Michel says he “likes a challenge” and began his research in earnest when a colleague told him he wouldn’t find anything in a search for Blacks in Appalachia. He was also motivated by a newly published book on Black authors that, to Michel was missing many of them.
His wife, Connie Perdreau, had been working under OU President Claude Sowle since about 1972 to gather information about Black history.
Connie and Michel met in France and the two came to Athens in Michel’s 20’s. The two planned, early on, that Michel would do the digging and Connie would do the writing, but all along their work was very much a joint effort.
Michel’s educational background is in law, economics, business administration, and library science. He tried to keep his research to SE Ohio, African-Americans in SE Ohio, but admits his interests are eclectic.. In a short time he learned “serendipity is one of the best tools!” His research took him to the Library of Congress, New York, Vassar, and countless other libraries, and historical societies. And, predictably for a research in history, he “spent a lot of time on microfilm.”
He worked with Henry Burke, Carl Denbow, and others, co-authoring a book with Nancy E. Aiken in 2001. His letters to various libraries, museums, and individuals, reveal his spirit of collaboration: In asking for help, Michel usually offered a reference or some information he had turned up that might be of interest.
When Michel was asked what he hopes the MGC will do with the research he and Connie have donated, he replied “Let it be known. Make it available.”