CGS Library Collections: Michigan

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One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also included in WorldCat.

A water-stained page from American
Biographical History

The first book I selected to peruse in our Michigan collection grabbed my attention because of its size (5-plus inches thick) and the gilded leather cover. Opening the book, American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men with Portrait Illustrations on Steel (Michigan Edition) published in 1878, the next thing I noticed was that it was water-stained. I vaguely recalled having heard a story about a flood but did not know any details, so I made a mental note to call someone and ask for the story. Before I got around to it, I read Marie Treleaven’s article about the CGS Library in the Fall 2018 issue of The California Nugget and l found the answer to my question. Marie described a 2004 water leak at the Latham Building, which housed our library at the time. Fortunately, the water damage was limited. Fifteen boxes of damaged books were freeze-dried to preserve them. I suspect this was one of those freeze-dried books. Thank you, Marie, for the wonderful update to our history. 

This guide was produced in anticipation
of America’s Bicentennial

Next, I selected Michigan Surname Index, Vol. 2, published in 1969 by the Michigan Genealogical Council. The Council lists five objectives in the book’s introduction. First is to coordinate genealogical activities of statewide interest, including seminars. Then to cooperate in locating and publishing genealogical information, to provide information to members, and to work with others to improve genealogical resources. That all sounds great and something that every state should have. The book has over 1200 pages and appears to be a treasure trove of information for anyone with Michigan ancestors.

A Guide for the Writing of a Local History by John Cumming was my next selection. Published in 1974 by the Michigan Bicentennial Commission, this small paperback contains many illustrations. The table of contents is essentially a step-by-step list of how to approach writing a local history and where to look for information. The book was written in preparation for the U.S. Bicentennial: its stated purpose was to “spur a multitude of excellent city, county and township histories.”

One of the photographs found in Pictorial History of Ann Arbor

As with most of our state collections, we have several books focused on individual counties and cities. They include eight volumes from the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research. There is also the Pictorial History of Ann Arbor, 1824–1974, published on the occasion of Michigan’s sesquicentennial. It was a joint effort of the Michigan Historical Collection and Bentley Historical Library. This book is a good source of images for anyone writing about their family connections in Ann Arbor. Next time you visit our library have a look.

A sketch by Jasper Crospsey in
Pictorial History of Ann Arbor

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

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