History and Christmas make a perfect pair.
Holiday movies and books, cherished ornaments, carols, and favorite cookie recipes remind us of the best of Christmases past.
The season abounds with nostalgia.
What better way to commemorate all that holiday “auld lang syne” than with a gift of local history?
Our community is fortunate to have many local history organizations that successfully maintain our ties to the past. A gift of local history – from the shops of a local museum, historical society or downtown merchant – helps to support historic preservation and programming in the community.
With less than two weeks left to shop for Christmas and holiday gifts, “A Patch of History” reviews some of the best local history gifts for the history enthusiast on your list.
Oakland Township Historical Society
- Heritage in Oakland Township was published in 1976 by Delta Kelly and Barbara Kandarian. The softcover booklet tells the story of Oakland Township and Goodison from the early settlers to the post-war era. $5.
- A color reproduction of an 1872 township map that is matted and ready to be framed makes a great gift for local genealogists and property historians. $20.
- Scenic note cards featuring the township’s historical sites by local artist Lyn Sieffert are also available through the historical society.
These and many other items may be purchased by calling society president Diana Borrusch at 248-693-8660
Rochester-Avon Historical Society
- Rochester Preserving History – A Pictorial Journey contains more than 200 never-before-published images of Rochester. $17.95.
- Hometown Rochester – A History of Avon Township, Rochester and Rochester Hills, Michigan, and Remembering Rochester: Main Street Stories, both by Deborah J. Larsen, are the most recent publications published by the historical society. They make a delightful gift for anyone who remembers the sights and sounds of Rochester’s past or for newcomers who wonder about Rochester’s days of yore. Hometown Rochester (2008) is $29.95 and Remembering Rochester (2011) is $9. Both are available through the historical society and at Lytle’s Pharmacy, Holland’s Floral and Gifts and at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.
- The Early Rochester Era: Our Legacy, Your Heritage is an award-winning historical documentary presented by the Rochester-Avon Historical Society in association with Constellation films. Narrated by local media personality Mort Crim, the film tells the story of the greater Rochester area from the first settlement in 1817 to the post-war era of the 1950s with pictures and voice cameos from local residents. $15.
- The Cat’s Meow Village™ is a series of handcrafted miniature wooden buildings and accessories depicting Rochester's significant historic structures such as the Chapman House, the old post office (now Penny Black), and Paint Creek Tavern. $10-15/each.
- Earlier this year, Oakland County to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. The map documents 12 Underground Railroad locations in the county, as well as Civil War cemeteries, monuments and related structures. It also features pictures of artifacts and stories of the men and women from Oakland County who made important contributions to the war effort. $20.
These items and many more may be purchased by calling society president Rod Wilson at 248-651-6178 or completing and mailing an order form.
Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm
- A History of Avon Township 1820-1940 by Eula Pray was a master’s thesis first published in installments in the Rochester Era newspaper in the early 1940s. It was made available to the public in 1986 complete with citations and a bibliography, making it a truly valuable historical work for current and future researchers. $15.
- Petticoat Surgeon by Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen & Chronicle of Van Hoosen Centenary Farm by Sarah Van Hoosen Jones both tell of the many trials, tribulations and joys experienced by members of the Van Hoosen and Taylor families of Stoney Creek Village. These are perfect reads for genealogists and those who enjoy learning about women’s history and the history of early medicine. $15/each.
- Into the Fertile Valley of Stoney Creek by Debora J. Remer details a 20-year archaeological excavation on the property of the Rochester Hills Museum and features photos of over 100,000 artifacts unearthed by professional archaeologists, students and volunteers. $29.95.
- Bill’s Super Service by Nancy Broomfield Aiken is a loving look back at the life and career of her father, former U.S. Representative , who served in the legislature from 1956 to 1993. $19.95.
- Reproductions of original plat maps of 1872, 1896 and 1908 make great gifts for genealogists and property historians. $8/each.
- A series of prints made from original watercolors by local artist William Steiner illustrate such historical sites as the 1840 Van Hoosen Farmhouse, 1927 Van Hoosen Dairy Barn, Paint Creek Swimming Hole, Winkler Mill and more. The prints range in price from $10 to $36.
- Granger gear for cranks (fans) of the old-fashioned base ball team is available for fans of all ages. Cream-colored t-shirts feature the team’s logo on the front and are available in small, medium, large and extra-large for $12 each. Cream-colored polo shirts feature the team’s logo embroidered on the front and are available in medium, extra-large or 2XL for $34 each.
- For a true piece of history, consider authentic Rochester Centennial programs and coffee mugs commemorating Rochester’s 100th anniversary celebrated in 1969. $1 each (limited supply).
These items and more may be purchased at the Rochester Hills Museum gift shop.
Meadow Brook Hall & Oakland University
- The Dodge Brothers: The Men, the Motor Cars, and the Legacy by noted professor of history Charles K. Hyde and Images of America: Rochester & Rochester Hills by Merdith Long & Madelyn Rzadkowolski both showcase the history associated with Matilda Dodge Wilson and her Meadow Brook Hall estate. The Dodge Brothers is $35.95 and Images of America is $21.95.
- American Treasures DVD features a personal tour of Meadow Brook Hall by Matilda Dodge Wilson. $18.95.
- For antique car enthusiasts, Meadow Brook Hall offers an array of Concours d’Elegance merchandise as well as a 1936 Chrysler Airflow Model Car featuring opening doors, hood and trunk. Though the real Airflow was a commercial failure for Chrysler, the model version makes a nice toy or office gift. $12.95.
These gifts may be purchased at the Meadow Brook Hall gift shop or online through Oakland University.
- Charms of Rochester® are sold exclusively at and feature the historic buildings of downtown Rochester including the Western Knitting Mill, , the old Train Depot and more. They start at $75 and can be purchased at the store at 311 Main Street or online.
- The Downtown Development Authority has a limited supply of pewter ornaments featuring historic buildings from downtown Rochester, as well as the traditions buildings with lights. Ornaments are $5 each and include the First National Bank, the old Hotel St. James and the Avon Township Hall (now home to ). The traditions buildings are $45 each and include and . Get them while they last at the DDA office at 308 ½ Main Street or online.
Or, give a gift of membership...
A gift of a membership to a museum or historical society keeps on giving all year long. Recipients enjoy perks like free admission, special event notices, members-only pricing and more. It’s also a great way to support our community’s historical organizations and their many programs and preservation efforts throughout the community and southeastern Michigan.