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Research collection donated to the Grand Rapids Public Library

GRAND RAPIDS, August 21, 2019: Carl Bajema—a noted researcher and local historian—has donated 1,570 volumes of collected articles on the history of railroads, logging, the environment and social history to the Grand Rapids Public Library's History and Special Collections Department (GRHSC). The collection represents over three decades of work.

Bajema, a biology professor emeritus at GVSU, began compiling old newspaper clippings on area logging, reforestation and forests for personal use. Over the years, it grew to encompass greater Grand Rapids history between 1830 and 1930. Subjects in his collection include local African-Americans, women in Grand Rapids, the Civil War, Native-Americans, police and fire departments, education, labor, bicycles, the YMCA, baseball and local theaters.

Carl Bajema

The collection shows how major industries shaped and formed West Michigan and how Grand Rapids became the Furniture City. The thread of environmental history runs through the collection.

Jeff Seaver, Bajema's close friend who cataloged the nearly 1,600 binders of information noted, "This extraordinary collection provides easy access to volumes of information on a wide variety of subjects, each of which would otherwise take weeks—and even years—to locate. Rather than sift through countless archives, documents, collections, and reels of microfilm from dozens of newspapers, institutions, and experts across the state, the collection will accelerate the timeline for historians to write new articles and books, as well as inspire new areas of research and scholarship that may otherwise be overlooked.”

Bajema decided to donate his entire collection that filled his basement to the library because he wanted it accessible to the public. “Carl has always been quick to share his research with others,” remarked Julie Tabberer, GRHSC Manager. “Even in today's digital era, most of this content is not readily available or easy to find. Carl put thousands of hours into collecting and organizing information on specific topics, which anyone can now benefit from. Housing the collection at the library furthers his open and generous spirit.”

The Grand Rapids Public Library is key to a dynamic, creative, livable city where people come together to learn and be heard. We inspire opportunity, connection, and innovation.



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Revised: 09/03/19 20:09:29 -0700.




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