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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

History Grand Rapids by the Grand Rapids Historical Commission


Publications

The Grand Rapids Historical Commission offers a number of books. To order items, please use the order form.

Books

Glance at the Past: An Album of Grand Rapids History (paper)

Glance at the Past: An Album of Grand Rapids History (paper) cover

by Grand Rapids Historical Commission 2011

A full-color, 64-page memory book, presenting an album of historic Grand Rapids sites, events, and people-snapshots and stories about what it was like to live in early Grand Rapids. Each of the thirty, little-known stories about the city are accompanied by one or more historical photographs. Thirteen stories include QR-codes that allow a smart-phone to bring up an audio podcast, additional photos, and facts about the city.

View an Excerpt


Field Guide to Ethnic Groups in West Michigan

Field Guide to Ethnic Groups in West Michigan cover

by Christian G. Carron & Veronica L. Kandl Public Museum of Grand Rapids & Grand Rapids Historical Commission 2008

This 5 by 11 inch, spiral-bound field guide, covers 48 ethnic groups in West Michigan and was originally developed to accompany the Museum's permanent exhibit, Newcomers. Continual requests by the public for copies to purchase led to the publication of the book. The topics covered for each group are: countries or regions of origin, including a map; languages spoken; geography and politics; leaving and arriving; settlement in West Michigan; population size; and where to find more.

View an Excerpt


Strike! How the Furniture Workers Strike of 1911 Changed Grand Rapids (paper)

Strike! How the Furniture Workers Strike of 1911 Changed Grand Rapids (paper) cover

by Jeffrey Kleiman Grand Rapids Historical Commission 2006

At the beginning of the 20th century, furniture factories dominated the physical and economic landscape of Grand Rapids. More than 60 factories employed more than 5000 workers making it truly the “furniture capital” of the nation. The workers started asking for a nine-hour day, a 10% raise, and the abolition of pay based on piecework. Factory owners refused to make concessions to any of the demands. In mid-April 1911, growing tensions between furniture manufacturers and factory workers erupted in a city-wide strike that affected nearly every company and lasted throughout the summer, bringing much of the city to a standstill for four months.

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Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Vietnamese of West Michigan (paper)

Flight to Freedom: The Story of the Vietnamese of West Michigan (paper) cover

by Gordon Olson, Editor Grand Rapids Historical Commission 2004

The story of the Vietnamese of West Michigan based on local records and personal interviews. It tells the story of the Vietnamese refugees who fled their country after the fall of Saigon in 1975 and how they made new homes in West Michigan. The text is written in English and Vietnamese. A one hour DVD documentary titled From Saigon To Sanctuary accompanies the book.


Grand Rapids and its Peoples (paper)

Grand Rapids and its Peoples (paper) cover

Grand Rapids Historical Commission 2003

A young people’s history about the people who arrived in Grand Rapids written for the Grand Rapids Public Schools at 3rd - 8th grade level. CD included with supplemental materials, learning activities, and teaching aids.


Growing up in Old Lithuanian Town (paper)

Growing up in Old Lithuanian Town (paper) cover

by Edward V. Gillis Grand Rapids Historical Commission 2001

History of the Lithuanian Community in Grand Rapids from the 1880s to World War II. Author Edward Gillis describes his experiences growing up in at the beginning of the 20th century in a Lithuanian immigrant neighborhood on Grand Rapids near west side.

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Born to Wander: Autobiography of John Ball (hardcover)

Born to Wander: Autobiography of John Ball (hardcover) cover

Grand Rapids Historical Commission 1994

Reprint of the life history of a well-known early Grand Rapids resident compiled by his three daughters. A rich personal story of the man who writes of traveling throughout eastern North America from Georgia to Montreal, journeying over the Oregon Trail in 1832 where he became the first teacher in Oregon when he taught the children of Dr. John McLoughlin at Fort Vancouver.


The Grand Rapids Sampler (hardcover)

The Grand Rapids Sampler (hardcover) cover

by Gordon Olson, Editor Grand Rapids Historical Commission 1992

A collection of historical vignettes based on original documents, maps, and photographs about people, places, and events that are uniquely Grand Rapids. Each vignette is complete, and each tells of a moment in the life of this community.


Grand Rapids Goes to War (hardcover)

Grand Rapids Goes to War (hardcover) cover

by Richard H. Harms, Robert W. Viol Grand Rapids Historical Society 1993

Grand Rapids Goes to War allows historic images to recount the far reaching impacts of World War II. Each image is captioned so you can see and understand how this war touched every aspect of life and how the people of the Grand Rapids area responded to the nation's "call to arms."


A Look at Early Grand Rapids (paper)

A Look at Early Grand Rapids (paper) cover

by Z. Z. Lydens, Editor Kregel Publications 1976

A short history of Grand Rapids, taken from Z.Z. Lydens' The Story of Grand Rapids.




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