My Orville H. Gibson research started as a term paper for one of my classes at Western Michigan University in 2011. Our assignment was to write about a local artifact and how it fit into everyday life during its time.

One day while standing in front of the Gibson exhibit at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum with my professor, he mentioned an Orville made mandolin that they had in storage. I said “What?! You have what? An Orville mandolin?”

Needless to say this mandolin was my artifact. But as I did my initial research, I realized that there was not enough information (i.e. pre-company Orville) out there for a term paper. Not even close. After brainstorming, I decided to try approaching the subject as a genealogist. Let me tell you, information started coming out of the woodwork.

If ever there was a case study in support of including genealogy in history curriculums, this is it. And this topic was too cool to stop at just a term paper. I’m still uncovering new details about Orville and his life.