With 395 collections and counting, the GRPL Archives is full of unique and fascinating items – photographs, letters, furniture catalogs, maps, and so much more. The Grand Rapids History & Special Collections Department was established in 1904, upon the completion of the Ryerson Library. When planning the “new” library, board members ensured that a “Michigan Room” was set aside in which to preserve the collections.
The earliest collections came to the archives in 1905 and include the papers of John Lawrence, Rebecca Richmond, and the Old Residents’ Association, as well as Lewis G. Stuart’s collection of maps of the Old Northwest Territory. By the early 1950s, the archival holdings had grown to include the archaeological drawings of Thomas Porter; the papers of surveyor, politician, and land developer Lucius Lyon; the papers of city engineer and amateur archaeologist Wright L. Coffinberry; and John Ball’s personal papers.
For our newest exhibit, we thought we’d showcase items that are representative of our collection, but also uniquely Grand Rapids in nature. So, from the Austin Automobile Co. to the Zalewski’s dog, the Local History staff searched the archives for an interesting item for each letter of the alphabet. Come view the Archives A-Z exhibit, currently on display in the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections Department on the 4th floor of the Main Library!
This project was funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation.