Detroit: A Guide to the Resources in the Bentley Historical Library

Martin Luther King, Jr., leads 125,000 marchers in support of the Civil Rights Movement

The Walk to Freedom, looking north on Woodward Ave., Detroit, June 23, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads 125,000 marchers in support of the Civil Rights Movement. (C. L. Franklin papers, Box 1)


The year 2001 marks the three-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the city of Detroit, Michigan. Since 1935, the Michigan Historical Collections, now housed in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, has been collecting books, maps, manuscripts and archival collections relating to the history of the state of Michigan. Because of the statewide focus of the collections, bibliographies and guides prepared in the past have usually explored resources on particular topics without any regional specificity within the state. This guide is an exception. Because of the importance of the tercentenary, Thomas Powers, archivist, and Leonard Coombs, associate archivist, offered to bring together in a single volume the major resources in the Michigan Historical Collections that document aspects of the history of Detroit. As this volume indicates, over the years many significant collections relating to Detroit have been donated to the Bentley Library, making it a central research resource for anyone interested in the evolution of Michigan's principal city. We are grateful to all those many citizens who have expressed their confidence in the Bentley Library as a repository for personal, family and organizational records. Without that sense of the public good, these resources would not be available for research. We are also grateful to Thomas Powers and Leonard Coombs for their work to bring together information about the library's Detroit related holdings in a single volume.

This volume is the principal contribution of the Bentley Historical Library to Detroit's tercentenary celebration. The guide has been prepared in advance of the Fall 2001 semester at the University of Michigan, which has been designated the "Detroit Theme Semester." We are certain that students and others will find the guide useful as they work to gain a better understanding of the history and significance of Detroit.

Francis X. Blouin, Jr.