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Albion District Library
Albion Evening Recorder:  May 1868 – August 1986 (currently on microfilm and partially digitized)

Albion Recorder:  September 1986 – December 2011 (currently on microfilm)

Geographic coverage: City of Albion, Michigan and surrounding area, including, but not comprehensively covering, Calhoun County, Michigan.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

The Albion Recorder (at various times also known as the Weekly Recorder and Evening Recorder) is Albion’s longest-running newspaper, established in 1868 and continuing under varying ownership to the present day. In format and language the Recorder is in many ways a typical small-town Michigan newspaper. The story of the community it covers, however, is distinctive, tying it to a number of larger historical trends. In addition to its overall role in preserving Albion’s historic record, we believe that the paper documents significant aspects of Michigan’s multicultural heritage not recorded elsewhere.

What truly differentiates Albion from most other small Michigan towns is an intersection of racial, ethnic, and multicultural factors usually seen only in much more urban areas. For much of its early history the community was predominantly rural and Euro-American, having been settled in the early 1830s during the wave of “Yankee” migration from New England and New York State that followed the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. As a stop along the Central Michigan Line of the Underground Railroad, Albion was also home to a small but significant Black community in the mid-late nineteenth century. In the late 1900s the city began to develop an industrial base. To meet their labor needs, the companies actively recruited workers from both Europe and the American South, the latter tying Albion to the African American Great Migration. Over time the city’s population became much more diverse than that usually found in small, rural towns, including enclaves of Polish, German, Lithuanian, Italian, and Mexican immigrants, in addition to the Black population, which by 2010 numbered just under thirty percent.

Unfortunately in the 1970s and 1980s many of the manufacturing concerns began pulling out of Albion, reflecting the nationwide trend towards deindustrialization. Like cities such as Flint and Detroit, Albion experienced widespread unemployment and its attendant effects, including poverty, crime, and infrastructural decay, with which it still struggles. Albion’s relationship with the nearby town of Marshall, largely white and affluent, has been marked by subtle and not-so-subtle racial tensions over the years, culminating in a bitter struggle in 2013 over the dissolution of Albion High School and the reassignment of its students to the high school in Marshall.

Despite these challenges, Albion’s diversity has also been a source of strength and vibrancy. Unlike many other small towns in Michigan, it has had to engage in ongoing public dialogue about race and ethnicity. The presence for many years of de facto segregation put civil rights issues in the forefront of community discussion, and, with support from the faculty and students of Albion College, Albion has hosted visits by nationally-known Civil Rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Julian Bond. It has been home to four Tuskegee Airmen, and in 1973 was awarded the coveted All-America City designation by the National Civic League, which praised local citizens’ active involvement in improving the climate of racial mistrust at the time.

Reasons why this paper should be made available online:

The above-stated historical, cultural, and community significance.

The large number of patrons who would benefit from having remote access to the newspaper’s contents. In addition to genealogists from around the state and elsewhere in the country, the Local History Room regularly fields requests from researchers seeking information on a variety of other subjects, from nineteenth-century major league baseball player Jim “Deacon” McGuire and T-Ball inventor Jerry Sacharski (both long-time Albion residents) to the Tuskegee Airmen, the Underground Railroad, and the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. Serious researchers are generally quite skilled in doing their own research, and improved access to primary sources should (in theory) result in more detailed and comprehensive scholarly outcomes.

Reduction in staff time and labor necessary to respond to remote reference requests. (As a small public library in a community with modest resources, our staff and budget are very limited.)

Reduction in wear and tear on both our venerable microfilm reader-printer and the microfilm copies themselves.

East Grand Rapids History Room, City of East Grand Rapids 

East Grand Rapids Cadence: August 27, 1975 – January 1982 

Geographic coverage: East Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan Special Features or Unique Aspects of this paper. 

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

From 1897 to 1954, East Grand Rapids Michigan was home to one of West Michigan’s most renowned locations, Ramona Amusement Park. A true “trolley park,” not unlike Coney Island, this was a summertime destination, a resort area set on small but beautiful Reeds Lake. Belying its size, excursion steamboats of exceptional capacity once plied its waters carrying thousands of delighted passengers.

First settled in 1834 by the pioneering Reed Family and Ezekiel Davis, the Reeds Lake area has grown from a small lake-centered resort area and farming community into one of Michigan’s most respected communities.

The East Grand Rapids Cadence Newspaper was founded in 1975 by four local women: Susan Lovell, Susan Ryan, Gini Mulligan and Mary Abbott Cumming. They raised eyebrows by setting up business in a former plumber’s shop, and, despite the many folks who thought that an EGR newspaper was destined for failure, they pushed forward. Their goal was to “do their best to provide this inimitable community with a top-flight newspaper.” Cadence was to be a uniquely EGR newspaper, unlike The Almanac, the previous local newspaper which included surrounding communities. Established after the demise of Ramona Park and the subsequent establishment of retail, residential and multi-family dwellings in East Grand Rapids, the Cadence’s articles captured a changing city and provided the only snapshot from that time period that focused on community and EGR schools, providing equal coverage for academics, arts and sports. Generations of families that have grown up in East Grand Rapids will be sure to recognize names, places and happenings. Local residents were often featured in the well-loved “Next Door” weekly feature. School functions, neighborhood activities, city-wide events, parties in Collins Park, city government, politics and other functions unique to EGR were covered weekly. As our local students went off to college, a subscription to the Cadence allowed them to keep in touch via the weekly column “Street Beat” with what was going on back home.

For many children in the community, delivering Cadence to doorsteps each Wednesday was their first job. $7.00 per week was not a windfall, but earning it taught these kids responsibility, how to save money and open a bank account.

The Cadence was sold to Advance Newspapers, a company that published local newspapers across West Michigan, in 1990. The Cadence Advance no longer covered just the city of East Grand Rapids, so the uniqueness of the original Cadence was lost. Presently, the current incarnation of the Cadence Advance is both print and online.

It is our community’s sincere wish that we be awarded this opportunity to fill in the digital local news gap between the years 1975 to 1990, and make the original East Grand Rapids Cadence newspaper readily accessible.

Reason why you believe this paper should be made available online:

A fully searchable, digitalized historic 1975 - 1982 East Grand Rapids Cadence newspaper would put local history at our fingertips and would truly help to preserve and provide access to the story of the East Grand Rapids community during this time period. The East Grand Rapids History Room seeks funding to digitize fifteen years of microfilmed East Grand Rapids Cadence to provide online access to articles from 1975 to 1982. This newspaper’s founder and editor, Susan Lovell, enthusiastically supports this process. Thank you for your consideration.

Oakland University 

The Pontiac Press: 1960-1969

Geographic coverage: Oakland County 

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

Oakland University has recently acquired the microfilm archives of The Oakland Press, the flagship publication of Oakland County. The archives includes over 1,400 microfilm reels with makeover pages, spanning the publication’s name changes: Pontiac Press Gazette, from 1906-1919; Pontiac Daily Press and Gazette, 1919; Pontiac Daily Press, 1919-1953; Pontiac Press, 1953-1972, and its current instantiation as The Oakland Press. The acquisition of the archives includes digital reproduction rights, now enabling back issues of the paper to be made freely available online to all researchers, regardless of institutional affiliation.

Of the complete run of the paper, we have selected the 1960s as historically significant to the history of the communities served. During this time, Oakland County experienced explosive population growth following postwar suburban expansion, compounded by white flight beginning in the latter 60s. Of particular interest is Pontiac Press coverage of the Detroit Rebellion in the summer of 1967, including notices posted for stopped work at General Motors and the Pontiac Motor Division, early closures of suburban businesses, and curfews and temporary alcohol bans posted in area communities.

The 1960s issues of The Pontiac Press also span Michigan State University-Oakland’s transformation into independent Oakland University, and the construction of Walter P. Reuther Freeway (I-696). The Pontiac Press also witnesses the fluctuations in the automotive industry in its coverage of Oakland County’s “Automotive Alley.” Included in the 163 reels are classifieds, political cartoons, community events, and advertisements to area businesses--all constitutive of the cultural moment in the history of southeast Michigan.

Reason this paper should be made available online:

A sampling of reels has been tested for "vinegar syndrome" deterioration using acid detection strips (A-D strips), with 27 reels from this sample showing the beginning stages of deterioration. We are proactively seeking opportunities to produce digital access and preservation copies of these fragile reels and any that may have been contaminated through exposure.

The digitization of this collection is timely, following the 50 year anniversary of the Detroit Rebellion, and will be of interest to genealogists and local researchers from numerous communities across Oakland County, from Auburn Hills to Wixom, as well as alumni of Oakland University. Oakland County is frequently mentioned in scholarship interrogating urban planning, labor history, and the automobile industry, and digitization would improve accessibility of The Pontiac Press to researchers out of range of Oakland University or the Library of Michigan--the only two institutions with significant and contiguous microfilm coverage of the paper. Digitization also opens the paper to new methods of inquiry, such as text mining, and would be of interest to researchers working in digital humanities and humanities computing, which seek to ask new questions of existing data.

2018 WINNER!

Saugatuck-Douglas History Center & the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library

The Commercial-Record (Saugatuck): 1959-1969

Geographic coverage: The primary geographic area of The Commercial-Record is northwest Allegan County, centered on the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, and surrounding townships.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

The Commercial-Record is the oldest continuously-published newspaper in Allegan County and among the oldest in west Michigan, having been first printed on July 9, 1868. Starting as the Saugatuck Commercial, within two years its reach was expanded to include Douglas and the nearby lakeshore area and was renamed the Lake Shore Commercial.
The Commercial was the only paper many people received and it had to cover all the news: local, national and worldwide. When the newsprint arrived, usually by boat, the news from outside the area was already printed on one side. It would be placed on the press in position to have the local news and advertisements added to the back. Given the Saugatuck area’s close connection with the Chicago area, some news from “across the lake” was also reported in more detail than other national stories.

In 1902, the new, hyphenated Commercial-Record name was first used when the Saugatuck Commercial (having regained its original name) merged with a nearby rival, the Weekly Record. For a weekly paper primarily serving two small communities, the Commercial-Record was the source for news from nearby and far away for much of the past century and a half. Because many people from Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis rent or own vacation homes in this area, the paper has always carried news from those cities as well as national news, in addition to being the primary record of local events, official municipal actions, a police blotter, and election coverage.

The 1960s – the period we propose to digitize for this grant – were a decade of great change in west Michigan. Saugatuck’s Big Pavilion dance hall, the largest west of New York when it opened, burned in a spectacular fire in 1960 and was among the last vestiges of an earlier, simpler recreational era. Throughout the decade, the region became the scene of several major music festivals with nationally-known performers, endured the anxiety of transient motorcycle gangs, and was invaded by college students by the thousands each busy summer. The Commercial-Record went above and beyond what might typically be expected from a small-town paper to regularly report on these events, and the outsiders who were inciting them. In 1968, the village of Saugatuck celebrated its centennial anniversary, and the Commercial-Record marked the occasion with a special 48-page edition. 2018 will be a milestone year to make this information more fully available – Saugatuck’s 150th anniversary. (Portions of the text above taken from A Brief History of the Commercial Record by Kit Lane:(

Reasons why this paper should be made available online:

The Commercial-Record is the oldest continuously-publishing paper in Allegan County and has always been at an important seat for creating and sharing news – Allegan County’s main port community where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan. Great local stories – the arrival of the interurban, the burning of the biggest dance hall in the eastern United States, the infiltration of motorcycle gangs in the 1960s - were all dutifully reported in print week in and week out.

The existing microfilm copies are degrading over time, and are not indexed and not searchable. Researchers must laboriously scroll through each page to locate relevant information. To compound matters, the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, owner of the microfilm, does not have a functioning microfilm reader, so anyone wishing to use the microfilm must take it to another library with a functioning reader two townships away.

This makes trying to use the Commercial-Record in its current form very difficult. Second grade students at Douglas Elementary used to try to use the paper as part of a yearly local history research project, but the collective struggle led them to turn to using other – perhaps less valuable – sources. Library patrons face the same hurdle.

The History Center regularly relies on the Commercial-Record when researching our programs, exhibits, and more. Our recent successful nominations of two local historic structures to the National Register of Historic Places relied heavily on details taken from past editions. Just this year the History Center unveiled a new, immersive 2-year exhibit titled Cold War | Hot Towns: Saugatuck-Douglas in the Cold War Era, which explores the concepts of fear and fun during this tumultuous era. The Commercial-Record issues from the 1950s-60s helped document the stories and society of the era in contemporaneous reporting. Adding them to the Digital Michigan Newspaper Database would make them so much more accessible to History Center and Library visitors and the general public, thereby benefiting the communities immeasurably.

By making these print pages for this eventful period available online – indexed and searchable – historians, researchers, and casual visitors will all be ensured simple access to a unique time of conflict and invasion, a microcosm of American history, from a landmark lakeshore community. We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate our high level of community support for digitizing the Commercial-Record and ensuring better access to these stories of Michigan’s past.

Sterling Heights Historical Commission & 

Utica Heritage Commission​


The Utica Sentinel: 1876-1910 (we have the newspaper on microfilm in its entirety 1876-1971)

Geographic coverage:  City of Utica, MI; Surrounding areas of Macomb County, MI and some of 
Oakland County, MI.

Special Features or Unique Aspects of this Paper:

Being the first newspaper in Utica, and one of the first weekly newspapers in Macomb County, the Utica Sentinel is a glimpse into the comings and goings of life in the city of Utica, as well as the surrounding farming communities. The paper includes local news as well as updates on State and National news. Although it was "The Utica Sentinel", it covered a much larger area.

Marriage and death announcements of local residents are listed in many issues as well as items of local interest such as advertisements and schedules for the Romeo/Utica Stage Line train, advertisements for local businesses as well as the Walter Buhl Company and Detroit Stove Works, reports on new businesses opening up, and reports from the local schools. Few birth records were found in reviewing the microfilm, but that would not be unusual, since mortality rates for children at the time were around 50%! The front page had mostly local news. Page 2 and 3 had state, national, and international news, and page 4 had announcements from the surrounding communities. Later editions that had 8 pages had more advertisements and feature stories. The unique aspect of the paper is that it is published in the city, but covers a large area of farming communities that surround it. The paper includes “Letters” from various “Agents” in the communities surrounding the City of Utica. There were literally correspondents who wrote letters to the newspaper about events in their towns and settlements. “Letters” found in reviewing the microfilm were from Armada, Avon, Big Beaver, Bruce, Chesterfield, Davis, Harrison, Lenox, Macomb, Mt. Clemens, New Baltimore, New Haven, Richmond, Rochester, Romeo, Ray, Troy, Warren and Washington. There were also correspondents from “English Settlement”, “Farr Settlement”, “Prestonville” (25 Mile & Schoenherr area), “Disco” (24 Mile & Van Dyke area), “Cady” (15 Mile & Moravian Road area), and items sent from “Mount Vernon” (28 Mile & Mount Vernon Road area). Many of these areas are large plots of land that were settled by Englishmen and they have written into the paper about the activities in their area, including who is visiting from outside of the area, who is sick, and who is hosting a party. There were also excerpts from "The Milford Times", "Birmingham Excentric", and "Richmond Review"

In its later publication years, the Utica Sentinel published official notices and some meeting minutes for the City of Utica, Sterling Township (later the City of Sterling Heights) and Shelby Township.

Reason why you believe this paper should be made available online:

The Utica Sentinel should be made available online due to the fact that it is one of the oldest weekly newspapers in the Macomb County area. The Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers project does not include any newspapers from Macomb County, MI. and we think this would be a great addition to the Michigan Digital Newspaper collection as it also does not include any newspapers from Macomb County, MI.

The existing microfilm copies are degrading over time, and are not indexed and not searchable. Researchers must laboriously scroll through each page to locate relevant information. To compound matters, the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, owner of the microfilm, does not have a functioning microfilm reader, so anyone wishing to use the microfilm must take it to another library with a functioning reader two townships away.

Macomb County, being the 3rd most populous County in the State of Michigan, is celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018. This year long event would be a great way to highlight the proposed project, and if selected, would have many enthusiastic researchers eager to learn about life in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Macomb County. Many events will be taking place in the individual communities of Macomb County and there will be opportunities to highlight our project, if selected. Genealogists would find this paper a treasure chest of links to their ancestors from the area. There are pages full of the individual activities of the people living here. Included in the paper are death notices, marriage notices, real estate transfer notices, and some birth notices. The past residents of Macomb County have made great contributions to the State of Michigan and we want their stories to be accessible to those both inside and outside of our great state.

The Macomb County Heritage Alliance, of which the Sterling Heights Historical Commission is a member, is a group of local historical societies/commissions that work together to promote history and its preservation. The members of these organizations would appreciate digital access to this local paper and be able to use it for their research.

In addition, the City of Sterling Heights is also celebrating an anniversary. July 1, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the city (1968 – 2018). There is a greater interest in the history of the area and the digitization of this paper is another connection to the past. The City of Sterling Heights is publishing a new book about the history of the city and the digitization of the Utica Sentinel would keep the interest in local history going for many years to come.

This grant is made possible by the Robert and Susan Clarke Endowment.