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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Grand Rapids Public Library oral history collection

Repository: Grand Rapids Public Library. Grand Rapids History and Special Collections Department

Collection Description (CRHP): See in particular interviews with African American residents Lyman Parks (1985; former mayor of Grand Rapids), Les Seaton (speaking about Grand Rapids' black community in 1931), and Helen Claytor (1990; Claytor has worked closely with local and national YWCAs).

Collection Description (Extant): The Grand Rapids Public Library Oral History Collection contains both oral histories donated to the Grand Rapids Public Library and oral history interviews conducted by either the Local Historical Collections Department staff, the City Historian's office, or others. Tapes and manuscripts created by other organizations have also been donated and are included in the collection. The interviews and recordings of local events, dating back to 1945, contain many aspects of local history. Topics include local politicians, migrants to the Grand Rapids area, and major natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods. Synopses are available, but few transcriptions, as of 2006. This collection was migrated from audio cassette tapes to usage digital files in 2007/2008 with the support of Ryerson Library Foundation Funds.

Access Copy Note: Digital copies of all tapes were made in 2007-2008.

Date(s): 1945-

Digital Status: Yes

Existing IDs: 164

Extent: 5.75 linear ft. (69 inches)

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: An interview with Claytor is also found in Grand Rapids Public Library collection #167, the Women's History Council oral history project. A video tribute to Lyman Parks (who died in 2009) and online access to his one-hour interview are available at

Interviewees: Lyman Parks, Les Seaton, Helen Claytor

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American politicians--Michigan
African Americans--Michigan
Civil rights workers--Michigan
Young Women's Christian Association of the U.S.A.


Sound recordings


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   September 26, 2018
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