On a pleasant spring day in Lansing, on May 8, 1913, then-Governor Woodbridge Ferris struck a blow for history. He signed a bill creating the Michigan Historical Commission.
The commission was originally autonomous. It was later under the Secretary of State, the now-defunct History Arts and Libraries department and is now housed under the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Today, the current commissioners are celebrating the commission’s 100th anniversary. Governor Ferris is long forgotten and the original commissioners are all long dead.
But the commission is still hanging in there, trying to make us conscious of our state’s fascinating past. They are the folks, by the way, behind the Michigan History magazine and the Michigan Historical Marker Program. Nearly everyone has seen some of the more than 1,700 green and gold markers in front of buildings from the old Model T plant in Highland Park to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
In addition to placing historical markers throughout the state, the MHC is also focused on some larger projects, as well. In Detroit, the MHC is planning a relocation and renovation of the former home of Ulysses S. Grant, who was stationed in Detroit during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Grant would become a President of the United States. Other acitivities include helping revitalize the Detroit Capitol Park, a tiny urban space where the state’s first capitol was, and where today rest the often-moved bones of Stevens T. Mason, our state’s first governor, and helping the state celebrate it’s sesquicentennial.
For more information, see Jim Lessenberry, Commentary: Celebrating a century”, Michigan Radio, May 8, 2013.
“Historical Commission Turns 100”, Inside MIRS Today, May 8, 2013.