The Ann Arbor District Library and the Ann Arbor Observer are pleased to present Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now, a collection of local history articles published in the Ann Arbor Observer over the past three decades.
People frequently ask Grace Shackman whether she has written anything about this or that bit of local history, perhaps Schwaben Halle, or Ann Arbor's trolley car line, or the early movie theaters. Fortunately for Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, the answer often is yes; curious readers are faithfully directed to one of Grace's meticulously researched, colorfully written articles in the Ann Arbor Observer. Now such questions can be answered digitally and more quickly, by searching a rich selection of over 130 of Grace's articles or browsing by topic right from the library webpage. You can also view an accompanying image gallery.
Grace--known and admired for resuscitating Ann Arbor history and placing it in national and international context--wrote these articles over about twenty-five years, compiling and preserving a wealth of information about everything from the Underground Railroad and Ann Arbor's famous Frank Lloyd Wright house, to the Artificial Ice Company and home hospitals. Many of her articles were widely discussed upon publication. With digitization, all of this amazing history from the 19th and 20th centuries is accessible to a 21st century audience and beyond.
When Grace wrote the introduction to her 2006 book Ann Arbor Observed: Selections from Then & Now, published by the University of Michigan Press, she noted modestly: "I hope that this book will make it easier for people to reread articles they remember, as well as introduce newcomers to the wide history available out our windows and down our streets." And now, thanks to Grace and the Observer, this incredible treasure trove of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County history has been opened onto our computer screens.
Special thanks to Grace Shackman, John Hilton, and the Bentley Historical Library. Banner artwork from “The Irwin Building on Main Street” by Katherine Larson.