Michigan history

MSMS time capsule photo
Kevin Lavery / WKAR

When the Michigan State Medical Society moved into its gleaming new mid-century modern headquarters back in 1959, its members buried a letter in a time capsule. In it, doctors predicted what medicine would be like in the 21st century. Yesterday, that capsule was opened.


A state history publication once ended by budget cuts is back with a new look and a new focus. We talk with Nancy Feldbush and Amy Bradfield of the Historical Society of Michigan. They’re co-editors of Michigan History for Kids magazine.


picture of Great Lakes steamship
Wikimedia Commons/University of Maryland Digital Collections)

The Great Lakes might not be your first choice for a cruise vacation. But the passenger ships in the region used to be some of the most luxurious in the entire world. We learn more about these “floating palaces” from Detroit Historical Society Joel Stone, whose recent book profiles the history of the Great Lakes steamship industry.

If you wanted to travel in style around the Great Lakes during the 19th and early 20th centuries, you took a steamship. The boats' massive ballrooms and ornate furnishings earned them the nickname “palace steamers.” 

A picture of Wilcox Plymouth Mill
WKAR/Scott Pohl

Our summer visits to historic Detroit-area sites concludes with a stop at the Wilcox Plymouth Mill. Once a simple grist mill, it became a part of the Arsenal of Democracy, but is now in disrepair. Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with Jack Dempsey of the Michigan Historical Commission about the history that will be lost if it isn’t preserved.

There used to be a pair of Civil War era cannons on the grounds on the State Capitol building. On Saturday, there will be a ceremony to mark the installation of two replica cannons. State Senators Mike Kowall and Steve Bieda worked across the aisle to raise private money for the project. Current State talks with them about the project.


In the second of two parts, Current State talks with Frederick Stonehouse. His book "The Last Laker: Finding a Wreck Lost in the Great Lakes’ Deadliest Storm" tells the story of the search for the SS Henry B. Smith, which sank in 1913.


Current State talks with Frederick Stonehouse. His book "The Last Laker: Finding a Wreck Lost in the Great Lakes’ Deadliest Storm" tells the story of the search for the SS Henry B. Smith, which sank in 1913.


Fort Mackinac photo
Kevin Lavery / WKAR

At the end of the War of 1812, the British fort on Mackinac Island was returned to the United States. This weekend, the Mackinac State Historic Parks system is celebrating Fort Mackinac’s bicentennial.


First Michigan Colored Regiment marker photo
Scott Pohl / WKAR

Detroit was home to the first unit of African-American men trained to fight in the Civil War. Current State's Scott Pohl talks with historian Jack Dempsey about the First Michigan Colored Regiment.


MSU archeological dig photo
Kevin Lavery / WKAR

MSU students are finding interesting artifacts in an archeological dig along the Red Cedar River.


Grace Lee Boggs photo
Flickr - Kyle McDonald

Civil Rights icon Grace Lee Boggs will celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday. Celebrations will be held in Detroit to honor her work.


Kevin Lavery/WKAR

One of the most popular tourist sites in Michigan is Colonial Michilimackinac. It’s well within walking distance of the Mackinac Bridge, just to the west along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The old French trading post that later became a British fort turns 300 years old in 2015, and parts of its original past lie just below the surface.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Current State has taken you to some historic sites in Detroit, including a stop last week at the house where former President Ulysses S. Grant once lived. Now, we turn to Lansing for some history that’s closer to home. Scott Pohl recently met up with historian Tom Truscott at Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Jack Dempsey, Michigan Historical Commission

Ulysses S. Grant lived in Detroit for a while before the Civil War. This summer, the old structure he called home may be moved to a different part of Detroit.

MSU’s Living History Project: 96-year-old Rudy Aittama

May 26, 2015
Courtesy MSU Living History Project

For the past year, students in MSU's School of Journalism have documented the life experiences of seniors in our state as part of the multimedia initiative "The Living History Project: Stories Told by Michigan's Oldest Old." Oldest old refers to individuals who are 85 years old or older. It's also the fastest growing age group in the United States.

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