Local History and Genealogy

News, comments, resources, and more.

Another Great Tool!

Genealogists know that no single resource has everything they need to trace their lineage. It can take thousands of individual records, documents, articles, etc. to get a full picture of just one branch of a family. That is why databases that pull together millions of historical records and materials are such fantastic tools for genealogists. KPL offers several wonderful databases for genealogical research including America’s Genealogy Bank that is brand new to us this week. With more than 32 million obituaries, 103 million newspaper articles (dating as far back as 1690), and full text of 11,700 historical books, local genealogists have another amazing resource right at their fingertips. AGB is even available for home access using your KPL library card number. So give our newest database a try. It may be just the tool you need to knock down a genealogical brick wall.


America's Genealogy Bank
Beth T

The Lights of Michigan

Lighthouses have been a part of Michigan’s history for many years. Many people in this state will take the opportunity over the summer to visit some of the close to one hundred that are still here, some of which are in public hands and even others that have accommodations for visitors. There are many beautiful books in the Local History Room that have wonderful photographs and interesting information about these buildings.  Some of the newer ones that you can find include:

There also is a book that deals with the subject of women lighthouse keepers:

Women Who Kept the Lights by Mary Clifford (H 627.9 C638)

Along with all of these there are many fine websites on this subject:

So, if you plan on traveling around Michigan this summer, visit a lighthouse or two, or three…


Great Lakes Lighthouses Encyclopedia
Lynn H

Kalamazoo has a Gargoyle?

Kalamazoo is fortunate to have many examples of outdoor sculpture throughout the community. In 1980, author Fay Hendry wrote three short books, with photographs by Balthazar Korab, looking at outdoor sculpture in Kalamazoo (H 730 H498), Grand Rapids (H 730 498.1) and Lansing (H 730 H498.2). Even though the books are 29 years old, there is a lot of good information on many pieces that are still around. It was one of the first books that had research on the panels found on the Zelinger House at the corner of S. Rose and Vine Streets. Of course being 29 years old, there are several pieces that are gone, in fact one, the statue of St. Augustine which more than likely was destroyed in the 1980 tornado which came right after these books were published. So where is our gargoyle? If you don’t know by now, check this book to find out.


Outdoor Sculpture in Kalamazoo
Lynn H

Celebrating Vine!

During the month of May (Preservation Month) the local history room hosted a series of programs celebrating the Vine Neighborhood. Early in the month we learned the fascinating history of the neighborhood from the City’s historic preservation coordinator, Sharon Ferraro. Our second program featured Lynn Houghton, local historian and co-author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found, who took us on a virtual tour of Vine’s varied architectural styles. Finally, we discovered the hidden gem, Rose Place. Julie DeLuca, a Rose Place property owner, detailed the streetscape enhancement project which was the result of a collaborative effort between property owners and the city of Kalamazoo.

If you missed this great series, don’t despair. Each program was video recorded along with brief interviews with the presenters, and will soon appear on our website. Additionally, Julie DeLuca has offered a tour of the Rose Place Historic District which will take place on Thursday, June 4 at 7:00 pm. There is still one more opportunity to celebrate Vine. Lynn Houghton will conduct a tour of the Vine Historic District as part of her 2009 Gazelle Historic Walk series. The tour will begin at the corner of Vine and Westnedge at 8:00 am on August 28.


215 Rose Place
Beth T