Local History and Genealogy
News, comments, resources, and more.
The Library of Michigan announced in December their annual list of Michigan Notable Books for 2009 which features books either written about Michigan or by someone who lives in the state and includes both fiction and nonfiction works. I realize they are in alphabetical order but at the top of the list is one we in Kalamazoo are very familiar with, Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital by Dr. William Decker. It is an extremely well-researched and well-written book about an institution that has played a major role in our community. Congratulations Dr. Decker for this honor!
Take a look at this year’s list and those which made previous lists at www.michigan.gov/notablebooks. Hopefully, you will be tempted to pick a few of them up to read many of which are both in the local history room and in the general circulating collection.
Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital
How long have you lived in Kalamazoo and in your neighborhood? Who owned your home prior to your purchase? Was the neighborhood a former cornfield, an apple orchard, or an Indian encampment? The Local History Room has answers to all these questions and more. For a long time, files have been kept and culled from newspapers and other sources about our city. There have been books written about the neighborhoods and individual houses. The Local History web site has a listing of homes and their history. Neighborhood associations and local historians have added to the wealth of knowledge. Curious? This just might be the place for you.
Kalamazoo Lost and Found
The weather has turned cold and snowy and we are fast approaching that much anticipated time of year: genealogy season. Winter is a wonderful time to begin work on the family history you have wanted to compile or to dig out all that research you’ve already done so you can dive back in with fresh perspective. The staff of the local history room is ready to help, whether you are a beginning genealogist or a pro. We offer access to wonderful databases for genealogical research like Ancestry Library Edition, HeritageQuest, New England Ancestors, and Footnote. The history room’s collection contains more than 1000 book titles and 16 periodicals devoted to genealogy, as well as dozens of how-to books that are also available for check out from our circulating collection. With so many great resources available you can’t help but get into the spirit of the season.
Tracing your family history
On December 5th dozens of local authors, artists and musicians sold and signed their work at the library during the downtown Art Hop. This was a great opportunity for history buffs to find out about materials that are available on their favorite local subjects. For example, the State Hospital has long been a fascination of Kalamazoo residents. Dr. William Decker was here signing his 2009 Michigan Notable Book on the hospital, Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital. Retired KPL librarian, Margean Gladysz, offered her book A Spy on the Bus: Memoir of a Company Rat, based on letters she wrote to her family in Galesburg while she was traveling the country as a Greyhound company spy in the late 1940s. Of course, with all of Kalamazoo’s wonderful historic architecture, no Holiday Hop would have been complete without Lynn Houghton and Pam O’Connor, authors of Kalamazoo Lost and Found. These are just a few of the Holiday Hop authors whose books relate to our local history. But don’t worry if you missed it. You just need to visit the local history room to see the books--and mark your calendar for next years Holiday Hop!
Holiday Hop authors in the history room
Imagine being able to view millions of historical documents never before available on the Internet. Well, now you can at KPL with Footnote.com, our newest subscription database. Footnote has partnered with the National Archives to provide access to millions of items from their collection. But that’s just the beginning. There are also scanned images of assorted city directories, newspapers, state and city records, and many other interesting items useful to genealogists and other historical researchers. Footnote also allows members to contribute to the site through annotation of existing pages or by creating their own pages and uploading photos, scans, or even videos. With more than 47 million documents already online and an average of 2 million more being added each month, Footnote is an amazing resource. It can be accessed with full privileges for viewing and printing premium documents at the central library and all KPL branches.