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Research & Access to Online Collections

Access to Online Collections

NEW FOR 2021!

The History Center Catalog-It HUB is a new web-based catalog of archival records, papers, historical photographs, artwork, and artifacts from the collections of the SDHC. New for 2021, the HUB is a work-in-progress so check back often to see new information about area history from the collections!

You can explore nearly 3,000 entries with more being added weekly. Please email with questions or help using Catalog-It.

You may also enjoy watching a short video presentation on the collections, available to stream on the SDHC YouTube channel.

Additional Online Research Guides

William Butler

The Online Research Center provides information and support to people engaged in local historical and family research. At the same time, we aim to preserve and collect new information about the Saugatuck-Douglas areas for future use. Our volunteers are available to help people with research into the area's history and general family history research. For more information, contact the SDHC archives office phone at 269.857.7901 or by email. You can also learn more about the SDHC Family History Group by email here.

Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Newspapers

There are two primary methods to access historical newspapers online. The Saugatuck Douglas History Center completed a project from 2005-2015 to digitize the Saugatuck newspaper The Commercial Record from 1868 through 1977 through a site hosted by the SDHC at

In 2018 the Saugatuck Douglas History Center partnered with the Saugatuck Douglas District Library to have a decade of the Commercial Record digitized through Central Michigan University's Clark Library, making issues from 1958-1970 fully text searchable. Visit the CMU DigMichNews site Historical Michigan Newspapers search page here to search from 1958-1970.

Photo Blog

The Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society's Photo Blog is a large and growing collection of historical photographs, drawings and maps.

Historical Photo Map

Cruise around town on a map of the Saugatuck business district circa 1906 and enjoy incredible views from the photo archive.

Saugatuck Music Festivals

From 1959 to 1969, Saugatuck was the scene of an array of music festivals starring the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Alice Cooper. This Saugatuck Music Festivals PDF by Mike Sweeney is a terrific history of those events and the times.

More about the SDHC's Archives and Collections


The SDHC cares for an extensive Photo, Archives and Objects collection relating to the Saugatuck and Douglas area.  The Archives are located in the Old School House History Center in Douglas and is open to the public for research on Monday afternoons or by appointment. Contact Mary Voss via the archives office phone at 269.857.7901 or by email.

Art Collection

The Chain Ferry by Edna Hotchkiss
watercolor on paper, c. 1945

The Saugatuck Douglas History Center manages a collection of over 300 artworks by artists who lived and/or worked in the area. Some are major works by well-known artists; others are great examples from lesser-known artists.

The collection continues to grow as a result of the support of very generous donors who understand the importance of preserving this area of our history.

A public gallery is maintained at the Old School House in Douglas where part of the collection is on display for viewing. The gallery is "rehung" periodically and the works are rotated so that the collection receives maximum exposure. The galleries are open to the public during regular hours in the summer months and special days throughout the year. Please contact the main office directly to arrange a visit.

Oral History

The Oral History Project an open invitation to life-long and modern residents, summer populace, frequent visitors, or any person with stories, events or reminiscences, to share their knowledge and involvement with the Saugatuck-Douglas area to better understand historical significance through the impact and dynamics of personal experience.

History Mystery

The History Mystery feature was developed by Jack Sheridan for placement as a weekly feature in the Commercial Record. It took one third of a page for a "mystery" historical photo and a short explanation/clue and a question relating to the photo. The photo often contained a historical clue that might be discerned upon a study of the photo. On a separate page the answer to the question was divulged. The feature started in May 2004 and ran for 324 features.

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Remembering When

The Remembering When feature was developed for the Local Observer by Jack Sheridan. It appeared for over two years on a weekly basis starting in the fall of 2004. In addition to Jack,  Jim Schmiechen and Rob Carey were frequent writers/contributors of the feature. The Remembering When format was a full page of text and photos covering a local historical subject.

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