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JUNE 2011
Michigan Humanities Council Newsletter
  Council Announces Major Grant Award Selections

Kerrytown BookFestTwice a year, the Michigan Humanities Council awards Major Grants to help fund cultural public programming for state nonprofits.

After much discussion, the Grant Review Committee and additional members of the Executive Committee for the Council approved grants with programs including archaeological digs, documentaries and exciting historical exhibits.

For more information on our major grants, please visit our website at, email, or call our office at 517-372-7770.

Here we highlight three of the 14 grants the Council approved during its spring Major Grant period. For a full list of the approved Major Grants, with sponsors and a short brief on each project, click here.

Sharing the Journey of Warriors
In 1754, a band of Odawa Indians traveled from Northern Michigan to Pennsylvania to fight in the opening battle of the French and Indian War. This summer, details and artifacts from this historical journey will be returning home and put on display in Emmet County’s “The Warriors’ Journey” exhibit.

“We were elated to learn that our grant application had been approved,” said Beth Piehl, project director and director of communications and web development for Emmet County. “This is a terrific opportunity for us to really showcase significant events and people from Northwest Michigan that shaped national cultural changes during the period surrounding the French and Indian War.”

The exhibit will include artifacts from the National Park Service and Mackinac State Historic Park, interpretive boards, displays and additional components to localize the national exhibit. Michigan grade-level standards will be met for 2nd, 3rd, 5th and high school grades.

“The drive behind our efforts came from the realization that we have history and items from Emmet County that enticed the National Park Service to create a year-long display about our people, and the roles they played on a national stage. We, too, need to tell these stories, share this information and educate the public and schoolchildren about the impacts of historical events on the way we live today,” Piehl said.

Project sponsors include Emmet County, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Mackinac State Historic Parks, Mackinaw Area Historic Society, The Village of Mackinaw City, Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, Emmet County Historical Commission, Fort de Buade.

For more information on Emmet County, visit

Embracing a City’s Prison History
Michigan State PrisonThroughout Michigan, Jackson is known as Prison Town. And although the city housed our state's first prison and at one time the largest-walled prison in the world, its history isn’t very well known. Through the project “From Historic Prison to Artistic Vision,” this past will be shown in the spotlight.

Awarded to Enterprise Group Community Ventures Corporation, project director Judy Gail Krasnow will work with artists from Armory Arts Village to paint Jackson’s prison history in murals. Stories such as the Jackson Robber Gang, inmate work in factories or farms, prison sports teams, and the “Pea Soup Riot,” will be depicted in colorful fashion. Armory Arts Village is a residential complex for artists, housed in the former first state prison.

“(The) prison built Jackson into a leading industrial city in the nation. How Jackson came to have the prison is a fascinating story unto itself. The murals will enable all who come here to visually take a journey back in time. When history is seen in context, it is placed in proper light,” Krasnow, also a storyteller for Prime Time Family Reading Time, said.

Additional activities planned to enhance the mural include an exhibit of prisoner art, a lecture series about prison life, rehabilitation and reform; and historical photos and sketches. The murals will work in conjunction with Krasnow’s historic prison tours. The tours take you through Michigan’s first state prison, then to 7-Block, a closed but fully intact cellblock within Southern Michigan State Correctional Facility.

Project sponsors include Enterprise Group Community Ventures Corp., Jackson District Library and the Jackson Historic District Commission.

For more information on the prison tours, please visit the Historic Prison Tours page of Krasnow’s website.

Uniting Cultures through Common Heritage
The Polish Mission received a grant for its project, “Uniting Generations and Ethnicities of Polonia.” The project would afford grandparents and grandchildren the opportunity to research their family history and record it in ancestral books to take home.

“A common regret of family researchers is that they did not ask relevant questions of their grandparents when they were alive. This is an opportunity to allow grandchildren to sit with their elders and document their ancestry together,” said Cecile Wendt Jensen, director of Polonia Americana Research Institute, and director of this project.

This project unites families of Jewish, German and Polish backgrounds who share a common Polish heritage. Poland was a mix of Slavic Catholics, German Lutherans and Jews before the World Wars exacerbated tensions between the ethnicities, Jensen explained.

“In the 21st century, it’s time for the new generation to come together and combine our history and create understanding about our mutual heritage,” said Marcin Chumiecki, director of the Polish Mission.

Workshops will be scheduled in July and August, and are expected to result in at least 96 new family narratives. At the end of each week’s session, families are welcome to bring an ethnic dish to pass and participate in a public exhibit.

Project sponsors include The Polish Mission, Polonia Americana Research Institute, West Bloomfield Public Library, Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan, Oakland County Genealogical Society, and Holocaust Memorial Center.

For more information on the Polish Mission, please visit their website,


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Michigan Humanities Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 3B, Lansing, MI 48912
p: 517-372-7770 · f: 517-372-0027
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