Letters Left Behind: Advertising Local History

In pulling together the final selections for the Cranbrook Archives’ exhibition “Ephemera: Stories that Letterhead Tells,” I had many difficult choices to make. We have so many fantastic examples of letterhead that span 150 years. It was hard to choose which stories to tell in the exhibition!

That said, I have to say that some of my favorites are the ones that document Michigan history, and specifically, local area history. Numerous businesses including retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, industries and civic organizations, are no longer in existence and the letterhead is the last bit of evidentiary proof of existence. This post is an opportunity to spotlight a few of these.

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Beginning this Thursday, the Archives, as part of the Center for Collections and Research, will be host to a lecture series about Michigan history. In each of the three lectures, the speakers will highlight letterhead from their own institution’s archival collections that relate to the stories they are telling. Please join us this Thursday October 16th for the first in the series: “Boom Town: Detroit in the Roaring ‘20s” by Joel Stone, Senior Curator of the Detroit Historical Society. The lecture will be held in DeSalle Auditorium, Cranbrook Art Museum, from 7-8:30pm and include a tour of the exhibition “Ephemera: Stories that Letterhead Tells.”

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

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