We are continually trying to tweak and improve the SeekingMichigan web site.  To date, we’ve put out over a million records and images online.  We hope to launch an e-commerce module in the next month, and then look at comments, ratings etc.  We have also begun to build out resources like our Michigan County Clerks map.  More of this type of material will be available soon.

Reaching People

In the end though, our goal is VERY simple: to reach people with stories and resources about Michigan.  So we are especially tickled when the people from the stories reach back.  A recent example is Archivist Bob Garrett’s article on the 1961 Miss Michigan, Karen Southway  (here’s the article).

Karen Southway Dewert, Miss Michigan 1960

Upon publishing the blog article on seekingmichigan.org, we quickly had a comment posted stating “I’m flattered please write”  Turns out, the comment was from Karen Southway Dewert, Miss Michigan 1961 herself.  Here is a little snippet of Karen’s message:

WHAT A CRAZY WORLD WE LIVE IN.. MY BROTHER, WHO LIVES IN AZ. FORWARDED THIS TO ME IN CHICAGO…AND YES, I FOUND TIME TO MARRY ROGER DEWERT IN JULY OF ’64.(HE PASSED JAN ’06)  WE HAD 3 FABULOUS CHILDREN, NOW IN THEIR 40’S. I BECAME A PROFESSIONAL MAKE-UP ARTIST AND PAGEANT COACH..AND MOST RECENTLY, PHOTOGRAPHER AND PHOTO EDITOR.  LAST AUGUST I CELEBRATED 47 YEARS IN THE BUSINESS. HAVE HAD MANY WINNERS; BUT THE ONES I MOST LIKE MENTIONING ARE THE THREE MISS AMERICAS I ASSISTED TO THE CROWN..MARJORIE VINCENT 1990, KATE SHINDLE 1997 AND ERICA HAROLD 2003.  JUST TO THINK THAT IN ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF, IT WILL BE 50 YEARS AGO THAT I WAS CROWNED MICHIGAN…..SEEMS LIKE ONLY YESTERDAY….WHERE DID THOSE DAYS GO?  -KAREN
We keep plugging away at seekingmichigan.org.  Adding new content, thinking of new ways to serve the public.  I’m personally looking forward to a story in January about winter golfing–on a lake.  Join us and let us know what you think.  If you have comments or suggestions please share them with us.

Advertisements

Archives on YouTube

December 15, 2008

There are now some movies up on YouTube from the Archives Collection.  We have linked to the site on the right navigation bar or you can access them at: http://www.youtube.com/lookaboutyou

Seeking Michigan

April 23, 2008

The Archives of Michigan is excited to announce that is will be redesigning it’s existing content management site, www.archivesofmichigan.org.  This is a joint project with the Library of Michigan.  Plans include expanding content including over 1,000,000 death records, 70,000 land patent records, photographs and maps.

We have contracted with Greg Storey and Airbag Industries, Inc.  The new site will be rebranded to “Seeking Michigan” or a similar concept.  The idea is to convey a broad approach to the “heritage collections” available at the Library and Archives.  You can see samples of Airbag’s work at: www.airbagindustries.com

We hope to launch in late Summer or Fall 2008.

Michigan Elections Database

January 15, 2008

With Michigan’s primary right around the corner, the Department of History, Arts and Libraries today announced the availability of Michigan’s Precinct Results Databases online at www.michiganelections.org. The Precinct Results Databases – used to certify and distribute the official results of each election – were created by the Michigan Bureau of Elections, Department of State, and recently transferred to the Archives of Michigan for permanent preservation.

“The preservation of Michigan’s history and the assurance that there will be an accurate, accessible record of the political process is a tremendous responsibility and a great gift to current and future generations,” said HAL Director William Anderson. “As Michigan gets into the full swing of this election year, interest in information like this will certainly climb.”

The Archives of Michigan (in collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center) converted the data from its original format into a search engine for public access. This work was conducted as part of the Persistent Archives Testbed (PAT) Project that was funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The PAT project was a multi-state initiative to investigate new and effective methods of preserving electronic data as the original technology becomes obsolete.

State Archivist Mark Harvey said that data for 1992 through 2004 is available online and can be searched by year, county, office, city and township. In addition, he noted that GIS maps (showing color-coded counties according to party majority) were developed for statewide offices to represent voting trends. Data for 1970 through 1990 is not searchable, because the metadata needed to translate the data codes has been lost over time. However, the data can be downloaded by researchers who are interested in trying to interpret the data themselves. Additional information about this data and the PAT Project is available at http://www.sdsc.edu/PAT.

“This is a valuable research tool for anyone with an interest in Michigan elections,” said Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. “I’m grateful to the Department of History, Arts and Libraries for its work to make this important data accessible to the public through the convenience of the Internet.”

The Archives of Michigan is part of the Michigan Historical Center, an agency within the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. HAL is dedicated to strengthening the economy and enriching the quality of life for Michigan residents by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan’s heritage and fostering cultural creativity. The department also includes the Library of Michigan, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Film Office.

Written by Casey Kremers, HAL Communications Office, 1/14/07

Getting back into the swing of things…

Greetings from the Archives of Michigan. Yes, I am still here plugging away. We finished an extremely busy fall which included over 20 Family History Month programs in October and a flurry of grant writing. We capped the Fall season with a music concert titled “Shout Sister Shout” a tribute to 30’s and 40’s Jazz standards. The highly acclaimed band Steppin’ In It performed the show with singer-songwriter Rachael Davis; local artist Jen Sygit opened the show. Thank you to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for sponsoring the show with a generous grant.

Why music? A colleague once chided me for trying to mix the terms “archives” and “fun.” Music ties in so perfectly with the burgeoning concept of cultural heritage or cultural tourism–which like it or not–is our new mantra. Music has the potential to stir emotions about people, places, and days past. These are the same terms we use when describing history.

And it is fun.

The concert brought about 85 people to the Michigan Historical Center, about 50 had never been to the Center before. We ran a power point of historic images above the stage that garnered many questions and comments. Not huge numbers but mission accomplished nonetheless.

For the past year I have been working on the finer points of a “Michigan Heritage Collection.” The focus is Michigan Artists from original manuscripts to music scores to comic art. While some may argue that these types of materials have little research value, I would counter that it is an issue of relevance. The more we can show the importance of documentation in various parts of our life the more relevance our institutions and collections will have.

Let’s face it, many people see historic documents as nothing more than an aesthetic novelty or money making venture on Antiques Roadshow or Ebay (ever been to Bennigan’s?). Or historians see the arts (music and movies!) as inaccurate or too sentimental.

I am not suggesting we substitute academic rigors for movie night or a sing along. But, if I host a concert or film that has 50 new visitors and can talk to them about our facilities and expose them to our collections, I would want to do a concert every week (ok, maybe every month–lots of work).

If Woody Guthrie’s song about the 1913 Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, MI makes someone curious about the details of that fateful Christmas Eve or John Sayles’ “Matewan” makes someone curious about labor history, I say “great!” and don’t worry about what others might think. The arts spark our imagination. The materials in our collections fuel our curiosity. So give yourself a break, sometimes it is ok to watch the movie before you read the book.

Check out the band Steppin’ In It’s website at: www.steppininit.com or www.jensygit.com They have free audio streams. Another great Michigan artist is Sufjan Stevens.

Jen warms up the crowd

Steppin’ In It knocks out the standards.

One last request. If you read this, post a comment. Writing a blog is a two way street. It helps build community when we talk about issues whether we agree or not.