Conference Offers Insight on Local Michigan History

The 54th annual Michigan in Perspective: The Local History Conference will be held March 30-31, 2012 at the John Lewis Center at Macomb Community College (South Campus) in Warren. The conference is one of the Historical Society of Michigan’s four major history conferences. Major sponsors include Meijer Inc., the Detroit Historical Society, and the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House.

Organized by the Michigan in Perspective Planning Committee, the conference will feature several keynote speakers and breakout sessions focused on local history in Michigan. Susan Skarsgard, global design manager of GM Design Archive and Special Collection, will present the opening keynote, “Where Today Meets Tomorrow: The Story of Eero Saarinen’s Design of the GM Tech Center”. Other keynotes include “The War of 1812 and Michigan: Some Thoughts on a Faintly Remembered Conflict” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, associate director and curator of maps at the William L. Clements Library, U-M; “Sunday Morning with the Lone Ranger” by radio historian Larry Zbed; and “Tashmoo: The Park and the Steamer” by Arthur M. Woodford of the Algonquin Club of Detroit & Windsor.

Breakout sessions will cover topics such as local history, genealogy, and cultural diversity. They include:

  • Michigan and the Civil War
  • Reflections of a Civil Rights Foot Soldier
  • 1950s Detroit Music: Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Coal: Michigan’s Forgotten Mining Frontier
  • Old’s Cool: Attracting Young Audiences to Local History
  • Lest We Forget: Black Civil War Soldiers and Sailors
  • A Private Digitization Project and the Human Element
  • Look What We Found: The Detroit Historical Society Collection Goes Online
  • Locating Missing Living Persons
  • Taking the Mystery Out of Your Mystery Ancestors
  • Blaney Park (a major resort destination in the Upper Peninsula)
  • African-American Oral History: Agency and Student Perspectives
  • Engineered Structures in Early Michigan History
  • Tragedy Strikes in Seven Minutes: Loss of the Steamer Fred McBrier & John Shaw ‘Went Missing’
  • Case of the Rose of Aberlone –Michigan’s Great Contribution to Contract Law
  • Post Motown Music
  • Bath City, USA
  • Book discussion of “Coney Detroit” by authors Joe Grimm and Katherine Yung
  • Book discussion of “Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory, 1802-1825” by author Kim Crawford
  • Rochester-Avon Historical Society Online Project: We’re Putting History on the Map
  • Coming through the Crisis
  • Forgotten Detroit
  • Remembering the J.L Hudson Company: Detroit’s Legendary Department Store
  • History in their Hands: Getting Your Resources into K-12 Classrooms
  • African Americans in the Legal Profession: A Case Study of Judge Elvin L. Davenpor

Open to anyone interested in state or regional history, registration for the two-day event is $39 ($49 after March 21). Meals that feature keynote speakers, including lunch on both days and breakfast on Saturday, are available by reservation on a space-available basis. The luncheons are $20/meal, and the Saturday breakfast is $17/meal. Register online at or by calling (800) 692-1828.

The conference also features a Friday reception following the end of daytime sessions, sponsored by the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. Held at the historic house in Grosse Pointe Shores, the reception is free for all registered conference attendees, but tickets are required. Tickets can be secured during the conference registration process.