Washtenaw County Historical Society

Washtenaw County Historical Society The mission of the WCHS is to educate and inspire our community to engage in the preservation and presentation of area history.
Museum on Main Street 500 N. Main St. (at the corner of Beakes & E. Kingsley Sts.) Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1027 Admission is free – Your donations are greatly appreciated and do support the Museum.

November 11, 2019 is the 100th anniversary of Veteran's Day, honoring all of those who have served our country in war or...
11/11/2019

November 11, 2019 is the 100th anniversary of Veteran's Day, honoring all of those who have served our country in war or peace. To our Veterans - THANK YOU for your service.

Arthur Starr of Ypsilanti, left, a World War I veteran, was in the crowd which Monday afternoon greeted Marine Capt. James Warner, Washtenaw County's first freed prisoner of war to return from the Vietnam War. Starr, an active American Legion member who belongs to a "40 and 8" unit, fought in a war almost 50 years before Capt. Warner was shot down and captured. The captain was a guest of honor at a reception at the National Guard Armory on S. Huron St. in Ypsilanti Monday after being taken on a tour of the city. The former POW talked briefly with students at Ypsilanti High School and Eastern Michigan University, both of which he attended.
Ann Arbor News, April 10, 1973, digitized by the Ann Arbor District Library.

Argus Museum
11/04/2019

Argus Museum

The Argus Museum/WCHS and the Argus Collectors Group (ACG) lost a dear friend. Art Dersham, a former Argus employee, passed away October 25. Some of you had met Art - he participated in several Argus Museum/ACG conferences - and appreciated his knowledge and enthusiasm of Argus and his kindness and sense of humor. His obituary can be found at:: https://memorials.niefuneralhomes.com/arthur-dersham/4005456/index.php
Art participated in an Ann Arbor District Library interview with other former Argus employees. The interview is posted at: . https://aadl.org/node/218815
He will be missed.

Alexander G. Ruthven was born April 1, 1882 in Hull, Iowa. He received his BS degree in 1903 from Morningside College an...
11/03/2019

Alexander G. Ruthven was born April 1, 1882 in Hull, Iowa. He received his BS degree in 1903 from Morningside College and his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Michigan. As a zoologist, Ruthven's major interest was in reptiles and amphibians - snakes, lizards turtles, frogs, etc. He wrote extensively in his disciple and also directed various scientific expeditions in North, South and Central America. Also, before assuming the presidency, Ruthven was chief field naturalist with the Michigan Geological and Biological Survey (1908-1912).

Ruthven's entire career was spent at the University of Michigan where he was successively instructor of zoology and curator of the Museum of Zoology (1906-1911); assistant professor and curator of the Museum of Zoology (1911-1913); assistant professor and director of the Museum of Zoology (1913-1915); profess and director of the Museum of Zoology (1915-1929); director of University Museums (1922-1936); chairman of the department of zoology and director of the Zoological Laboratories (1927-1929); and dean of administration (1928-1929). Upon President Little's resignation, Ruthven was named to a committee of three to administer the affairs of the University. With administrative skills demonstrated in this position, Ruthven in October 1929 was selected by the regents as president of the University of Michigan. He served in this position until 1951 when Harlan Hatcher assumed office.

Upon assuming office as president, Ruthven worked to reform the administrative structure of the university. He believed that the university must distribute authority and responsibility among the many units and officers which make up the total structure. Early on he selected two vice-presidents, one in charge of business affairs and the other in charge of educational investigations. He also appointed a director of plant extension, and some time later, a vice-president in charge of university relations outside the campus. In 1944, the university's administrative structure included a provost, two vice-presidents, and a secretary. Deans and directors of schools, colleges, and other educational units were given authority commensurate with their responsibilities. Usually, advisory or executive committees were set up to aid unit heads with their duties.

During Ruthven's tenure, the School of Music was formally affiliated and integration with the university. In 1941, the School of Public Health was established; and in 1951, the School of Social Work was established. Other important developments during his tenure were the creation of an Institute of Public Administration and the reorganization of the School of Forestry as the School of Natural Resources. Ruthven died January 19, 1971. Photo and bio from the Bentley Historical Library.

120 years ago...Many of the older people are talking of their experiences in 1833, when the greatest shower of the centu...
11/03/2019

120 years ago...Many of the older people are talking of their experiences in 1833, when the greatest shower of the century occurred. John Koch, of the Second ward, says : "I came to this country in 1831. On November 1, 1833, I was working for the late John Geddes, in his saw-mill at Geddes. We were in the habit of getting up in the morning at 3 :30 or 4 o'clock. I recollect that morning very well. We did not kuow what to make of the phenomena. I thought the end of the world had come. It was a wonderful sight. 'Ann Arbor Argus-Democrat, November 3, 1899 (oldnews.aadl.org)

South Adams Street circa 1900
10/30/2019

South Adams Street circa 1900

The Bow family has been in Ypsilanti for over 140 years and has an interesting history. Egbert Bow (pictured, 1848-1940) was born into the large family of Christopher Egbert Bow and Lydia Huston in Brunswick, Maine. For decades free blacks were prominent as sailors on the whaling ships of the Northeast; Brunswick was one of those ports. It was also home to many leading abolitionists, like ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Egbert’s grandfather, Francis Huston, was said to have served on ships during the Revolutionary War. Some of Egbert’s ancestors were free well before the Revolutionary War, and some may never have been held in bondage.

Along with whaling, Egbert’s father owned a small farm in Brunswick. Egbert was born around 1850, after his father returned from California, where he had gone in the Gold Rush of 1848. Egbert’s father sold the farm in Maine shortly after he was born, and like so many free black people in the 1850s, moved his family to Canada. There they settled near Chatham.

Egbert married Sophie Richardson (whose family was originally from North Carolina) and moved to Missouri after the Civil War. Most of the rest of the Bow family moved to Ypsilanti at this time, including Egbert's parents who died here.

After farming for almost twenty years in Missouri, Egbert returned east after the death of his wife and joined the rest of the Bows in Ypsilanti. Here, he remarried and worked with his older brother, Solomon, in the construction and house moving business. They lived on South Washington. Egbert lived to be nearly one hundred years old.

This photo was taken in Ypsilanti around 1900. Dozens of descendants of the Bow families still live in the Ypsilanti area.

10/24/2019
Forest Hills Cemetery Tour with Wystan Stevens

Founded in 1857, Forest Hill is Ann Arbor's oldest cemetery, rich in history and with 1,800 trees, especially beautiful in the Fall For 30 years the late local historian Wystan Stevens gave historical tours. Often around Halloween.

Argus Museum
10/23/2019

Argus Museum

We would like to share just a few memories of this year's conference - thank you to all who attended - the event wouldn't be possible without you!

The Wallington girls May and Maude with cousin Jessie Swaine with bicycles on River Street at Forest Avenue.Click on the...
10/23/2019

The Wallington girls May and Maude with cousin Jessie Swaine with bicycles on River Street at Forest Avenue.Click on the link to read more about this family in an Ypsilanti Gleanings article written by Jan Anschuetz Photo is from the Ypsilanti Historical Society. https://aadl.org/ypsigleanings/331366

Group posed by electric railroad tracks: This photo shows a group of men with shovels on bare ground beside railroad tra...
10/19/2019

Group posed by electric railroad tracks: This photo shows a group of men with shovels on bare ground beside railroad tracks with a car in the distance. Most are dressed as workmen, but several are in suits.The man in the middle stands under a shovel arch. Handwritten on the back: "Miller, Ypsilanti, Mich.- Elec. ry. (D.U.Ry.) between Plymouth & Northville, Mich. Interurban between Northville & Plymouth. Photo from the Burton Historical Collection.

ON GUARD - Beauregard valiantly keeps watch for any unsavory characters or early Halloween pranksters who might want to ...
10/18/2019

ON GUARD - Beauregard valiantly keeps watch for any unsavory characters or early Halloween pranksters who might want to make off with a pumpkin from his home on Pomona. The dog, who is half Labrador and half beagle, does pumpkin duty from the top of his doghouse for his owner, Jean Goetz. The pumpkins are for sale and Beauregard's stand insures that only a proper business transaction will get you a pumpkin from his patch. (Staff photo by Deborah Ouellette, October 1979, digitized by the Ann Arbor District Library. oldnews.aadl.org)

Argus Museum
10/15/2019

Argus Museum

MORE auction items have been donated by local businesses for our conference auction! The Argus Farm Stop donated a beautiful fall gift basket and a gift certificate and The Standard Bistro & Larder gave us TWO gift certificates and a bottle of wine for auction! So, now there are even more reasons to join us Saturday night at Genitti's in Northville.

On November 22,1908, John sent this postcard to Nell Hemphill -  "I think this is a pretty good picture of our M display...
10/15/2019

On November 22,1908, John sent this postcard to Nell Hemphill - "I think this is a pretty good picture of our M display. I was in it ." And he "got those dandy pictures this morning". This Benham photo was taken on November 14, 1908, UM vs Penn, and printed as a postcard.

10/13/2019
The Ultimate Sacrifice

November 11, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day on the last Monday in May honors those who have died or missing while in military service. A bronze plaque at the Vietnam Veterans Black Granite Memorial on the grounds of the Ypsilanti Township Civic Center, at 7200 South Huron River Drive.in Ypsilanti Township, is dedicated to both. Save your seat for the October 20th program, "Sacrifices Not Forgotten" with John Kinzinger, on the WCHS facebook events page.

You are invited to the Washtenaw County Historical Society's October Program – Sacrifices Not Forgotten on Sunday, Oct...
10/13/2019

You are invited to the Washtenaw County Historical Society's October Program – Sacrifices Not Forgotten on Sunday, October 20, 2pm at the historic First United Methodist Church, 209 Washtenaw, Ypsilanti MI. Vietnam Veteran and author John Kinzinger will speak from the heart about the 76 Washtenaw County servicemen who did not return home alive from Vietnam. He honors these young soldiers in his book, “Sacrifices Not Forgotten” and also shares the stories of the family members and friends who were left behind. John will talk about the community effort to build the black granite Memorial with natural pathways to places of rest and repose in honor of the five branches of the Armed Forces as well as those Missing in Action. This is a free program and open to the public. Share with a friend.

10/11/2019
B-24 Liberator Willow Run Assembly Plant

B-24 Liberator Willow Run Assembly Plant

The manufacturing and construction production video for the Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. This video is about the Ford Motor Company production p...

Real photo post card of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad train depot line in Manchester MI c.1908. The line...
10/10/2019

Real photo post card of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad train depot line in Manchester MI c.1908. The line ran from Tecumseh to Jackson & Ypsilanti.

Argus Museum
10/09/2019

Argus Museum

There will be more opportunity than ever before to acquire a camera that you “need”. More than a dozen folders will be available for purchase – and of course, rolls of 120 film, during the conference’s opening event, the reception for the photography exhibit, “Through a Russian Lens” taking place Thursday, October 17, 6-8 pm at the Argus Museum. All are welcome! Vintage exposure meters will be available too.

1890-1910. This image is from Bernice G. Maynard, an Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan resident. The collection includes...
10/08/2019

1890-1910. This image is from Bernice G. Maynard, an Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan resident. The collection includes glass negatives and prints of photographs of unidentified family groups and other people, of Palmer's Drugstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, of people with bicycles, of a military unit and band, and of the Homoeopathic Hospital at the University of Michigan. (Bentley Historical Library)

Argus Museum
10/07/2019

Argus Museum

Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 8, is the last day to register for conference meals and field trips. (Drop-in is okay for presentations.) Please either email Cheryl at: [email protected] or call 734-769-0770 to RSVP. We hope to see you at the Argus Museum next week!

Argus Museum
10/04/2019

Argus Museum

Let us know if you would like to join us in our conference tour of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Friday, October 18 at 2 pm. Our tour will be given by the Museum's Curator of Photography. All are welcomed but a RSVP is required.

Six women wearing white ruffled dresses, posing in room with patterned carpet, painted wooden columns in background. Sev...
10/04/2019

Six women wearing white ruffled dresses, posing in room with patterned carpet, painted wooden columns in background. Several wear shawls, two wear feathered hats. Printed on front: "Lewis & Gibson, Ann Arbor." Handwritten on back: "The girls at Mrs. William's house during the year 1882-1883. In memory of B...(?) and Bessie's birthday, May 21 '83." (Burton Historical Collection)

Argus Museum
10/03/2019

Argus Museum

ARTIST STATEMENT THRU A RUSSIAN LENS

I hadn’t intended to order a Soviet camera. I was searching for a replacement for my broken Argus C3. But the next thing I know I’m standing in my driveway signing for a really sketchy looking box containing a Lomo Smena/Смена 8m.

The Смена is a mass produced piece of Soviet chintzy plastic that feels like a kid’s toy. The controls are all so adorably simple. The aperture is set by turning a ring on the lens that is marked with rain, clouds, haze, and sun. The focus ring has a face, two people, a family, trees, and a building to demark the various distance settings. The problem is it’s so plastic-toy-like that I forget I have to do more than cock the funny little lever on the lens, point and shoot.

Yet, despite appearances Смена was actually serious business.

The Смена was a propaganda weapon. If the Soviets could put a luxury good like a camera in the hands of the proletariat masses, then Communism must be doing something right, right? And if you stamp the English words “Made In USSR” on the bottom then you have a product for export, proof of you’ve arrived as a modern industrial nation.

You could say I’m one of the USSR’s products, too. But perhaps not in the way you think. I grew up part of a generation weaned on fears of nuclear war and spies and surveillance. I devoured reruns of Bullwinkle cartoons featuring Boris and Natasha as a toddler and even in the 1970’s still occasionally saw Duck and Cover films. As I was wrapping up my college years Russia became irrelevant. The wall fell and I launched into adulthood focused on other concerns. The Cold War faded from American life and my own life.

But in 2017 a flash bulb went off and lit up an unexpected scene. Was it possible that Russia messed with our Presidential election? Was the picture of the last few decades different than I thought?

Boris and Natasha were there all along around the edges of the frame peaking in. They were biding their time on the borders of our awareness.
Likewise my Смена camera spent all these years somewhere in the former Soviet Union waiting to be sold on the internet. That same internet that opened the doors to hacking the DNC computers and spamming us with fake news...and oh yeah... ads from some guy in Donetsk that got me to be the proud owner of a plastic Soviet camera.

Since I was a little kid, I’ve used photography as both my escape from reality and as a truth teller about the world around me. I stood on the sidelines of high school documenting the teenage life I was supposed to be a part of, but didn’t really understand. From time to time, I step back from participating in my life, hide behind my camera, and then sneak off to my own world to study my images like tarot cards. This time they are ones framed by a cold war camera.

Photography reduces the complexities of life to little dots of light and dark that come together to form images in our mind’s eye. This simplification of reality is a way to step back and grasp - the literal and figurative - light and shadows of life.
So yeah, I’m the one with a funny looking camera that’s held together with a piece of blue tape taking pictures of the things we take for granted about our country. I’m the one using a Soviet camera to compose a picture of my life to date

A version of this essay was originally published by Michigan
Quarterly Review.

Tamar Charney
Ann Arbor MI 10.1.19

Families, friends, veterans and even a band gathered at the bus station (116 W. Huron) early this morning to see about 2...
10/02/2019

Families, friends, veterans and even a band gathered at the bus station (116 W. Huron) early this morning to see about 25 young men off to a new way of life, Army life. The bus left about 6 a.m. and stopped at Ypsilanti where there was a similar send-off for the draftees. The Washtenaw County Council of Veterans provided gifts, advice and refreshments. Ann Arbor News, October 24, 1966. Digitized by the Ann Arbor District Library

Address

500 N. Main St
Ann Arbor, MI
48104-1027

AATA bus stops right at our front door

Opening Hours

Saturday 12:00 - 16:00
Sunday 12:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(734) 662-9092

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