NOTE: While new carpeting is being installed at the Oshtemo Branch Library, access to some materials may be unavailable. Thank you for your patience.

Local History Webcasts

Kalamazoo Public Library has long been recognized for its excellence in programming. Local historians, authors, researchers and historic preservationists present compelling programs about local people and places of historical significance.

Many of these unique events are preserved on video for future reference. Visit the KPL YouTube channel for more clips and vintage items from our archives.


February 6, 2019, Central Library,  78 minutes

The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball's Pioneering Champions

Mitch Lutzke, author of The Page Fence Giants: A History of Black Baseball’s Pioneering Champions, tells how he pieced together the history of this long-ignored 1890s all-star black baseball club that was sponsored by the Page Woven-wire Fence Company of Adrian, Michigan.

November 8, 2018, Central Library,  88 minutes

Michigan History: Mining, Manufacturing, and Agriculture

A continuing look at Michigan’s growth and development during the mid-19th century. Kalamazoo historian Lynn Houghton looks at various aspects of Michigan’s growth and development from its early beginnings to recent years looking at the events, topics, trends, and people that shaped this state.

October 4, 2018, Central Library,  65 minutes

Fruitful Michigan: A History of Growing Fruit in Michigan

Michigan has long been known as a great place to grow fruit, especially tree fruit such as apples, peaches, and cherries. In this program, Matthew Schuld will look into the rich history of fruit growing in Michigan as well as discuss modern developments. 

October 2, 2018, Douglass Community Center,  94 minutes

How FDR Segregated Kalamazoo

KPL librarian Matt Smith discusses the history of redlining, racially restrictive covenants, and segregation in Kalamazoo. Learn how the federal government and the city of Kalamazoo successfully financed white homeownership while instituting black segregation, and how this history lives on today in Kalamazoo housing policies.

September 20, 2018, Central Library,  56 minutes

Michigan History: From Civil War to Lumbering

Another look at the Michigan’s growth and development during the mid-19th century. Kalamazoo historian Lynn Houghton looks at various aspects of Michigan’s growth and development from its early beginnings to recent years looking at the events, topics, trends, and people that shaped this state.

May 21, 2018, Central Library,  83 minutes

Michigan History: From Territory to Statehood

Another look at the Territory of Michigan from 1805 until 1837, when Michigan was admitted into the Union as the 26th state. Kalamazoo historian Lynn Houghton looks at various aspects of Michigan’s growth and development from its early beginnings to recent years looking at the events, topics, trends, and people that shaped this state.

May 10, 2018, Central Library,  67 minutes

Red Terror in Kalamazoo: The Shakespeare Strike of 1948

The Shakespeare Company, a leading manufacturer and supplier of fishing equipment and other sporting goods, was founded in Kalamazoo in 1897. Local historian Tom Dietz recounts the surprising story of the 1948 Shakespeare Company workers strike, and explains how a simple wage dispute turned into a congressional investigation.

April 16, 2018, Central Library,  88 minutes

Michigan History: British Control to Territorial Michigan

Kalamazoo historian Lynn Houghton looks at various aspects of Michigan’s growth and development from its early beginnings to recent years looking at events, topics, trends, themes and people, all of which have shaped this state.

April 9, 2018, Eastwood Branch Library,  70 minutes

Classified: Who in the World is Merze Tate?

Kalamazoo author and publisher Sonya Bernard-Hollins discusses her latest book about Merze Tate (1905-1996), grandchild of the first Negro settlers in Mecosta County, and a graduate of Western State Teacher’s College (later Western Michigan University) with the school’s highest academic record at that time.


February 27, 2018, Central Library,  84 minutes

Kalamazoo’s Colored School (1861-1871)

Lynn Houghton, Regional History Curator at the WMU Archives and Regional History Collections, and Regina Gorham, Collections Manager at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, share their discoveries about the existence of a separate school for the community’s African-American children, located on North Street between 1861 and 1871.  

December 12, 2017, Oshtemo Branch Library,  64 minutes

Welcome to Kalamazoo, 1917

With the Kalamazoo Gazette for our time machine, KPL librarian Ruth Wilson leads the audience through a momentous year in history, taking a good look around, and finding out what Kalamazooans were thinking, doing, and talking about in 1917. 

February 23, 2017, Central Library,  41 minutes

I Remember Kalamazoo: Lance Ferraro’s Memories of Growing Up in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo’s Historic Preservation Coordinator, Sharon Ferraro, and her 95-year-old dad, professional photographer and author Lance Ferraro, walk us inside Kalamazoo’s historic facades, with remembrances from the 1920s to the 1960s.


September 29, 2016, Central Library,  75 minutes

David Kohrman: History of the House of David

Archivist, author and historian David Kohrman traces the development, faith, and business pursuits of the Israelite House of David from their arrival in Benton Harbor (MI) in 1903 to the present day.


September 22, 2016, Central Library,  22 minutes

The Library Ladies of Kalamazoo: Their Home and History

Authors of The Library Ladies of Kalamazoo: Their Home and History tell how they collaborated to create a beautifully designed 220-page pictorial guide of the oldest women’s club in Michigan and the third oldest in the nation.


March 28, 2016, Oshtemo Branch Library, 32 minutes

A History of Coloma, Michigan: From ‘Shingle Diggins’ to Today

Presented by Chelsea Eskander from the North Berrien Historical Society and Michigan author Rick Rasmussen. An overview of the history of Coloma City & Township from the pre-history of the area to the development and growth of Coloma.  


February 25, 2016, Central Library, 86 minutes

Fascinating Kalamazoo Women  

Lynn Houghton discusses some of Kalamazoo women and organizations who may not be as well-known as those who have made the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, but whose contributions played a role in the development of this community. 


November 2, 2015, Central Library, 60 minutes

Mail Order Homes: The Catalog and Kit Homes of Michigan  

Homeowners Andrew and Wendy Mutch talk about the history of catalog and kit houses and the role that Michigan played in the industry. Their presentation included ways to identify kit homes, vintage promotional materials, and photos. 


October 15, 2015, Central Library, 39 minutes

How to Write Your Own Obituary (or anyone else's)  

Obituaries should honor the past, preserve it for the future, and give comfort in the present – but they’re tough to write at the last minute. KPL librarian Ruth Wilson talks with friend Carol Cloyd about the ingredients that go into a good obituary. 


October 8, 2015, Central Library, 66 minutes

Farmers and Fast Horses: Harness Racing in Kalamazoo  

During the 19th century, Kalamazoo was home to some of the fastest trotting tracks in the nation, but this popular sport was not without controversy. Rachel Hekman talks about the growing struggle between vice, virtue, and ‘middle class morals.’ 


September 24, 2015, Central Library, 57 minutes

Frank Lloyd Wright in Kalamazoo  

Kalamazoo County boasts one of the largest collections of Usonian houses in the world. Sharon Ferraro, Kalamazoo’s Historic Preservation Coordinator, explores Wright's architecture and shares anecdotes about his design work in Kalamazoo.


May 14, 2015, Central Library, 85 minutes

Westnedge Hill Neighborhood Focus: History & Architecture  

Lynn Houghton, co-author of Kalamazoo: Lost and Found, examines the history and architectural styles that are found in Kalamazoo’s Westnedge Hill Neighborhood.


February 23, 2015, Central Library, 72 minutes

Author and Historian Lynn Houghton: “Picturing Kalamazoo’s Past”

Local historian Lynn Houghton looks at more than 100 years of Kalamazoo’s history through the work of six notable photographers: Schuyler Baldwin, Wallace White, Ward Morgan, George and Mamie Austin, and Lance Ferraro.


October 23, 2014, Central Library, 57 minutes

Author Susan Nenadic: A Purse of Her Own

Susan Nenadic, author of A Purse of Her Own, discusses women's work and employment in Michigan during the nineteenth century, as told through stories of women who endured the many challenges of a male-dominated society.


October 6, 2014, Oshtemo Branch Library, 71 minutes

Author Teresa Irish: A Thousand Letters Home

Teresa Irish, author of A Thousand Letters Home, One WWII Soldier’s Story of War, Love and Life, presented her inspirational and life-affirming talk called “Journey of the Letters,” inspired by her father’s letters home from World War II. 


October 2, 2014, Central Library, 47 minutes

Brian C. Wilson: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and the Religion of Biologic Living

Kalamazoo author Brian C. Wilson traces the fascinating history of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, emphasizing the role Dr. Kellogg's developing religious views played in the rise and fall of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.


September 16, 2014, Central Library, 57 minutes

“The Brew From Kalamazoo” - Commercial Brewing in Kalamazoo (1837-1915)

Kalamazoo’s thriving local brewing trade is rooted in traditions that date back to the earliest decades of the 19th century. Keith Howard explores the history of local brewing, from its humble beginnings in the 1830s until Kalamazoo ‘went dry’ in 1915.


April 23, 2014, Central Library, 57 minutes

From a Pathway to a Highway: The "Old Sauk Trail"

A journey down the Michigan portion of US 12 (the "Old Sauk Trail") from Detroit to New Buffalo with Dr. John S. Geisler, WMU Professor Emeritus. Presented April 23, 2014, at Central Library.


Originally presented in 1987, 4 hours (in 13 parts) 

Early Kalamazoo

These programs originally appeared in 1987 as historical segments in the program "Images and Ideas," and were produced through the facilities of the Community Access Center. (13 parts)


Originally presented in 1976, 51 minutes (in 3 parts) 

Kalamazoo '76

Video versions of a popular multimedia presentation entitled "Kalamazoo '76," produced for the City of Kalamazoo in celebration of the United States Bicentennial in 1976. (3 parts)


March 18, 2014, Central Library, 41 minutes 

Fountain of the Pioneers in Bronson Park

Historic preservation consultant Pam O'Connor explores some of fountain designer Alfonso Iannelli’s design, sculpture and other work outside Kalamazoo. Presented March 18, 2014, at Central Library. 


February 6, 2014, Central Library, 49 minutes 

Whatever Happened to Idlewild?

Whatever Happened to Idlewild? is Coy W. Davis, Jr.’s 2001 documentary film about Michigan historic African American resort, presented at Central Library on February 6, 2014. 


February 6, 2014, Central Library, 10 minutes 

Recollections of Idlewild, Michigan’s “Black Eden”

During Coy Davis, Jr.'s presentation of Whatever Happened to Idlewild?, participants were asked to share their own recollections and personal stories about this historic Michigan resort.


November 14, 2013, Central Library, 1 hour 3 minutes 

Sharon Ferraro: Downtown Kalamazoo: Then and Now

Sharon Ferraro, Kalamazoo’s Historic Preservation Coordinator, presents “Rose Street, South Street and Around the Park.”


October 23, 2013, Central Library, 1 hour 5 minutes 

John Urschel: Kalamazoo Area Boys in Blue, 1861-1865

Author John Urschel follows the soldiers of the five most heavily-recruited Civil War regiments from the Kalamazoo area.


September 11, 2013, Central Library, 54 minutes 

Valerie van Heest: Fatal Crossing

Author Valerie van Heest discusses Fatal Crossing, her book about the 1950 crash of NWA flight 2501 into Lake Michigan.


May 22, 2013, Central Library, 59 minutes 

Lynn Houghton: Arcadia Creek Project  

Lynn Houghton presents an examination of Arcadia Creek history and the major development project more than twenty years ago.


May 8, 2013, Central Library, 55 minutes 

Lynn Houghton: Stuart Neighborhood Architecture  

Lynn Houghton examines the variety of architectural styles that are found in Kalamazoo's Stuart Historic District.


May 1, 2013, Central Library, 1 hour 8 minutes 

Dr. Sharon Carlson: Stuart Neighborhood History  

Dr. Sharon Carlson shares her extensive knowledge of the Stuart Neighborhood history and founding families.


May 9, 2012, Central Library, 1 hour 18 minutes 

Michigan at the Exposition: The 1893 Chicago World's Fair 

Historian Tom Buettner explains why 27 million people attended the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and describes Michigan's exhibits.


May 6, 2012, Central Library, 1 hour 10 minutes 

African American Newspapers in Genealogical Research 

Historian Tim Pinnick explains how to find and effectively use African American newspapers in genealogical research.


May 5, 2010, Central Library, 56 minutes (4 segments)

Lost and Found: Shipwrecks of West Michigan 

Local shipwreck hunter and award winning author Valerie van Heest explores wrecks that span the history of shipping on Lake Michigan.


May 26, 2009, Central Library, 41 minutes (5 segments)

Rose Place Project 

Local resident Julie DeLuca describes how a small group of property owners have created an enhanced urban living environment.


May 11, 2009, Central Library, 52 minutes (5 segments)

Vine Neighborhood Architecture 

Local historian Lynn Houghton discusses the rich history and architectural styles that help make the Vine neighborhood unique.


May 7, 2009, Central Library, 68 minutes (7 segments)

Vine Neighborhood History: A Storied Past 

Kalamazoo Historic Preservation coordinator Sharon Ferraro shares the stories of Kalamazoo's oldest neighborhood.


March 11, 2009, Central Library, 14 minutes (2 segments)

Mark Sahlgren and Friends

Sahlgren, co-host of WMUKs Grassroots, discusses his collection of vintage Gibson guitars in a celebration of music from the South.


February 4, 2009, Central Library, 47 minutes (6 segments)

State Hospital Water Tower Preservation 

Kalamazoo Historic Preservation coordinator Sharon Ferraro reveals the secrets of this historic landmark and talks about its future.


November 12, 2008, Central Library, 43 minutes (5 segments)

History of the Ladies Library Association 

Dr. Sharon Carlson highlighted the history of the Ladies Library Association and its amazing landmark building.


November 05, 2007, Central Library, 60 minutes (6 segments)

A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital 

A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital, presented by Dr. William A. Decker, M.D., at Kalamazoo Public Library, November 5, 2007.


Visit the KPL YouTube channel for more clips and vintage items from our archives.