Theme Information

Each year, National History Day® frames students’ research within a historical theme. In fact, relationship to the theme is 20% of the judging criteria. The 2018-2019 theme is Triumph & Tragedy in History. Your topic may focus on any geographic area, historical period, event, group, or individual, but it must relate back to the annual theme. Understanding the historical significance and context of your topic will help you draw a connection to the theme. Use the resources below to learn more about this year’s theme.

2019 NHD Theme Book2019_NHD_logo_web

2019 NHD Theme Narrative and Sample Topics (Includes U.S., European, and World)

4 Ts Handout—2019 Theme Graphic Organizer

So, do you have to do both triumph and tragedy? Almost all topics will have aspects of both triumph and tragedy, so you should address both parts of the theme. But that doesn’t mean that it will be a 50/50 split. We challenge you to examine your topic from multiple perspectives and viewpoints. A tragedy to someone may be a triumph to someone else. And history isn’t always pretty. The work of a historian is to tell the complete story, so we hope you dig a little deeper and explore topics from all sides of the issue.

Michigan Topics

The following topics were submitted by museum, education, and archive staff from across Michigan after reading the theme narrative for Triumph & Tragedy in History. Exploring the history of your town or state can be a challenge but it helps you gain a greater connection to your community. We encourage you to explore the topics below or find a topic in your own backyard. You can find lists of Historical Organizations in each district at hsmichigan.org/mhd/district-information/.

Arab American | Art & Entertainment | Civil Rights | Exploration/Frontier | Labor | Military | Mining | Miscellaneous | Native American | Oral History | Political | Prohibition | Science | Transportation | Women’s History

Arab American

Topic: Immigration and the Auto Industry
Description: Oral history interviews (audio and transcripts) about Arab Americans living in Dearborn and working in the Ford Motor Company factories.
Resources: Arab Americans and the Automobile: Voices from the Factory oral history collection is available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resource Center and online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Topic: Save the South End (Dearborn Community Activism)
Description: Papers, photographs, and interviews about the Save the South End movement in Dearborn in the 1970s. Save the South End was a movement by (largely Arab-American) activists to prevent the destruction of the historically working class and immigrant South End neighborhood by the city and industrial forces. The movement later became ACCESS, an Arab-American social services organization based in Dearborn. 
Resources: ACCESS historical papers are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org. 

Topic: Rosemary Hakim
Description: Letters, photographs, and memoirs of Rosemary Hakim, an Arab-American woman from Detroit who leveraged a beauty pageant victory into a career in international relations.
Resources: Rosemary Hakim’s papers are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org. Large portions are also available online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org.

Topic: Couture in Detroit
Description: Artifacts and papers from Ruth Joyce, an Arab-American fashion designer based in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.
Resources: Ruth Joyce materials are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Topic: Arab American Community in Flint
Description: Oral History interviews and photographs from Flint’s Arab American community.
Resources: Honoring Our Heritage: The Co-Created Histories of Flint’s Arab American Community is a part of the Digital Scrapbooks collection available online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Return to Top

Art & Entertainment

Topic: Couture in Detroit
Description: Artifacts and papers from Ruth Joyce, an Arab-American fashion designer based in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.
Resources: Ruth Joyce materials are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Topic: Rosemary Hakim
Description: Letters, photographs, and memoirs of Rosemary Hakim, an Arab-American woman from Detroit who leveraged a beauty pageant victory into a career in international relations.
Resources: Rosemary Hakim’s papers are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org. Large portions are also available online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org.

Return to Top

Civil Rights

Topic: Van Avery Drugstore Picket and Civil Rights in Kalamazoo
Description: In 1963, African Americans picketed a Kalamazoo drug store over the store’s refusal to hire African Americans even though they were a sizable customer base. It was one of the first civil rights protests in Kalamazoo and inspired additional protests and boycotts. Some argue that the Van Avery Picket brought about changing attitudes toward employing African Americans in the community and others have suggested that the picket set in motion events that would alter the demographics of the neighborhood where the store was located.
Resources: Kalamazoo Gazette Collection, oral history transcriptions, there are also individuals in the community who could be interviewed. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Civil Rights on the Western Michigan University campus after the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Description: In the hours following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Western Michigan University students organized a protest and peaceful takeover of the student center. African-American and Euro-American students protested racism on campus and a curriculum that excluded African history and culture. This protest resulted in financial aid programs for African-American students and an expanded curriculum including the Africana Studies program.
Resources: Kalamazoo Gazette Collection, Western Herald (newspaper), Focus News (newspaper). There are also people in the community who could be interviewed. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Kalamazoo School Desegregation Case (Oliver vs. Kalamazoo Board of Education)
Description: In 1968, a committee developed a plan to promote greater racial integration in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, which were highly segregated due to housing patterns and school locations. The proposed plan included busing to integrate the schools. Due to community hostility, the School Board ultimately adopted a voluntary open enrollment plan. The Kalamazoo NAACP filed suit to enforce the original proposal and in 1971 a Federal District Court Judge found the Kalamazoo schools to be unlawfully segregated and ordered the Kalamazoo Board of Education to proceed with the original desegregation plan. The resulting years have brought about profound changes in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, housing patterns, and race relations.
Resources: Kalamazoo Gazette Collection, Kalamazoo NAACP records, Edward Thompson Collection, Charles and Joan Van Zoeren Collection, there are also people in the community who could be interviewed. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Additional Topics

Duane Roberts—Champion of racial equity in the 1960s through the 1980s in Kalamazoo

Return to Top

Exploration/Frontier

Topic: Madame LaFramboise
Description: Madame LaFramboise became a prominent figure as a female heading a fur trade company in the early 1800s after her husband was killed. She was also a leader in the community of Mackinac Island and around Michigan, a proponent of early education, and liaison between cultures during the fur trade era.
Resources: Magdelaine Laframboise: The First Lady of Mackinac Island by Keith Widder, visiting Ste. Anne’s Church on Mackinac Island, seeing former residence (now Harbour View Inn—seasonal) on Mackinac Island, various publications through libraries, and contacting research library in Mackinaw City at (231) 436-4100.

Return to Top

Labor

Topic: Kalamazoo Corset Workers Strike
Description: Female employees of the Kalamazoo Corset Company began a labor strike on March 2, 1912, over poor wages, long hours, and sexual harassment. This picket gained the sympathies of the community and also gained national attention. A contract was approved later in the year which brought about improved working conditions and modest financial gains.
Resources: Kalamazoo Corset Workers Circuit Court files and photos, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Immigration and the Auto Industry
Description: Oral history interviews (audio and transcripts) about Arab Americans living in Dearborn and working in the Ford Motor Company factories.
Resources: Arab Americans and the Automobile: Voices from the Factory oral history collection is available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resource Center and online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Additional Topics

The rise and success of labor unions following the Great Depression

Return to Top

Military

Topic: War of 1812 on Mackinac Island
Description: Some of the first physical conflicts of the War of 1812 happened on Mackinac Island and erupted later with the only major battle on the island happening in 1814.  Much of the crucial battles happened on the Great Lakes and in Michigan, creating conflict, disrupting the fur trade, and vying for control of a key defense point of Fort Mackinac.
Resources: War 1812 by George May, visiting Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island (231-436-4100—seasonal), contacting research library in Mackinaw City at (231) 436-4100 for primary sources, working through Michigan Historical Museum for publications and historical/primary resources at (517) 373-3559, many publications newly written for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the war.

Topic: Watson Civil War Letters
Description: Original compelling letters written home from a Marquette soldier living down south during the Civil War.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day!

Additional Topics

Battle of Fort Michilimackinac in 1763
Company K—Triumphant Native American Civil War veterans return to Emmet County only to have their land taken away

Return to Top

Mining

Topic: Barnes Hecker Mine Disaster in Ishpeming
Description: In 1926, the worst mining disaster in Michigan killed 51 workers. Victims’ families still alive today would make for wonderful oral histories. The Marquette Regional History Center museum library and the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum hold many records from this event.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day!

Return to Top

Miscellaneous

Topic: The Kalamazoo School Case
Description: Kalamazoo opened its first high school in 1858 and in 1873, three prominent property owners sued the school board over its right to collect taxes to support the high school. The case was eventually decided by the Michigan Supreme Court who upheld the right of the school board to collect taxes and opened the way for free high schools in Michigan and also in other states.
Resources: Newspaper articles, Michigan Supreme Court records (Archives of Michigan). Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: The Construction of the Kalamazoo Mall
Description: Downtown Kalamazoo was experiencing a decline by the 1950s as housing and shopping moved to the suburbs. Kalamazoo leaders worked with internationally known planner Victor Gruen to develop a plan to revitalize downtown Kalamazoo with the first pedestrian outdoor mall in the nation. The mall was constructed in 1959 and was a popular attraction through the 1960s. This idea was also adopted by other cities with varying levels of success.
Resources: Gruen Plan, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection, PBS Ten Streets That Changed America. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Paper City to Superfund Site
Description: The Kalamazoo region was home to numerous papermaking companies from the nineteenth to the late twentieth century and Kalamazoo was even nicknamed the paper city at one time. These companies provided jobs and related businesses provided more jobs and prosperity. By the 1960s, most of the industry had left and it was known as early as the 1950s that land and bodies of water in and near Kalamazoo had serious pollutants that would cost millions of dollars to properly clean. Remediation of these sites is an ongoing process today.
Resources: Various records of numerous Kalamazoo paper companies, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized

Topic: Bay Cliff Health Camp
Description: The camp was started last century in Marquette and still continues today as an active health camp for children with physical disabilities. Started by two women who saw a need, a doctor and a nurse, the camp encourages people to work towards goals of increased independence and living a fuller life.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day! You can also visit www.baycliff.org/about-us/.

Additional Topics

Enoch and Deborah Harris—Triumphed over obstacles to be the first African-American settlers in Kalamazoo County (1830s)
Logging History
1909 Burdick Hotel Fire, Kalamazoo—Use of the water tower from the state psychiatric hospital to prevent other building from burning
The Great Depression—Rise of labor unions, work of Civilian Conservation Corps (state parks, planting of trees, improving quality of the land)
1968 World Series—The Detroit Tigers won the World Series the year following the rebellions of 1967
1980 downtown Kalamazoo tornado

Return to Top

Native American

Topic: Indian Removal Act of 1830—Anishinaabek removal to Kansas and Oklahoma and the triumph of the Odawak retaining their Waganakising territory.
Description: Despite federal policies mandating Indian removal, the Waganakising Odawak stayed in their territory. The resiliency of the people and great efforts of a local leader made this possible. Augustin Hamlin, also known as Kanapima, was instrumental in treaty negotiation interpreting.
Resources: 1. Our Land and Culture: A 200 Year History of Our Land Use. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, 2005. www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/Arch/Our%20Land%20and%20Culture%20for%20web.pdf. 2. Cleland, Charles E. Rites of Conquest: the History and Culture of Michigan’s Native Americans. University of Michigan Press, 1992. 3. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Repatriation, Archives and Records Department, (231) 242-1450 or www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/Arch/Archives.html. Additional information can be found at www.petoskeyarea.com/media-information/area-history/odawa-indians/.

Topic: Indian Boarding Schools in Michigan (Holy Childhood, Harbor Springs, and Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School/Sisters of St. Joseph, Baraga)
Description: Beginning in the 1880s, Native children were forced into boarding schools by the U.S. government. Boarding schools were created to assimilate Native Americans, and many were governed by the philosophy stated by Richard Henry Pratt, “Kill the Indian, save the man.” Pratt was the founder and superintendent of the first Federal Indian boarding school, Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Native children could not speak their Native languages or practice their traditions, lifeways, and spirituality.  Michigan had three boarding schools, one federally mandated, and two were operated by religious institutions. The last boarding school for Native youth in Michigan was in operation until 1983 (Holy Childhood, Harbor Springs).
Resources:
“Baraga County.” Baraga County MI Genealogy on the Web, www.migenweb.org/baraga/history/1883historyupperpenin_2.html.
Source: History of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: containing a full account of its early settlement, its growth, development, and resources, an extended description of its iron and copper mines: also, accurate sketches of its counties, cities, towns, and villages … biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers. Chicago, IL: Western Historical Co., 1883.

Bear, Charla. “American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many.” NPR.org, Morning Edition, 12 May 2008, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865?storyId=16516865.

“Boarding School.” Boarding School: Curriculum Guide, Resources, Teacher Worksheets/Lesson Plans, Agent of Change, Ziibiwing Center – Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing/planyourvisit/boardingschool/index2.htm.

Brookings Institution. The Problem of Indian Administration: Report of a Survey made at the request of Honorable Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior, and submitted to him, February 21, 1928 (Baltimore, Md., The Johns Hopkins Press, 1928), www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED087573.pdf.

Child, Brenda J. Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

Edwards, Lissa. “To Educate the Indian.” MyNorth.com, 29 Mar. 2017, mynorth.com/2017/03/mt-pleasant-indian-school/.

Hemenway, Eric. “Indian Children Forced to Assimilate at White Boarding Schools (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/articles/boarding-schools.htm.

KUED PBS – University of Utah. “Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 16 Feb. 2016, www.pbs.org/video/unspoken-americas-native-american-boarding-schools-oobt1r/.

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians—Repatriation, Archives, and Records Department (231) 242-1450, photos of items from the Holy Childhood School available, www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/Arch/Archives.html

Topic:  Reaffirmation of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Little River Bands of Ottawa Indians in 1994 (Pub.L. 103-324)
Description: After the 1836 and 1855 treaties were signed, the promises of goods and monetary allotments were nearly never fulfilled. After treaties were signed, the Odawa no longer had jurisdiction over their traditional territories and they had difficulties practicing their traditional lifeways, despite the 1836 treaty stating they would reserve hunting and fishing rights upon ceding. The Odawak organized to sue the U.S. government due to not fulfilling agreements stated within the treaties. Nearly 100 years had passed, and the Federal government refused to recognize them the inherent rights of the Odawak.  Three main groups worked together to unite the Odawa people politically in the 1930s and 1940s—The Michigan Indian Defense Association (est. 1933), The Michigan Indian Foundation (est. 1947), and the Northern Michigan Ottawa Association (NMOA) (est. 1948). Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) first organized under NMOA as Unit 1. LTBB as Unit 1 tried to put forth Federal court hearings about treaty rights relating to fishing, although the Federal government would not recognize them because they were an organization and not a government. In 1982, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa officially re-organized with the name, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. LTBB went back to Federal courts and they were denied again because they were not a Federally Recognized tribe. LTBB leaders thought it was important to be Federally recognized through reaffirmation, rather than establishing a new form of recognition. LTBB leaders believed they should not only be recognized but reaffirmed because historically they were Federally recognized as a sovereign nation during treaty negotiations and signing. Through intensive work of LTBB tribal leaders and allies, in September 1994, President Clinton signed a bill that gave LTBB and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Federal recognition through reaffirmation.
Resources:
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians—Repatriation, Archives, and Records Department (231) 242-1450

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Our Land and Culture: A 200 Year History of Our Land Use. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, 2005, www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/Arch/Our%20Land%20and%20Culture%20for%20web.pdf.

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Repatriation, Archives and Records Department. A Tribal History Of The Little Traverse Bay Bands Of Odawa Indians. Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/TribalHistory.html.

“Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Act (1994 – S. 1357).” GovTrack.us, www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/103/s1357

Additional Topics

Battle of Fort Michilimackinac in 1763
Company K—Triumphant Native American Civil War veterans return to Emmet County only to have their land taken away

Return to Top

Oral History

Topic: Using Oral History for your MHD Project
Description: Most Michigan History Day projects will be enhanced by interviewing an expert in the field or someone who experienced the event. Learn to ask questions and interact with community members.
Resources: Senior citizens, librarians, archivist, museum workers, and even parents may know some interesting details about your topic. Visit michiganoha.org/ to learn more.

Return to Top

Political

Topic: Stevens T. Mason’s failed Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal
Description: In the 1830s, Michigan Governor Stevens T. Mason proposed and began work on an ambitious canal across Lower Michigan that would connect Lake St. Clair to Lake Michigan and improve trade across the new state. But the project ultimately ran out of funding, created a mild economic panic in Michigan, and cost Mason his job as governor.
Resources: E-mail michiganhistoryday@hsmichigan.org if you are interested in this topic.

Topic: Governor G. Mennen Williams’ inability to balance the state budget in the late 1950s
Description: Democrat G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams is among the longest serving and most popular governors of Michigan in the twentieth century. Elected six times, he served 12 years in office and accomplished a great deal. But his career and legacy were thwarted by his inability to work with Republican legislators to balance the state budget, which led to near bankruptcy and a “payless payday” for government workers in 1959.
Resources: Soapy: A Biography of G. Mennen Williams by Thomas J. Noer.

Topic: The rise and fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson
Description: John Swainson’s life was full of triumphs and tragedies. He lost both legs in World War II, became the second youngest elected governor of Michigan, was defeated after just one two-year term, went on to find success as a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, later resigned from the bench after being convicted of perjury, and finally redeemed himself as president of the Michigan Historical Commission.
Resources: Wounded Warrior: The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson by Lawrence M. Glazier.

Return to Top

Prohibition

Topic: Kalamazoo, the Volstead Act (Prohibition), and Control of Alcohol Consumption
Description: Kalamazoo struggled like many communities to enforce laws concerning the use and sale of alcohol. With the national prohibition brought about by the Volstead Act, Kalamazoo had a vice unit that investigated the illegal creation, use, and distribution of alcohol. When the Volstead Act was repealed, Kalamazoo sought to control the sale and consumption of alcohol by restricting its use to private clubs. This local ordinance was eventually repealed in the early 1960s.
Resources: Orville Sternberg Journals, Charles and Joan Van Zoeren Collection, Kalamazoo Junior Chamber of Commerce Collection, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Return to Top

Science

Environmental

Topic: Paper City to Superfund Site
Description: The Kalamazoo region was home to numerous papermaking companies from the nineteenth to the late twentieth century and Kalamazoo was even nicknamed the paper city at one time. These companies provided jobs and related businesses provided more jobs and prosperity. By the 1960s, most of the industry had left and it was known as early as the 1950s that land and bodies of water in and near Kalamazoo had serious pollutants that would cost millions of dollars to properly clean. Remediation of these sites is an ongoing process today.
Resources: Various records of numerous Kalamazoo paper companies, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490.
E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Medicine

Topic: St. Martin/Beaumont experiments
Description: When a life-threatening accidental wound in the early 1800s was treated by an inquisitive doctor, the results became monumental in the world of medicine. Dr. Beaumont’s treatment and experiments and Alexis St. Martin’s bearing with time and resolve made gastronomical history starting on Mackinac Island.
Resources: Books: Frontier Doctor by Reginald Horsemen, Dr. William Beaumont: The Mackinac Years by Keith Widder, Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion by William Beaumont. Other sources may be found at the William Beaumont Hospital or the American Fur Company Retail Store/ Dr. Beaumont Museum on Mackinac Island. For more information or research support, call (231) 436-4100.

Topic: Caring for the Mentally Ill, the Michigan Asylum for the Insane (Kalamazoo State Hospital)
Description: The Michigan Asylum for the Insane was the first public mental hospital to open in Michigan in 1859. The model upon which the Kalamazoo State Hospital was built stressed more humane treatment of mentally ill patients who previously were locked in attics and basements or became inmates at county poorhouses and jails. At the time of its inception, the hospital was considered progressive in its treatment of patients and its pioneering training in psychiatric nursing and occupational therapy. It was also the largest public mental hospital in Michigan and at one time housed 3,500 patients.
Resources: Kalamazoo State Hospital records and annual reports, Dr. William Decker Collection, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: William E. Upjohn and the Friable Pill
Description: Most medicines of the nineteenth century did little or no good to help bring about cures or relief from medical problems because they were not digested by the human body. Dr. Upjohn patented a form of pill that was designed to be easily digested. He called this a “friable pill” which could be easily reduced to a powder, making it possible for medicine to be digested by the human body. He eventually founded the Upjohn Pill and Granule Company in Kalamazoo in 1886.
Resources: Upjohn Company Records, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Bay Cliff Health Camp
Description: The camp was started last century in Marquette and still continues today as an active health camp for children with physical disabilities. Started by two women who saw a need, a doctor and a nurse, the camp encourages people to work towards goals of increased independence and living a fuller life.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day! You can also visit www.baycliff.org/about-us/.

Additional Topics

1918 Influenza Epidemic in Kalamazoo
1980 downtown Kalamazoo tornado

Return to Top

Transportation

Automotive

Topic: Immigration and the Auto Industry
Description: Oral history interviews (audio and transcripts) about Arab Americans living in Dearborn and working in the Ford Motor Company factories.
Resources: Arab Americans and the Automobile: Voices from the Factory oral history collection is available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resource Center and online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Aviation

Topic: Harriet Quimby
Description: Harriet Quimby received the first aviation license granted to an American woman on August 1, 1911. The Arcadia, Michigan native was the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel. She worked as a reporter and writer and died in a plane crash on July 1, 1912, three months after her historic crossing of the English Channel.
Resources: Arcadia Area Historical Museum (arcadiami.com/), National Aviation Hall of Fame (www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrinees/quimby-harriet/).

Maritime/Water

Topic: Stevens T. Mason’s failed Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal
Description: In the 1830s, Michigan Governor Stevens T. Mason proposed and began work on an ambitious canal across Lower Michigan that would connect Lake St. Clair to Lake Michigan and improve trade across the new state. But the project ultimately ran out of funding, created a mild economic panic in Michigan, and cost Mason his job as governor.
Resources: E-mail michiganhistoryday@hsmichigan.org if you are interested in this topic.

Topic: Charles J. Kershaw Shipwreck
Description: On September 29, 1895, the 223-foot long wooden steamer lost power and foundered during a storm. The crew was rescued by the Marquette Life Saving Service. The wreck is one of the most popular dive sites because it is in about 25 feet of water.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day!

Topic: Henry B. Smith Shipwreck
Description: The Henry B. Smith was a 525-foot long iron ore carrier that sunk during one of the most destructive storms to ever hit the Great Lakes. The storm destroyed 19 ships and caused the death of more than 250 people. All members of the crew of the Smith were lost. The wreckage of the ship was found 100 years after it sunk, about 30 miles north of Marquette.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day!

Return to Top

Women’s History

Topic: Madame LaFramboise
Description: Madame LaFramboise became a prominent figure as a female heading a fur trade company in the early 1800s after her husband was killed. She was also a leader in the community of Mackinac Island and around Michigan, a proponent of early education, and liaison between cultures during the fur trade era.
Resources: Magdelaine Laframboise: The First Lady of Mackinac Island by Keith Widder, visiting Ste. Anne’s Church on Mackinac Island, seeing former residence (now Harbour View Inn—seasonal) on Mackinac Island, various publications through libraries, and contacting research library in Mackinaw City at (231) 436-4100.

Topic: How the Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association Operated the First Community Library
Description: In the 1840s, Kalamazoo did not have a public library. A group of women saw this as a community need and organized a library association in 1852 with the purpose of operating a subscription-based library open to anybody who could afford the dues of $1.00 a year. Women and men joined in order to have access to the library. The Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association operated the library for 25 years until the 1870s when state law allowed localities to tax for public libraries, paving the way for the creation of the Kalamazoo Public Library.
Resources: Kalamazoo Ladies’ Library Association Collection, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Harlow Diaries
Description: Olive and Ellen Harlow were Marquette pioneers. The diaries of two of the first Euro-American women in the region share what life was like in the mid 1800s.
Resources: Primary sources and often photographs relating to this topic are held at the J.M. Longyear Research Library in the Marquette Regional History Center. The private research library is free to all K-12 students. Contact research librarian Beth Gruber for help on researching this topic. Beth can pull from the archives before you arrive for research, or work with you remotely. Contact beth@marquettehistory.org or call (906) 226-3571. Make sure to mention Michigan History Day!

Topic: Harriet Quimby
Description: Harriet Quimby received the first aviation license granted to an American woman on August 1, 1911. The Arcadia, Michigan native was the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel. She worked as a reporter and writer and died in a plane crash on July 1, 1912, three months after her historic crossing of the English Channel.
Resources: Arcadia Area Historical Museum (arcadiami.com/), National Aviation Hall of Fame (www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrinees/quimby-harriet/).

Topic: Kalamazoo Corset Workers Strike
Description: Female employees of the Kalamazoo Corset Company began a labor strike on March 2, 1912, over poor wages, long hours, and sexual harassment. This picket gained the sympathies of the community and also gained national attention. A contract was approved later in the year which brought about improved working conditions and modest financial gains.
Resources: Kalamazoo Corset Workers Circuit Court files and photos, Kalamazoo Gazette Collection. Location of Sources: Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, 1650 Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49008. (269) 387-8490. E-mail arch-collect@wmich.edu or visit www.wmich.edu/library/collections/digitized.

Topic: Rosemary Hakim
Description: Letters, photographs, and memoirs of Rosemary Hakim, an Arab-American woman from Detroit who leveraged a beauty pageant victory into a career in international relations.
Resources: Rosemary Hakim’s papers are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org. Large portions are also available online at aanm.contentdm.oclc.org.

Topic: Couture in Detroit
Description: Artifacts and papers from Ruth Joyce, an Arab-American fashion designer based in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.
Resources: Ruth Joyce materials are available at the Arab American National Museum Library and Resources Center. Contact librarian Kirsten Terry-Murphy at kterrymurphy@accesscommunity.org or Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Additional Topics

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone’s work for women’s rights from 1840 to 1900
Return to Top


Thank you to the following contributors!
Tammy Barnes, Kalamazoo Valley Museum
Elyssa Bisoski, Arab American National Museum
Christopher Blaker, Historical Society of Michigan
Jim Cameron, Michigan Oral History Association
Sharon Carlson, Archives and Regional History Collections, Western Michigan University
Sara Gross, Michigan History Center
Katherine Mallory, Mackinac State Historic Parks
Betsy Rutz, Marquette Regional History Center
Kirsten Terry-Murphy, Arab American National Museum
Tobi Voigt, Michigan History Center
Amanda Weinert, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

 

 

Historical Society of Michigan 5815 Executive Drive Lansing, MI 48911
Email hsm@hsmichigan.org | Phone (517) 324-1828 | Fax (517) 324-4370

Designed by MATRIX and hosted by H-Net
Martrix logo