History From the Ground Up


Image courtesy of Hamtramck Historical Museum. “This is Joseph Campau just south of where the viaduct is today. Dodge Main is on the left. This dates from about 1920,” – Greg Kowalski

History From The Ground Up is an exploratory course that mixes investigation of group-selected aspects of Hamtramck’s history with a look at different approaches to interpreting history.
In the first week, Hamtramck historian Greg Kowalski will give an introduction to the history of Hamtramck, and as a group we will select topics from the city’s history to cover in detail on a weekly basis over the remainder of the course.
In subsequent weeks we will review what verifiable data exists in each of these areas (relying heavily on Greg’s extensive archive of pre-existing research) then examine how different historical methods and perspectives might construct different narratives from this data.
The objective of the course is to both develop an awareness of the history of this unique urban area and a critical approach to reading history in a general sense.

Please note: For the first week (April 14) we’ll meet at the People’s Community Center at 8625 Joseph Campau at 6:30pm. During the following four weeks (April 21 and 28, May 5 and 12) we will be at the Hamtramck Historical Museum at 6:30pm.

The following readings will be utilized each week during the course:

Week 1, April 14

What do historians aspire to?, John Tosh, pp.1-8 from the introduction to “Historians on History”

Week 2, April 21

Empiricism, Anna Green and Kathleen Troup, pp. 1-3 from “The houses of history”

The event, the fact and the narrative, Callum G. Brown, p26-30 from Postmodernism for Historians

Week 3, April 28

A short section from Chapter 1 of A Peoples History of the United States, Howard Zinn

A short section from the Preface to The Making of the English Working Class, E P Thompson

Please note that for those that want to read more, the full versions of these two books are available online at the following locations:



The readings for weeks 4 and 5 are TBD depending on what direction the course goes in.