About Bill

Bill Jamerson knows a good story when he hears one. For over a decade, the Escanaba, Michigan based historian and songwriter has been sharing stories about America's past with his History through Song programs and school assemblies in a 12-state region across the Upper Midwest. He developed a love of history at an early age inspired by his grandfather's stories about life in the lumberjack camps and living through The Great Depression.

Jamerson attended the University of Michigan and was in the advertising business for 15 years when he decided to change direction in his career. In 1992 he wrote and produced his first major documentary for Michigan Public Television, Camp Forgotten - The Civilian Conservation Corps in Michigan, which aired on 58 PBS stations nationwide. He went on to produce ten other films on Michigan history including Grand Rapids furniture making, Mexican Farmworkers, General Motors, Herbert Dow the chemical pioneer and a history of winter sports in Michigan.

In 2002 Jamerson began presenting live programs about the Civilian Conservation Corps, lumberjack and iron mining history in schools, libraries and other venues. His programs included original songs played with his guitar. Most of the songs are based on stories collected from people with first-hand knowledge. The programs often include short video clips from his PBS films.

In 2007, Jamerson published a historical novel on the CCC. Big Shoulders is a coming-of-age story of a teenager from Detroit who enlists in the corps and encounters the rigors of hard work, dealing with a tough sergeant and learning the importance of responsibility. The book was based on the life of a good friend and includes many true stories Jamerson picked up from years of attending CCC alumni reunions and conventions.

Today, Jamerson presents his live programs across the Upper Midwest at a wide variety of venues. He has visited dozens of CCC built state parks and often refers to them in his talks depending on the state he is in. He has also visited many museums, including lumberjack, iron mining and CCC museums which provide him with a wide body of knowledge to draw up on in his talks. Jamerson often provides information at his talks to assist people in their research efforts.

The greatest source of new stories in his programs comes from the people who attend his performances and share stories about their family. They often bring photos and memorabilia and give him copies which he displays with his traveling exhibits. Audience members are called upon to tell stories from their families so there are always pleasant surprises in his shows.

Jamerson's presentation has been described as a cross between Woody Guthrie and Garrison Keillor. It's the oral tradition of sharing cultural and ethnic traditions with humor, storytelling, and song. The telling of these stories is more than preserving the past; they are a reminder of who we are, and how we got to where we are. And in this way, the stories are as important as they are entertaining.


Middle & High School Motivation Assemblies

Inspiration from the past … motivation for the future!

I wish you could have heard the accolades form my class when we returned from the assembly. They loved the presentation, especially the song! The only complaint I heard was that it could have been longer. Thank you for educating our students and enriching their understanding of the Depression. You were a big hit!
Cindy Jividen, Weir High School Weirton WV

Bill communicates well and he held the students attention for the entire assembly. He really activated the audience and involved them in the program. Many of our students do not have strong parental figures or role models, and his program helped them understand their roots by showing them what their great-grandparents went through during The Great Depression.
Claudia Madrigal, River Bend Academy, Mankato MN

Everyone at Clear Lake Middle School loved Bill's program - I think the teachers learned as much as the students! He was energetic, engaging and fun! He really brings history to life and made our students think about how good they have it. At the end of the assembly he brought several students on stage and we were very impressed by how much they learned.
Angela Faber Clear Lake Middle School, Clear Lake IA