Michigan history

5:20 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Original state fairgrounds site of diverse Michigan history

The original state fairgrounds in Detroit later became home to the legendary 24th Michigan Infantry.

A couple of months ago, Current State’s Scott Pohl visited the president of the Michigan Historical Commission Jack Dempsey in Detroit’s Capitol Park to discuss his book on the park’s historical significance. We liked the result so much that we’ve sent Scott back to Detroit, where Dempsey showed him a few more historical spots.

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12:01 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Civil Rights Act at 50: Michigan was a pioneer

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law 50 years ago today. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended the ceremony.
Credit Flickr - U.S. Embassy New Delhi

On Friday, our nation celebrates its 238th birthday. But today, America is also observing the passage of one of the most significant laws ever crafted in its history.  On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law that forbids discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was born in an era of violence and intolerance in America.

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12:37 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

What happened to Northwest Flight 2501?

NWA Flight 2501 went down over Lake Michigan 64 years ago today and is still missing. This memorial service took place in 2008.
Credit flickr - msra images

On June 24th, 1950, Northwest Airlines Flight 2501 left New York City for Seattle. The state of the art DC-4 aircraft was to stop in Minneapolis for refueling, before proceeding to the west coast. Monitoring the plane in threatening weather over Lake Michigan, air controllers lost track of the flight. The aircraft was never recovered, nor were any passengers or crew. Further wreckage discovered some days later indicated a total loss.

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Arts & Culture
1:53 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Symposium highlights Michigan's role in modern architecture

The Michigan State Medical Society building in East Lansing is a leading local example of modern architecture.
WKAR/Kevin Lavery

The history of 20th century design in Michigan isn’t just about automobiles. After World War II, Michigan was a hub for architects who broke away from the neo-classical shapes inspired by ancient Greece and Rome. The era of modern architecture lasted about 30 years and produced many structures still seen today.

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11:38 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Owosso Train Expo celebrates planes, trains and cars

Train Expo coordinator Terry Bush climbs aboard the 1225 locomotive. Hollywood modeled 'The Polar Express' on the 1225.
WKAR/Nicole Strobel

The sound of trains can be commonly heard in Owosso. This weekend, steam whistles will be added to the clickety-clack of steel wheels during the Steam Railroading Institute’s Train Expo 2014.

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Radio Made in Michigan
2:21 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Ahead on Current State: Michigan Remembers D-Day

Michigan veteran Earl Harmon, Sr., (1921-2011) was part of the D-Day invasion.

Fri. June 6 - 9am - 90.5 WKAR | Today's Generation Honors the Greatest Generation. Current State from WKAR presents a special 30-minute audio documentary commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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11:56 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Place-making with historic preservation

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network is involved in the restoration of the Knapp's building in Lansing.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Historic preservation stakeholders from across the state are convening in Jackson, Michigan this week for the annual Michigan Historic Preservation Network conference. The network works to recognize and conserve Michigan’s architectural culture.

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12:58 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Tiny Detroit park home to state's original capitol

There's a small replica of the first state capitol building in the park.
Scott Pohl/WKAR

A new book by Jack Dempsey tells the story of Detroit’s historic Capitol Park. It’s the site of Michigan’s first capitol building, and the state’s first governor is buried there.

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1:54 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

New book chronicles Lansing's First Family

The Turner-Dodge house is the only 19th century residence in the greater Lansing area open to the public.
Credit Flickr - Greater Lansing Convention & Visitor's Bureau

Take a drive through Lansing Township north of the Capitol, and you’re likely to pass by a stately Classical Revival-style mansion.  Beginning in 1855, the  Turner-Dodge House on North Street was home to several generations of one of  Lansing’s most prominent families.  Today, it’s an interpretive center with its own spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Radio Made in Michigan
11:10 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Book chronicles Michigander's role in woman's suffrage

Anna Howard Shaw graduated from Albion College in 1875.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

March is Women’s History Month, and Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with the author of a new book about one Michigan woman's role in America’s suffrage movement. 

Anna Howard Shaw was born in England in 1847. Her family moved to America and she grew up in Michigan. After an isolated farm upbringing, Shaw enrolled at Albion College, which became a springboard to a life as a minister and medical school studies in Boston, and ultimately to work in the reform movements of that era.

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Radio Made in Michigan
11:29 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Ex-German POW to share story at Statehood Day event

Ernst Floeter (left) was brought to Michigan shortly after his capture in the days following D-Day. Eric Perkins (right) invited Floeter to be part of the Michigan Historical Museum's Statehood Day events.
Credit Joe Linstroth/WKAR

On January 26th, 1837, Michigan was admitted as the 26th state to the Union. The Michigan Historical Museum is celebrating our state’s 177th birthday with its annual Michigan Statehood Day planned for tomorrow. The celebration is also centered around the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

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Radio Made in Michigan
11:07 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Grand Ledge church looks to solve time capsule mystery

Earlier this year, members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge opened a century-old time capsule. A package, likely containing letters and photographs, was found inside the copper box and marked for the descendants of Rev. J.E. Foote, whom the church has yet to identify.
Credit Joe Linstroth/WKAR

Earlier this year, as part of its centennial celebration, members of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Grand Ledge removed a time capsule that had been placed in the cornerstone all the way back in 1912.

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Radio Made in Michigan
10:32 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Fifty-five years later, remembering the shipwrecked SS Carl Bradley

The steamer Carl D. Bradley sank 55 years ago today.
Credit www.carlbradley.org

The sinking of the SS Carl D. Bradley claimed the lives of 33 crewmembers on Lake Michigan. The Bradley wreck doesn’t get talked about as much as the Edmund Fitzgerald does, but it is a story worth remembering.

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Radio Made in Michigan
12:46 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Lansing leaders inducted into Michigan Women's Hall of Fame

The Michigan Women's Historical Center in Lansing houses the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
Credit Flickr - bettybarcode

Tonight, the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in Lansing will induct six new nominees to its ranks.  Two are high-profile women from Lansing.

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Radio Made in Michigan
12:56 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Beyond the Edmund Fitzgerald: Museum highlights Great Lakes natural disasters

This survival suit, part of the 'Lake Effects' exhibit at the Michigan Historical Museum, is designed for protection and flotation in frigid waters.
Credit Scott Pohl/WKAR

At the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing, a new exhibit called “Lake Effects” examines the state’s weather history, including the state’s worst natural disasters.

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Radio Made in Michigan
11:15 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Biography explores Gerald Ford's early years

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids includes an exhibit on Ford's early years.
Credit Flickr-kwatson0013

Gerald Ford was the only President who came from Michigan. Biographer Rick Boorem focuses on a time of President Ford’s life far removed from the pressures of the Presidency.  His book is called ‘Young Jerry Ford, Athlete and Citizen.’

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Radio Made in Michigan
1:46 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Debunking the myth of Lansing as 'Biddle City'

Lansing's growth stemmed from the legislatures decision to relocate the capital from Detroit to Lansing Township.
Credit Wikimedia Commons


The Wikipedia page for Lansing, Mich. reads that "in the winter of 1835 and early 1836, two brothers from New York plotted the area now known as REO Town just south of downtown Lansing and named it 'Biddle City.' All of this land lay in a floodplain and was underwater during the majority of the year. Regardless, the brothers went back to New York, specifically Lansing, New York, to sell plots for the town that did not exist.”

This story may sound familiar to many, but it turns out it’s not true. David Votta, Community Engagement Librarian at the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services, sat down with Current State’s Emanuele Berry to debunked the myth of Lansing’s foundation.

Radio Made in Michigan
2:48 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Remembering the American victory at the Battle of Lake Erie

A huge boat building effort was made in Detroit before the Battle of Lake Erie, according to MSU historian Roger Rosentreter.
Credit dartmouth.edu


For the United States, the War of 1812 took a turn for the better on this date 200 years ago. American naval forces defeated the British in The Battle of Lake Erie. The victory secured the lake and ensured that Michigan and Ohio would remain the sovereign territory of the U.S.A.

Current State’s Scott Pohl talked with MSU historian Roger Rosentreter about the Battle of Lake Erie.

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Radio Made in Michigan
11:56 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Message in a bottle draws attention to Harsens Island_New

Almost 100 years ago, two young girls enjoying their summer on Harsens Island scrawled a note, stuck it in a glass bottle and threw it in the St. Clair River. Early last month, Bernard Licata , President of the Harsens Island/St. Clair Flats Historical Society, was contacted about the bottle after a diver stumbled across it. Licata share this remarkable piece of history with Current State.


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Radio Made in Michigan
2:06 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Gettysburg 150th: Michigan's role in the Civil War Part 2

The “Michigan and the Civil War” exhibit focuses on artifacts used by Michigan soldiers, notably the first graduating class of the Michigan Agricultural College.
Credit Wikimedia commons

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the U.S. Civil War.  The MSU Museum is observing Michigan's involvement in the conflict between North and South.   Roger Rosentreter, professor of history at Michigan State University, discusses the exhibit, "Michigan and the Civil War."

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Radio Made in Michigan
1:36 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Early Michigan history and 'The Boy Governor' Stevens T. Mason

Stevens T. Mason stands as the youngest presidential appointee in American political history.
Credit University of Michigan Press

Stevens T. Mason is a familiar name for anyone who knows their Michigan history.  Mason, also known as the state’s so-called “boy governor," squeezed a lot of accomplishments in his 32 years.  At the age of only 19, Mason became the secretary of the Michigan Territory in 1831. Just three years later, he became its governor, and led the process of Michigan becoming a state.

Don Faber, author of the book “The Boy Governor:  Stevens T. Mason and the Birth of Michigan Politics,”  explains Michigan's early beginnings.

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Radio Made in Michigan
1:18 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Michigan Historical Commission celebrates centennial

A little known state agency is celebrating an important milestone today.  The Michigan Historical Commission is holding its 100th anniversary meeting in Lansing.  The commission is the group responsible for the more than 1,700 green and gold historic markers scattered across the state.  It’s also heavily involved in the ongoing sesquicentennial of Michigan’s role in the Civil War.  The chair of the Michigan Historical Commision, Jack Dempsey, spoke with Current State host Mark Bashore about the importance of preserving Michigan’s history.

Radio Made in Michigan
3:22 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Michigan commemorates the War of 1812

Then still just a frontier territory, Michigan was the site of many important battles during the War of 1812. 

The Michigan War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission meets today to discuss commemorations of historic events from the war.  

Susan Clark, director of the Michigan History Museum, recounts local turning points in the war and tells us what events are planned.

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Radio Made in Michigan
3:54 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Current State #33 | February 27, 2013

Lansing's Kerns Hotel burned to the ground in December 1934. The fire, however, spawned a volunteer organization that still exists today in Lansing.
Credit Courtesy of the Capital Area District Library

Today on Current State: Spartan women's basketball coach Suzy Merchant; author Winona LaDuke on Native American struggles with the U.S. military; the unsolved murder that changed Michigan politics; opera star Renee Fleming; and Neighbors in Action features Lansing's Box 23. 

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Radio Made in Michigan
1:56 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

The unsolved murder that changed Michigan politics forever

State Senator Warren Hooper was not opposed to bribery before he was gunned down while driving from Lansing to Albion in 1945.
Credit Jackson Citizen Patriot file photo

Before the assassination of State Senator Warren Hooper in 1945, corruption in Michigan politics was the norm, not the exception. While it remains unsolved,  the Hooper hit, which was widely believed to be the work of Detroit’s infamous Purple Gang, ushered in a crackdown on corruption and altered the political climate in Lansing for good.

Bill Whitbeck, a Michigan Court of Appeals judge and the author of the 2010 novel “To Account for Murder,” which is based on Hooper’s death, recounts the story.

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