor history; the importance of preserving local landmarks; and her memories of early Ann Arbor art fairs. Over 130 of Grace's articles are featured in Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now, a new website with full text searching and browsing access to articles on local history from the Ann Arbor Observer.

AADL Productions Podcast: John Hilton, editor of The Ann Arbor Observer

Ann Arbor ObserverAnn Arbor Observer

Last month, we had the privilege of talking with Ann Arbor Observer editor, John Hilton, about the origins and development of the Observer, how Ann Arbor has changed over the past three decades, and the current state of the newspaper industry. John also recently joined us along with local historian and author Grace Shackman to talk about Ann Arbor history and help us launch an online collection of local history articles from the Observer dating back to 1982. You can read all of Grace's articles from the Observer online now in Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now.

(Due to technical difficulties, the quality of the audio isn't quite what it should be, but please listen in as John has many interesting things to say about Ann Arbor!)

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