Wednesday, June 24, 2015

President George Ross and His Academic Journey to Central

The Clarke Historical Library works to be the source for information about the history of Central Michigan University. In addition to the basic information of who was president during World War II (Charles Anspach) or when did the football team win the National Championship (1974), we have found several wonderful stories from canine mascots of military training programs to the source of the wonderful tunes that play across campus.

Recently, we came upon a news story reporting on President Ross's comments to an audience at the weekly luncheon of the Flint Golf Club. Among the anecdotes President Ross reportedly told was the story of how he came close to quitting high school during his Junior year save for the intervention of one memorable teacher. The path to the CMU Presidency, with stops along the way at Alcorn State University, the University of Alabama, and Michigan State University among others, had an important turning point in Ms. Miriam Schaefer's math class.

We tend to think that the history of Central can be found in dusty old yearbooks or long-forgotten records of individuals from decades past. But the people who are currently at CMU are making history and their stories and backgrounds are important to understanding how we are shaping the University today and for generations to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Al Declercq to Speak This Saturday

Al Declercq, author of Bernida: A Michigan Sailing Legend, will speak this Saturday, June 20 at 2:00 pm, in the Park Library Auditorium. Declercq will tell the story of Bernida, the winner of the very first Port Huron to Mackinac Island Race, held in 1925. Bernida was found years later abandoned in a barn. She was lovingly restored by a Mackinac Island boat building and Al Declercq had a vision that the old boat could win again. With the help of two friends and their sons, Al sailed Bernida to victory in the 2012 Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.

Al Declercq has a BBA from Eastern Michigan University and a MBA from the University of Detroit. He started his first sail making business in September of 1979. His present business, Doyle Sails Detroit, founded in 2006, is located in Clinton Township, Michigan. In addition to making sails, Al is a very avid and highly successful competitive sailor, logging more than 50,000 miles of offshore racing experience. In 2013, he won his 25th Mackinac race.

This talk is free and open to the public. A reception will be held afterward in the Clarke.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Michigan Humanities Council Awards Exhibit Grant to Clarke Historical Library

by Frank Boles

The Michigan Humanities Council has awarded the Clarke Library $25,000 to develop and present an exhibit, beginning in February 2016, regarding Native American treaty rights and their application in contemporary Michigan.

View of the Great Treaty Held at Prarie du Chien, September 1825 by J. O. Lewis
The goal of the exhibit is to increase understanding of Native American treaty rights specifically (and Native American culture generally) through information about and dialog on selected examples of treaties to which Michigan tribes were signatories. The Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways, the historical agency within the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, will partner with the Clarke Historical Library in developing this exhibit. CMU’s Native American Programs Office will also be involved.

The mutual rights and obligations created by treaties between Native American tribes and the Federal Government are poorly understood. Non-Native Americans often view treaties as “contracts,” a legal agreement that is “once and done.” From this perspective, some believe contemporary Native Americans receive privileges or benefits to which they are not “entitled” or which are “unfair.”

Treaties, however, created not just an agreement at the time of their signing, but an accord that was not time-bound - in other words an ongoing relationship across generations. In return for certain fundamental concessions (usually land over which the Native American community held sovereignty and which could not be settled legally until that claim was “extinguished”), certain benefits or privileges were granted “in perpetuity” to those who signed the treaties and to their heirs. The mutual set of benefits and obligations are spelled out in treaties between the Federal Government and Native American tribes.

Through the use of Michigan-based examples, the exhibit’s goal is to create - within the Clarke, through a traveling exhibit, through web-based material, and through a public dialog - a better general understanding regarding what treaties are and the ongoing and permanent commitments made through treaties by the United States and its citizens to the Native American tribes and their members.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

“Best Use of Newspaper” in Michigan History Day Competition

Every year, students from across the state compete in Michigan History Day, an opportunity for middle and high school students to share what they have learned about Michigan in a variety of ways. Consistent with our support for the preservation and use of local newspapers, this year the Clarke Historical Library sponsored an award for the best use of a newspaper in the Senior (high school) and Junior (middle school) Divisions.

The Senior award was given to Caroline Yapp from Hackett Catholic Central High School in Kalamazoo for an individual exhibit entitled “John E. Fetzer: Legacy of a Broadcast Tiger.” The Junior award went to a group website, created by Andrew Schilling, Thomas Westrick, and Ben Wozniak entitled, “The Pre-Chinese Exclusion Era: a Leader in Racism that Left a Legacy of Hate.” The three students attend Forest Hills Eastern Middle School in Ada.

We congratulate all the students who participated in Michigan History Day, both the award winners, and the many others whose hard work made the event possible.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Michigan Railroad History Conference, October 17

The Clarke Historical Library has a bevy of resources related to the history of railroads in Michigan ranging from the papers of the Ann Arbor Rail Road Technical and Historical Association and Captain Wm. Bacon's papers documenting the Ann Arbor Rail Road car ferries, to the promotional brochures of the Pere Marquette and Grand Rapids and Indiana Railways. We are happy to announce that on Saturday, October 17, 2015, the 13th Michigan Railroad History Conference (MRHC) will take place. This event will be held at the Lansing Community College, West Campus, in Lansing, Michigan.

The program includes field trips to Owosso and St. Johns, and an afterglow at Clara's (an old railway station in Lansing). For further information, please contact the MRHC registrar at You can find updates about the event posted on the Conference website in the coming weeks and months via this link.