The Archives of the Lenawee Historical Society are free and open to the public and include the following: Adrian City Directories 1859-1998, Adrian City Tax Records 1865-1906, Lenawee County Tax Records 1840-1915, school yearbooks, cemetery records, marriage/birth/death records, tens of thousands of obituaries, scrapbooks, business ledgers, atlases and plat books, Sanborn insurance maps, histories of Lenawee County, and the histories of cities and towns (Adrian, Tecumseh, Blissfield, Addison).
The Archives houses thousands of documents relating to business, government, religion, education, railroads, the military, the Grange, the Underground Railroad, prominent citizens, and many other subjects of local interest. The Photo Archives contains photographs and postcards of places, people, and events in Lenawee County.
The Lenawee Historical Society began in 1868 in Tecumseh when General Joseph Brown organized the Lenawee County Pioneer Society. It was later known as the River Raisin Historical Society. In 1923 the Society was reorganized as the Lenawee County Historical Society. The Lenawee Public Museum and the Society merged in 1968 to form the Lenawee County Historical Society, Inc.
The purpose of this society is to aid in the discovery, collection, and preservation of every variety of material illustrative of the history of Lenawee County and the State of Michigan, including but not limited to: letters, diaries, journals, memorandums, pioneer reminiscences, newspapers, account books, school and church registers, commemorative, addresses, genealogies and biographies, photographs, pictures and paintings, relics, material objects illustrative of the life of pioneers, maps, histories, and records of Lenawee County and its cities, towns, villages and institutions and to own and/or operate on a non-profit basis facilities for the display and renovation thereof for educational purposes.
In addition, the Society will disseminate historical information and arouse interest in the past by publishing historical material in the newspapers or otherwise; by holding meetings with lectures and discussions; by marking historical sites and trails; by conducting tours of historic sites; and by using the media to awaken public interest.
The Society has special events throughout the year. Watch our News section to get updated information!
The longtime desire to have a historical museum dedicated to the history of Lenawee was fulfilled in 1972. In that year the Lenawee Historical Museum opened in a building donated by Adrian businessman, James Gerity, Jr. This museum was the joint project of the Lenawee Historical Society and the Lenawee County Board of Commissioners. The Historical Society established and maintained the collections and exhibits and provided volunteers to staff the museum. The County agreed to maintain the building.
In 1974 the County also agreed to provide a full-time museum curator. Also in 1974 the Historical Society began working with the City of Adrian to develop a farm museum at the City’s new Heritage Park at Birdsall. In 1979 the Historical Society moved its downtown Adrian Museum to the former Adrian Library building at 110 E. Church when the City offered this architectural landmark to the Society for use as a museum. After extensive renovations and improvements, the Lenawee Historical Museum opened at its new location in December 1980.
Budgetary problems led County Government to stop funding the maintenance costs of the Museum in 1990 and in 1992 the County also stopped funding the position of curator. Happily our members, other friends of the museum, and local foundations saved the day. Their strong support, as important now as it was in the early 1990s, allowed (and still allows) the Historical Society to handle these added costs. This has allowed the Museum to keep actively involved in fulfilling our stated purpose to the greatest extent possible.
Today, thanks to our members, other friends, and local foundations, the museum continues to collect and to display objects and documents of historic interest. In addition, some of our members help to staff the museum on a volunteer basis. If you are interested in volunteering, please call the museum at 517-265-6071.
Contributions to the Lenawee County Historical Society, Inc. and donations of articles illustrative of the history of the county are always welcome.