Acting on the suggestion of Professors Charles Sorensen and Anthony Travis, the history faculty of Grand Valley State University established the Great Lakes History Conference in 1975 to allow faculty from teaching institutions in the Midwest to present their scholarship to colleagues. Until 1982, the conference was held in the famed Pantlind Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The conference has evolved since its founding, now attracting faculty, graduate students, public historians, and independent scholars from across the country and the world, meeting in the L.V. Eberhard Center on GVSU's downtown campus. The conference places special emphasis on fostering collaboration among scholars in Grand Rapids and West Michigan history, academic and non-academic alike.
Even as the conference changes, it remains a general-interest history conference drawing participants from all fields and all periods. The goals of the conference organizers remains: