To commemorate its recent bicentennial, the city of Ypsilanti has published its new book, "Ypsilanti Histories: A Look Back at the Last Fifty Years."
Published on July 16, the book is a collection of essays written by various authors exploring historical events that have happened in Ypsilanti since 1973. Ypsilanti Histories is edited by the Ypsilanti Historical Society’s president, Bill Nickels, and John McCurdy, a history professor at Eastern Michigan University.
The essays were written by both professional and amateur historians who have connections to Ypsilanti. Many of the authors were either a part of or witnessed the events they wrote about.
“We decided that it would be a good idea to have the people of Ypsilanti tell the stories of Ypsilanti’s history.” McCurdy said.
McCurdy and Nickels asked a multitude of Ypsilanti community members to contribute to the project. Some of these members included former Ypsilanti mayors and politicians. Others were local business owners and several of EMU’s faculty and alumni. The university is often referred to and represented in the book.
“There was absolutely nobody out there who would single-handedly take on the writing of this book, it’s too much history,” Nickels said. “That meant it had to be a group effort.”
Some of the experiences featured in Ypsilanti Histories will observe EMU’s mascot and the university. In addition, the book has essays written on some of the city’s oldest and well-known landmarks from Michigan Ave to Depot Town.
Many of these experiences come from a diverse group of the city’s population.
“We wanted to make sure the book had a diversity of voices,” McCurdy said. “So it was very important for us to have content from people of color, especially African-Americans. There's such a significant African-American population in the city of Ypsilanti. We also wanted LGBTQIA+ voices and to write about things like the non-discrimination ordinance that was passed in the 1990s.”
Research for the book consisted of archives at the Ypsilanti Historical Society, local libraries, old newspapers, including editions of the Eastern Echo and interviews.
One of Ypsilanti Histories authors, Kathleen Chamberlain, a professor in Native American Studies at EMU, wrote about the Eagles’ name and mascot change from the Hurons.
“I discovered that a lot of the information gathered for the book came from newspaper articles,” Chamberlain said.
Ypsilanti Histories is available for purchase at the Ypsilanti Historical Society for $20. All proceeds from the book’s sale will go towards the Historical Society. The Historical Society is located on North Huron St. and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 2-5 p.m.