Michigan Transportation History

Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

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The Historical Society of Michigan (1828)

There was a historical society incorporated by the territorial legislature on June 23, 1828. The charter members were: Lewis Cass, Henry Whiting?, John Biddle, Gabriel Richard?, Noah M. Wells?, Richard F. Cadle?, Isaac McIlvain?, Zara H. Coston?, Austin E. Wing, Thomas Rowland?, John L. Whiting?, Henry S. Cole?, Jonathan Kearsley?, Samuel W. Dexter?, Zina Pitcher?, Edwin P. James?, Henry R. Schoolcraft, and Charles C. Trowbridge. George Catlin identified this organization as the "Historical Society of Michigan" and that it was defunct by 1855.1

The State Pioneer Society

The legislature passed an act in 1873 for the simple incorporation of historical, biographical, and geological societies. The Detroit Daily Post followed that with a public appeal for the creation of a state pioneer society. Such a meeting was organized for pioneer settlers of the state and the first meeting was in former library room of Lansing's old State house on March ll, 1874. Judge Albert Miller of Bay City was elected president and John C. Holmes secretary of the convention. Miller told the assembly the purposes of the organization: "The persons who are well acquainted with our early history are rapidly passing away, and it is none too soon to organize a State Pioneer Society." The assembly then formed a chartering committee.

The first meeting of the "Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan" was again held in Lansing on April 27, 1874. Each county historical society was asked to send three delegates representing their county and membership was opened to any Michigan resident of at least 40 years of age and who had been a resident for at least twenty-five years. Miller was elected to serve as the society's first president. For many years at first, the organization was known as the "State Pioneer Society," but at some point, it became known as the "Pioneer and Historical Society."2

The publications of the society starting in 1877, called Collections, were mostly an antiquarian exercise in preserving the experiences of Michigan's American pioneers. Robert J. Parks called it, a "publication of nearly forty years of geriatric reminiscences" with but one scholarly contribution to the history of Michigan.3 Nonetheless, even taking the Collections as "geriatric," they provide many first-hand accounts of the American experience in 19th century Michigan.


See also
MPHS Collections Citations

1. George B. Catlin, Local History of Detroit and Wayne County, volume 3 of Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society and Michigan Historical Commission, Historic Michigan, edited by George N. Fuller (Dayton, OH: National Historical Association, Inc, 1928), 147.

2. The history of the Pioneer Society is found in its founding documents in 7|7]].

3. Robert J. Parks, Democracy's Railroads: Public Enterprise in Jacksonian Michigan (Port Washington, NY; London: Kennikat Press, 1974), , 238.

Internet Archive Searches

The Michigan State University Libraries has a very good Research Guide to Digitized Volumes 1-15 of the Collections (1877-1890).

Search at Archive.org

"Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan. Pioneer Collections" search at Archive.org

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on April 13, 2020, at 07:02 PM EST

Page last modified on April 13, 2020, at 07:02 PM EST