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The titles listed in the book section showcase many of the attributes that have influenced Grand Rapids, including its rich history, interest in the arts and connection to the Lake Michigan shoreline. Read what others have discovered about the area by exploring the cookbooks, autobiographies and fictional books.


Actors' Eats: A Collection of Recipes to Celebrate Actors' Theatre's First 25 Years

(Actors' Theatre, 2006)

Comprised of recipes from actors, both past and present, plus their family, friends and Actors' Theatre patrons. Also includes pictures of productions and anecdotes from actors. Available in theatre lobby, 143 Bostwick Ave. NE, Grand Rapids during performances or call 616-234-3968.

Conducting In The Kitchen

Volunteer Council of the American Symphony Orchestra League (Morris Press, 2007)

Conducting In The Kitchen stirs up delectable dishes in our first Symphony cookbook. All recipes have been taste-tested. The recipes were collected from Women's Committee members, Orchestra members, Symphony staff,Grand Rapids Symphony Board members, guest artists and volunteers of the Symphony family. Some of the recipes include notes from the cooks.

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Swedish Favorites

Swedish American Heritage Society (Morris Press, 2007)

A wonderful collection of Swedish specialties, including limpa bread, Swedish meatballs, pepparkakor, herring salad, Swedish coffee bread and potato salad.

Country Goodness

Alpine Township Residents

Nearly 400 recipes of the most-wanted recipes from the township residents. Includes a brief history of the Historical Commission and its museum, a Registered Historical Site. Available for sale at the Alpine Township Offices, 5255 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park $10.00

The Boxcar Children's Cookbook

Diane Blain (Albert Whitman Corporatiion, 1991)

A cookbook for children (and adults) who enjoy reading the Boxcar Children mystery series. The recipes correlate with the books and are basically "kid-proof," easily understood and use mainly ingredients on hand.

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Taste of Life: Greek Food

Ladies Philoptochos Society

Reflects heritage of congregation with recipes any home cook can master. Available at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 330 Lakeside Drive NE. Grand Rapids, MI.

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Vintage Grand Rapids Vol. 1

(Danny R.Gaydou, 2006)

Remembering a city's past through pictures generates more than a warm feeling of nostalgia for people and things past; it serves as a touchstone of faith, hope and joy. In the faces of our ancestors we recognize a measure of innocence and determination. We take joy in realizing that so much was accomplished by them. Understanding their sacrifices and achievements, there is a sense of hope that, building on their past, our future will be one of joy. And, these old photos are just plain fun. We like seeing the vehicles, houses, clothing and manners of a time gone by. Grand Rapids has a rich history and we are pleased to share these photos with you. They are your photos and they portray your history. Vintage Grand Rapids is a true kaleidoscope of a proud city's cherished heritage.

The Presence of the Past: the Public Museum at 150

Julie Christianson Stivers (Public Museum of Grand Rapids, 2004)

At its Sesquicentennial, The Public Museum of Grand Rapids has not so much arrived at a destination, as at a pause on a journey of accomplishment that will continue toward the next 150 years. This book is a snapshot in time that documents the activities and growth of a classic American community museum in an entertaining and illuminating manner, moving skillfully between chronology and recurring themes, and featuring fascinating stories of the many personalities who have supported the Museum and worked passionately on its behalf.

Grand Rapids in Stereographs 1860-1900

Thomas Dilley (Arcadia Publishing, 2007)

This book provides a look at early Grand Rapids through some of the first photographs that exist of the area. The photographs are particularly interesting, because they provide not only an opportunity to see the city in the opening decades of its existence, but they do so through the eyes and cameras of its earliest photographers, at a time when the photographic art was as new as the city itself. The book is available at local bookstores.

Memorials of the Grand River Valley

Franklin Everett (Grand Rapids Historical Society, 1984)

Descending from Duty

J. Ryan Fenzel (Ironcroft Publishing, 2006)

Descending from Duty is a nautical thriller that unfolds along the Lake Michigan shoreline, from South Haven to Grand Haven, all the way up to Mackinac Island. Grand Rapids plays a prominent role as well. The centerpiece in the story is World War II submarine USS Silversides, which is currently on display at the Great Naval Memorial and Museum in Muskegon.

Growing Up in Old Lithuanian Town

Edward V. Gillis (Grand Rapids Historical Commission, 2000)

Weird Michigan

Linda S. Godfrey (Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., 2006)

Your Travel Guide to Michigan's local legends and Best Kept Secrets.

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Grand Rapids: The City That Works

Gerald R. Ford & John Corriveau (Towery Publishing, 1998)

With this simple statement, former President Gerald R. Ford introduces Greater Grand Rapids: The City That Works. Looking back on his distinguished career, he recalls the many addresses he has occupied. The dorm at the University of Michigan, a cramped bunk on a naval aircraft carrier, local law offices, the U.S. Congress, and of course, the world's most famous address: the White House. Yet, as Ford reveals, Grand Rapids is the place he continues to regard as "a kind of bedrock that has remained very much the same even though the city itself has grown and prospered beyond my wildest imagination." Aided by hundreds of outstanding images shot by the area's best photographers and gathered by photography editor John Corriveau, Ford captures the essence of this bedrock community in a way that will inform those who do not know Grand Rapids and delight those who are fortunate enough to call the city home. Ford concludes, "There has always been something about Grand Rapids, something familiar and down-to-earth-that has helped its residents to keep their feet on the ground no matter where their dreams and careers might take them."

Almost Lost: Building and Preserving Heritage Hill, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Thomas H. Logan (Arbutus Press, 1997)

"We nearly lost it. In the 1960's and early 1970's, the Grand Rapids Heritage Hill neighborhood was in great danger of being razed piece-by-piece. It has instead been extensively restored and preserved - a tribute to many active and determined residents of Heritage Hill, then and since. This is the story of the heroic effort to save one of the nation's largest historic districts and with it, the legacy of many of Grand Rapids early business and professional pioneers.

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Flight to Freedom: the Story of the Vietnamese of West Michigan

Gordon L. Olson (Grand Rapids Historical Commission, 2004)

Grand Rapids, a City Renewed: a History Since World War II

Gordon L. Olson (Grand Rapids Historical Commission, 1996)

A Grand Rapids Sampler

Gordon L. Olson (Grand Rapids Historical Commission, 1992)

Grand Rapids Goes to War: the 1940s Homefront

Richard H. Harms & Robert W. Viol (Grand Rapids Historical Society, 1993)

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Born to Wander: Autobiography of John Ball 1794-1884

(Grand Rapids Historical commission, 1994)

Reprint of the life history of well-known early Grand Rapids resident, including his trip on the Oregon Trail.

Thin Ice

Edited by Reinder Van Til and Gordon Olson

This unique volume contains twenty-eight fascinating life stories of people - many of whom went on to become famous - who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The coming-of-age stories in "Thin Ice" relate a range of experiences both good and bad, including happy memories and heartwarming recollections but also personal traumas, intergenerational and racial conflicts, the strictures of religious belief and practice, the joys and sorrows of young romance, and more. Above and beyond the stories of the more notable personalities - Jim Harrison, Roger Wilkins, John Hockenberry, President Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, Al Green, Paul Schrader, William Brashler - the book is chock-full of crisp, humorous, irreverent, and moving writing. Altogether it presents a multifaceted, impressionistic portrait of a century and a half in the fair city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Available in local book stores.

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Uncle Louis: The biography of Louis Campau, founder of Saginaw and Grand Rapids

Christopher Mabie (Van Naerden Publishing, 2007)

Louis Campau was an instrumental figure in the development of Michigan as it went from being part of the Northwest Territory, to being part of the Indiana Territory, to being established as the Territory of Michigan, and finally as it became the twenty-sixth state of the United States of America. Louis Campau played an important role in the settlement of Michigan by expanding the fur trade and founding two of the state's major cities. Uncle Louis follows the life of Louis Campau; from his birth in Detroit in 1791 to his death in Grand Rapids in 1871. Along the way, he fought in the war of 1812; expanded the fur trade north and west of Detroit; founded Saginaw and Grand Rapids; and helped build and promote Grand Rapids, the place he finally called home.

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Furniture City

Vintage Grand Rapids Vol. II

(Danny R. Gaydou, 2008)

The rich history of Grand Rapids lives in every resident who calls the area home. The photos in this book, shared by you, are snapshots of times and places gone by; nostalgic glimpses of the river of history that flows through our lives. Through them, we are enriched as we recall the memories they evoke. We remember the traditions that were laid down before us and are cherished by us today. We also smile at the well-remembered faces, the mischievous looks on the schoolchildren we once were, the soda fountain where we took our first date or the soldier who went to war on our behalf. This is our family scrapbook, the scrapbook of Grand Rapids; photos of the people we were who helped to make who we are now.

Heart & Soul

Linda Samuelson & Andrew Schrier (William B. Eerdmans, 2003)

Reading Heart & Soul, the story of Grand Rapids neighborhoods, is a requirement for anyone who wants to understand Grand Rapids. The book forever memorializes the journey of the city's neighborhoods as they sought their own identity and developed the strength and character to succeed. There are stories of the many cultures that have been woven together over time to shape the community.

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Amazing Women of West Michigan

Crystan Bowman

Amazing Women of West Michigan is a celebration of women who strive to make their community a better place to live. From doctors and lawyers to social workers and artist, the thirty-five women featured here are each unique in the role they fulfill. They come from a wide variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, yet all exhibit the same sort of courage, strength, and determination.

Grand Rapids Furniture: the Story of America's Furniture City

Christian G. Carron (Public Museum of Grand Rapids, 1998)

Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America's Furniture City is the first major history to be published about the place that once crowned itself "The Paris of Furniture Design." Over 200 photos illustrate the lively text by Christian G. Carron, curator of one of the nation's largest furniture collections. The story begins in the 1830's with the region's first cabinetmakers, and covers designs from Victorian and Modern through Reform and Revival to the high-tech office furniture of the late twentieth century. The detailed manufacturers directory lists more than 800 West Michigan furniture makers past and present, including company names, locations, designers, and products descriptions. Never-before-published hints for identifying more than 400 maker's marks and labels, to make this an important resource for every reference shelf.

Grand Rapids: Community and Industry

Thomas R. Dilley (Arcadia Publishing, 2006)

In the years between 1890 and 1950, the city of Grand Rapids grew from a small Midwestern town of great potential into a large and important commercial and manufacturing center. With the growth of the city and its population came a large variety of activities, commercial and recreational, which were happily recorded in a huge array of postcards produced by both local and national printers. These cards and the moments they preserve provide a unique glimpse into the life and growth of Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids in Vintage Postcards 1890-1940

Thomas R. Dilley (Arcadia Publishing, 2005)

Grand Rapids, Michigan, began to take shape when settlers found power, transportation, and abundant natural resources on the banks of the Grand River. A gateway to the settlement of western and northern Michigan in the mid- to late 19th century, Grand Rapids became home to a fledgling cottage industry in the manufacture of furniture. In the decades that followed, the furniture industry brought employment and prosperity to the city, and significantly influenced its physical landscape and character. The history of Grand Rapids during the late 19th and early 20th centuries has been documented in the postcards of the period. Hundreds of scenes of buildings and institutions, and the people who lived, worked, and played here were recorded on these cards.

Grand Rapids and its People

April Donaker (Grand Rapids Historical Commission, 2003)

Grand Rapids and Its People looks at the history of Grand Rapids from ancient times through the present. It begins by introducing students to the area's early inhabitants, including the West Michigan Ottawa tribes, French fur traders, and the area's first white settlers. The text then describes the area's evolution from rural outpost to city, as settlers formed a government and many industries and factories transformed the area's economy, which would eventually become the center of furniture building in the United States. Grand Rapids and Its People also discusses immigration and explores the prominent role played by African Americans in Grand Rapids' history. A final section gives a snapshot of the city as it is today.

African Americans in the Furniture City: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Grand Rapids

Randal M. Jelks (University of Illinois Press, 2006)

The story of blacks in Grand Rapids is fascinating. African Americans in the Furniture City makes a provocative argument with conclusions clearly supported by the evidence, and this book represents a new departure that will enrich discussions on the urbanization of African Americans during the twentieth century."--Dennis C. Dickerson, author of Out of the Crucible: Black Steelworkers in Western Pennsylvania, 1875-1980

Strike! How the Furniture Workers Strike of 1911 Changed Grand Rapids

Jeffrey D. Kleiman (Grand Rapids Historical Commission, 2006)

Strike! is a well-written survey of the furniture workers strike and its impact on the political and economic life of Grand Rapids. Local historians and those interested in labor studies will enjoy this volume. In the early 1900s, furniture factories dominated the physical and economic landscape of Grand Rapids. More than 60 factories employed over 5,000 workers, making it the nation's "Furniture Capital." In mid-April 1911, growing tensions between furniture manufacturers and factory workers erupted in a citywide strike that affected nearly every company and lasted throughout the summer, bringing much of the city to a standstill for four months. Strike! recounts the events of 1911 to bring this important chapter in Grand Rapids' history to light for additional research and debate.

Grand Rapids: Furniture City

Norma Lewis

William Haldane opened a cabinet shop in 1836, 14 years before Grand Rapids incorporated. Other furniture companies followed: Berkey and Gay, Widdicomb, Sligh, Hekman, and Phoenix were among those taking advantage of the Grand River for transportation and power, the area's abundant hardwood supply, and a growing immigrant labor pool. The furniture soon attracted national attention. In 1876, the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition proved conclusively that a river town in Michigan had indeed earned the title "Furniture City." Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower all worked at Grand Rapids-made desks. Fifteen manufacturers joined forces to build 1,000 Handley Page bombers during World War I. The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on September 2, 1945, at a table made in Grand Rapids. Despite fires, floods, strikes, depressions, and wars, Grand Rapids led the industry until the 1950s and 1960s, when the factories began moving to North Carolina. Today the area, along with nearby Holland and Zeeland, dominates the office furniture industry.

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