Historical Detectives Program Investigates Local History

ToylandBy: Kristen Krueger-Corrado


History can be fascinating and enlightening because it gives us the opportunity to see how people lived before us. In a way, we’re seeing our future, because at some point the history books are going to look back at our time period and the way we lived.



Far too often, history is digested and explored at the national level. Wars and major events that almost everyone can relate to are often discussed. However, local history can be just as fascinating. It’s your backyard. It’s someone or something a generation or two before you actually experienced in first-person.


The Grand Rapids Public Library has partnered with six local historical agencies to present the History Detectives program. The day-long event will be held on Saturday, January 23 and run from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm at the Ryerson Auditorium in the Main Library – 111 Library St NE.


The event is free and open to the public. Six, 45-minute session topics presented by a local author or historian will be available. Session topics include:


•    Kindergarten and “Radical” Women in 1890s Grand Rapids
•    When “Everyone Knew Everyone”: Forming a  Latino Community in Mid-Century West Michigan
•    Retail Icons: Shopping Downtown in 1950s Grand Rapids
•    New-Car Smell: Nostalgia and the Story of Grand Rapids Car Dealerships
•    Modern Design Leader: The Story Behind Herman Miller
•    The Intoxicating History of River City Brewing



After the sessions are history, all participants are invited to an after party at Mitten Brewing Company to further talk about the day over a couple brews.


A box lunch is available for $10 and must be ordered in advance by calling 988-5492 or by emailing rspv@grpl.org.


Partnering organizations include the Grand Rapids Historical Society, the Grand Rapids Historical Commission, the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Kutsche Office of Local History at GVSU, and the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s Historical Council.