2017 Baxter Award Recipient
Thomas R. Dilley
Thomas R. Dilley’s contribution to local history is profound. He has published several books through Arcadia Press including; Grand Rapids in Vintage Postcards 1890-1940, Grand Rapids Community and Industry, and Grand Rapids in Stereographs 1860-1900. The research regarding each of the images in these books is thorough. The most exceptional of his publications is The Art of Memory: Historic Cemeteries of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This book, published in 2014 by Wayne State University Press, won the Michigan Notable Book Award in 2015.
Tom currently sits on the boards of the Grand Rapids Historical Commission, the Grand Rapids Historical Society and is on the Board of Trustees of the Grand Rapids Public Museum Foundation as well as the museum’s Collections Committee. He previously sat on the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation board. Tom gives presentations throughout the area on local history topics. Hundreds have accompanied him on tours of cemeteries (over 250 on some tours). He has spoken about his postcards and research regarding his collection to volunteers at the Public Museum.
Tom is modest in his acknowledgement in the donation of objects and ephemera to the local library and the museum. In the museum’s collection are objects as varied as a flour bag from the Voigt Milling Company to a token from the West Michigan State Fair. The Thomas R. and Debra C. Dilley Historical Collection #364 can be found on the 4th floor of the main library. It contains postcards, trade cards, scrap books, booklets, yearbooks, etc. of local companies and organizations. At present the collection totals 30 boxes, with the finding aid 58 pages long.
Thank you Tom Dilley, and a special thank you to his wife Debra and daughter Sarah for sharing him with the community.