Monday, July 29, 2013

The Book Club of Detroit

Our event calendar began in May when Amy Elliott Bragg, local author and history lover, spoke about the Motor City before the motor. Bragg discussed the lives and works of Detroit’s early shakers and movers including Clarence Monroe Burton and historian Silas Farmer. Bragg’s energetic talk displayed several source books that inform her research including History of Detroit for Young People by Harriet Marsh and Florence Marsh, Early Days in Detroit by General Friend Palmer and History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan by Silas Farmer and republished by Gale Research Company. Bragg’s book, Hidden History of Detroit, makes Detroit history accessible and entertaining. Members filled a community room at the Traffic Jam Snug in Detroit and shared good food and conversation before and after Bragg’s talk.

Demonstrating our passion for books, manuscripts, and prints, members attended the launch of A Legacy of Armenian Treasures, the first book published about the Manoogian Museum collection. The book features over 150 pieces and essays by 9 scholars. Members browsed the museum displays, which contain the largest collection outside of Armenia of illuminated manuscripts, books, metalwork, and paintings. Members had opportunities to purchase the lovely and informative book at a special price and have the book signed by the authors and contributors in attendance. Member Alice Nigoghosian acted as consultant to this book.

Our traditional “book crawl” explored the fascinating trove of books at John K. King Bookstore in Detroit.  Members crawled four floors of 750,000 books, well organized by subject and author. After lunch, we visited the John King Rare Book Room where 30,000 rare books are cataloged and accessible via Internet. Tom Heitjan, Rare Book Room Manager, entranced us while he talked and showed us select rare items. His talk included showing us Detroit’s resident and business directories between 1880 and 1930. These historical records easily illustrated for us Detroit’s astronomical population growth over this period by the increase in pages and decrease in type font size used in the directories.

The club welcomed two new board members, Frank Castronova and Mary Clare Duran, and reelected Janet Whitson, Alice Nigoghosian, and Maurice Barrie. We thanked C. Hedger Breed and Blondell Doughty, who stepped down from the board, for their many contributions. We thanked Paula Jarvis who transitioned the editorial role for Speaking of Books, our club newsletter, to Beverly Ostrowiecki.

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