GVSU Kutsche Office of Local History

GVSU Kutsche Office of Local History The Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University is dedicated to using history to give voice to diverse communities.

Have you been to the Ionia Free Fair before? In a way, this annual summer celebration’s roots go back thousands of years...
05/08/2020

Have you been to the Ionia Free Fair before? In a way, this annual summer celebration’s roots go back thousands of years. The park space that hosts the event began as a seasonal agricultural spot for the Anishinaabe people. European-descended colonizers continued to use the attractive riverside space for farming and harvest festivals, later adding paths for rides along the Grand River’s edge.

It wasn’t until the middle of the 1800s that it became the site for “Michigan’s Greatest Outdoor Event,” celebrating agriculture and bringing families together in this same space the Anishinaabe prized for being an attractive and bountiful farming location. Learn more about the Ionia County Historical Society and the fair’s history in our Connections Along the Grand River magazine, coming out later this year.

The village of Saranac might best be known for its mills, but its geography also made it a prime spot for the button ind...
05/01/2020

The village of Saranac might best be known for its mills, but its geography also made it a prime spot for the button industry. Yep: buttons! The Grand River was once awash with clams and mussels, and indigenous people used the shells for utensils and jewelry. In the early-to-mid 1900s, Saranac locals used special boats and tools to collect these bivalves from the Grand. They sold the meat and shipped the shells to nearby button factories in Lamont and Lowell, where the shells would be punched into attractive round buttons.

The button industry switched mostly to plastic by the 1950s, but as the Boston Saranac Historical Society recounts in our Connections Along the Grand River magazine, many people in Saranac remember making side money by clamming the Grand.

It’s unsurprising that lake sturgeon are found in the traditional teachings and histories of west Michigan’s earliest pe...
04/24/2020

It’s unsurprising that lake sturgeon are found in the traditional teachings and histories of west Michigan’s earliest people, the Anishinaabe. The Grand River was once packed with these fish that can grow an impressive 200 lbs and 7 feet long, and live for 50-100 years. Centuries of pollution and overfishing reduced lake sturgeon from an essential resource to a threatened species. Where early European immigrants recall trading lake sturgeon for goods and services, today you are lucky to catch a glimpse of some on Grand Rapids’ fish ladders in the spring.

Lake sturgeon are beginning to make a comeback, though, and the Grand Rapids Public Museum has worked closely with local tribes, environmentalists, and historians to recognize and share the role it had in shaping this region. Look for their piece in this fall's Connections Along the Grand River magazine to learn more.

With the Stay Home, Stay Safe order in Michigan, The Kutsche Office of Local History wants to share more about this plac...
04/17/2020

With the Stay Home, Stay Safe order in Michigan, The Kutsche Office of Local History wants to share more about this place we call home. The over 250-mile-long Grand River is a local lifeline running through our upcoming project, the Connections Along the Grand River magazine. Look out for posts over the next few weeks exploring over 12,000 years of people and nature influencing one another in west Michigan, and the organizations and individuals dedicated to sharing those stories.

We are thrilled to share that Connie Navarro is the recipient of the Kutsche Office of Local History's 2020 Gordon Olson...
04/10/2020
Kutsche Office of Local History presents Muskegon resident with award for mentorship, advocacy

We are thrilled to share that Connie Navarro is the recipient of the Kutsche Office of Local History's 2020 Gordon Olson Award. She has been a close friend of the Kutsche Office from the beginning, and has put in decades of work to document, celebrate, and share Latino history in Muskegon and the surrounding areas. Thank you for your dedication!

Connie Navarro founded Latinos Working for the Future and has served on the advisory council.

Our offices are closed but staff are working remotely and still receiving emails (kutsche@gvsu.edu) and phone messages (...
03/12/2020
Coronavirus Information - Grand Valley State University

Our offices are closed but staff are working remotely and still receiving emails ([email protected]) and phone messages (616-331-8099). However, in light of COVID-19, the Michigan Humanities Great Michigan Read Discussion & Book Signing and our 11th Annual Local History Roundtable are canceled. For updates on GVSU's response to COVID-19, please visit the link below.

This page contains resources and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) at Grand Valley State University

Did you vote in Michigan's primary today? The big-picture story of women's suffrage in the US would not have happened wi...
03/10/2020

Did you vote in Michigan's primary today? The big-picture story of women's suffrage in the US would not have happened without the tireless work of local organizers. At our 11th Annual Local History Roundtable, Julia Bouwkamp of the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council shares her #digitalhumanities project diving into the role Grand Rapids women played in the state and national suffrage struggle. Sign up at bit.ly/LHR320 to reserve your seat!

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's story from the Flint Water Crisis is one of hope, resistance, and resilience. "Maybe I see that...
03/06/2020
Flint’s fight for America’s children

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha's story from the Flint Water Crisis is one of hope, resistance, and resilience. "Maybe I see that American dream more clearly than others," she says in her 2016 TED Talk. "I see with eyes that are still fresh even after so many years." Join us for the Great Michigan Read Discussion & Book Signing on March 26 in Grand Rapids.

Thanks to the Grand Rapids Public Library and Michigan Humanities for partnering in this #GreatMichiganRead program.

Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha is the whistleblower who exposed the dangerous levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water. In her 2016 TEDMED Talk, Mona sheds light on how the people of Flint are finding hope after the crisis and working together to rebuild their American....

Food is a central way we share stories of our past and present. Our 11th Annual Local History Roundtable kicks off with ...
03/02/2020

Food is a central way we share stories of our past and present. Our 11th Annual Local History Roundtable kicks off with a presentation about how food helps us connect, heal, and share. Eleanor Moreno's work with Co2 Storytelling, Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Partner Committee, and Kids' Food Basket carries on powerful traditions of women supporting their communities with food, service, and fellowship. Sign up at bit.ly/LHR320 to reserve your spot today!

On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we explore West Michigan women's hard work to transform their communitie...
02/26/2020

On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we explore West Michigan women's hard work to transform their communities. Alde Blake (photographed here in 1874, courtesy Robert McArdle) was a powerhouse for women's suffrage in the state, thanks in large part to family support. The tradition continues at our 11th Annual Local History Roundtable, as two of Blake's great-grandchildren and the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council present on her life and legacy in West Michigan. Sign up today to reserve your seat!

Is there someone who's helped you learn about West Michigan history? An interesting event or presentation that used hist...
02/10/2020
Gordon Olson Award - Kutsche Office of Local History - Grand Valley State University

Is there someone who's helped you learn about West Michigan history? An interesting event or presentation that used history to give voice to diverse local communities? Nominate them for our annual Gordon Olson award and let them be recognized for their inspiring work.

Nominations are open through Monday, February 17, at the link below.

Thanks for helping us spread the word about the #GreatMichiganRead, Grand Valley Lanthorn! There's still time to sign up...
02/10/2020
GV preps for visit from Great Michigan Read author

Thanks for helping us spread the word about the #GreatMichiganRead, Grand Valley Lanthorn! There's still time to sign up for our next two Great Michigan Read Book Club sessions and receive a free copy of "What the Eyes Don't See" by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Drop by for an afternoon break with coffee and conversation on Feb 24 & March 16.

Every year, Michigan Humanities chooses a book themed in their field to be read across the state. With the help of regional organizations, they aim to bring Michigan together through literature. One of the Great Michigan Read program’s many partners is the Kutsche Office of Local History here at G...

Flint, MI has not had safe drinking water for almost 6 years. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha used her position in the city’s chi...
01/27/2020

Flint, MI has not had safe drinking water for almost 6 years. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha used her position in the city’s children’s hospital to help expose the water poisoning and its deliberate cover-up. RSVP for any of our Great Michigan Read Book Club sessions to receive a free copy of her #GreatMichiganRead book and share your thoughts about how the crisis in Flint has shaped Michigan.

What does it take to craft a crisis? GVSU's Kutsche Office of Local History is hosting a free, public Great Michigan Rea...
01/21/2020

What does it take to craft a crisis? GVSU's Kutsche Office of Local History is hosting a free, public Great Michigan Read Book Club about the Flint Water Crisis. "What the Eyes Don't See" is the story of a local pediatrician's journey to prove not only that the city's children were irreversibly harmed by Flint's water supply, but the orchestrated cover-up that tried to keep it hidden. We will read this gripping account and tackle the larger questions of accountability, history, and public health that surround it. Receive a free copy of the book when you register today.

This program is part of Michigan Humanities annual #GreatMichiganRead initiative, connecting people across the state to have thoughtful discussions around common issues.

Another great Standing Rock exhibition! If you’re up north, stop in and see! Levi Rickert and Native News Online.
07/15/2019

Another great Standing Rock exhibition! If you’re up north, stop in and see! Levi Rickert and Native News Online.

Thrilled for the opening of the Stories of Summer exhibition. This project was funded by a National Endowment for the Hu...
06/12/2019

Thrilled for the opening of the Stories of Summer exhibition. This project was funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Common Heritage Grant and reflects a partnership with Saugatuck-Douglas History Center.

Art and Water: Wyandotte art exhibit focuses on water activism and Indigenous American artwork - Great Lakes Now
05/30/2019
Art and Water: Wyandotte art exhibit focuses on water activism and Indigenous American artwork - Great Lakes Now

Art and Water: Wyandotte art exhibit focuses on water activism and Indigenous American artwork - Great Lakes Now

Art and Water: Wyandotte art exhibit focuses on water activism and Indigenous American artwork Art and Water: Wyandotte art exhibit focuses on water activism and Indigenous American artwork May 29, 2019 Ian Wendrow By Ian Wendrow May 29, 2019 0 0 Shares Mni Wičoni; Water is Life. This Lakota expres...

So looking forward to installing this exhibit later this week at Downriver Council for the Arts. With Levi Rickert.
05/21/2019
Standing Rock Photo Exhibition & Native American Art Show- 05/2019

So looking forward to installing this exhibit later this week at Downriver Council for the Arts. With Levi Rickert.

Photos of the Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was the largest public gathering of American Indians in over a century and tells the story around issues of Social Justice today. Reception: Sunday, May 26, 2019, 1-5 pm Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation), editor

What a wonderful celebration of the Seniors at Saugatuck High School. Over 130 individuals came to Saugatuck-Douglas His...
05/21/2019
View - Photo Gallery - Kutsche Office of Local History - Grand Valley State University

What a wonderful celebration of the Seniors at Saugatuck High School. Over 130 individuals came to Saugatuck-Douglas History Center on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 to celebrate the class of 2019.

The Kutsche Office of Local History along with the Saugatuck Douglas History Center trained journalism students at Saugatuck High School in oral history methods, and those students interviewed their peers. The outcome of this project is a series of portrait boards for each senior that showcases thei...

Contemporary Stories of Saugatuck opening exhibition at the Old School House.
05/14/2019

Contemporary Stories of Saugatuck opening exhibition at the Old School House.

We can’t wait to see everyone this beautiful Tuesday evening.
05/14/2019

We can’t wait to see everyone this beautiful Tuesday evening.

We’re getting ready for the Contemporary Stories of Saugatuck exhibition. Join us for the official unveiling on Tuesday,...
05/08/2019

We’re getting ready for the Contemporary Stories of Saugatuck exhibition. Join us for the official unveiling on Tuesday, May 14 at 6pm at the Old School House in Douglas, MI.

Hearing from a member of the congregation as they reflect on what participating in the project means to them and their c...
04/03/2019

Hearing from a member of the congregation as they reflect on what participating in the project means to them and their connections with undergraduate students.

It’s such a pleasure to hear from Dr. Marilyn Preston’s students about their experiences with the oral history project. ...
04/03/2019

It’s such a pleasure to hear from Dr. Marilyn Preston’s students about their experiences with the oral history project. Dr. Preston’s project demonstrates the impact of intentional community engagement and community based learning.

Excited to learn more about the Jewish Muskegon, MI community this morning as part of Dr. Marilyn Preston’s talk, “L’dor...
04/03/2019

Excited to learn more about the Jewish Muskegon, MI community this morning as part of Dr. Marilyn Preston’s talk, “L’dor v’dor: Oral Histories of the B’nai Israel Congregation.”
Dr. Preston received the Kutsche Office’s Community Collaboration Grant to support this project.

GVSU Kutsche Office of Local History's cover photo
04/02/2019

GVSU Kutsche Office of Local History's cover photo

What a wonderful day of vibrant and exciting conversations concerning communities along the Grand River and their histor...
03/14/2019

What a wonderful day of vibrant and exciting conversations concerning communities along the Grand River and their histories. Thank you to everyone who attended today.

Thank you Dr. Janet Brashler for a wonderful keynote.
03/14/2019

Thank you Dr. Janet Brashler for a wonderful keynote.

Thank you to everyone who is attending our Connections Along the Grand River Symposium/10th Anniversary Roundtable today...
03/14/2019

Thank you to everyone who is attending our Connections Along the Grand River Symposium/10th Anniversary Roundtable today! And thank you to the 22 local historians and local history organizations who are participating as partners and curated exhibit boards.

Thank you to the Michigan Humanities Council and the Third Coast Conversations grant supporting this project.

In just over 2 weeks we will celebrate our 10th Annual Local History Roundtable. And while we're at it, we'd also like t...
02/27/2019
COMMON CORNERS SOCIETIES - WYOMING HISTORICAL COMMISSION, KENT COUNTY, MICHIGAN

In just over 2 weeks we will celebrate our 10th Annual Local History Roundtable. And while we're at it, we'd also like to celebrate the Wyoming Historical Commission. They've attended EVERY Roundtable since its inception! We're so thankful for their continued support of Kutsche Office events! Wyoming Michigan History Room
Register now and join us (and the group from Wyoming!) on March 14!

Counties of Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Montcalm, Ionia, Barry, Allegan

Address

Allendale, MI
49401

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Category

Giving voice to diverse communities through history.

The Kutsche Office was established with a generous gift to Grand Valley State University from Grand Rapids resident and retired anthropology professor, Dr. Paul Kutsche. Dr. Kutsche dreamed of creating a hands-on history program, and Grand Valley State University’s Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies with its emphasis on both academics and service offered the perfect location where students from a wide variety of disciplines creatively blend knowledge with experience.

MISSION: Giving voice to diverse communities through history. VISION: The Kutsche Office of Local History will be a regional and national model for fostering intentional and deep community connections through the collection, preservation, and dissemination of the diverse histories of underrepresented populations. VALUES: We value deep community connections, respect for storytelling and academic rigor to strengthen communities throughout West Michigan. These values involve bringing together faculty, staff, students, local historians, and community members to facilitate conversations and develop programs that leverage the lessons learned from the region's past. We value diversity in local and regional histories. We value interdisciplinary methods to unearth, collect, and preserve local and regional histories.

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