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George R. Perry collection

Identifier: Collection 208

Scope and Contents

The collection’s content deals mainly with political affairs; the paper clippings and correspondences being, for the most part, political in nature. The bulk of the collection and its material dates from 1897 to 1904, except for the business accounts, which continue through 1959. The correspondences deal mostly with questions concerning the fraudulent water pipeline plan, although there are no incriminating papers to speak against the honor of mayor Perry. In addition to the correspondence, there is a file of miscellaneous papers, such as personal memos, that are undated.


  • 1897-1959


Biographical / Historical

George R. Perry (1849-1927) was the son of George H. Perry and Hannah Perry. George Sr. was “prominently identified” with the fur business in Detroit, but did not settle there until after the family had lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where George Jr. was born. George Jr. was educated mostly in the Detroit area public school system and completed his high school career in 1864, whereupon he was apprenticed in the druggist’s trade. Mr. Perry made the druggist’s business his own until 1874, when he married Miss Jennie Blake and moved to Chicago. Perry soon came to Grand Rapids for the position of a bookkeeper for a wholesale grocer firm, eventually becoming a member of the firm and later having his name tacked onto the firm’s title.

In 1891, Perry left the firm of Hawkins and Perry to run his own grocery business all throughout the remainder of his life, despite his political career. George R. Perry, a card-carrying Democrat, held the position of Grand Rapids city treasurer from 1886 through 1896. In 1898, Perry was elected mayor of Grand Rapids, serving until 1902, the duration of two terms. Perry’s claim to fame, however, came in a most unfortunate way, as he was supposedly involved in a public bonds scandal in the early nineteen-hundreds. Perry was never convicted of the charge, and remained active in politics for much of the rest of his life, although he was never elected mayor again. Besides his political and business dealings, Perry was also a prominent member of the local chapter of the brotherhood of masonry, as well as of the Knights of Pythias. Perry died at the age of 78 in his Grand Rapids home, leaving behind, by way of children, a Miss Jeanette Perry.


6 Linear Feet (11 boxes)

Language of Materials



George R. Perry (1849-1927) was a Grand Rapids, Michigan businessman and politician. He served as mayor of Grand Rapids from 1898 to 1902. The collection includes letter press books, newspaper clippings, correspondence, account books and accounting files. The material deals mainly with political affairs with the account books relating to Perry's business interests.

During Perry's time as mayor he was involved in the Grand Rapids water scandal, relating to bonds issued to fund construction of a water pipeline from Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids. The correspondence in this collection deals mostly with questions regarding the water pipeline.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Michael J. DeVries, accession number 1993.045

Related Materials

See collection 186, the Edwin Pettis family papers for additional information relating to the water scandal.

See also Collection 303, City of Grand Rapids (Michigan) Records at the Grand Rapids Public Library, for other information on Perry as Mayor or on the water scandal.

Finding aid for the George R. Perry collection
Scott Gabriel Ham, Brian Anderson
December 1997- February 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Grand Rapids History Center Repository

Grand Rapids Public Library
111 Library Street NE
Grand Rapids Michigan 49503 USA