October 15, 2007 | Myrna Anderson

A Calvin College student helped to create the 2008 edition of the Historic Michigan Travel Guide.

A Calvin College student got a first-hand look at Michigan's history this past year when he worked on the 2008 edition of the Historic Michigan Travel Guide, the first update to the guide since 1980.

The guide, released last month and sold at the state's 92 Meijer stores, is published by the Historical Society of Michigan (Meijer provided $30,000 in funding for the update).

Quinn Harr, a Calvin junior and Michigan native (he hails from Pewamo, located just northwest of Lansing), was an assistant editor on the project thanks to an internship he did with the Society. He said the recent experience was a good one.

“The opportunity to help compile the guide was both exciting and educational,” Harr said. “By working on the travel guide, I contributed to an important project and learned more about the fascinating history of our state.”

For Harr, who transferred to Calvin this year and is a double major in philosophy and classical languages, the recent internship came during a 15-month stint between his transfer from his prior college to Calvin. During that time he also interned with an advocacy group where he authored a policy brief, an experience that then led to his internship with the Historical Society, the state's oldest cultural institution, dating back to 1828.

His work on the guide included researching the state's historical attractions and also writing the descriptive entries for the guide. The process, he said, was illuminating.

“I learned so much about our state,” he said. “Every day I came to work was a joy. As I typed up the entries, I'd constantly be struck by the fascinating facts and the richness of our state's history.”

Harr is hopeful that the guide can bring some of the state's obscure stories back into the public consciousness.

“We study national and world history,” he said, “but even in small communities, local history often is not taught. There are organizations out there that preserve this information, but often these organizations are underfunded and understaffed. Hopefully this guide will help some of these smaller organizations by bringing increased awareness of their efforts. I also hope it will make Michigan citizens more aware of their past.”

In addition to the $30,000 in funding for the 2008 guide, Meijer will also be donating the proceeds of all sales of the guide to fund a biennial edition of the resource. The company will also assist the Historical Society's ongoing work to document Michigan historical organizations that are featured in its reference volume, the Michigan History Directory.

“Michigan is our home and it is filled with interesting and exciting places that help us all recognize the history and the value of this great state,” said Fred Meijer, Chairman Emeritus of Meijer. “Meijer is proud to support the work of the Historical Society of Michigan.”

Quinn Harr in front of Michigan capitol

A detail of the Michigan Historic Travel Guide

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