About the Exhibit

From his birth in a troubled Nebraska home to his growing up in Grand Rapids, Jerry Ford lived a charmed youth. Blessed with caring parents, a community invested in families, and a school that nurtured his academic and physical talents, "Junior" (as those who knew him in his youth called him) faced his challenges and rose to meet them. This exhibit follows his early years, where his character was formed and the foundation for his adulthood was laid.

-Donald Holloway, Curator



This site is the online iteration of the Growing Up Grand temporary exhibit, on display at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum from May 2013 through May 2014. Coinciding with the centennial year of Gerald Ford's birthday, the exhibit displays artifacts from Ford's youth in Michigan, from a baby journal kept by his mother to his diploma from the University of Michigan.


It is an exhibit not just about the boyhood of the 38th president, but also concerning the local history of his hometown. Like this website, the exhibit chronicles the experiences of Gerald Ford along the timeline of Grand Rapids history in the early twentieth century. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids during a dynamic time in the city's history, from its height as a furniture manufacturing hub in the 1910s through its changing character at the onset of the depression in the 1930s.


Much of the information in the museum exhibit is given on this website, but that does not substitute experiencing the artifacts in person, many of which have never been publicly displayed.




The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Musem Staff

The Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Grand Rapids Public Library

The Bentley Historical Library

Website developed and designed by Daniel Lund, intern


Funding of the exhibit was underwritten by the generosity of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.