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Collections Keep and Tell the Stories of the Past -
for the Future Generations to Know

Papers and artifacts were

collected from the beginning.

One of the oldest items in

the collection is a mortar

and pestle identified as

belonging to Ephram

Smith, a doctor in the

U.S. army during the

American Revolution.

We also have two Civil War

drums, toys from the 1900s and more.


Over the years things have been stored in members  basements, in barns, in various city and county buildings. From1879-1882, the Society was given space in the Court House.

In 1916, most of the archives were given to the Michigan Historical Collection housed in Rackham (later moved to the Bentley Historical Library) and some were sent to the State Museum in Lansing. The rest of the artifacts stayed in the Court House until 1924.  


In the 1940s, things were at the University Museums Building, then back on the upper floor of the Court House, then at Bach School and then at Fritz school on N. Maple. From the Fritz school, things went to the third floor of the City Hall Annex and next went to the Tuomy house barn and to Poole s barn on

Scio Church Rd. In 1975, nearly everything was moved to University storage facilities at Willow Run. They filled five rooms.

Not everything was in storage all the time. From time to time, artifacts were taken out of storage and small exhibits were set up in various locations which not only generated interest but more donations.  Also, many items on loan all around the county at Kempf House, Cobblestone Farm, Hack House in Milan, the Dexter Area Historical Society, a piano in the Stearns collection and also some items retained by the Bentley.


When the basement was dug for the Museum on Main St., the plans called for a height of nine feet to give us plenty of storage space. As a result of a donation by Doris Anna Bach, we were able to install state-of the art moveable storage shelves and our collection has finally found a permanent resting place.  In addition, we have climate controlled, accessible storage offsite.


The Pauline V. Walters High Density Storage System (pictured below) was installed at the Museum on Main Street in July of 2020. It matches the Doris Anna Bach High Density Storage Unit installed in 2002. Both units were made possible because of financial gifts bequeathed to the Washtenaw County Historical Society by Doris Bach and Pauline Walters. Two women who treasured history and were generous in their wishes to preserve it.


A special thanks is extended to the WCHS members and donors also contributed to the project. These storage units allow easy access for curation and  help preserve these objects of local history for future generations

Preserving Your Family's History with the Washtenaw County Historical Society

If you have an artifact to donate to the collection, the first step is to contact the Curator Judy Chrisman at or call 734-662-9092.

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