Browse Our Collection - Online

One of the best parts of working in the history room is getting to know the collection and all of the wonderful items in it. There’s only one problem. Sadly, people just don’t come in and say “Hey, show me something really cool,” so some of my favorite things don’t get as much attention as I feel they deserve. However, that’s all about to change. We are now making selected items completely accessible through our website, and will be scouring the history room for great things to share in the coming months.

Our first offering is a catalog from the Henderson-Ames Company of Kalamazoo that dates back about 100 years. It contains products exclusively for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Henderson-Ames boldly claimed, “We are ready to show any Lodge, that the great values which have made us the leaders for many years in the manufacture of Odd Fellow Regalia, Costumes, etc., are increased in this the most complete catalog ever published.” There’s no way to know if their assertion was correct, but with 134 pages of everything from false beards to grave markers, they couldn’t have been far off. Enjoy flipping through the catalog, and be sure to check out the large color images of costumes that begin on page 71.

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IOOF catalog
Ioof-079-160
http://kzpl.ent.sirsi.net/client/KPL/search/results?qu=Degree+Staff+costumes%2C+regalia%2C+paraphernalia%2C+books%2C+blanks+and+supplies+for+Odd+Fellow+Lodges+%3A+net+catalogue+number+five&te=&lm=ALLLIBS 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The Library is 140 years old! Part of our recent celebration included collecting and displaying photos of the library over the years. It was so fun to see the pictures of former staff, earlier buildings, long obsolete equipment, branch libraries, promotions, and library patrons from years ago. The collection spans from the first library building, which was completed in 1893, all the way into the 1990s. The photos were displayed at the Central library, but they are so great we wanted to make them available permanently through the website.

Enjoy this gallery and let us know if it brings back memories.

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Kalamazoo Public Library, 1920s
kpl-1920s-160
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalamazoopubliclibrary/sets/72157631806487811/

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
mcconnell-129
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalamazoopubliclibrary/sets/72157631096317746/

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.


men-potatoes-598

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Men with potatoes
men-potatoes-160
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

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.  


unidentified-man-598

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Unidentified man 
unidentified-man-160
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 

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

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

bicycle-parade-2-160

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

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?

howard-sisters-598.jpg

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

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.

telegraph-buildingtwenties-240

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
kalamazoo-telegraph-2-160
http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/regional-publications/

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
crispus-attucks-160
/events/crispus-attucks/

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
Lock-in-image
http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/room.aspx