The idea for publishing a magazine of local history began in the fall of 1990 when Mary Butler and Beth Rae were collecting information for a building survey project sponsored by the Historic District Commission. Seeking a way to share the fascinating bits of history they were discovering, they approached Diane Beckley of the Historical Society, Elizabeth Neumeyer of Kellogg Community College and Marlene Steele, Local History Librarian at Willard Library, with the idea of publishing a local history magazine.
The proposed publication would contain articles on the history of the Battle Creek area, based on original research, documented and footnoted, written to appeal to both the serious historian and to the general public.
Everyone agreed the concept was valuable, and HERITAGE BATTLE CREEK was born. The Historical Society, KCC and Willard Library agreed to co-sponsor the publication. An organizing committee worked for a year to lay the ground work for the new publication.
The Battle Creek Community Foundation provided the initial funding with a $5,000 challenge grant. Subsequent funding was secured through advertising from public-spirited local businesses, individual donations, sales, fund raising events as well as grants from the United Arts Council, The Binda Foundation and the Michigan Humanities Council.
The first issue of HERITAGE BATTLE CREEK appeared in the fall of 1991 and was well received by the public. The second issue was published in May 1992. The decision was made to publish annually in the spring, to coincide with Preservation Month activities in May.
In 1992 Robert Neault donated 1,000 glass-plate negatives of photographer J. H. Brown to the Historical Society. The editors of HERITAGE wanted to make these fascinating pictures available to a wider audience. This first photo-journal, issued before Christmas, was quite successful and the committee decided to add this format to the annual publication schedule.
In the fall of 1993 the HERITAGE board, which had been operating as an independent organization, was invited to merge with the Historical Society. The new group was known as HERITAGE PUBLICATIONS, the publishing division of the Historical Society. The union benefited both organizations, providing cash flow assistance for the magazine and publication expertise to the Society.
HERITAGE PUBLICATIONS sponsored its first major fund raising event, "Do the Wright Thing," in October 1993. In September 1994 the "Door Unbolted" event raised over $3,000 for future publications.
In May 1994 the Historical District Commission of Battle Creek honored the magazine with the Preservation Partners Award. HERITAGE BATTLE CREEK is one of only three local-history journals published in the state of Michigan.
Subsequent awards have included an Award of Merit from the Historical Society of Michigan (1995) and a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association of State and Local History (1996).
HERITAGE PUBLICATIONS also published GOLD-IN-FLAKES, a pictorial history of the Battle Creek cereal industry. This four-volume set was funded through grants, corporate donations, sales and donations.