Local History and Genealogy

News, comments, resources, and more.

McConnell Photograph Collection

It happens to many of us – a distant relative by marriage or a close family friend passes away. They had no children, and someone delivers a box of old photos to you because there is no one else to take them. You don’t know who any of the people in the photos are and you’re quite sure none of them are related to you. So what do you do with them? Well, you might consider donating them to the library located in the city where most of the photos were taken.

We are very fortunate that thoughtful people have done that very thing from time to time here at KPL, and recently the photo collection of Marion Louise McConnell came to us that way. It is an incredible collection of over 100 photos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many are portraits taken by Kalamazoo photographers. Unfortunately, very few are identified, but the collection is too good not to share. We have created a Flickr collection and will be updating it with information regarding the photographers and any other clues we can determine. Enjoy the slideshow, and if you recognize any of the people or places please leave a comment on the photo. Families that may be included in the collection are McConnell, Rineveld, Kelder, Born, and Link.

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Marion Louise McConnell
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalamazoopubliclibrary/sets/72157631096317746/
Beth T

Moustaches, Cigars…and Potatoes

This unidentified photo really has to speak for itself, because we have absolutely no information about it. It features two men who clearly like to live large – sporting large moustaches, cigars…and potatoes! They are sitting on a step at the outside entrance of a building. Styles suggest a date around the turn of the 20th century. Let us know if you can shed any light on this image.

Help us! Our local history photograph collection is a wonderful resource, but unfortunately not every photo comes to us with full details of the place, people, or date associated with it. For that reason, we are enlisting your help. Watch our local history blog posts in the coming weeks for photographs that we could use a little assistance with. We’ll tell you what we know and you can respond if you have any ideas. But even if you don’t, be sure to take a minute to enjoy some of our interesting old photos.

View all photos in this “unidentified” series.


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Men with potatoes
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http://www.catalog.kpl.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/5?searchdata1=potatoes&library=LOCAL-COMM&language=ANY&format=ANY&item_type=PHOTO&location=ANY&match_on=KEYWORD&item_1cat=ANY&item_2cat=ANY&sort_by=-PBYR
Beth T

A Character from 1940s Kalamazoo

Unlike many of our unidentified photos, this amazing image came with just about everything short of a name. The man in the photo has a weathered face full of character, and at first glance it looks like he should be out in the old west. A closer look reveals that he is holding a puppy. The information on the back of the photo identifies him as a former schoolteacher and a “hermit [who] lived on KL Ave.” The photographer, Chester B. Robinson, apparently captured the image around 1942. Can you give this man a name?

Help us! Our local history photograph collection is a wonderful resource, but unfortunately not every photo comes to us with full details of the place, people, or date associated with it. For that reason, we are enlisting your help. Watch our local history blog posts in the coming weeks for photographs that we could use a little assistance with. We’ll tell you what we know and you can respond if you have any ideas. But even if you don’t, be sure to take a minute to enjoy some of our interesting old photos. 

View all photos in this “unidentified” series.  


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Unidentified man 
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http://www.catalog.kpl.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/5?searchdata1=hermit&library=LOCAL-COMM&language=ANY&format=ANY&item_type=PHOTO&location=ANY&match_on=KEYWORD&item_1cat=ANY&item_2cat=ANY&sort_by=-PBYR 
Beth T

Interesting Costumed Group

This photo has to be one of the most unusual in our collection. It features a group of robed or costumed women, a man with a skull and cross bones, and a goat. Historic photos really don’t get any better. Unfortunately, it was not identified in any way. It may be a fraternal organization or possibly a theatrical production of some sort. Whatever it is, there must be a good story associated with it. Do you know the tale behind this photo?

Help us! Our local history photograph collection is a wonderful resource, but unfortunately not every photo comes to us with full details of the place, people, or date associated with it. For that reason, we are enlisting your help. Watch our local history blog posts in the coming weeks for photographs that we could use a little assistance with. We’ll tell you what we know and you can respond if you have any ideas. But even if you don’t, be sure to take a minute to enjoy some of our interesting old photos. View all photos in this “unidentified” series.

unidentified-costumed-group-598

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Unidentified group photo
goat-skull-160
http://www.catalog.kpl.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/5?searchdata1=lodge+regalia++AND+goat&library=LOCAL-COMM&language=ANY&format=ANY&item_type=PHOTO&location=ANY&match_on=KEYWORD&item_1cat=ANY&item_2cat=ANY&sort_by=-PBYR
Beth T

Does this neighborhood look familiar?

This week’s unidentified photo is a great one of a children’s bicycle parade. Unfortunately, it came to us with only the caption “World War II – Kalamazoo” for identification. However, it is full of clues for anyone with memories of that neighborhood or time period in Kalamazoo. At least six of the children’s faces are in good view. Many details of three houses and some of a fourth are visible. There is even a man in the background with ladders set up, working on one of the homes. Does this neighborhood look familiar to you? What about the children?

Help us! Our local history photograph collection is a wonderful resource, but unfortunately not every photo comes to us with full details of the place, people, or date associated with it. For that reason, we are enlisting your help. Watch our local history blog posts in the coming weeks for photographs that we could use a little assistance with. We’ll tell you what we know and you can respond if you have any ideas. But even if you don’t, be sure to take a minute to enjoy some of our interesting old photos. View all photos in this “unidentified” series.

bicycle-parade-598.jpg

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Unidentified Photos

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/local-history/blog/Default.aspx?category=Unidentified+Photos&blogid=2186
Beth T

Who are these people?

Help us! Our local history photograph collection is a wonderful resource, but unfortunately not every photo comes to us with full details of the place, people, or date associated with it. For that reason, we are enlisting your help. Watch our local history blog posts in the coming weeks for photographs that we could use a little assistance with.

Our first offering has always been one of my favorites. It came to us with the Wallace White collection, but appears to be a photo taken earlier and copied by White. It features two young children, seated and facing the camera. We have estimated the date to be around 1850. The only identification given was “Miss Howard’s sisters.” Can you help us discover their identity?

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Portrait of two unidentified children, possibly Kalamazoo, roughly 1850

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Unidentified Photos
howard-sisters-160
/local-history/blog/Default.aspx?category=Unidentified+Photos&blogid=2186
Beth T

The Telegraph is Here!

We have some exciting new additions to report, beginning with our new Regional Publications & Images database! This new database will allow users to browse and perform online keyword searches of historic newspapers, photographs, and other Kalamazoo Public Library holdings that were previously only available as hard copy or on microfilm.

For starters, the database includes freshly digitized issues of the Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph from the years between 1868 and 1885, plus issues of the (weekly) Kalamazoo Saturday Telegraph from 1893 to 1899. And more issues of the Telegraph are being digitized “as we speak.” Additional publications (and eventually images) will be digitized and added to the database as resources allow.

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The Kalamazoo Telegraph was published under varying ownership between 1844 and 1916. Somewhat of a mirror to the staunchly Democratic Gazette, the Kalamazoo Telegraph reflected local happenings from a Republican perspective, which can be a boon for researchers. Many times, the two competing papers offered strikingly different accounts of local events; from politics to sports, entertainment, and most everything else in between. An event that appeared rather insignificant in the pages of the Gazette might have received in-depth coverage by the Telegraph, and of course vice versa.

Learn more about the Kalamazoo Telegraph in a newly written essay, which is part of the State History Award-winning “All About Kalamazoo History” section of KPL’s website. And now, search issues of the historic Kalamazoo Telegraph newspaper in our new Regional Publications & Images database. Give it a try!

And as if that’s not exciting enough, yet another project coming down the pike will be a newly digitized version of the Grand Army Memorial Record, a book “designed expressly for Grand Army posts throughout the national department of the Grand Army of the Republic for the purpose of securing and perpetuating the military history of every Grand Army comrade.” Created in 1884, the book is a handwritten account of those who served in the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Michigan, Orcutt Post No. 79 at Kalamazoo. Once digitized, this book should be a welcome addition for family genealogists and Civil War historians. Watch for it soon!

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Regional Publications & Images: 1868-1899
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http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/regional-publications/
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Crispus Attucks in American History and Memory

A runaway slave of African and Native American ancestry, Crispus Attucks was immortalized as the first casualty of the 1770 Boston Massacre. But who was Attucks anyway, and why would a fugitive dockworker be revered as a martyr and colonial American hero? Attucks’ story is shrouded in mystery and what is known about his background is more speculation than fact.

WMU associate professor Mitch Kachun has added Attucks’ story to his long list of research projects, hoping to help ensure what he describes as “Crispus Attucks’ place in American history and memory.”

Join us at the Oshtemo Branch Library on Tuesday evening, February 14th, 6 pm, as Dr. Kachun reveals his recent research on Attucks as he lays the groundwork for a major new book about one of America’s most well-known—yet virtually unknown folk heroes.

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Mitch Kachun presents Crispus Attucks in American History and Memory
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/events/crispus-attucks/
Keith_1

Come to a Lock-In!

Our next Genealogy Lock-In is coming up soon! If you’ve never been to one and are curious, here’s how they work: Lock-Ins are held on Friday nights from 6 to 10 pm three times a year. They begin after the Library closes so that genealogists can have the computers and resources all to themselves. Printing and copying are free during Lock-Ins and there are staff members available to answer questions and give research advice. Lock-ins are fun and friendly, providing a comfortable atmosphere in which to research. The collaborative environment is ideal for both new and experienced genealogists alike, and researchers often help each other solve perplexing genealogical problems. Lock-Ins are not intended to be instructional, although participants often learn a great deal. For those looking for help getting started, the Intro to Genealogy program might be a good option – and there is one coming up at the Alma Powell Branch in February. So if spending a cold winter night searching for clues to your family history sounds good to you, go online or call the History Room desk (269-553-7808) to register for the next Genealogy Lock-In on Friday, January 20.

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Genealogy Lock-In
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http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/room.aspx
Beth T

Covert, Michigan and the Smithsonian

A few weeks ago I went to Covert, Michigan to be interviewed by Deborah Tulani Salahu-Din, the Project Director for the Smithsonian Institution African American Museum of History & Culture, and Michele Gates Moresi, the Curator for the museum. They had requested a meeting with the descendants of the early black and white settlers of Covert, Michigan. My great-great grandfathers William Bright Conner and his family, and Dawson Pompey and his family were the first African Americans to settle in Covert, Michigan after the Civil War ended. My great grandfather John Conner and his brother Frank, and his two brother-in-laws Himebrick Tyler and Joseph Seaton and my great grandfather Washington Pompey and his brother Napoleon were all veterans of the Civil War.

Our library has a book titled A Stronger Kinship: One Town’s Extraordinary Story of Hope and Faith by Ann Lisa-Cox which tells the story of Covert’s unique history as a racially integrated community during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Covert was a town where blacks and whites went to church and school together. They lived among each other and intermarried. Blacks held public offices and owned businesses. My great grandmother Annis Pompey owned and operated a cider mill and was the first female in Covert to have her own business. Anna Lisa-Cox was instrumental in getting the Smithsonian to take a look at this community.

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The new Smithsonian African American Museum of History & Culture will have an exhibition titled “Making a Way Out of No Way” which will include eleven communities from across the United States and Covert, Michigan will be one of the eleven exhibits.

I’m very excited that my ancestors will be a part of this exhibit and proud of the contributions they made to society. If you are interested in learning more about the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture that will open in 2015, you can visit this website: http://nmaahc.si.edu/

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A Stronger Kinship
0316110183
Valerie O