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Michigan history

WWI soldiers
Richard Bachus

This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War One.

Michiganders were an important part of that hard-fought victory. Thousands of men fought in France with the 32nd Division, known as the "Red Arrow" Division.

Among them: Joseph Bachus, grandfather of author Richard Bachus. The elder Bachus, a native of Ann Arbor and Harbor Springs, led his men into the trenches and received a battlefield promotion from General John Pershing.  

Image of the Britannia, c. 1915. A ferry on the Detroit River.
From the General Photo Collection, Archives of Michigan

With ground breaking this week on the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, it seems like the perfect time to mark the 80th anniversary of the last passenger ferry to cross the Detroit River. 

Jason / FLICKR: HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

With the tap of your finger, you can access pretty much anything these days, whether you're streaming a movie or ordering a pair of shoes. But just 50 years ago, Michigan had a law banning most businesses from being open on Sunday. 

That law, which was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1962, fell into a category of “blue laws.”

Wayne State University Press

She brought us the stories of Great Girls in Michigan History. Now, writer Patricia Majher is focusing on the boys.

Her new book is Bold Boys in Michigan History.

In it, Majher tells the stories of Michigan boys who did remarkable things before they were 20. These bold young men include a filmmaker, musicians, inventors, athletes, a politician, and more.

man putting wedding ring on woman
Cinematic Imagery / Unsplash

 


June in Michigan means time to tuck away the storm windows, dust off that swimsuit, and maybe attend a wedding or two. 

Weddings are currently a more than a $1 billion a year business in Michigan.

But the wedding industry here might be even bigger if the state's tradition of "quickie weddings" at the turn of the last century had continued.

Kalamazoo Ladies Library reading room
Courtesy of the Kalamazoo Ladies Library

The nation's oldest documented structure built for women, by women, was a lending library right here in Michigan. 

The Kalamazoo Ladies Library Association (LLA), loosely formed in 1852, has been holding meetings in its historic red brick Venetian Gothic style building since 1879.

Marge Kars, a former president of the organization, joined Stateside to talk about its history as the city’s first lending library.

civil rights rally in detroit
Sonny Edwards / Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

On this day 75 ago, the 1943 race riots were coming to an end. Over a three-day period, 34 people were killed in the riots. Nine of them were white and 25 were African-Americans. The event would mark a turning point in the city’s history.

Michael Jackman, senior editor of the Detroit Metro Times, joined Stateside’s Lester Graham to discuss this bloody part of Detroit’s history.

Detroit News Staff / Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the 1943 race riots in Detroit, and Stateside is exploring this violent episode in the city’s history – and its legacy in present-day downtown and Midtown.

Jamon Jordan, tour leader for the Black Scroll Network History and Tours, joined Stateside to talk about another “major flashpoint” of the riots: Woodward Avenue.

white men pulling black man from a bus
Bentley Historical Library: U-M Library Digital Collections

Today marks an infamous anniversary in our state. Seventy-five years ago today, a brawl between African-Americans and whites began on the Belle Isle Bridge.

Michigan History Magazine, Vol. 6, 1922 / Michigan History Center

You probably know the basics of how a typewriter works – even if you have never used one. What you may not have known, however, is that the “father of the typewriter” was William Austin Burt, from Macomb County.

As it happens, this Saturday is National Typewriter Day. Stateside invited Mark Harvey, state archivist with the Michigan History Center, to talk about what led to the birth of the typewriter. 

Central Station in Detroit
Gordon / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Thirty years ago this week, on January 5, 1988, the last train left Michigan Central Station. That moment marked the end of nearly 75 years of Michiganders catching trains at the once-proud station.

Dan Austin, who has written three books about Detroit history and founded HistoricDetroit.org, and Mark Harvey, state archivist from the Michigan History Center, joined Stateside to discuss the station's legacy.

Adam Crosswhite
Michigan Center

 


In the 1840s, a black family fleeing slavery found refuge in Marshall, Michigan. Only a few years later, after settling into their new home, relatives of their former owners arrived to capture and return them to Kentucky. 

But the town of Marshall, including the sheriff and prominent white and black citizens, stepped in to protect the family. 

This week marks 160 years since Giltner v. Gorham, the case between the Kentucky slave owner Francis Giltner and the citizens of Marshall he sued for their successful efforts to shield the escaped family. 

A photo from 1881 of Moses Fleetwood Walker with the Oberlin team
Courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

At Stateside, we love talking about Michigan history.

 

We've looked at the invention of snowboarding (first known as snurfing); why a small town held a funeral for a bunch of pizzas, and the University of Michigan student who broke baseball's color barrier 64 years before Jackie Robinson.

Brittany ⎈ Colette / Unsplash

For many people Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. But its official purpose is to remember and honor those who gave their lives while serving in the military.

Michigan is one of many states that lays claim to being the birthplace of the national holiday. However, like so many things in our nation’s past, Memorial Day stirred up controversy when it was created after the Civil War. 

University Of Chicago Press, 2017

 

When was the last time you heard about a politician who realized she or he needed to change to help the country – that former ways had to be put aside to foster bipartisan cooperation for the good of the country? 

 

A U.S. senator from Michigan, Arthur Vandenberg, was such a person. 

Ford Service Department employees assault a UAW organizer in what came known as the Battle of the Overpass
James E. (Scotty) Kilpatrick of the Detroit News / Battle of the Overpass photo courtesy of the Archives of Michigan

Do corporations have too much power and too little oversight? That question has dominated American society since the Civil War and it does not seem to be going away any time soon.

Over the decades, the political pendulum has swung back and forth between workers’ rights and corporate power.

pintandpoppy / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

This Friday marks the 172nd anniversary of a uniquely Michigan milestone. On May 18, 1846, Michigan became the first English-speaking government in the world to vote and pass a measure to abolish the death penalty.

Mark Harvey, State Archivist with the Michigan History Center, joined Stateside to talk about Michigan’s progressive past. Judge Avern Cohn, the Senior United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, also joined the conversation.

Michigan ad
Michigan History Center

If you recognize the lyric, "Yes Michigan! The feeling’s forever," you’re probably not alone (and no longer in your 20s). The words stem from the “Yes Michigan” tourism ad campaign from the 1980s.

Detroit police inspecting equipment found in a clandestine underground brewery during the prohibition era
Wikimedia Commons - U.S. National Archives


   

Last week, the Board of State Canvassers approved a ballot petition that might end the prohibition of recreational marijuana in Michigan

 

Meanwhile, this week marked the 100th anniversary of another important social experiment: Prohibition. 

The front of the Mackinac Island Dr. Beaumont museum and fur trade shop
Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

 


 

With eight hospitals and a medical school named in his honor, many Southeastern Michiganders are familiar with the name William Beaumont. But just what did the doctor do to acquire such acclaim in the world of medicine?   

Courtesy of Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium

For Michigan baseball fanatics, a visit to the corner of Michigan and Trumbull - the site of the original Tiger Stadium - is almost a religious pilgrimage. But there is another baseball field roughly five miles away in Hamtramck that has its own historical significance, and yet is rarely recognized.

Mark Harvey, state archivist with the Michigan History Center, and Gary Gillette, an author, founder and president of the non-profit Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, joined Stateside to discuss the stadium’s historical importance, its afterlife as a community sports center, and why rehabilitation efforts are so important.

A photo from 1881 of Moses Fleetwood Walker with the Oberlin team
Courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

 

 

The baseball season is once again upon us. The national pastime carries an overwhelming sense of history and tradition that continues to make the game fascinating to watch — even if your favorite team is struggling. 

The branded label on the front of a snow motor
California Agricultural Museum

 

This winter driving season has created many white-knuckled moments throughout our state.  

If you find yourself thinking, “There’s got to be a better way to get around in the snow,” then you wouldn’t be the first. 

Teemu008 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Ever since the arrival of Europeans to Michigan, farming has been a key economic component for our state. However, without the life’s work of a Michigander from South Haven, farms in Michigan and across the nation might evolved quite differently.

Mark Harvey, State Archivist at the Michigan History Center, joined Stateside to discuss the life of pioneering botanist and horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey, how his “agrarian ideology” of advanced technology was received at the time, and how he’s remembered today.

An old image of a two-masted schooner ship
Courtesy of Craig Rich

 


 

She sank in Lake Michigan during a squall in 1873. 
 
Now Michigan shipwreck hunters say they've discovered the final resting place of the Lizzie Throop, and it's a big find: the two-masted schooner is an important part of West Michigan's maritime history. 

David Mertl / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Get a group of Michiganders together, add a deck of cards, and chances are pretty good you'll wind up with a game of euchre.

It was once dubbed "the queen of all card-games" and was wildly popular in the late 1800s. But its popularity waned through the 20th century. That is, except in Michigan and a handful of Midwestern states, nicknamed the “Euchre Belt.”

a squirrel
Steve Burt / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Leaping from branch to branch, bearing nuts and acorns, teasing backyard dogs by staying just out of reach; let’s face it — squirrels are so common in Michigan that it’s easy for us to take their presence for granted.

But, just as Holden Caufield worried about where the ducks go in winter, we got to wondering: where do squirrels go? Do they cluster up in hibernation holes? Or perhaps join Michigan snowbirds and head south to warmer locales?

Infrogmation of New Orleans / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A century ago, as the US was deep into fighting WWI, General "Black Jack" Pershing issued an urgent call to American women to volunteer for a new unit with the US Army Signal Corps.

More than 200 women from across the nation responded, including women from Michigan. They became known as "The Hello Girls."

mushroom pizza
Jim Winstead / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

Michigan is known as an automotive capital, but with Little Caesars, Domino's, Hungry Howie's, and Jet’s headquartered here, Michigan can make a good case that our state is also a pizza capital. As far as we know, Michigan is the only state to have had a pizza funeral. 

Photo provided by a friend of the Michigan History Center.

 


 

A lot of Michigan residents might know that Malcolm X grew up in this state, but beyond that, the facts might get a little fuzzy. 

 

 

Michigan History Center’s Rachel Clark joined Stateside to bring some clarity to that history.

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