Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

ETHNIC HISTORY OF ALBION

Morning Star, September 13, 1998, pg. 4

This coming Saturday, September 19 is the day we have been waiting for--our annual Festival of the Forks. yours truly will be at his Albion History Booth in front of Citizens Bank, and I invite you to come out and see the Albion history materials I will have available. This will include remaining copies of my previous Riverside Cemetery tour programs, and old copies of the Albion Malleable Iron Company "Circle-A-Tor" magazine.

As we approach our Festival of the Forks on Saturday, September 19, we are reminded of the ethnic diversity that exists in our community, and how we have turend it into an asset. That was a big reason the Festival was organized in the first place, it being a much better celebration than the western-theme "Frontier Days" that had been tried previous to the Festival in the mid-1960s.

One excellent resource to learn about Albionís ethnic mix is the book "An Ethnic History of Albion" written in 1978 by a fellow classmate of mine, Albion High School class of 1971, Judy Powell (now Jones). Judy wrote this book before "ethnic" was popular, during the era of the "Melting Pot" concept in Albion.

The concept for the book was conceived by then Albion Mayor Charles w. Jones, who thought that a book such as this would be an excellent way of celebrating the Bicentennial 1776-1076 of the United States. Judy served as Bicentennial Coordinator for the Albion Bicentennial Commission, and began her research on the project. She was able to draw upon her experience in the black community as a a valuable resource, and interviewed many persons to cover the other nationalities. The book was edited by the late Dr. Joseph Irwin, professor of English emeritus at Albion College.

Judy concisely covers various major ethnic groupsin Albion, spending most of her work (20 pages) on that which she was familiar with, the black community. It should be noted that this book was not intended to be an exhaustive resource on the subject of our ethnic heritage, but rather as an introduction which needed to be researched and further investigated. Space limitations and financial considerations unfortunately did not allow the author to expand her work and cover particular topics in more detail as she would have like to. Powerll writes (Pg. IX): "Originally a birographical section was to be included in the history, but when the gtreat number of sketches necessary to include all of the ethnic people who have contributed to this community was realized, it was decided to abandon that plan." The 74-page book is highly illustrated, and contains numerous historical early 20th century photographs of Albion and its people.

An Ethnic History of Albion" was financed and published by the City of Albion which owns the copyright. Copies were sold at City Hall for many years. The remaining pile of unsolld books were later taken to the Local History Room at the Albion Public Library where they remain today, after several were swiped from the library shelves without being checked out or returned. My own opinion is that the book should be reprinted so that a new generation of young people can learn of our local ethnic heritage, and of teh struggles that our ancestors experienced. The book is small enough that it can be done, in my opinion, rather inexpensively. Would any group like to take this on as a project with permission from the copyright owner, the City of Albion?

This week we salute author Judy Powell Jones, and present in our Historical Notebook a copy of the cover of her book, "An Ethnic History of Albion." The cover drawing was made by Sarah Birtman-Fox. Before I start getting calls, no, I donít have any extra copies. I only have my own personal copy. Multiple copies of the book are available for reading in the Local History Room at the Albion Public Library.


An Ethnic History of Albion

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