Category Archives: Adventures in history

Flint’s man-made water crisis: where are the watchdogs?

By Joel Thurtell What a disaster the Flint water crisis has become. There was no need for tens of thousands of people to lose their publicly-provided source of clean drinking and bathing water. But government stupidity, folly, dishonesty made it … Continue reading

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Free Press motto

Old Detroit Free Press motto: “It is a newspaper’s duty to print the news, and raise hell.”* New Free Press motto: “A newspaper’s duty is to digitize, and enliven downtown.” * Editor’s note: Oh, come on! This motto was coined … Continue reading

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Two-empire paradigm: Homeric conquest tales distort history

An idea and an outline for further investigation: By Joel Thurtell joelthurtell(at)gmail.com It’s hard to shake off the feeling that historians of Latin America have bedeviled themselves for centuries with a self-perpetuated myth that makes it impossible for them to … Continue reading

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Antique oboist plays Denison Hall

By Joel Thurtell This tale is all about a joke, really, but it begins with my chirimía. For years, this curious musical instrument sat atop the hutch in our kitchen. It was made by a musician from the Lake Pátzcuaro … Continue reading

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The ex-slave who endowed a church for whites

By Joel Thurtell Born a slave, put Parisian chefs to shame, invested, and endowed a chapel for the white community on Grosse Ile. That is the story of Lisette Denison. Here is my sketch of her life, published with permission … Continue reading

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Rat on the re-run

By Joel Thurtell So far, none of my Free Press friends wants to eat rat. Shoot! I got back on the rat track last year when I discovered that Freepster Zlati Meyer had borrowed from some of my old Free … Continue reading

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The slave quilt hoax

By Joel Thurtell An important part of a historian’s job is the often difficult job of debunking. The work is especially hard when seemingly reputable historians adopt a line of argument that is sheer baloney. So it was with the … Continue reading

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‘Tomatoes & Eggs’ Part II: Erasing slavery on Big Isle

Grosse Ile historians chose not to use photos of slave inventory; one of the slaves mentioned, Charlotte, worked on Grosse Ile. Burton Historical Collection. By Joel Thurtell During the long-ago historical period when I was a grad student in history, … Continue reading

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‘Tomatoes & Eggs’ Part I: Slavery at Grosse Ile, Michigan

Inventory of slaves in Detroit, Michigan. Joel Thurtell photo of record in Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library By Joel Thurtell Just as I predicted in a January 2007 Detroit Free Press story, Grosse Ile’s historians changed history. But not … Continue reading

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Lowell’s oddball bridge

By Joel Thurtell LOWELL, Mich. — It doesn’t attract as many tourists as Italy’s Ponte Vecchio, but Lowell’s Main Street Bridge bears a certain similarity to that 14th-century pedestrian span over the Arno River in Florence. Lowell’s bridge, barely 100 … Continue reading

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