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Calling All High School Students!

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 2:51pm by amy

Do you love local history? If so, you or your team could win the annual Ray Detter Local History Award for up to one thousand dollars! And our Oldnews team at AADL can help! Possible projects you could consider include, but are not limited to one of the following:

  • Document an historic site in Ann Arbor.
  • Assist with Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit tours.
  • Develop material for a local historical museum: e.g., Kempf House Museum, Cobblestone Farm, Museum on Main Street.
  • Produce media that promotes local history, e.g. Community TV; graphic novel.
  • Document an interview with a local historian.
  • Contribute to local history efforts at the Ann Arbor District Library.
  • Develop a program to promote this Award to all Ann Arbor high schools.

Watch this video for more information about the award, or email project director Ilene Tyler at historicA2@gmail.com.

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Blog Post

Mast Shoes Marks 75th Anniversary

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 1:39pm by oldnews

In 1942, Ann Arbor High School graduate Walter Mast struck out on his own and opened Mast Shoe Store on S. Main St. No sooner had Mr. Mast opened the store than Uncle Sam called and Helen Mast took over running the store while Walter served in World War II.

In 1949 Mast Shoes added a Campus store on Liberty with elegant departments for women and men. Their stores featured the latest styles in sandals, winter boots, trendy boots, and top brands for men.

In 1968 the flagship store moved down to 217 S. Main and re-opened with much larger display areas. The Westgate store opened in 1993. In 1997, Tom and Greg Mast made the tough decision to close the Main Street store. In 2004, the Masts closed the Liberty St. store, concentrating their business to Westgate. Stop by Westgate and see the display of vintage photos they've put in the store to celebrate their 75th anniversary.

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Blog Post

Solar Eclipses

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 8:29am by oldnews

A total solar eclipse will be visible in North America on Monday, August 21. Although in Ann Arbor only a partial eclipse will be visible, it will still be an exciting event! In honor of this event, we have gathered some articles and pictures from past solar eclipses as seen in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor News' photographer, Cecil Lockard, captured the 1970 eclipse in time lapse. Examples of how to view the event include an Ann Arbor resident's pin hole box created for the 1963 solar eclipse, and the use of paper to project an image as seen in this picture from the 1994 eclipse. See additional photos and articles from the News pertaining to solar eclipses here.

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Blog Post

In The Path of Amelia Earhart

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:32am by oldnews

Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan departed Oakland, Calif., on May 29, 1937, in a second attempt to circumnavigate the earth by airplane. About three-fourths of the way, Earhart, Noonan and their plane disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

In 1967, 30-year-old former Saline schoolteacher and aviator Ann Pellegreno made news by tracking and completing Earhart’s historic flight in a duplicate of Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Elektra. Pellegreno was a graduate of the University of Michigan with two education degrees. At the time of the flight, she and her husband, Donald Pellegreno, were living in Saline.

She became interested in aviation when she helped her husband and brother-in-law build a small biplane and was encouraged to try flying it. She and Donald joined an aeronautical club in Ann Arbor and began a lifetime of flying. While working as an English teacher, she was also involved working as a flight instructor and working for Gordon Aviation at the Ann Arbor Airport.

Lee Koepke told Pellegreno he was rebuilding a plane similar to the one flown by Earhart. Koepke’s encouragement and a book on Earhart’s flight convinced Pellegreno to make the attempt in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Earhart’s flight. The Lockheed plane used in the flight was owned by Koepke, who accompanied her on the flight as a mechanic. Two additional crew members participated, navigator William Polhemus and co-pilot William Payne. The plane was prepared for flight at Willow Run Airport. The plane flew from Willow Run to Oakland, Calif,, to officially begin the world-circling flight at the same place as Earhart.

National news services tracked Pellegreno’s flight as she and her crew sky-hopped around the globe and dubbed her Michigan’s flying housewife. Back at home, the News kept up with Don Pellegreno as he “kept the home fires burning.

In Saline, the excitement was building around Pellegreno’s return and plans were made for a big parade. Pellegreno touched down at Willow Run Airport in mid-July. Saline held a ticker-tape parade for Pellegreno and her crew on July 16. A large crowd of enthusiastic fans held up signs, cheered and wrapped themselves in ticker-tape while Pellegreno and her crew smiled their appreciation for the strong local support.

Pellegreno wrote an award-winning book on her flight, World Flight; The Earhart Trail, in 1971. She and her husband left Michigan for teaching positions in Iowa. In 1990, Ms. Pellegreno was inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame.

Pellegreno, 80, still lives in Iowa and still flying.

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Blog Post

Nickels Arcade Celebrates 100 Years

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 8:58am by oldnews

By Grace Shackman

Nickels Arcade celebrates its Centennial this year and the Arcade and AADL are commemorating the milestone with exhibits, receptions and a digital history of the Arcade. AADL will host an exhibit at the Downtown Library beginning June 1, 2017, featuring photos, articles, and artifacts that tell the story of the first 100 years of Nickels Arcade. The Arcade "family" will have ongoing exhibits throughout the Arcade and a gala reception in July.

When Tom Nickels inherited his father’s State Street meat market, he decided to tear it down and build the elegant European-style Nickels Arcade that is still there one hundred years later. He bought the land all the way down to Maynard from his siblings and then hired local architect Herman Pipp to design. The section on the southeast corner, then Farmers and Mechanics Bank and now Bivouac, was finished in 1915, but the rest was not ready for occupancy until 1917 due to shortage of materials during World War I.

Soon the Arcade filled with up-scale businesses of the kind that European arcades aimed to attract. The oldest business is the barber shop, which opened in 1917 and, although changing owners periodically, has stayed in the same location offering the same service. The oldest store to stay in the same family is VanBoven Clothing, which opened in 1927 where the meat market had been located. The Caravan Shop opened the same year but has, like the barber shop, had different owners. Tom Nickels’ sister, Bee Nickels, opened a store that specialized in fine children’s clothing imported from Europe.

Many of the other stores that opened in the first decade stayed for years, including a post office substation (until 1998), Bay's Jewelry (three generations until 1992), and Betsy Ross Restaurant (closed in 1975). Women’s undergarments were sold at the Van Buren shop, owned by Mae Van Buren, who had managed that department at Mack’s Department Store and knew how to do perfect fittings. From 1932 to 1982, a mainstay of the Arcade was the Arcade Newsstand at the State Street entrance.

As the economy picked up after World War II, a crop of new stores opened that followed the pattern of pre-war tenants of staying for many years. Milford Boersma, who opened his travel business in 1945, was a pioneer in many phases of travel. Jessie Winchell Forsythe opened Forsythe Gallery, the first art gallery in Ann Arbor, in 1954. In 1956 University Flower Shop moved into space that had been Aunt Bees and has been a flower shop ever since. In 1987 the Arcade was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the Arcade is a mix of old-time stores, such as the tobacco shop that opened in 1964 and Arcadian Antiques, which dates back to 1983, with very “now” concerns such as Babo Juice and Food and Comet Coffee, keeping the European feel.

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Blog Post

Civil Rights History Comes To Ann Arbor

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 6:51pm by oldnews

On March 25, 1965, civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, 39, of Detroit was driving back to Mongomery, Ala., after a voting rights march in Selma with a black man, Leroy Moten, 19, one of the Selma demonstrators. A car carrying four Ku Klux Klan members began a high-speed chase down Alabama Highway 80. When they caught up with Liuzzo, the men opened fire, killing Liuzzo. Her passenger was uninjured.

In 1983, five of Liuzzo’s children filed suit against the U.S. government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for negligence, cover-up and violation of the their mother’s civil rights. The $2 million lawsuit was brought before a federal court because one of the four men arrested in the murder was an FBI informant. The non-jury trial was heard by U.S. District Judge Charles W. Joiner in Ann Arbor.

The four Klansmen were arrested hours after the incident and charged with conspiring to violate the civil rights of the victim, but one of them, Gary Thomas Rowe Jr. was later dropped from a state grand jury’s murder indictment because he was an undercover FBI informant. An 1975 investigation by the Senate Select Committee to Study Government relations began an investigation. Rowe testified that he has participated in acts of violence that were known and approved by the FBI. Rowe was indicted in the Liuzzo murder in 1978 by an Alabama grand jury but had not been tried because of legal complications.

The trial in Ann Arbor opened on March 21. The five Liuzzo chidren –Anthony, Thomas, Penny, Mary and Sally – allege that Rowe killed their mother or failed to prevent the slaying as an agent of a law enforcement agency. The other three men in the pursuit car were tried for murder in Alabama but acquitted.

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Civil Defense and Disaster Preparedness

Fri, 02/24/2017 - 6:18pm by amy

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In 1951, President Harry S. Truman created the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA). This was the Homeland Security Department of its day and it churned out films, brochures, and other propaganda materials purporting to protect Americans from nuclear bombs (as well as other fallout from the Cold War) in the name of national security.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, Americans turned away from the more practical civilian endeavors of the WWII era such as scrap collecting and bond drives to build fallout shelters and stockpile supplies or engage in atomic air raid and other civil defense drills. They even staged mock disasters.

In retrospect, some of this emergency preparedness seems a bit silly, but at least it gave Americans something to do in a time of international uncertainty - and Ann Arbor was no exception. Here is the Ann Arbor News“Civil Defense” photo negative collection for your viewing pleasure.

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Blog Post

Celebrating Our Own Thing

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 11:12am by amy

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Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Our Own Thing organization here in Ann Arbor. With Black History Month upon us, now is a great time to acknowledge the work of this incredible group started in 1968 by Dr. Willis C. Patterson, Singer A. "Bucky" Buchanan, Jon Lockard, and Vera Embree. Countless African-American students in the area have benefited from the cultural arts instruction provided by Our Own Thing, as well as their scholarship program which has sent numerous young artists and musicians to Interlochen Arts Academy. Watch the interview of Dr. Patterson from the AACHM (African American Cultural & Historical Museum) Living Oral History Project for a deeper look into the organization and the amazing man behind the scene.

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Blog Post

Old Folk: The Ark's Ann Arbor Folk Festival turns 40

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 9:01am by christopherporter

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Leo Kottke's forehead graced the poster for the 18th edition of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

History is a mystery, even when you have direct access to media coverage of an event.

The first Ann Arbor Folk Festival was held June 13, 1976, headlined by John Prine and Leon Redbone. The show was hosted by the Power Center and, as always, it was to benefit The Ark, which was just 11 years old at that point and still in its original location, a house at 1421 Hill St.

Doug Fulton’s June 14, 1976, Ann Arbor News review of that first fest really only covers the early part of the evening -- newspaper print deadlines, you know -- and Prine and Redbone are mentioned with no commentary.

But Fulton did write a sentence that would reappear -- in slightly altered forms -- through much of The Ark’s existence: “The occasion was a benefit for the Ark, one of the few remaining 'coffee-houses' in the country still specializing in folk music of all kinds, and lately in financial trouble.”

In fact, The Ark could have just changed its name to Financial Trouble since the venue was constantly in jeopardy through the mid-'80s until this 1986 article declared otherwise: "The Ark No Longer Needs The Festival To Stay Afloat".

Since that first festival, and two moves later, The Ark is one of the most respected and well-oiled folk- and roots-music concert venues in the country, though the nonprofit still counts on the Ann Arbor Folk Festival for part of its operating revenue. This year’s edition, held January 27 and 28 at Hill Auditorium, has one of the festival’s biggest lineups yet, featuring headliners Kacey Musgraves and Jenny Lewis on Friday and the Indigo Girls, Margo Price, and Kiefer Sutherland (yes, him) on Saturday. (If you're somehow still undecided about going, The Ark has also compiled playlists for night one and night two of the fest.

But if the festival started in 1976, why is this weekend’s celebration its 40th, instead of the 42nd?

According to The Ark’s website, which lists lineups from every year of the festival, the event didn’t happen in 1977 or 1978. It came back in 1979 and has continued ever since. In 1982 the fest moved from the Power Center to the Michigan Theater and then in 1985 found its annual home at Hill Auditorium (save for one return to the Michigan in 2003).

The Ann Arbor News covered the festival every year -- we imagine. The library acquired the News’ archives in January 2010 and has been working on organizing and digitizing it, with updates at oldnews.aadl.org.

Since there are many moving and missing parts to the News’ archive, we couldn’t find Folk Fest articles and photos from every year. But we did find a hodge-podge of images that might jog your memories, plus a few YouTube clips from recent years. If you want to check out the what we've archived so far from the News' Folk Fest coverage at Old News, click here. Plus, you can check The Ark's own history of the Folk Fest here.

1976

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Jay Ungar and David Bromberg were there from the start.

1978

OK, this news report is not about the Folk Fest, but it does show the state of The Ark at the time.

1982

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Twins Sandor and Laszlo Slomovits perform as Gemini.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Percy "Mr. Bones" Danforth gets loose with his rhythm sticks.

1984

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

The MC for this year was mime O.J. Anderson. We'll leave you to your nightmares now.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

David Bromberg has performed at the Folk Fest 10 times.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Pretty sure Steve Goodman just saw a mime.

1986

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Arlo Guthrie made a surprise appearance at the 1985 Folk Fest, but he returned as the scheduled headliner this year.

1987

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

A clipping from The Ann Arbor News.

1988

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Michigan bluegrass legends The RFD Boys twanged the night away.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Storyteller Jackie Torrence lets loose one of her captivating tales.

1989

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

John Prine helped launch the Folk Fest in 1976 and returned to headline 13 years later.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

It's entirely possible that this Riders in the Sky member created beautiful music with his lasso.

1996

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Even at 71-years-old, guitar pioneer Chet Akins brought the house down with his fierce fingerstyle playing.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Laura Love signing posters backstage.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Michael Hedges in rehearsal before the show.

1997

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

A clipping from The Ann Arbor News.

1999

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Carrie Newcomer smiles at the folk(s).

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

A moody moment backstage with The Raisin Pickers.

2000

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

An animated Anne Hills entertains Hill Auditorium.

2002

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

We swear that's Eric Bibb under the hat.

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

David Grisman and Doc Watson rehearse before the gig -- as if these masters needed to do that.

2009

2014

2015

2016


Christopher Porter is a Library Technician and editor of Pulp.


The 40th Ann Arbor Folk Festival happens Friday, January 27, and Saturday, January 28, at Hill Auditorium. For the full lineups, times, tickets, and more information visit theark.org.

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Blog Post

John Glenn: 1921-2016

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 8:21pm by amy

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John Glenn, American hero, U. S. senator, WWII and Korean War veteran, and icon of the Space Age, on the day he became the first American to orbit the earth.
Read the article.