Kutsche Office of Local History
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.
Next year’s Roundtable will be held in April in Holland, Michigan and will focus on the theme of immigration and community-building.
Page last modified October 22, 2013