Thursday, May 24, 2012

Poultry in 1910 Michigan

Chris Grosser sent me this inquiry:

 I am writing a novel based in 1910's Hamtramck, Michigan where Polish immigrants are raising chickens in their front and backyards. What kind of chickens might they have raised? I'm looking for some description or images to lend historical accuracy to my writing. Could you refer me to a particular website?

My suggestions:

I’m not familiar with Michigan’s geography, but I found several references to chickens in Commercial Poultry magazines of April and August, 1910. The Michigan Poultry Breeders Association was active, electing new officers in Port Huron in March. There may be some state records in the Michigan State Archives,

In magazines of that year, Barred and Buff Plymouth Rocks, White and Buff Wyandottes, White Buff and Partridge Orpingtons and Light Brahmas are frequently mentioned in advertising. The ad below, from the Poultry Item of June 1910, is typical.

E.L. Keyser wrote a detailed account of Poultry Breeds and Varieties in the April issue, covering all 23 breeds and 71 varieties that were recognized by the APA at that time: six American breeds, three Asiatic, three English and five Mediterranean. Polish, Dutch and Games had their own classes, each with a single breed and several varieties. A separate French class had three breeds. He also acknowledges a dozen unrecognized breeds, but does not describe them in detail. 

Advertisements for single comb white and buff Orpingtons appear, along with single comb white Leghorns. Farms are located in Grand Ledge and Muskegon.

The August issue lists poultry shows planned for Dowagiac, Grand Ledge, Holland, Ithaca, Jackson and Marcellus. Names of judges and show secretaries are included. Let me know if these would be of help.

Although I haven’t yet found any items specifically mentioning Poland, poultry was extending into international circles from Michigan. A news story tells of Fred Harrison of Menominee shipping a trio of Rhode Island Reds to Old Mexico and two settings of eggs to Sweden. “So within a short time the descendants of Menominee’s fancy poultry will be strutting magnificently about the door of a hacienda or adobe house or picking kernels from a tiled yard in far-off Sweden,” the unsigned item reports.

The National Agriculture Library lists 65 collections in its Manuscript Collections. This may well include information about Michigan poultry of that era. Peruse the listings here,, and request assistance from the librarians at

I'll continue to explore the collection of antique books and magazine for references specifically to the breeds that  Polish immigrants would have favored. Certainly, all these would be historically accurate for the time and place.

No comments: