PARI has some wonderful and unique collections that you won't find anywhere else. Some items in these collections were donated by local area residents who had no one in their families to pass the items on to after their passing. Other items were donated by family historians that simply wanted their memorabilia to be available to other researchers. And some of the special collections consist of items discovered in dusty old rooms right on campus. There are many such collections at PARI. I will mention just a few here.
Let's start off with this ordinary, unassuming, storage cabinet.
The light colored boxes on the top shelf of the cabinet contain hundreds and hundreds of holy cards, the remembrance cards commonly shared at funerals. They are organized alphabetically and I believe they are indexed as well. You may find a remembrance of one of your loved ones here!
The gray boxes on the next shelf down contain the information cards for the Displaced Persons (immigrated roughly 1948-1959) from the metro Detroit area. This is not an exhaustive collection of every know DP in metro Detroit but it is a rather impressive collection and it just may contain one of your family members!
Also in this cabinet is a collection of negatives from the Ballaun Photo Studio in Detroit. It was located at 402 Canfield Ave. between Rivard and Hastings streets, right in the heart of the east-side Polish community back around 1915. This studio on Canfield Ave. would have been situated about half way between Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church and St. Josaphat Catholic Church and just about 6 blocks from St. Albertus Catholic Church... the holy triad of Polish Catholic parishes back in the day. Some of the negatives and photos are labeled, many are not. This is a treasure trove waiting to be explored and indexed!
At the bottom of the cabinet are several boxes of information cards on past students of Orchard Lake Schools including SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary. If you happen to have a Polish priest educated at Orchard Lake in your family the odds are pretty good there is some information on them here. They also have a separate collection of information on nuns, and you know how hard it is to find information on them!
Other special collections not housed in the storage cabinet include the new and growing collection of Polish American auto workers' memoirs and memorabilia. If you're of Polish descent and you have auto workers in your family you will find this interesting. If you have information and memorabilia to contribute, PARI would like to hear from you!
There are many more special collections at PARI but I'll end with one more of note. PARI has a collection of over 200 hand painted greeting cards signed by grade school students from Poland thanking Americans for their help after WWI and after WWII.
PARI has more special collections but I'll leave some for you to discover on your own. Have I tempted you to want to visit yet? Yes? Here's what you need to know. No? Well then, come back for the next article in this series and we'll see if I can't convince you with that one!
The Complete PARI Series:
PARI, Part 1, Who, What, When, Where, and Why
PARI, Part 2, The Computers and Databases
PARI, Part 3, Special Collections
PARI, Part 4, The Art
PARI, Part 5, The Wall
PARI, Part 6, The Panorama Room