Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day and CMU

by Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge

The first Earth Day was held April 22nd, 1970. The original proposal intended the day to be on March 21st, the first day of Spring, as a way to honor the Earth and promote peace. However, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed April 22nd as a separate Earth Day -- an environmental teach-in created to be used to bring awareness to environmental issues. This was the date that became nationally recognized. Earth Day began spreading internationally by 1990.

1998 CMU Yearbook, pp. 28-29

CM Life, April 22, 1970
Colleges and Universities around the country prepared for the first Earth Day teach-in during the spring of 1970, Central Michigan University included. Students and activists planned a four-day program, which included seminars about environmental crisis, government & citizen action, population control, ecology, environmental awareness and many more. A cleanup was scheduled Downtown, which brought out the people to help get rid of the trash and clean up Mount Pleasant.

In many of the Central Michigan Life articles written during April of 1970, there was a strong tenor of encouragement for everyone to become environmental activists. Of course, environmental activism was no rarity in the 1970s and the fears that activists expressed, of smog pollution and unclean waters, were not so far-fetched. There were predictions that things would get worse if people did not start making changes.

Honors students cleaning
up the Chippewa River, 2001
Earth Day has continued to be celebrated over the past 44 years. In the 1990s, environmental issues resonated quite a bit with students and Earth Day events on campus grew. It became a regular occurrence to see students volunteer to pick up trash along the roads and paths of Mount Pleasant or help keep the Chippewa River clean. Recycling drives have turned into intercollegiate competitions pitting Central against other campuses, including in-state rival, Western Michigan University.

Similar to other communities, Earth Day at Central has become Earth Week. It includes similar awareness events as in the 1970’s, with more interactivity. Students in charge have brought in more participation from local businesses. This year, events include tie-dying and printmaking on recycled-fiber t-shirts, outdoor volunteering for recycling and clean-up, art competitions, an Earth Day Garden Party, and much more.

CM Life, April 23, 1990
We’re looking forward to seeing students out and about, green with enthusiasm as they work together to make this Earth a cleaner, healthier, and better place for us to live.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Detroit Firefighter Certificates in the Clarke

[The voting has finished in the Michigan Digital Newspaper Grant Program and Cheboygan has been chosen by the voters as the community whose newspapers will be digitized and upload into the Michigan Digital Newspaper Portal. To read more, follow the Michigan Digital Newspapers Twitter feed]

Detroit Firefighter Certificates in the Clarke

By Marian Matyn

I recently cataloged two oversized certificates of two men who were early Detroit firemen. The certificate of Thomas Hanks is one of appointment as a Detroit fireman, undated, but definitely early to mid-nineteenth century. The certificate is nicely illustrated with an engraving of Poseidon, a female goddess holding a staff, two women, one with a baby, a river behind them, and a city with a fire in it in the distant background. The engraver was Geo. W. Hatch. The phrase "Protection and Benevolence" is included. It was signed by F. Huhl, Treasurer. At the bottom, is an engraving of a small, hand-pulled, hand pump engine with "Wolvereen [sic] 3" handwritten onto it. There is some slight damage. There was a grocer named Thomas Hanks in the 1861 Detroit city directory. He is possibly this fireman.

The other certificate is for John Quigley as an active member of the Detroit fire department, 1858. This certificate is engraved on canvas which measures approximately 16 x 13 inches. It is attached at the top to brown cardboard which measures approximately 17.5 x 20 inches. The certificate is beautifully engraved in blue, yellow, pink, brown, black, and green colors, with two firemen in uniform, firefighting equipment, including a hand-pulled hand pump, leaves, Poseidon with two water creatures, and an engraved seal of Michigan. The phrase "Fire department incorporated 1840" is at the top of the certificate and also on a blue seal in the center of the certificate surrounded by circles. Within the circles, Quigley's status was attested to by secretary B. Vernor [or Vernon], president Robert B. Roberts, and treasurer Alex. Paton, Aug. 11, 1858. The certificate was engraved by Capewell and Kimmel of New York. The certificate is badly stained, dirty, and is not completely square. John Quigley is a fairly common name at this time in Detroit and Michigan so further identification of him is impossible.

The fire department in Detroit was incorporated in 1840. Prior to this firefighters were all volunteers. Very little is known about early firemen of Detroit. None of the men listed on the certificates are identified in books about the fire department's history.

To learn more about the fire department of Detroit you can search the CENTRA catalog for these terms:
  • Detroit (Mich.) Fire Dept.--History
  • or for various departments search Fire departments--Michigan
I am very proud to say that my great-uncle Remy Matyn and his two sons, Edwin and Fred, were members of the Detroit Fire Department. They served in the early twentieth century and are identified in the Detroit Fire Dept. history books. If you have any questions about archival collections, contact Marian Matyn at marian.matyn@cmich.edu.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gentle Friday Presentation and End of Voting in MDNGP

The Clarke would like to announce two important dates coming up early next week.

First, on Monday April 14, the Clarke, in association with the CMU Alumni Association will be offering a retrospective on the history of Gentle Friday. Going back to the 1960s, this unique CMU tradition was invented to help relieve tension on campus. Today, it is a reminder of how we all benefit from a culture built on the concepts of civility, good will, and a free ice cream cone. The presentation begins at 7:00 pm in the Park Library auditorium with a reception, co-sponsored by the Alumni Association, to follow in the Clarke.

Second, Tuesday, April 15 is the last day to vote in the Michigan Digital Newspaper Grant Program. Your votes will determine which one of five cities - Muskegon, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Cheboygan, or Marquette - will have their newspaper digitized and uploaded into the Michigan Digital Newspaper Portal. Use this link - https://digmichnews.wufoo.com/forms/vote-for-your-library-to-win/ - to cast you votes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

John Cumming Award Presented

by Frank Boles

Beginning with the celebration of Isabella County’s sesquicentennial in 2009, the Clarke Historical Library has participated in honoring individuals involved in local history with the John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award. Earlier this year, the 2014 Cumming Award was given to Tammy Prout.

Tammy Prout is a lifelong resident of Isabella County who has devoted much of her adult time and considerable organizational talents to preserving memories of our area's rich heritage by organizing a historical village at the Isabella County Fairgrounds, maintaining and scheduling rotating historical exhibits in the lobby of the Isabella County Building, working with Jack Anson to co-produce a video named "Isabella County: 150 years in the making" during the County's Sesquicentennial, organizing a vintage Fashion Show during that 150th celebration. Further, she was active in establishing the County's First Family Award program and helped reproduce Isaac A. Fancher's 1876 U.S. Centennial speech about the history of Isabella County in booklet form. She has been active in the Genealogical Society of Isabella County, the Friends of the Faith Johnson Library at Rosebush, and the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society.

The award was named in honor of John Cumming, who served as director of Central Michigan University’s Clarke Historical Library from 1961 until 1982, and was the author of This Place Mount Pleasant, a community history published in 1989, and The First Hundred Years, the centennial history of CMU, which was published in 1992.

To read more about this year’s winner (and to see a really ridiculous picture of myself presenting it!) take a look at an article from Mt. Pleasant’s local newspaper, the Morning Sun. For a complete list of all those who have won the Cumming Award, visit the webpage for the award on the Clarke website.