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.


Morning Star, January 20, 2008, pg. 5

Two books have just been published posthumously that were written by Albion's famous female journalist-photographer Gwen Dew (1903-1993). Gwen grew up in Albion where her father Arthur Dew operated a flower shop on Perry St. Gwen graduated from Albion High School in 1920, attended Albion College for three years, wrote for the Albion Evening Recorder, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a journalism degree in 1924. She was the designer of the FTD Florists "Running Mercury" logo which she designed when she was their public relations agent.

Yours truly has written about Gwen on several occasions in this column, and those articles can be accessed on the www.Albionmich.com website search engine. Photographs of Gwen appear in both my books “Albion in the 20th Century” pp. 46-47, and “Growing Up in Albion” pg. 35. In addition, an article by yours truly entitled "Around the World With Gwen Dew" was the front cover feature story in the March-April 1999 issue of Michigan History Magazine, pp. 38-45.

Gwen traveled around the world and wrote weekly articles for the Detroit News during the 1930s. She was caught in Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion in December, 1941 and was taken prisoner. She was released in mid-1942 as part of a prisoner exchange. During the remainder of the War, Gwen went on the lecture circuit, raising money for War bonds. Gwen wrote a series of articles about her ordeal which was published in newspapers across the country in late 1942. It was followed by her book "Prisoner of the Japs," published by Alfred A. Knopf publishers of New York in 1943.

At the time of her death in 1993, Gwen's manuscripts for two other books she had been working on were entrusted to a close family friend, Marion Concannon, who recently had them printed by the Easton Printing Company of Parkersburg, WV.

The first new book is entitled, "My God, a Woman!" and consists of stories about Gwens life, travels, adventures, and the famous people she encountered during her lifetime. Her long life, determination and style make this a fascinating book to read. It is 370 pages in length and contains photographs, with a white soft cover.

The inspiration for the title for the book refers to the time when Gwen attended the University of Michigan in 1924, and was filling in for the sports editor for the "Michigan Daily." When she telephoned the United Press International wire service to report some Olympic trial scores, she heard silence over the phone after she spoke. Then a male voice at the other end of the line exclaimed: "My God, a woman!"

The second new book is entitled "MacArthur's Japan." Gwen was the first female reporter allowed into Japan following Japan's surrender. She writes about conditions in Japan during the Allied occupation. Her unique pre-War and post-War perspective adds compelling detail to this profound time in history. 270 pages, black softcover.

Information about ordering both books is found on the www.webclassifieds.us website. Type in the name Gwen Dew on the left in the Quick Search Enter Keywords section, hit "go," and the book information will come up. You can also contact Ms. Marion Concannon, P.O. Box 113, Smithville, WV 26178. or call (304) 477-3202.

A memorial to Gwen has been placed on the www.Findagrave.com website. On the left “famous side” search, just type in Gwen Dew and her married name Gwendolyn Buchanan will come up. Click on her name and the memorial will appear. Viewers may leave "virtual flowers" and notes on this site. Gwen's cremains are interred in the Dew family plot in Riverside Cemetery here in Albion. Unfortunately, no engraving stating that fact was made on the Dew family marker, as Gwen was the last of her family line with no one to take care of that detail. Would any Albion club like to take on a project of having Gwen’s name and birth/death dates engraved on the family marker? Perhaps the FTD Florists logo she designed could also be added.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Gwen in 1943 on the lecture circuit, promoting her new book which she is holding. How many of our readers remember Gwen Dew?

Gwen Dew promoting her new book in 1943

More about Gwen Dew:

Around the World with Gwen Dew

GWEN DEW, Short Version

GWEN DEW at the University of Michigan

GWEN DEW in 1927

Gwen Dew World War II radio drama broadcast on NBC


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