Posted by: Kath Usitalo | November 30, 2012

Michi-Gifts: Seeking Michigan

The Proud Robin

The 1958 Proud Robin appears on prints, mugs, T-shirts and more from the online store Seeking Michigan

Another in the Michi-Gifts series of suggestions to make your holiday merry and bright by thinking outside of the big box shops.
As an alternative to mass-produced merchandise and the mall mentality I am reviving the “buy local” email message that I received last year.
Click here to read Birth of a New Tradition, and be inspired to get creative in your gift-giving this season.

Do you have a Michigan fan on your gift list? Not the kind that dresses in maize and blue and has a block M toilet seat. I’m talking about those who would especially appreciate a piece of the past from the Great Lakes State.

Seeking Michigan is an online resource of the Michigan History Foundation with a focus on information, photos, film/video footage, records—the stuff of the state’s cultural heritage. The name Seeking Michigan comes from the state motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

At the site you can dig into state history by studying images of the past like a 1907 photo of Cascade Street in Ada, original footage of the 1967 Detroit riots, Civil War documents, diaries and photos, census records and the Constitution of Michigan of 1835, which pre-dated statehood by two years.

And there’s a store where you’ll find bits of Michigan history reproduced as functional items and paper reproductions suitable for framing. The screenshots I was allowed to share here don’t do justice to the goods, so set aside some time to shop online and you may find something for that person who would like something you cannot buy at a chain outfit.

Check out the letterpress card with Michigan Trout Stamp art from 1948, prints of architectural drawings for select lighthouses, and an assortment of black and white photo reprints including a 1929 image of a dog ready for flight in an open-cockpit airplane. (Imagine the uproar if that dog had belonged to a Romney!)

The Proud Robin (above) promoted the fifth annual Michigan Week in May of 1958. You can buy him on a mug ($11), magnet ($5), notecards ($14) T-shirt ($19.95) and prints ranging from $15-$45.

Tourist Map

The 1839 Tourist Map: What travelers used pre-Pure Michigan

In 1836 and 1839 Augustus Mitchell published The Tourist’s Pocket Map of Michigan which shows rivers, stagecoach and canal routes and a pretty good depiction of the Great Lakes.

The latter version (left) has an insert map of the Upper Peninsula, which became a part of the state after the original was published in 1836.

The Mitchell map is available as a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle ($20) and as a print in six sizes from 5″x7″ to 20″x24″ ranging in price from $15-$45.

For the history buff who has everything consider sponsorship of a Michigan Civil War Battle Flag. The $250 contribution helps preserve the collection of about 160 banners that survived the Civil War in the hands of men from Michigan. The donor who “adopts” the flag (or the designated gift recipient) receives recognition on the flag web page and a 24″x36″ archival color print of “their” flag. You can select a flag from the photos online at the Seeking Michigan store.

And there’s more.

Got a black sheep in your family tree? Seek the corrections records for prisoners who did time in Jackson, Marquette or Ionia prisons. The materials on file vary by year and facility; you might get a photocopy of an index card or full file on the scoundrel. But it’s sure to be an original gift for the right person.

Vintage brewery label art from several former Michigan beer makers is plastered on T-shirts ($19.95), prints ($15-$45) and magnets ($5).

You can even find one for that Michigan fan of the maize-and-blue kind in the striking oval-shaped label for Wolverine Beer, which was “prepared and bottled by Wolverine Brewing Co., in Pontiac, Michigan.”

In addition to the online store, some items are for sale in the museum shop at the Michigan Historical Center in Lansing and at Schuler Books in the Lansing and Grand Rapids areas.

Related Link:

Michi-Gifts: Jeff Daniels and Christmas Gifts from the Great Lakes State

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