Friday, August 18, 2017

The Central Marching Band

By Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge

In September 1923, the students of the Central Normal College were hustling around in a frenzied attempt to register for classes (Central Normal Life, 9/25/1923, p. 2). The only peace to be had on campus was coming from the newly-established marching band. Before ever taking the football field to entertain during a game, the band was given the duty of lightening the atmosphere and reminding students that their first days in Mount Pleasant were the start of an exciting chapter of their lives. It would be two months before the marching band would have their maroon and gold uniforms and would take the field supporting the effort of the players on the gridiron at an away game against Alma on November 24.

Central Marching Band, 1923

Since that time, the Marching Band has been a fixture of the fall. More than 50 years after their first appearance, the Marching Chips were there in 1974 as the football team took part in the biggest game in Central's history to that point, the Camellia Bowl, otherwise known as the Division II National Championship. Because the University was able to offer only $17,000 of the $200,000 needed to send the band to California, a little help was needed to send the band out west. Clarence Tuma led a community fundraising campaign that raised the additional money. Tuma also had a final surprise for the band.
"Before they left California [by plane, bound for Michigan], Clarence Tuma had loaded a full round of Coors Beer for the band members. As they flew over Denver, Colorado, Norm [Dietz] gave Clarence the baton, and on the downbeat, everyone opened a Coors.John W. Beery
Coming back to the present day, students new and old will be moving to Mount Pleasant in the coming days. They will be buying books, getting their residence halls and apartments in order, and catching up with friends after three months of summer vacation. All the while, just like 94 years ago, the CMU marching band will be heard in the background, lightening the atmosphere during an otherwise chaotic time.

CMU’s first football game, a clash with Rhode Island on Thursday, August 31, is just around the corner and the football team has been putting in hours of hard work on the practice field. But the football players aren’t the only ones honing their skills daily in preparation of the opening kickoff. During band week, which happens right before the start of classes, the Marching Chips are on the practice field all day, every day, whether in the blazing heat or the pouring rain. Throughout campus, the Marching Chips work on the songs and routines that will be on display for thousands of fans throughout the fall.

The cadence of the drums can be felt across the Warriner Mall, the trumpets blare the high notes that will be the highlight of their performances, and the members of the woodwinds work in numbers to create big volume that will support the whole band. All of these musicians put in hours of work to learn about eight songs for football halftime shows in addition to the dozens of pregame tunes, stand times, and of course, the CMU Fight Song.

The work doesn’t stop after band week. It should be remembered that the members of the Marching Chips are first and foremost students at CMU. Once classes start, many of the music majors will be taking ten or more classes along with their marching band duties, which includes practicing a few hours each afternoon, except for game days when some sections begin practice before 7:00 am. Graduate students and senior section leaders will help the mostly freshman marchers keep each foot together and each note in sync until the formations are performed to perfection.

And what does all of this hard work bring? Well just like in 1923, it brings cheer to the students of CMU when they need an upbeat song to get them through the day. Of course, it brings life to football games and the annual homecoming parade. It brings traditions that have been handed down through generations of Marching Chips. Finally, for the musicians who are a part of the Central Marching Band, they earn a wealth of experiences, they garner a sense of pride in persevering to accomplish something magnificent, and they make memories that will last a lifetime.

This blog post originally appeared in a different form August 26, 2014. It is one in a series of information detailing the history of Central Michigan University in celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the institution. Be sure to check out the official 125th Anniversary website – – and the Clarke’s upcoming exhibit, opening in September, for more great stories.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reformatting and Imaging at the Clarke Historical Library

Clarke Historical Library operates with departments typical of most libraries. As a special collections library it also has a reformatting and imaging unit, which reproduces content onto more stable or accessible formats. The work of this unit makes historic, fragile and rare documents more widely accessible to researchers. Begun a half century ago to preserve old newspapers, the operation has grown to include all manner of text and graphic material. Some of the most popular collections preserved include Central Michigan University history and the historic Soo Locks images.

The Library is the leader in preservation of Michigan newspapers. What began as a microfilm operation now includes digital access as well. The library maintains significant holdings in Michigan newspapers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Additionally, it works with libraries and historical societies throughout the state to preserve contemporary local news too. Although digital is the choice for wide access, microfilm remains the preservation standard. A typical newspaper project begins by manually microfilming the paper with a large professional camera, then passes through many specialized steps before a final digital document is produced.

Smaller paper formats such as manuscripts, letters, and photographs generally go direct to digital on flatbed scanners. These units can produce very high resolution scans suitable for publication. Images can be adjusted for traits such as brightness and contrast, sometimes revealing results more clearly than the originals. When researchers apply magnification to documents of this quality, they're able to zero in on important and fascinating details.

The Clarke web site hosts many digital collections with digital imaging produced in-house by the reformatting and imaging unit. Best of all, the collections are always open for exploration!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day and Our Veterans

Memorial Day is celebrated this weekend. Although decorating soldiers graves is an ancient custom, the custom became a national mourning ritual, known as Decoration Day in the U.S., during the Civil War. It was a ritualized, recognized day to decorate the war dead because of the unprecedented numbers of dead at the time, most of whom died far from home. Many families could not visit faraway graves, or even know for sure where their loved ones where buried. Memorial Day is documented in some of the collections in the Clarke.

What the day is all about- rows of honored, decorated U.S. soldiers graves in France, World War I
This image and others are in Nurse Mary Bourgeoise's gorgeous WWI A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Forces] photograph album 

Closeup of Nurse Mary Bourgeoise's clever photographic cover

Mary and her nursing unit in France, WWI
Within Clarke holdings are many primary source collections documenting veterans of wars, mostly the Civil War and World War I, although there is some material from World War II and Vietnam, and one collection mentioning the Korean War. These collections also document veterans' organizations and the women's organizations that supported the veterans. There are posters, official government records of war, postcards, scrapbooks, photograph albums, photographs, letters, pins, radio addresses, printed speeches, as well as secondary sources, published books, music, newspaper articles, and films.
Clarke Historical Library Archivist Marian Matyn would like to start documenting more of the Michiganders who have served our nation since World War II. If you are or have the materials of Michigan veterans or Michigan organizations that supported our troops since World War II, please consider donating to the Clarke. There are Michiganders making history right now serving our nation today.

Patriotic 1907 postcard in our Display Items


An assortment of GAR pins Civil War Veterans wore to parades, meetings and gatherings honoring fallen veteran comrades, also in our Display Items
To learn more about any of these collections, go to the Clarke Historical Library webpage

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

125th Anniversary of the Mount Pleasant Improvement Company

by Bryan Whitledge

Exactly 125 years ago, a small group of individuals came together with the goal of creating something that would benefit Mount Pleasant and Isabella County. Throughout Michigan, communities such as Muskegon and Saginaw had been purchasing land, selling off the lots, and using the proceeds to establish hubs of industry in an effort to increase the population and bring in more revenue. In Mount Pleasant, this group of individuals, who called their enterprise the Mount Pleasant Improvement Company (MPIC), decided that doing the same would benefit their town, but rather than industry, the best route was to make this small Midwestern town of 2,700 inhabitants, “the educational point for Central Michigan.”

First page of the Mount Pleasant
Improvement Company record book
showing the first entry on May 24, 1892.
click on image to enlarge
Sixteen citizens of Mount Pleasant made up the initial membership of the MPIC, and they convened their first meeting at 9:00 am on Tuesday, May 24, 1892, at the “private offices of the Exchange Bank on Main Street in the City of Mount Pleasant.” Of these sixteen members, nine were named directors: Douglas H. Nelson (President), Michael Devereaux (Vice President), Frank D. Patterson (Treasurer), Samuel W. Hopkins (Secretary), Charles M. Brooks (Manager of the Association), Isaac A. Fancher, Wilkinson Doughty, George A. Dusenbury, and John W. Hance. By the end of that first day, the group had determined that they would create an institution of higher education called “Normal University.”**

To create the “Normal University,” which they later decided to call the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute, the MPIC needed to inject capital into the community, as one would say in the twenty-first century. The MPIC put $500 down and secured a loan for $7,500 to purchase 52 acres of the Hursh farm (land now occupied by Central Michigan University). Of the 52 acres, 10 were set aside for the Normal School and the rest was separated into 224 lots. Those lots were then put on the market to raise funds for the operations of the Normal School and the new building. Initially, 174 lots were sold for $110 each. Later 49 more sold at a price of $150 each. With this revenue, the MPIC was well positioned to give the newly-appointed principal, Charles F. Bellows, the resources he needed to start a higher education institution in Mount Pleasant.

Advertisement from the Isabella County Enterprise (July 22, 1892)
offering lots for sale to support the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute.

So Central started on ten acres with a community investment of about $25,000 and served twenty students in the first graduating class. Now, in 2017, CMU has evolved to include a 480-acre main campus (not to mention the numerous satellite sites and research facilities across the country) with a $130 million endowment that saw 3,100 students receive degrees earlier this month. It is safe to say that, 125 years later, the Mount Pleasant Improvement Company has achieved its goal of creating something that would benefit Mount Pleasant and Isabella County, let alone the state, country, and entire world.

Groundbreaking of the new Normal Building, September 19, 1892,
located on the site where Warriner Hall stands today.
**Normal was a common term for teacher training colleges and universities. The term comes from the French, where the accepted standards for teaching that were taught to aspiring instructors were referred to as "norms."

This is the first of many items of information detailing the history of Central Michigan University in celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the institution. Be sure to check out the official 125th Anniversary website – – and the Clarke’s upcoming exhibit, opening this fall, for more great stories.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Source on the Mount Pleasant Indian School

By Katie Wilson, Clarke Historical Library student assistant 

The Clarke is well-known for its historical materials related to the Mount Pleasant Indian School. Among these collections are reports, published sources, unpublished manuscripts, historical accounts, and a collection of Mount Pleasant newspaper clippings. The Mount Pleasant Indian School Newspaper Clippings Collection contains articles found in local newspapers from 1892- 1928 that pertain to the school. This collection, which has been in the Clarke since 2003, sees frequent use from patrons. However, this collection only covered the school until 1928. The Mount Pleasant Indian School was not shut down until 1934. This left 6 years of unclipped newspapers, containing much sought after information.
In 2014, a graduate student from CMU’s history department created a database that included references to Native Americans in Isabella County newspapers.   After he completed his research, he gave the Clarke this database. In the Spring of 2015, I began to go through the database looking for articles specifically related to the Mount Pleasant Indian School. Each article I found I cropped for easier visibility.  I then printed the article, placed it in a folder, and labeled the folder. 

The articles cover a variety of subjects pertaining to the Mount Pleasant Indian School—baseball scores, band concerts, graduation lists, general updates on the school itself, etc.  The newspapers seemed to cover the Mount Pleasant Indian School just as they did the Mount Pleasant High School. In later years, the Indian School even had its own column that the students kept up to date.

Immersing myself in the history of the school was a stimulating experience. To me the most interesting discoveries were the published opinions about the shutting down of the school. Leading voices in Mount Pleasant had strong reservations about closing the school.  Many of the children had nowhere to go. These children were taken from their families years prior and had been taught to give up their original culture.  Many of them did not even know their birth-names. Administration would not only have trouble finding their families, but if they succeeded, the reintegration of the students would cause a strain on the Native American communities. The articles also mentioned the difficulty of transitioning students into public schools and the negative effects it would have on the school systems already experiencing cutbacks in the middle of the Great Depression.

Nevertheless, funding had been cut drastically for the Indian School already and keeping the school open would not have been practical. The school was purchased by the state and converted into a state home. Reading through these final articles was truly fascinating. In the early 1920’s America was forward looking in many ways, but in other ways the country was not so progressive as the reaction to the existence of the school and to its shutting down demonstrated.

This new addition to the collection includes information from 40 reels of microfilm. It will be made available to patrons as soon as it is catalogued.




Monday, April 17, 2017

Know the Mother

Recently Clarke Historical Library hosted a reading by flash fiction author Desiree Cooper. Her first book, Know the Mother, was recognized by the Library of Michigan as a 2017 Michigan Notable Book. Cooper is a former columnist for the Detroit Free Press and found the average column length of 750 words to be a natural bridge to flash fiction, in which an entire story is told in that space. The readings she selected for her CMU presentation were wide ranging, but all came back to the universal theme of motherhood. Each piece was both poignant and evocative, immediately recognizable to mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. With the tight constraints of flash fiction individual words become especially powerful, carrying layers of meaning based on perception. In some pieces race held the key. Elements of Cooper’s own experiences show up in her writing, but her stories are not purely autobiographical. Her first person narratives take on many personas.

For her CMU visit, Cooper chose the format of an instant book club. She would read a story and the audience discussed it before she moved on to the next one. The stories were all from her book Know the Mother. She opened with “Mourning Chair” about a mother waiting for her daughter’s return home and imaging the worst. “Ceiling” was about the reaction received when a young attorney requests maternity leave. “Soft Landing” was followed by a discussion of levitation dreams.  An unexpected ending to a night out for a couple of new parents is the subject of “Origins of Sacrifice.” The closing piece was “In the Ginza” which explores perceptions of interracial relationships in post WWII Japan.
Cooper spoke of how she sought out the work of Detroit artists for her book cover. She found much that she liked, but none clicked as just right. Through the internet she eventually connected with Karin Miller, a South African digital artist. It’s Miller’s work seen on the memorable cover, featuring a very famous person with hands covering both her eyes and identity.   

Friday, April 7, 2017

International Children's Books Readings

by Bryan Whitledge

On March 28, the Clarke was delighted to host our third annual day of international children’s literature. For the past two events, we have asked Central Michigan University students whose native language is something other than English to read a book from our collection in their native language – we have heard students read in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and much, much more.

This year, we expanded the event and invited students from CMU’s English Language Institute and CMU’s Dept. of World Languages and Cultures (formerly Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures). We also hosted a panel discussion made up of five CMU professors in the evening who discussed youth literature as a vehicle for communicating culture. To start the morning off, we welcomed students from the English Language Institute. Each student had the opportunity to read a book in their native language and a second book in English to practice their newly learned English skills.

To begin the afternoon, we invited CMU students from all corners of the globe to read a book in their native languages. This year, we had eight readers read us a story in seven different languages – Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Persian, Spanish, and Telugu (a language from India). During or after reading the story, each reader summarized the story in English for the audience. All of our readers read excellent stories that were not just simple “kiddie books.” These stories, when read and translated by our readers, shared a little bit about the cultures in which our students grew up.

Following the international student readers, we invited students who study languages as part of their coursework at CMU to read in their second, or in some cases, third, language. Eleven students and two professors from the Department of World Languages and Cultures read from the wide range of French, German, and Spanish books in the Clarke’s holdings. The levels of the students ranged from beginners to those with near-fluency and we were delighted to give these students a chance to showcase their skills.

With children’s books in over 40 languages from over 60 countries, the Clarke looks forward to the opportunity each year to hear these books read in the language in which they are written. We are lucky that Central Michigan University has such a rich diversity of students, giving us access to these outstanding cultural artifacts.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

International Children’s Books Panel

by Frank Boles

On March 28, 2017 the Clarke Library, in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures, the Department of English Language and Literature, and English Language Institute, sponsored a day-long event celebrating the importance of international children’s books.  During the day over 90 students participated in an event where students who were learning English as a second language and English-speaking students read and explained story books printed in a language other than English.  In the evening a panel of five CMU faculty members discussed the importance of the activities that had gone on throughout the day.
The panel, moderated by Professor Amy Ransom (Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures), featured Professors Anne Hiebert Alton (English Language and Literature), Carolina Gutierrez-Rivas (FLLC), Gretchen Papazian (ELL), and Daniela Richter (FLLC).

Anne Hiebert Alton spoke of how children’s literature opens to students the cultural mores of a society, as well as differences minor and significant.  As a simple example she made note of the differences in words found in the British and American editions of the many Harry Potter books. In Britain Hogwart’s owls delivered the post daily – in America the same owls delivered the mail. Similarly in America Mrs. Weasley gave Harry a sweater for Christmas, while a British reader would learn of the lovely jumper Harry received as his Christmas present.
Gretchen Papazian spoke about children’s literature as a way to gain insight into American diversity issues, discussing books published in English and Spanish, as well as the use of African-American vernacular. She also pointed to the use of color as an important tool in children’s literature.

Islamic culture has vested the color green with great importance, and this cultural fact played an important role in a recent book discussing Islamic immigrants to America. In the book, a newly arrived Islamic elementary school student who goes on a class field trip to an apple orchard baffles the American students by picking a green apple, rather than a red one. After some confusion the class comes to understand the importance of the color green to their new classmate.
Daniela Richter discussed her personal use of children’s books to understand American culture. Born in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) children’s books that did not reflect the party line, while not completely unavailable, where hard to come by. The family’s German translation of Tom Sawyer was thus something of a treasure. She discussed how when she came to America as a high school exchange student, she read children’s books to help understand the United States. Her gateway book, she acknowledged was William Goldman’s The Princess Bride.

In teaching German at CMU, Professor Richter talked about her use of a children’s book explaining the experiences of a Romanian immigrant family in modern Germany. What she found interesting was the amount of “back story” she needed to share with her American students before they could understand the “simple” children’s book. Bundled into the volume were numerous assumptions about both Romanian and German culture which the author assumed any native German reader would understand, but which did not travel well across the Atlantic to a room full of second year German language students.
Professor Carolina Gutierrez-Rivas, who works in translating material from Spanish to English, discussed how figures of speech in one language can reveal important details of culture. She is particularly interested in speech acts. A speech act is a special unit in the language that allows us to do things with words. For example, when a speaker says “it’s cold in this room,” the probable implication is that the hearer should turn up the heat. Her latest research focuses on the degree of egocentrism (care for oneself) and altercentrism (care for others) in youth  literature. She uses these kinds of utterances to study politeness and issues of race, class, and gender. In her translation class, she also uses short poems and micro stories.

Panel moderator Amy Ransom spoke last, discussing a children’s book dealing with prejudice based on Canada’s national sport, hockey. Maurice “Rocket” Richard was a player for the Montreal Canadiens from 1942 until 1960 who became the iconic French-Canadian hockey player. According the story, as a boy he mistakenly received a blue and white jersey of the English speaking Toronto Maple Leaf. The Maple Leafs were the Canadiens bitter rival, and more broadly a focus of French speaking  Quebec’s angry sense of mistreatment at the hands of Canada’s English speaking majority. When the young Richard appeared at the local hockey rink wearing his Toronto jersey, he faces significant trouble, which he responds to both verbally and with a talented hockey stick. The story’s point, that those who feel the sting of prejudice can, in turn, be themselves prejudiced, is an important life lesson.

It was an evening of fascinating discussion, and included two pieces of trivia worth sharing: the “National” in National Hockey League (NHL) was originally Canada, and in the Old East Germany bananas were a rare delicacy, that usually appeared only around Christmas and for which people would stand in long lines to buy. Who knew?

African Fairy Tales

by Frank Boles 

As part of the Clarke Library’s speaker series, Kayla Foley made a most interesting presentation about African fairy tales, myths, and creation stories on March 20.  Ms. Foley, a CMU student who spent a summer working with orphans in the townships of South Africa brought to the talk her personal experiences and shared what she had learned speaking with and sharing stories with South African children, students, and adults.

Her working title for the evening was “spider tales.” In many areas of Africa “spider tales” is the term used to describe what Americans would call “fairy tales.” One of the videos Ms. Foley shared explained why the stories are named after the spider.  As the legend had it, the spider was annoyed that he received little credit for what he did, and asked a great king to name the tales after him.  After some thought the king said he would, if the spider could accomplish three tasks: bring to the king a bowl full of honey bees, a snake tied straight to a stick, and a living tiger.  Through clever strategies the spider completed each task, and the king, good to his word, declared for all time to come the stories would bear the spider’s name.
Another video, one of particular impact, explained why children cry for no reason.  According to the legend “Nothing” was a beloved person who was killed by a jealous neighbor. After his death, all who knew him cried. Children who cry for “Nothing” cry on behalf of a good man done in by evil.

As might be expected the evening was full of questions asking how the stories from Africa both differed from and paralleled those told in North America and thoughts about points of convergence and divergence.
It was also interesting to learn that Ms. Foley has been invited by teachers to share her work with grade school children in the Mt. Pleasant area.

Ms. Foley is the president of the African Humanitarian Educational Research Organization (AHERO) is a registered student organization at CMU. AHERO is a part of the non-profit organization, and is the first student branch. The purposes of the non-profit is: 1. To raise money to benefit the education and lives of children in places like Nigeria, South Africa, and other African nations. 2. To educate and bring awareness to the different social and political issues found in different countries and cultures in Africa. 3. To create lasting relationships and connections among members. More information about AHERO an be found at

Old Islam in Detroit

by Frank Boles

In a particularly timely presentation Professor Sally Howell of the University of Michigan Dearborn spoke on March 16 about the history of Detroit’s Islamic community.
Professor Howell’s presentation made clear how deeply rooted Islam is in southeastern Michigan, while at the same time noting the evolutionary changes that help contrast Islam in the Detroit area with the faith  as it is practiced in the Middle East.

The nation’s first mosque was actually a tourist attraction – opened in 1893 as part of the “Cairo St.” exhibit at the Columbian World Exposition held in Chicago.   To add authenticity to the exhibit the adhan (call to prayer) was made from the mosque’s minaret five times a day. To the surprise of the organizers, who saw the call as merely an added entertainment, faithful Muslims would actually gather when called to pray. Surprise turned to delight, as this became something of an additional tourist attraction, and the fair’s organizer’s saw the prayer of believers as adding even more authenticity to their “exquisite and picturesque little mosque.”

America’s first mosque built by Muslims opened in Highland Park, Michigan in 1925. Like so many other immigrants these people had been drawn to Highland Park by Henry Ford’s Model T plant, and its $5 a day pay scale. Although the mosque opened in 1925, Islamic religious leaders had been active in the community for more than a decade.

The first religious leader in the community, Kalil Bazzy arrived in 1913. He was a man of great piety, but spoke no English. Before he left Syria (today southern Lebanon) he had received a note, written in English, by his brother, who was already in Detroit. Bazzy was instructed by his brother to pin the note on his clothing when he arrived in the United States and show it to officials.
That note got him from New York to Detroit, onto a local streetcar, and off the streetcar at LaBelle and Victor Ave.   There, too his utter amazement, he found a community “Arab, all Arab.”  As another immigrant related, “You could walk up and down Victor Avenue and not hear one word of ‘American’.”  Bazzy, a Shi’a, was a man of piety, but as some noted,no formal religious training.

Soon after Bazzy’s arrival in Highland Park, he was joined by another man of great piety, Hussien Adeeb Karoub, who from the Bekaa Valley, about twenty miles from Beirut. Unlike Bazzy, Karoub had received religious education. He could recite the Qur’an from memory. His brother Mohammed, who had already spent five years in America, recognized that bringing his devout brother to Detroit to lead a religious community would be of great benefit. Thus Karoub came to America. 
His Sunni roots at first made many of the Shi’a uncomfortable, as there was a long tradition of Shi’a harassment and persecution in Syria.  But Karoub proved a tolerant man who reached out to all in the Islamic community.

In the 1920s, the Islamic community consciously reached out to African-Americans with heartfelt statements regarding the equality of all people in the eyes of God. Many African-Americans chose to accept the faith. Other African-Americans would incorporate Islam into their own religious tradition.  The Nation of Islam, although today headquartered in Chicago, was founded in Detroit during the 1920s.  The Nation of Islam’s Temple #1 still remains open for worshippers in Detroit.
Howell told a fascinating story of the growth of Detroit’s Islamic community, as well as its interaction with Detroit’s African-American community.  Her thoughtful discussion of the nation’s largest Islamic community was one of value and importance.


Monday, April 3, 2017

World War I Remembrance

Panel led by Professor Hope Elizabeth May

On the one hundredth anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s request to Congress that war be declared against Germany the Clarke Historical Library, in conjunction with the CMU Veterans’ Resource Center and the Center for International Ethics, sponsored an evening focusing on the meaning of patriotism. In particular four veterans as well as Professor Hope Elizabeth May spoke about service to America.
The evening’s honored guests were World War II veteran Staff Sergeant Earl Wickman, Korean War veteran Sergeant John Schuling, Vietnam War veteran Sergeant Larry Ashley, and Staff Sergeant T.J. Pierce, who served in Afghanistan. Each gentleman spoke on what service meant to him. Hope Elizabeth May expanded the discussion of service by sharing how individuals like Central President E.C. Warriner, who had been deeply involved in the Peace Education movement of the early twentieth century, reacted to the war, as well as how Woodrow Wilson, following the logic that led him to ask America to enter the war, came to ask Congress to support the constitutional amendment allowing women the right to vote.

Duane Kleinhardt, director of the Veterans’ Resources Center, set the context for the day’s remembrance by reading from a note found on the body of Owen Barrett, the first Central student to die in World War I:
“Somewhere in France, about to go over the top.

Dear Mother and Sisters: I know you will be surprised to hear this news but I ask you not to cry as I have died for the sake of democracy’s freedom for all.  I am glad to think that I have had a chance to sacrifice my life for something worth wile. The Redeemer has given me life and it is His right to call me back again at His will.  I will see you all in the great hereafter.  Love and kisses. Good-bye.”
Two other Central students died in the Great War, along with more than 11 million soldiers, of which more than 116,000 were Americans.

Introductions by Frank Boles
Frank Boles shared how Woodrow Wilson framed the reasons for this loss of life in his request for a Declaration of War. He made it clear this was not a war against the German people.
 “We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their Government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval.”
Even though he blamed Germany’s leaders for beginning the war, nevertheless the war was not really about striking back at those leaders. 
“Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.”

Wilson defined “the vindication of right” by clarifying what the world that America would go to war to achieve, would look like:
“We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states.”

The evening’s remembrance also included a rendition of Taps by Morgan Lillie, which preceded moment of silence for those who had died, and closed with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a CMU student group.
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Thinking about World War I in the context of broadly defined patriotism is an important way to help all of us not only honor those who served, but thoughtfully examine the meaning of service in a democratic nation. CMU will continue to recall the momentous events of 100 years ago, and discuss more current history, later this week.

We will remember the day President Wilson signed the Declaration of War, on April 7, by a flag raising ceremony at 1:15 p.m. at the flagpole directly in front (north side) of Warriner Hall.  The flag raised will be the Pro Concordia Labor peace flag which was designed in 1897 and envisioned by its creator as a universal symbol of peace.  You can read more about the flag at 
After the flag raising, beginning at 2:00 p.m. a discussion will be held in the Park Library Auditorium regarding the legal response to the Rwandan Genocide, which began April 7, 1994. The speaker will be Professor Jennifer Trahan, from New York University, who will share how the international response to the atrocities in Rwanda has influenced international law, including the creation of the historic International Criminal Court. For more information about the presentation please visit



Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day in the Clarke Manuscripts

By Marian Matyn, Archivist, Clarke Historical Library

There is only 1 manuscript collection that documents a St. Patrick's Day celebration-Aladdin Co. Addition has a home movie film of a Bay City, MI, St Pat's Day parade, 1959. We do have a number of manuscript collections documenting Irish Americans, including:
Helen Collar Papers, 1907, 2006 6 cubic feet (in 11 boxes) documenting the Irish, in the history of Beaver Island

Catherine McGorlick Correspondence, 1856, in Ballygowans, Omagh County, Ireland, who had emigrated to the US, about her husband and how hard life had been there

John B. Bruneel, Sr.'s Michael F. Martin Collection, 2011, about Martin's life on Beaver Island and in Manistee, MI

John S. Archer collection, 2011, about the Irish American Archer family of Isabella Co., MI 

Beaver Island, MI birth, marriage, and death records, 1871, 1891 documenting the Irish

(highly likely Irish) Grace M. Kelly Photographs and negatives, c. 1930, 2015, 2.25 cubic ft. (in 5 boxes) about a Catholic nurse in WWII and her Catholic family of Adrian, MI 

Besides the manuscripts, there are some fun postcards in the Display Items collection. Here's a sample. Only one postcard in this group is dated- 1912.


Nostalgic images of Irish home inside a 4-leaf clover

Irish songs, music, poetry, lyre featuring the Maid of Erin, the Maid across the sea, and the Last rose of summer

Other nostalgic images of Ireland

Monday, March 6, 2017

Michelle Briggs Opens the Clarke's New Exhibit

By Frank Boles

On February 23, 2017 the Clarke Library opened its newest exhibit, “As Remote as the Moon: The Soo Locks in Photos” with a presentation by Michelle Briggs, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Park Ranger responsible for operating the USACE Visitor Center at the Soo. Briggs talk told the story of the canal through the calendar year, illustrated by a spectacular array of photographs largely taken by herself.

Although tourists flock to the Soo to see the locks, Briggs made clear the purpose of the locks, and the reason the USACE has been charged to operate and maintain them, has nothing to do with tourism. The Corps graciously works to educate and entertain the many visitors who come to see the locks, but the Soo Locks exist to support the American economy. Eighty million tons of cargo moves through the locks each year. Virtually all of the iron ore mined in America still comes from the Lake Superior region, and about 80 percent of that ore reaches steel mills by boat. Every one of those boats passes through the Soo Locks. Without the Soo Locks, America’s industry would simply stop because it lacked the necessary raw material.

Much of Briggs’ presentation focused on the work done by the USACE when tourists are few and far between – during the winter. The Soo Locks close in mid-January and reopen in March. During that time, the locks are drained, making access easy to a variety of structures that are normally submerged and difficult to maintain or repair. Everything, however, works on a scale in which parts often weigh tons and are moved by huge cranes. The age of the locks also complicates upkeep and repairs. The parts often have to be custom built onsite because their size and unique character is such that there is no manufacturer making or selling such a thing. Ace is not the place where the Corps can find much of what it needs for work in the locks.

During the winter at the Soo, “easy” work is a relative term. While the water inside the locks and their component tunnels is largely gone, (leaking gates are a persistent problem) rapid formation of ice, snow, cold weather, and other weather related issues make daily work challenging. Work crews approach their tasks with a “get ‘r done” philosophy. Photos of workers “warming” material with propane torches, so that the items can be drilled or otherwise manipulated, made it clear just what a challenge it is getting done even the simplest tasks during February at the Soo.

The locks open for boats every year at midnight, March 25. The Observation Platform, normally closed in the cold weather months, is opened that evening so the most serious lock fans can see the event. In the best of conditions the “first boat” arrives a few hours early, ties up, and waits for the clock to strike midnight. Local officials at the Soo invariably make much of the first passage of the year, which one once compared to the opening of baseball season in Detroit. Officials board the docked ship. Gifts are presented. The captain often offers a boat tour. Television crews get wonderful footage. And everyone enjoys the wait until the lock gate swings open at midnight and the spectators in the Observation Platform get to add another “first passage” to their list.

But when the weather is bad, and the first boat arrives late, perhaps several days after the official opening of the locks, the ship’s captain keeps ceremony to a minimum. In the 20 minutes or so it normally takes for the boat to lock through, the captain will usually come off the ship, accept whatever “swag” is being given to the first ship of the season, say something nice, but short, to the waiting tv crew, and then get back on the boat to be ready to move out as soon as the far lock gate opens. The captain’s job that day is to keep the boat moving, not make nice with the local community.

Passage through the locks in early spring or late fall, however, often takes more than the “average” 20 minutes. Ice is the problem. The largest lock, the Poe, is 110 feet wide, while the largest freighters are 105 feet wide. Briggs photographs made it clear just how narrow five feet of water is, when it is the only thing between a 105 foot wide boat and a 110 foot wide fall. If ice accumulates along the sides of the lock, or is pushed in front of the boat as it enters the lock and creates an obstacle such that the far lock gate cannot swing properly, locking through becomes impossible.

Coast Guard icebreakers, and a specially equipped USACE tugboat that can scrape ice off the sides of the lock, have to break the ice, which is then “flushed” from the lock. If the ice extends below the reach of the floating icebreakers and tug, special tools attached to a ship-mounted crane are dragged along the side of the lock to break up the submerged ice, which also has to be “flushed.” These complications can make what in the summer is a quick 20 minute passage into an event taking many hours, and adding a great deal of frustration to the impatient captain’s day.

Briggs fascinating and well-illustrated presentation made clear the continuing importance of the Soo Locks to the United States economy, the challenges faced by the USACE in operating and maintaining the locks, and the dedication and ingenuity shown by the Corps military and civilian workers in carrying out their important task. Briggs presentation also explained why about 400,000 people visit the Soo Locks annually, even though United States Senator Henry Clay, when asked to fund construction of a lock at the Soo in the early nineteenth century, voted against the idea, declaring that there was no need to spend federal dollars at a place as remote as the moon.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Gems of Lake Superior

By Frank Boles

On February 27, Jack Deo presented a stereo-optic presentation on B.F. Childs 1870 photographic tour of Lake Superior, which was published on stereo-optic cards as “The Gems of Lake Superior.” Deo is the proprietor of the Superior View Gallery in Marquette. Childs loaded a small sailboat with a large format glass plate negative camera, as well as all of the necessary plates, and set sail with companion and a Native American guide to circle Lake Superior. The voyage, as well as supplemental work done later, resulted in the publication of more than 500 stereo-optic cards. The cards offered the purchaser amazing detail, considerable artistic merit, and an important visual record of the lake and the people who lived around it.

Deo’s presentation also featured one of the light proof boxes Childs took with him to store his undeveloped negatives, an important piece of equipment because it allowed him to leave the chemicals needed for developing back at the studio, rather than have to carry them along with him and do developing in the field. Deo also showed a number of antique stereo-optic cameras, and discussed the photographers who documented the Upper Peninsula in the nineteenth century, and an appreciation of just how accomplished those photographers were.

But the highlight of the presentation was less the history of the photos and the photographers and more the images themselves. Stunning in their clarity and artistry they gave a vivid sense of a time past. What was of particular interest was that Childs photographed not only scenery, a staple of many photographers, but also the people living around the lake. His images of Native Americans living near Sault Ste. Marie, for example, form one of the most complete visual records available of their appearance, living conditions, and fishing practices. Similarly, images taken inside mines of miners at work give us today pictures of otherwise largely unrecorded mining activity.

At the reception that followed the presentation, a number of Childs original cards that are in the Clarke Library’s holdings, as well as a vintage stereo-optic viewer, were available for individuals to use and truly experience the images as they had been seen almost 150 years ago.

It was an educational evening, with the added benefit of being a whole lot of fun.

BF Child's original negative case, ca. 1870, courtesy of Jack Deo

Friday, February 17, 2017

Johnson and Green Receive Cumming Award

by Frank Boles

John Cumming, award namesake, as pictured in 2008 Morning Sun.

At the annual Isabella County Founder’s Day celebration on February 11, William “Willie” Johnson and Marie Green were recognized for their outstanding contributions in preserving the history of Isabella County. Each was awarded the John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award. The award is presented annually by several county historical organizations, to recognize the accomplishments of individuals like Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Green.

Marie Green is a lifetime member of the Shepherd Area Historical Society. Marie has served as a Trustee and Vice President. Recently, she has been a vital part in helping with the restoration of the Little Red School House Museum. The former one room school houses many artifacts and displays what school life was like for our ancestors. Marie worked relentlessly in acquiring estimates and bids used in obtaining grants. She also prepared the necessary inventory of what was needed.

Since Marie became a member, the Museum has been repainted on the outside and the windows and roof have been replaced. Many frames have been built and installed to properly house the many former class pictures. Countless other pictures have been framed for display. Marie kept all of the volunteers on course.

Her guidance working with the many other dedicated, hard-working volunteers made The Little Red School House Museum, or as it was formerly known The Landon School, more effectively preserved for the future. Indeed, the Museum will continue to be preserved, enjoyed and be an asset for our community for many years to come.

Marie is a supporter of The John H. Goodrow Fund, which supports those in need who live in Isabella County. She is also involved with the Mt. Pleasant Community Foundation where there is an endowed Emerson W. Green Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Throughout her years living in Shepherd she has worked and supported the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival, the Shepherd Jaycees, and the Shepherd Women’s Club. This year she was instrumental in organizing The Shepherd Women’s Club 100th Anniversary party. She made sure that every member past and present was honored. She has also been honored by the Shepherd Lion’s Club as The Citizen of the Year.

William Johnson is a descendant of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. He serves the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways as the Curator and Team Leader for Cultural Resource Management Team. He has worked for the Ziibiwing Center since 1998.

He has 19 years of experience dealing with Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) issues; including the coordination of ancestral reburials for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe as a NAGPRA designee. He is also the Chairman for the Michigan Anishinabek Cultural Preservation & Repatriation Alliance (MACPRA) and helps coordinate NAGPRA efforts for all the federally recognized tribes of state historic tribes of Michigan. He serves as the interim tribal historic preservation officer.

Through his efforts, the center’s excellence in exhibits and events has earned it numerous awards, including the 2006 Museum Award from the Michigan Cultural Alliance, the 2008 Harvard University’s “Honoring Nations” Award, and a Gold Muse Award from the American Association of Museum’s Media and Technology Committee.

In 2011, Johnson became the chairman of the Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation and Repatriation Alliance. He worked as a coordinator of Flint’s Stone Street Ancestral Recovery and Reburial Project, helping oversee the proper burial of more than 108 ancestral remains and their associated funerary objects that were inadvertently discovered during a construction project. He has also worked with many Michigan museums and colleges to accrue and respectfully inter Native American remains that had been removed from their resting places.

Johnson serves on the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School Committee. The Boarding School, which operated from 1893 until 1934, sought to educate Native American children but also had the darker purpose of “taking the Indian out of the child.” The committee is charged with preserving and transforming this site to become a place of awareness, education, and healing for our state.

In 2012, Mr. Johnson was recognized by the Historical Society of Michigan with an award for Distinguished Professional Service.

The John Cumming Isabella County Historical Preservation Award was first presented in 2009, as part of the Isabella County Sesquicentennial celebration. The award is given annually and recognizes an individual or individuals who have made an exemplary contribution to preserving, recording, or disseminating the history of Isabella County. 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. This year’s award was made jointly by the Clarke Historical Library, the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society, and the Shepherd Area Historical Society

Friday, February 10, 2017

Leelanau County American Bicentennial Flag

by Marian Matyn

In early February, volunteer archives processor Brian Schamber found a large American bicentennial Leelanau County flag in Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Weaver's collection. Her collection is hundreds of boxes in size and includes a wide variety of formats, including this flag. The flag is blue polyester with a red, white, and blue county seal in the middle. There is a note from 1977 identifying the flag and stating that in hung in the Probate judges' chambers, 1975-1977. Justice Weaver was a Probate Judge in Leelanau during this time period.

Here are two images of the flag, one with Brian and intern Crystal Wood holding it up for a size comparison, and the other image is a close up of the county’s bicentennial seal.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Happy 180th Birthday, Michigan!

by Bryan Whitledge

180 years ago, on January 26, 1837, the Detroit Free Press was nearly six years old. The University of Michigan was pushing twenty years old. And the State of Michigan was just born.

Before becoming a state, that land that would become the state was first recognized by the newly formed United States Government as the Northwest Territory (1787-1803). After Ohio obtained statehood and the Northwest Territory was dissolved, the land was then defined as the Territory of Michigan (1805-1837). With an increasing population in the 1820s-30s, the people of the Territory of Michigan aspired for statehood like others that made up the Northwest Territory but had since been admitted to the Union: Ohio (1803), Indiana (1816), and Illinois (1818). In 1835, a constitutional convention was held and the people of Michigan adopted a constitution. All that was left was for Congress to formally accept the petition of the people of Michigan to be admitted to the Union.

Unfortunately, there was a delay in Congress that was thirty years in the making: the dispute over the Toledo strip. After the semi-bloodless Toledo War and the intervention of President Andrew Jackson, Michigan was offered an ultimatum in June of 1836. Michigan would not be admitted to the Union unless they gave up claim to the Toledo Strip. In return for acquiescing, Michigan would be given the then-thought-to-be worthless western three-quarters of the the now-called Upper Peninsula. Initially, the people of Michigan turned this offer down because the 400 square miles of the Toledo Strip was thought to be worth much more than the near 15,000 square miles on offer. Six months later, and with much controversy, the people of Michigan obliged and Congress then accepted the petition for statehood.

With so many changes in such a short time period, one can imagine the difficulty cartographers and printers had in keeping maps of Michigan updated. While many maps from the 1830s simply have "Michigan" written on them with no indication of whether it is a state or a territory, some do. Below are images of maps in the Clarke's collections dating from 1836, 1837, and 1838 showing the birth of the State of Michigan in cartographic form. In fact, John Farmer's 1837 map of the "State of Michigan and the Territory of Wisconsin" is the earliest known map to have "State of Michigan" printed on it. (see Leo Karpinski's robust bibliography of maps of Michigan from 1804-1880). Note that Farmer's 1836 map of the "Territories of Michigan and Ouisconsin" shows Michilimackinac and Chippewa Counties extending across Wisconsin and into Minnesota, while the 1837 and 1838 maps show a definite border between Michigan and Wisconsin. For a better view of all of the photographs, click on the image for an enlargement.

1836 Farmer Map: "Territories of Michigan and Ouisconsin"

1836 Farmer Map: "Surveyed Part of the Territory of Michigan"

1837 Farmer Map: State of Michigan and Territory of Wisconsin" -
the first map identifying the State of Michigan

1837 Farmer Map: First use of "State of Michigan" on a map

1838 Thomas Tanner Map: "State of Michigan and Territory of Wisconsin

So on your 180th birthday, Michigan, we hope you enjoy your baby photos from your first year!