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Fellow Immigrants: Ethnicity, Race and the Peopling of Grand Rapids (GR)

January 27, 2016
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The Sweet House
254 E. Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 United States

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Organized by:
Jennifer Beahan
Phone: 616-698-2342 x801
Email: jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org


Other than Native Americans, West Michigan residents are all immigrants. From the 18th century to the present, newcomers have made their way to the Upper Midwest. In one form or another, they have all experienced forces that caused them to leave their homeland, and others that drew them to Michigan.

Driven by disease, crop failures, economic upheaval, bad leaders, and failed revolutions, they had to make incredibly difficult language and culture adjustments. Drawn by available land, family and neighbors who preceded them, and real and imagined opportunities, they in turn left their mark on West Michigan’s physical, political, social, and cultural landscape. Grand Rapids City Historian Emeritus Gordon Olson will reprise the stories of the many groups who have come to West Michigan, their high moments and low points, as they sought to make homes for themselves and their succeeding generations.

Meetings are open to the Public

After the meeting, join us at Vitale’s Restaurant, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

Learn about Parking, Accessibility, and more.

About Gordon Olson

Grand Rapids City Historian Emeritus

Gordon Olson, Grand Rapids City Historian Emeritus, served as Grand Rapids City Historian for 24 years and is the author and editor of numerous local history books, including A Grand Rapids Sampler; Grand Rapids, A City Renewed; and histories of Amway, Steelcase, and Irwin Seating Companies and theGrand Rapids Foundation. His latest efforts include and advisory role for The Gift of All, a video documentary about philanthropy in West Michigan, joint editor of Thin Ice, a collection of stories about coming-of-age experiences in the lives of Grand Rapids residents, and editor of A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks, the memoir of a World War I soldier’s adventures in north Russia. His most recent book is titled The Notorious Isaac Earl and His Scouts which recounts the story of Union Lt. Isaac Newton Earl and the special scouts he led on missions gathering intelligence, and pursuing Confederate guerillas and smugglers in the lower Mississippi River Valley during the U.S. Civil War. Olson is currently working on New Guinea Nightmare, the Story of Michigan and Wisconsin National Guardsmen in The Battle Of Buna, Papua New Guinea.