Guest Editorial … Your history is Hamtramck’s history

By Greg Kowalski
Going through a box of material donated to the museum recently, I came upon a diary of high school girl from the mid-1930s. It wasn’t intensely personal; it was more like a calendar of daily activities she was involved in.
But it was pretty impressive.
Her days were filled with school events and after-school things that occupied her time. She was one busy girl.
I can justify this belated eavesdropping by noting that this was an informative and valuable portal to the past. It gives us, today, a detailed view of an aspect of both her life and the community in which she lived.
Aside from a refreshing lack of any mention of Facebook or social media of any sort (or even TV), it painted a picture of her daily life nearly a century ago. At the time she wrote it, she probably never imagined that this would become an important historical document, but it did.
That is why the Hamtramck Historical Museum keeps urging people of any age to write down the stories of their lives. It may not seem meaningful at the time to do so, but it is important. In fact, it is more important than ever.
As you can read in the article above, The Hamtramck Explorer website has been launched. This cooperative project — being done by Wayne State University, Michigan Technological University and the Hamtramck Historical Museum — has seen created an interactive map of this city.
The goal is to gather, and then present, every bit of information there is to know about sites in Hamtramck. In the process, we will build an incredible historical picture of the city.
You can help.
We want to include personal stories linked to the map. This is vital, because a city really isn’t made of buildings – it is made up of people. The structures are essential, but at the same time incidental. It’s the people who are the soul of a city.
Write down your memories of Hamtramck, even if they stretch no farther back in time than yesterday. Send them to the museum, either by email – — or by regular mail to 9525 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212.
We did this to a degree last year, as the city celebrated its 100th anniversary. But now this project takes on greater significance with The Hamtramck Explorer. With it, your memories will become part of the preserved history of Hamtramck.
By doing that, you will leave a legacy for future generations of Hamtramckans. The young lady who wrote that diary surely never imagined she was doing that. But you can take pride in knowing that you are preserving Hamtramck’s history — as well as our own.

(Mr. Kowalski is the Executive Director of the Hamtramck Historical Museum.)
Posted Nov. 10, 2023

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