On February 28, 1932, The Child Study club opened Chelsea’s first library since 1903. The library, which consisted of 22 books donated by Study Club members and 100 books on loan from the State Library, was announced to the people of Chelsea in a letter written by the “books” in the February 25 issue of the Chelsea Standard:
Here we are! One hundred fifty books of fact, fiction, wit and humor; already to start moving, then growing and never satisfied until we mature into a real library. And just think—we are the friends of children and adults and haven’t made one cent of expense except for a few postage stamps to bring us to Chelsea.
We are just so cozy on these shelves that were donated by good friends of the Child Study club; and have you seen the gaily painted chairs, tables and lamps that just bespeak of congeniality that we already feel in out new home and that we want you to feel toward us.
We expect to be with you about three months, then have to run back to the State Library in Lansing to be dressed up for summer and to give some more of our book friends an opportunity to come down and watch the coming and going to appreciative faces and see little noses pressed against the big window across the library front.
So hurry folks, we want to go into your homes and watch your faces as you listen to the chatter and matter that comes out of our pages.
Now here is one of our little secrets which we know you will want to pass on; If you want to take us home with you, so as to get better acquainted, it will not cost you one cent unless you forget to bring us back at the end of two weeks, then—well, we know that never will happen, but if it should, we shall just talk it over at the Library when you bring us back and your little bit of forgetfulness of time will help to buy more books to be kept permanently for the library’s very own.
Dear me, we could go on and talk to you much more for you see our enthusiasm run high—but if you really care to get better acquainted with us, we shall be glad to go with you on Saturday, February 27, from three o’clock until five o’clock and every Wednesday and Saturday of the succeeding weeks at the same time.
But until that time, be sure to keep us in mind for we are from the new library sponsored by the Child Study club and remain always your true and sincere friends
The Books for Children and Adults
Since opening eighty years ago, the library has been a permanent part of Chelsea, though it has switched locations several times over those years, with a permanent location finally surfacing when Catherine McKune donated her family’s home in 1958.
Initially open for only four hours a week and offering a mere 122 books, the Chelsea Library has grown over the past 80 years; today it is open 63 hours a week and holds a collection of more than 78,500!
In 1959, the citizens of Chelsea went all out with a summer-long celebration of Chelsea’s 125th Anniversary. Community members built a log cabin in the parking lot next to Heydlauff’s to act as headquarters for the event planners, who expected the celebration to bring thousands into the town.
July 11-18 was the peak of the festivites with shows, parades, dances, and a carnival. Throughout the summer (though especially in this final week), citizens were encouraged to dress in the styles of 1834, which included growing old-fashioned facial hair for the men and sporting bonnets and petticoats for the women.
The entire town got into the spirit, including local businesses, which accepted Anniversary wooden nickels as legal tender and offered special “Old Fashioned Bargain Days” with prices from the past.
Don Turner brought out his camera and recorded video of the week onto 16mm film, which was later donated to the library. Highlights include footage of square dances, elaborate parades, and, of course, the eventual shaving of the beards.
Can you identify any of the people in this video? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and the time at which they show up in the video. To get you started, is that Bob Daniels at 18:20?
Another way to gather information about your house is to do research on previous owners and residents. You can visit the city’s BS&A page and enter your house’s address to get a list of more recent owners. However, in order to get the names of owners from the more distant past, you will likely need to contact the Tax and Assessing Department of the City of Chelsea.
Once you find out the names of former owners, you can visit the library’s Family History Index and look up their obituaries. This can give you information about their lives, as well as names of family members who would not be listed as homeowners.
The Chelsea District Library owns yearbooks from 1920 to present. Have a family member you’d like to embarrass? We’ve got the senior picture for you! Ask at the 2nd floor reference desk – yearbooks are available to review in the library at any time.