Local History Roundtable
Immigration and Civil Rights: Past and Present
The Kutsche Office of Local History Annual Local History Roundtable (2014)
The Fifth Annual Local History Roundtable was held April 10-11, 2014 in the Holland Museum’s Armory in downtown Holland, Michigan. The two-day event attracted nearly 100 people including representative from museums, libraries, historical societies, local schools and universities, interested community members, as well as GVSU faculty, staff, ad students.
Focused on the theme, “Immigration and Civil Rights: Past and Present,” the meeting opened with a reception and keynote address by Bing Goei, Director of the Michigan Office for New Americans and a welcome by Anne Hiskes, Dean of GVSU’s Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. This marked one of the first public speeches Director Goei had given since being appointed Director by Gov. Snyder in January 2014. Live mariachi music, provided by Gabriel Estrada, III followed along with light refreshments.
Friday’s events began at 9 a.m. with a welcome from Jon Jellema, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs (GVSU) and opening lecture by Nora Salas (History and Chicano/Latino Studies, Michigan State University) on “Chicano Civil Rights in Michigan, 1960-1970s.” Additional highlights of the day-long events included two panel discussions – one focused on “Immigrant Experiences” and the other on “Civil Rights in Western Michigan – and two 30-minute “peer-to-peer networking sessions” focused on eight separate topics including oral history, genealogy, researching and publishing local history, grant writing, collections and archiving, using social media to promote your organization, Michigan History Day, and researching local ethnic, women’s, and LGBTQ histories.
Planning for this year’s meeting was spearheaded by a committee of volunteers, many of whom have been involved in the Local History Roundtable since its inception. They included: Peg Padnos (Kutsche Office Advisory Council), Taylor Wise-Harthorn (Holland Museum), Mary Vander Kooy (Herrick District Library), Daniel Yakes (Muskegon Community College, retired), Tom Mejeur (community member), and M. Christine Byron (Grand Rapids Public Library, retired).
The 2015 meeting will be held March 26-27 in the Grand Rapids Public Library. The theme for next year’s meeting is “Food, Farm, and Table.”
Annual membership is just $45 and includes free admission to both events, reduced cost admission to workshops and events throughout the year, a monthly newsletter, and free subscription to the Kutsche Chronicle.
Summary of the 2013 Local History Roundtable
On April 18, 2013, the Kutsche Office of Local History hosted its fourth annual Local History Roundtable. Held in the Grand Haven Community Center, this year’s day-long conference was focused on theme, “Natives, Settlers, Founders: Our Shared Story of Community Growth,” and was the largest meeting to date, attracting 119 people. Attendees included representatives from museums, libraries, historical societies, local schools and universities, interested community members, as well as GVSU faculty, staff, and students.
The goal of the Roundtable is to support the Kutsche Office’s mission by bringing a broad range of content specialists, teachers, students, cultural heritage workers, historians, librarians, curators, and interested community members together to share knowledge and resources about topics of common interest. Initially launched with a focus on leaders of local historical institutions and libraries, this marked the second year that the event was open to the public.
Participants were greeted by remarks from Brooks College Dean Anne Hiskes, Paul Kutsche (who founded the Office), and Director Melanie Shell-Weiss. Featured speakers included Marjorie Viveen (educator and historians, Grand Haven), Paul Trap (educator and historian, Grand Haven), and Eric Hemenway (director of archive and repatriation, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians). Attendees also had a choice of attending two 30-minute “peer-to-peer networking sessions” focused on eight separate topics including oral history, genealogy, researching and publishing local history, grant writing, collections and archiving, promoting and marketing for events, and two topical tables focused on the theme of this year’s roundtable and Native American history. A guided bus tour of Grand Haven’s historic sites got attendees out into the community and provided additional opportunity for networking.
Unlike most academic conferences which are organized primarily by university faculty, the location, schedule, theme, and program for each year’s Roundtable is largely determined by a community-based planning committee. Planning committee members are recruited at each year’s Roundtable. This year’s committee included Elizabeth Potter (Loutit Library), Jeanette Weiden (Loutit Library), Marjie Viveen, Dan Yakes (Muskegon Community College), Tom Mejeur (community member), and Christine Byron (GRPL).
Planning committee members volunteer their time throughout the year. They negotiated with the City of Grand Haven for free use of the Community Center and with the Harbor Transit Company for free use of their shuttles for a tour of the city. They also collaborated with the Tri-Cities Museum to create the custom historical tour of the city of Grand Haven as a centerpiece of the event. Planning committee members also provided input on every aspect of the event, assisting with selecting a catering, planning event specifics, locating speakers, facilitators, and tour guides. They also assisted with set-up and take-down for the event and staffed the registration table at the event. It is a tribute to the tireless work, guidance, and intellectual input of the planning committee that this event was such a resounding success.
Page last modified June 16, 2014