Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 24, 2011

Society presents 2011 State History Awards

Ruggles, Mitchell, Doerr are recipients


TRAVERSE CITY — An Elk Rapids native son, a Northport historian and a Petoskey writer are among the 17 winners of 2011 State History Awards.

Glenn Ruggles, a 1948 graduate of Elk Rapids Rural Agricultural High School, received the Historical Society of Michigan's 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award State History Award, which honors men and women who have dedicated themselves to preserving Michigan's history over a significant amount of time.

He's authored nine books, including "Elk Rapids: The First Hundred Years," a 335-page photo history published in 2007 that includes 800 pictures that tell their own story about early settlers and includes oral histories and maps. Some of his works on Elk Rapids and the Chain of Lakes include "Something From Nothing" (1976) and "Voices on the Street," an oral history of downtown Elk Rapids. He also co-produced three 16mm films, one of which — "The River's the Same" — earned an Award of Merit from the state society in 1976.

Ruggles has been deeply involved in oral history projects with many organizations, including the Sterling Heights Public Library, the Walter P. Reuther Labor Library and the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. He led numerous history organizations and was a regular columnist for the Elk Rapids Town Meeting newspaper.

The two other area winners were John C. Mitchell, of Northport, and Mary Jane Doerr, of Petoskey, in the Publications: Private Printing Category.

Mitchell's book, "Grand Traverse: The Civil War Era," came out this year and is based on two extensive firsthand historical accounts of the region. One was the diary of the Rev. George N. Smith, an Indian mission minister who led a group of Holland-area Indians to Northport in 1849, along with the Grand Traverse Herald, the region's first newspaper founded in 1858 by Morgan Bates, a feisty and colorful editor and fervent abolitionist.

Doerr wrote "Bay View: An American Idea," the first comprehensive history of the Bay View Chautauqua, the local embodiment of an adult education program founded in New York. She used Bay View Archives, other local and state archives and libraries, as well as oral history interviews.

Bayview in Petoskey was founded in the 19th century as a Methodist summer retreat for lay ministers and Sunday school teachers. The emphasis was on personal growth and spiritual refreshment.

Doerr, a retired special education teacher, has been a freelance writer for the Petoskey News-Review since 1979 and other newspapers in Michigan and the U.S. She is a member of the Bay View Association, and her mother, Jane Park Doerr, spearheaded the Bay View National Historic Landmark movement.

The awards are the highest recognition presented by the state's official history society, and were presented at the annual awards reception and banquet Friday evening held at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa.

It is the first time the Historical Society of Michigan has held its annual meeting and state conference in Traverse City since 1874 when it first started having them. The historical society dates back to 1828 when Michigan was still a territory.

The conference continues today with a series of break-out historical presentations on local and state history and ends Sunday.