These 12 small town history organizations win $25K in grants for upcoming projects

What’s happening: A dozen of Michigan’s small town museums and historical societies were announced as recipients of 2024 Michigan History Alliance Grants, the second annual grant-making program from the Historical Society of Michigan (HSM). The 12 small- to medium-sized nonprofit history organizations share $25,082 between them.

Why it’s important: ​​“Michigan’s local history organizations play a vital role in preserving their communities’ heritage,” says HSM’s executive director and CEO, Larry Wagenaar. “Our MHA Grants help fund projects that enable them to carry out their missions, and the grant application is purposely designed to allow someone with little or no grant-writing experience to explain their organization’s needs. Our goal is to provide funding where it’s most beneficial.”

The winning projects include: Keweenaw Historical Society in Eagle Harbor wins $2,400 to upgrade the gazebo welcome center at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

Michilimackinac Historical Society in St. Ignace wins $2,400 to purchase archival storage materials and equipment.

Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Historical Society in Harsens Island wins $1,900 to purchase a new outdoor maintenance shed.

Friends of the Plymouth Historical Museum in Plymouth wins $2,400 to renovate and redesign the Victorian Rooms in its Main Street exhibit.

Beaver Island Historical Society on Beaver Island wins $2,400 to fund the purchase of a new computer workstation for staff and volunteers.

Little Traverse Historical Society in Petoskey wins $2,190 to purchase approximately 200 archival boxes for collection storage.

Pentwater Historical Society in Pentwater wins $2,000 in support of its archival collection digitization project.

Sanilac County Historical Society in Port Sanilac wins $2,242 to fund the installation of a 100-amp electrical panel and upgrades to LED fixtures at its Loop-Harrison Mansion campus.

Friends of the Port Hope Railroad Depot in Port Hope wins $1,900 to support the restoration of the Pere Marquette Railroad depot’s cargo area and installation of interpretive exhibits.

Grosvenor House Museum in Jonesville wins $2,400 toward the restoration of the historic building’s front porch and upper balcony.

Morton House Museum in Benton Harbor wins $2,000 to purchase wall panels and exhibit materials for its planned series tracing community history from the mid-1800s to the present, which includes a special emphasis on the late 20th century, when Benton Harbor became a 90 percent Black community.

The Region of Three Oaks Museum in Three Oaks wins $850 to purchase equipment to maintain its collections records and prepare images for exhibits and public programs.

Small but mighty: “The Historical Society of Michigan is itself a medium-sized nonprofit, but several bequests have allowed us to institute this grant program to help fulfill that key mission area,” HSM Development Director Kim Loftus says about the organization’s support for local history organizations, one of its five mission areas. “We take the MHA Grant money from our annual endowment draw, not our operating budget. The MHA Grants are relatively small in size but have a significant impact for our member organizations.”

Coming up: The Historical Society of Michigan's 66th annual Michigan in Perspective: Local History Conference is scheduled for March 22 and 23 at Oakland University in Rochester, more information of which is available online.

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