Museum Board's public commemoration of Underground Railroad designation of Greenwood Cemetery September 17, 2022 -- An event to remember
In March, the City learned that its application was approved to designate the gravesites of Elijah Fish and George Taylor to the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The two men, both buried in Birmingham’s Greenwood Cemetery, have been shown by the research of Birmingham Museum staff and volunteers to have direct connections to local anti-slavery efforts leading up the Civil War. Pioneer settler Fish was an active abolitionist, and Taylor himself escaped enslavement and followed the Underground Railroad through Michigan to freedom, becoming the first African American to own property in Birmingham.
The Underground Railroad Tour features the newly designated National Park Service Network to Freedom historical burial sites of freedom seeker George B. Taylor and abolitionist Elijah S. Fish. Their stories are detailed in the app, which also tells you where to find their final resting places. The app will also offer the three established and popular tours of others who helped shaped Birmingham during three different periods: The Birmingham's Pioneers Tour explains who the key settlers were during the earliest period, especially the murders of Polly Ann and Cynthia Utter in 1825. The 19th Century Community Builders Tour highlights the next generation of families who established Birmingham as a thriving local commercial center and whose names appear all over Birmingham on city streets and many of our historic buildings. And, the 20th Century Notables Tour includes recognizable names from more recent times, including the Booth family of Cranbrook, sculptor Marshall Fields, and novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard.
But Wait-There's More! We also have cool student tours of the Hunter House and the Allen House to give a taste of what these homes were like when they were occupied by some of Birmingham's best known families. The app is free for Android and Apple (search The Birmingham Museum), and offers a tour-within-the-tour opportunity for kids and their parents to share the visit to the Hunter House and the Allen House in the way that works best for them. Plus, you can review it later in case you missed something or want to study it more. But you don't have to be at the museum site to check it out--you can download it anytime to explore what the museum has to offer, or get more updated information.
Our newest exhibit explores Birmingham's cultural diversity history and presents the many sides of the social and racial struggles in our past. Our lecture series at the Baldwin Library are free to the public and held once a month at 7 pm. Each topic illustrates a particular aspect of our long and many-faceted history of diversity in many surprising ways.
The Birmingham Museum has been doing some deeper dives into our local cultural heritage and learning some amazing things about Birmingham’s racial and ethnic past. Join Leslie Pielack and Donna Casaceli for an overview of the enlightened, progressive, controversial, and sometimes downright shocking events that surround our complex cultural history in this introduction to our current exhibit, “A Tapestry of Birmingham: Exploring Our Diversity.”
November 10, 2022 7 PM: Buried Past: Birmingham’s Indigenous People and Archaeological Heritage (Caitlin Donnelly)
January 12, 2023 7 PM: Minoru Yamasaki and Asian Americans in Birmingham (Justin Koch)
An incredibly gifted Japanese-American architect, Yamasaki became famous for his design of New York’s Twin Towers, the iconic symbol forever merged with the 9/11 terror attacks. Yet this exceptional person was unable to purchase a house in Birmingham due to discrimination in the mid-20th century. Hear more about his and other Asian American experience in post-World War II Birmingham with Justin Koch of the Birmingham Museum.
February 9, 2023 7 PM: Early Abolitionists and the Local Underground Railroad Network (Leslie Pielack)
During Black History Month, join Leslie` Pielack to revisit our local Black history and new findings about Oakland County’s network of abolitionists and Underground Railroad activists. Who was involved? How did they accomplish it? What happened to the freedom seekers who came through Birmingham and the surrounding communities of Royal Oak, Pontiac, Southfield, Franklin, White Lake, and others? Learn how local historians are working together to answer these questions.
March 9, 2023 7 PM: The Levinsons: First Jews in Birmingham (Leslie Pielack)
(Encore presentation) To venture into a whole new world where they were outsiders was only part of the challenge faced by Morris and Gitel Levinson in 1896. Adding to their obstacles, they were recent immigrants from Russia trying to adapt to American culture; and, furthermore, Jewish in a non-Jewish town. Yet the Levinsons prevailed, bridging the gap between old traditions and modern America in the growing town of Birmingham. Their descendants helped shape America and the world, and still have a presence in the area, and include Carl and Sander Levin, Bess Levinson, and David Levinson.
June 4, 2022 10am - 2pm The Birmingham Museum (556 W. Maple, Birmingham, MI)
The Birmingham Museum has been working toward improving public access and improvements to the museum grounds in the past year, with the goal to reconstruct the character of the Allens’ original gardens from 1926. The final phase involves planting the main garden bed with heritage perennial flowers, many of which are still available today, and found in local gardens. And because spring is the time for dividing and thinning perennials, the Museum Board has planned a fun event to invite the public to get in on the perennial garden project in a first ever community Heritage Plant Exchange at the Birmingham Museum at 556 W. Maple Road..
The public is invited to bring a healthy plant (or two) to trade with others and/or place in the Allen House perennial garden. There is no charge for the exchange—leave a plant, take a plant. Get something new for your garden, and meet fellow green thumbers! (Museum board member and master gardener Jay Shell will be on hand to answer gardening questions, and the museum will be open for visitors (regular admission applies) during the event. All plants must be labeled; blank labels will be available on site.
October 14, 2021 7pm The 1825 Utter Murders, Revisited (Commander Scott Grewe and Leslie Pielack)
In the dusk of April 4, 1825 along the Saginaw Trail, a local man went on a violent rampage with an ax, killing two people and a horse before he was stopped. What led up to this horrific event? How did this tragedy affect the community? Join Commander Scott Grewe of the Birmingham Police Department and Leslie Pielack of the Birmingham Museum in a re-examination of this crime in the wilderness of early Birmingham. Now on video at our YouTube Channel!
November 4, 2021 7pm The Saginaw Trail and Oakland County’s Indigenous People (Leslie Pielack)
The indigenous people of Michigan faced catastrophic loss with the incoming white settlement after the War of 1812, but this tragic history is rarely covered in school. Why did the Michigan tribes sell their land? How did they deal with settlers in Oakland County? What happened to Michigan’s indigenous people in the latter 19th century? Join Leslie Pielack, author of The Saginaw Trail: From Native American Path to Woodward Avenue, for a discussion of the major events affecting local Native people, and their relationship with settlers along the Saginaw Trail. Now on video at our YouTube Channel!
December 2, 2021 7pm Christmas in Early Birmingham (Donna Casaceli)
Celebration of the Christmas season has changed in Birmingham throughout the years. Learn how early Birmingham celebrated the holidays as we explore these early traditions and their history with Donna Casaceli from the Birmingham Museum. Now on video at our YouTube Channel!
January 6, 2022 7pm Surviving Winter Before Central Heating (Caitlin Donnelly)
Michigan isn't known for its pleasant winters, so how did folks in Birmingham in the early 1800s survive and thrive without central heating or modern conveniences? Bundle up and put another log in the fire as we explore how early Birminghamsters would have kept warm, eaten and entertained themselves during the winter. Presented by Caitlin Donnelly from the Birmingham Museum.
February 3, 2022 7pm Black Families of Early Birmingham (Leslie Pielack)
For Black History Month, the Birmingham Museum has much to share about early Birmingham’s African American history! New research has emerged regarding four local families and their fascinating connection to Birmingham and each other. They include a formerly enslaved couple who came to early Birmingham, mothers and daughters separated by enslavement who were later reunited, and a local family whose multi-racial heritage traces to Colonial America and a prominent community of free people of color. Leslie Pielack will present recent findings from museum staff research into our fascinating but little known local Black history. Watch the video recording.
March 3, 2022 7pm Birmingham Women in Aviation (Donna Casaceli)
From the earliest women pilots to the first woman astronaut, Birmingham has been at the forefront of female flight. Experience the joy through the eyes of some of Birmingham's most adventurous women with Donna Casaceli of the Birmingham Museum.
April 7, 2022 7pm Birmingham: America’s Shetland Pony Capital (Caitlin Donnelly)
From the late 19th through early 20th century, the quiet village of Birmingham was the place to buy the highly desirable Shetland breed of pony. The gentle and sturdy ponies were not only in demand on farms, but were featured summertime amusements at Detroit’s Belle Isle, Boblo Island and Palmer Park. Don’t miss this chance to hear more about Birmingham’s pony tales!
May 5, 2022 7pm Birmingham’s Stories of War and Service (Donna Casaceli)
From the original founding of our country, Birmingham men and women have served bravely to protect our freedom. Through their stories, we can honor them for their service and their sacrifice. Join Donna Casaceli from the Birmingham Museum in sharing the amazing stories of these courageous and committed Birmingham citizens.
June 3, 2022 7pm Juneteenth and Birmingham’s Connection to the Underground Railroad (Donna Casaceli)
Buried in Greenwood Cemetery are two men, separated by time and the circumstances of their birth, but joined in the struggle to end slavery in the United States. Learn how George Taylor and Elijah Fish worked to abolish slavery in America and the connection of Birmingham to the Underground Railroad in this celebration of Juneteenth.