Stories of Summer


Many of West Michigan's shorelines were profoundly transformed by the bustling tourism industry and garnering reputations for their acceptance of minorities. The twin lakeshore communities of Saugatuck-Douglas became an important touchstone in thinking about the region’s LGBT history as the towns became a “home for all,” including a college youth invasion, motorcycle gangs, beach-goers, concerts, and the LGBT community.  Although stories are told about motels and inns that welcomed gay customers or lax enforcement of state liquor laws that banned serving homosexuals, few records or oral histories discuss these topics. This project documents the area’s rise to become a destination for the LGBT community through oral histories and digitization of objects, photographs, and ephemera while the people who experienced these times are still able to share them. 

In February 2019, we held an exhibition celebrating the collection of oral histories and ephemera at GVSU's Mary Idema Pew Library and Information Commons. A second exhibition was held in June 2019 at the Old School House in Douglas, MI. To access the digital collection, please visit the GVSU Special Collections & Archives site.

Using the Stories of Summer digital archive

Below is a three-part video series examining the contents and exploring the potential of the digitized Stories of Summer collection. The tutorials are geared toward undergraduates and those who are new to digital primary source research. While these focus on the Stories of Summer collection, they also walk users through the basic anatomy of a digital archive, of oral history collections, and the essential steps to using primary sources for academic and historical research.

Intro to the Saugatuck-Douglas Collection

Learn more about the Summers in Saugatuck-Douglas Collection and how to navigate a digital archive.

Stories of Summer - Photographs and Written Materials

A guide for researching photograph and manuscript materials within the Summers in Saugatuck-Douglas Collection.

Stories of Summer - Oral Histories

Utilizing oral histories within the Summers in Saugatuck-Douglas Collection.

The Kutsche Office of Local History received a National Endowment for the Humanities Common Heritage grant to support the "Stories of Summer" project, which documents life in Saugatuck, MI and Douglas, MI during the mid-twentieth century. The project also reflects a partnership with the Saugatuck Douglas History Center. 

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Page last modified March 12, 2021