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Black Women in the Workplace

In this video complied from dozens of interviews from the Living Oral History Project, Black women speak about their experiences working in Washtenaw County, including the various obstacles they had to face in hiring and on the job.

The Living Oral History Project is a partnership between the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor District Library, providing a permanent home for 50+ interviews with Black community members collected over the past decade.  The collection continues to grow with interviews added each year.

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AADL Talks To: Ken Weber, President of Weber's Restaurant & Inn

Photo of Ken Weber smiling in a suit
Ken Weber

 

In this episode, AADL talks to Ken Weber. Ken is the son of Weber's restaurant and hotel founder Herman Weber. Ken tells us about the busniness' humble beginnings, Weber's connection to Metzger's, and the continual innovations that have allowed it to remain as a family business for 87 years.

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AADL Talks To: Michael Weber, Vice President Hotel Operations, Weber's Restaurant & Hotel

Photo of Michael Weber seen from the waist up in a suit and pink tie, seated at Weber's restaurant. The place setting has a white table cloth and plate with folded napkin. Wooden ceiling beams and a stained glass window are visible in the background.
Michael Weber

 

In this episode AADL talks to Michael Weber, grandson of Weber's founder Herman Weber, and current Vice President of hotel operations. Michael recounts the history of the business, his grandmother's contributions, and the changes Weber's made in order to weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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AADL Talks To: Fred LaBour, former writer for The Michigan Daily and member of the musical group Riders in the Sky

Fred LaBour
Fred "Too Slim" LaBour (Photo courtesy of Riders in the Sky)

In this episode, AADL Talks to "Too Slim" Fred LaBour. Fred is a member of Riders in the Sky, an American Country and Western music and comedy quartet that has performed together since 1977. From '67 to '71, Fred was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan where he covered sports and wrote music reviews for The Michigan Daily. Fred discusses the campus culture that shaped his career and he walks us through a day in the life of a too-slim "wise ass" English major whose satirical review of the Beatles’ "Abbey Road" album propelled the “Paul McCartney is Dead” urban legend that took the country by storm.

Read Fred's October 14, 1969 "Paul is Dead" article in The Michigan Daily.

Check out Riders in the Sky in the AADL catalog. The group is also featured on the following CDs: Toy Story Favorites, Toy Story 2, Disney Pixar All Time Favorites, and Woody's Roundup.

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AAPI Washtenaw Oral History Project - Cynthia Yao

Photo of a Chinese American woman with gray hair and glassesCynthia Yao was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where her parents settled after immigrating from China. In 1959, she moved to Boston to attend Emmanuel College. She met Edward York-Peng Yao who was at Harvard finishing his PhD in Physics. They married and came to Ann Arbor where they raised four children: Michelle, Mark, Steven and Lisa. She received a Master of Museum Practice from the University of Michigan in 1979. She was inspired by science centers and children's museums that she visited with her children. Yao proposed to the city a museum in the former firehouse building and worked with many community members to create the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum which opened on October 13, 1982. She served as Executive Director for 18 years. 

Note: Cynthia and Ed’s eldest daughter Michelle passed away in 2022, after the recording of this interview. All four of their children have successful careers–three became doctors, and one became an engineer.

View historical materials.

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AADL Talks To: Jim Forrester, Former Activist and Founder, Partners Press, Inc.

Jim Forrester
Jim Forrester, October 2019 (Photo by Ginia Forrester)

In this episode, AADL Talks To Jim Forrester. Jim came to the University of Michigan as a student in 1966 and he has lived in Ann Arbor ever since, retiring after running a successful printing business for 30 years. As a student, Jim wrote for the Michigan Daily, participated in anti-war protests, and was involved with both the Students for a Democratic Society and Ann Arbor's Human Rights Party. Jim reflects on this period in Ann Arbor history and discusses some of the changes he's witnessed at the city and county level over the past five decades.

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A Historic Tour of Hertler Brothers and Downtown Home & Garden

Mark Hodesh takes us on a tour of the historic downtown Ann Arbor building he owns, which was originally built in 1896 as Hertler Brothers, and renamed as Downtown Home & Garden in 1997. The building located at 210 S. Ashley St. has provided services and supplies to the wider Ann Arbor community for over a century. While in some ways it remains unchanged—continuing to sell bulk seed, grain, and hay—it's also adapted to changing times and evolving customer needs. Current owner of the Downtown Home & Garden store, Kelly Vore, also adds her perspective on this legacy. —Donald Harrison

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Branching Narratives: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of the Tappan Oak

In this short documentary, filmmaker Jen Proctor tells the story of the Tappan Oak, a tree that predated white settlement in Ann Arbor and the campus that grew up around it, and the human actions that marked its last decades of life.

From Filmmaker Jen Proctor:

This film represents both singular and collective stories. A lone undergraduate student communes with a tree to help him feel connected to a college campus from which he felt alienated. A professor collaborates with students to create a sense of belonging to Michigan’s natural environment. A society of students fosters belonging by performing a ritual around the tree to induct members into their community. In creating belonging for a select few, however, the society excludes and demeans others who similarly seek to belong. An activist collective responds by effecting change over decades to create spaces for belonging for all people on the campus.

All of these stories bear a relationship to the great oak, an unwitting but central figure in their narratives.

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AADL Talks To: Maren and Jeff Jackson, Owners of Seva

Maren and Jeff Jackson, February 2024In this episode, AADL Talks To Maren and Jeff Jackson, the owners of Seva. In 2023, the vegetarian restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was first opened in 1973 at 314 East Liberty Street by Steve Bellock, and purchased by Maren and Jeff Jackson in 1997. Maren and Jeff talk about Seva’s early history, from its beginning as a vegetarian restaurant amidst other countercultural businesses and organizations, through its menu changes and other transitions over the years. 

 

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AADL Talks To: Ken Burns, Documentary Filmmaker

Ken Burns, 1967 and 1995
Ken Burns. Left, September 1967, photo by Eck Stanger, Ann Arbor News. Right, March 1995, photo by Doug Elliard.

In this episode, AADL Talks To Ken Burns. Ken is a documentary filmmaker known for his critically acclaimed films exploring all facets of American culture. Ken reflects on growing up and coming of age in Ann Arbor during the 1960s, and how this period of intense political and cultural activity mixed with family tragedy charted his journey. He takes us down the streets we remember -- past restaurants and theaters that have come and gone -- and through a back alleyway during the 1969 South University Street Riot. Along the way, he highlights the people, places, and vibrant musical and cinema culture that left its mark on his work.