About Gordon

PERSONAL: Born April 5, 1943, Frederic, Wisconsin. Married, Christine, no children.

EDUCATION: BS (History) 1966, MS (History) 1969, University of Wisconsin, River Falls; 42 hrs Ph.D level, University of Wyoming, 1969-1972.

BIOGRAPHY: Curator, Wyoming State Museum 1972-1973, Assistant Director, Public Museum of Grand Rapids, 1973-1979, City Historian, Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1979-2002 (named City Historian Emeritus, 2003), Adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University and Grand Rapids Community College (current).

CURATOR/HISTORIAN: Museum exhibits, outdoor historical markers and exhibits, tour brochures including:

  • Museum exhibits for State of Wyoming Parks and Recreation Department
  • City of Grand Rapids Historical Marker and Riverfront Exhibit Program
    Public Museum of Grand Rapids exhibits on Grand River history, ethnic history
  • Great Lakes Indian Beadwork traveling exhibit
  • Downtown Grand Rapids walking tour brochures and videos
  • Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Downtown History Tour
  • 1,200 public programs and lectures to Grand Rapids groups


AUTHOR AND/OR EDITOR: Over 40 books and articles about Grand Rapids and Michigan history including:

  • Beads: Their Use By Upper Great Lakes Indians (exhibit catalog)
  • A Grand Rapids Sampler
  • Grand Rapids: A City Renewed
  • Grand Rapids and Its People. Local history text and curriculum for area Schools.
  • Flight To Freedom. The story of the Vietnamese of West Michigan.
  • Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Grand Rapids. (With Reinder VanTil)
  • A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts The Bolsheviks. Private Godfrey Anderson’s World War I memoir of service in North Russia, 1918-1919.
  • The Notorious Isaac Earl and His Scouts. Lt. Isaac Newton Earl and the special Union Army scouts he commanded in the Civil War.
  • Histories of Amway, Steelcase Inc, Mary Free Bed Hospital, Grand Rapids Foundation, Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute at GVSU, Clark Retirement Community, and Irwin Seating Company


History Consultant:

  • Voices From the Rapids, a video documentary of Grand Rapids history.
  • The Gift of All: A Community of Givers, a video documentary of philanthropy in Grand Rapids.


Current Projects:

  • Nightmare In The Jungle: Yanks, Aussies, Japanese, and Natives Remember The Battle For New Guinea
  • Tigers in the Sun: The Detroit Tigers 80 Years of Spring Training in Lakeland, Florida.


Founder and Coordinator of the Kent Base Ball Club vintage baseball team, 1990-2014


Audio / Video