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Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

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Black English Case: Language in the Courts

Tue, 04/23/2013 - 9:58am by Debbie G.

In the late '70s, Ann Arbor gained national attention for what became known as the Black English Case.

It started in July, 1977, when the Student Advocacy Center filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of 11 children at King Elementary school, charging the Ann Arbor Public Schools with failing to meet the needs of the children and misidentifying them as handicapped. The scope of the case was quickly narrowed and an accord seemed within reach. Six months later, the AAPS reading plan was rejected by the plaintiffs and the AAPS rejected a counter-proposal. The stage was set for a trial that would be defined by a term, "Black English" and what, ultimately that term means.

King Elementary students and teachers testfied and an array of experts in linguistics and education were called to testify. In early July the defense team for the AAPS rested without calling witnesses and the case was in the hands of Judge Charles W. Joiner. Judge Joiner issued his decision in mid-July, ordering the AAPS to develop a program to assist student who spoke "Black English." Controversy followed as the school board voted to appeal, then dropped the appeal. Eventually a curriculum plan was developed, then amended, and criticized.

In September, 1979, King Elementary teachers began training in a national spotlight. A year later AAPS reported to Judge Joiner that the program had been beneficial to students and teachers. The Black English case has remained a topic of debate and discussion in Ann Arbor and beyond.

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Frederick 'Bud' Stein Dies in Ann Arbor

Fri, 03/29/2013 - 2:46pm by theshhlady


Local Ann Arbor Kiwanis Club and U-M Alumni Association member Frederick "Bud" Stein died Wednesday at age 91 in his Ann Arbor home. He is remembered for his constant community involvement. He grew up in Ann Arbor and graduated from Ann Arbor High School in 1939. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, coming back to attend the University of Michigan. He graduated in 1944 with a degree in economics.

He lead the charge for tree-lined widened sidewalks on both sides of the street for downtown Ann Arbor in 1965. That same year, he made a presentation to the National Civic League that won Ann Arbor's first award as an "All American City". He was very involved with the combined YMCA/YWCA.

You can read more about Bud Stein's life and public service works in the [|] website.

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Blog Post

Elizabeth R. Dean Day

Sun, 03/24/2013 - 12:35pm by oldnews

On March 24, 1981, Ann Arbor City Council declared April 7th being Elizabeth R. Dean Day in memory of the woman who left her estate of nearly $2 million upon her death to the City for the care of her trees.

Elizabeth Russell Dean was born in Ann Arbor on Christmas Eve,1884 to Sedgwick and Elizabeth Strong Dean. Sedgwick and his brother Henry S. operated Dean & Co. on Main Street since 1861. Miss Dean died on April 7th, 1964 at the age of 79.

Next time you stroll down Main Street and admire the lovely trees along the Elizabeth R. Dean Promenade, know that the Elizabeth R. Dean Fund is still at work keeping our trees healthy and bringing beauty and shade to "The City of Trees".

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Blog Post

Walter N. Koelz

Fri, 03/22/2013 - 9:42am by muffy

Currently on view at the University of Michigan Museum of Art is a collection of Buddhist Thangkas and Treasures from the Walter N. Koelz Collection, an exhibition in conjunction with the U-M Museum of Anthropology. Because of the fragile nature of these devotional objects, they are rarely exhibited. The show closes on June 9th, 2013.

The awarding-winning docents at UMMA were curious about Dr. Koezl and asked Old News to dig up the Ann Arbor News clippings on this local legend and his incredible collection, amassed through years of travel, with a shrewd collector's eye.

A retired U-M professor of Ecology, Koelz "never drove a car, never slept in a bed, never wed and rarely wore shoes even in winter". He left his estate valued at $1.6 million to the Nature Conservancy in his will. Besides his treasures, he is remembered for the collection of exotic flora and fauna donated to the University, brought back from his travels.

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Ann Arbor Resident's Story of Survival

Sun, 03/03/2013 - 10:54am by theshhlady


A current resident of Ann Arbor has a story to tell about her remarkable survival during a period of tremendous upheaval and bloodshed a lifetime ago and an ocean away. Miriam Garvil's autobiography [b:1426216|I Have To Survive: Miriam Garvil's Story] is the culmination of twenty years' worth of work. Ninety-two year old Garvil, who resides in an assisted living facility in Ann Arbor, began writing with the encouragement of social worker Ruth Campbell, who continued to assist Garvil's work even after retiring herself.

"I Have To Survive" reveals the author's past growing up in Poland before the outbreak of the Second World War, and recounts her memories of the concentration camps Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. She lost her mother, father and sister in the camps, and recalls her promise to her father: "If you don't survive, I will survive for you".

You can find more information on Miriam Garvil and her story in this month's issue of the [b:1101372|Ann Arbor Observer].

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Attention Genealogists! Your Ancestry Library Edition Has New Resources!

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 1:56pm by darla

While new content is added, and updated regularly, in your Ancestry Library Edition database, the following new resources are especially noteworthy for 2013:

1. Public Member Trees
Public Member Trees have become the bridge between individual researchers and original records/sources to tell the family story. Many clues about family history can be found in these trees, which include photos, personal stories, etc. Nearly 40 million trees have been contributed by more than two million members. Until now these trees were visible only to paying members of (These members have indicated that their tree(s) can be viewed by all Ancestry members). The trees can change over time as users edit, remove, or otherwise modify the data.

The Fine Print: The trees in the Library Edition are read-only. Library patrons cannot edit the existing trees or add new trees. Information about living people is not shown. Each Public Member Tree is owned by the individual who put it on does not verify that any tree or fact is correct, nor will they correct or edit a tree. Library patrons will not have the ability to contact the owner of the tree. Library patrons can submit anonymous comments about any tree.

2. U.S. City Directories
This new feature is a collection of directories for U.S. cities and counties in various years. The database currently contains directories for all states except Alaska. Coverage is 1821-1989. Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.The Gale City Directories Collection is included. Searching locally? The Ancestry Library Edition has Ann Arbor Directories from 1886 to 1960!
TIP: Use the Ancestry Card Catalog feature to go directly to U.S. City Directories.

Interested in more information? Join us for our upcoming Genealogy Online Research Class: Thursday March 14, 2013: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch or check out our collection of Genealogy materials.

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Martha Rock Keller, Local Artist and Ambassador

Mon, 02/18/2013 - 3:14pm by oldnews

Martha Rock Keller (obituary), well-known local artist and educator died Wednesday, February 13, 2013. She was 86.

An alumnus and faculty at the University of Michigan and other local colleges, she is also a frequent contributor to the Ann Arbor News. She has served as a juror for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

In 1985, her work was included among other American women artists in an exhibition at the United Nations Conference on Women in Nairobi (Kenya). In the summer of 1989, Martha Keller was selected to exhibit her paper fountains at Tubingen, one of the Ann Arbor Sister Cities, in the Ann Arbor-Tubingen Exchange Program to promote international understanding.

The Old News team had digitized many of the Ann Arbor News articles on and by Martha Rock Keller.

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AADL Talks to Kathy Kelley

Thu, 01/31/2013 - 3:45pm by amy

Kathy Kelly moved into the Hill Street houses when she was very young, but she recalls her life there as a member of the White Panther Party as a positive, life-changing personal experience and social experiment. Kathy talks about daily life in the commune with her friends and colleagues, some of the events she participated in, including the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, as well as her apprenticeship as a graphic artist under legendary rock poster artist, Gary Grimshaw. Kathy's experience with the White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party led to a successful career in art direction for publishing with magazines such as Chicago, Outside, CREEM, and most especially in educational publishing with Weekly Reader Corporation and Scholastic.

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-Kathy_Kelley.mp3 26.3 MB

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Inaugural Gowns - 1933

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 2:51pm by Debbie G.

On March 4, 1933, the Ann Arbor News ran photos of Eleanor Roosevelt and Anna Roosevelt in the gowns they would wear for the Inaugural Balls. The designer of the gowns was Sally Milgrim and the light blue gown you see in the News photo of Mrs. Roosevelt was considered one of Mrs. Milgrim's triumphs. Later tonight we'll get the first glimpses of Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Ball gown. Jason Wu designed the 2009 Inaugural gown which is now part of the First Ladies collection at the Smithsonian.

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Professor Shaun Jackson - Inventor and Mentor Dies at 63

Thu, 01/17/2013 - 11:14am by Debbie G.

As reported in the Michigan Daily, Prof. Shaun Jackson died Tuesday from burns suffered in a plane crash last weekend. We've digitized Ann Arbor News articles about Prof. Jackson, an award-winning designer and inventor who inspired generations of students at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design.