Newspapers and newspaper history

Newsboys in Ann Arbor, Mich., ca. 1892

Newsboys in Ann Arbor, Mich., ca. 1892

As journalists are not only trained observers of the passing scene but also used to expressing themselves in writing, the personal papers of these individuals - diaries., correspondence, and business records - are especially useful for the study of political issues and local community affairs. The Bentley Historical Library houses the papers of many of Michigan's most notable journalists, ranging in time from the early 19th Century to the present.

The importance of these collections is primarily for the study of newspaper history. James E. Scripps, for example, was a major figure in Detroit newspaper history, founding the Evening News in 1873. His collection includes files pertaining to financial matters and to the James E. Scripps Trust. The George G. Booth papers relate to the operation of the Booth newspaper chain with other materials on state and national politics. Smaller communities are also represented with papers of the Miller family (Floyd, Philip, and Richard Miller), publishers of the Royal Oak Daily Tribune, and the Cook brothers (Marshall and William Cook and the Cook Brothers Printing Co.)who were publishers of the Hastings Banner. Columnists and correspondents are also represented in the papers of Russell Barnes of the Detroit News, William H. Stoneman, foreign correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, and Mike Wallace who had a newspaper column in the New York Daily Post in the 1950s.

A no less significant value of the papers of journalists is the fact that many of these individuals had careers subsequent to their journalistic beginnings. Michigan senators Arthur H. Vandenberg and Blair Moody both began their careers as newspapermen. The same holds true for Chase Osborn, who owned and operated a Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan newspaper before becoming governor of the state and regent of the University of Michigan.

Beyond personal collections, the Bentley Library has a full or significant runs of special topic or non-mainstream press. These include The Signal of Liberty, an important anti-slavery journal published in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Father Charles Coughlin's Social Justice, Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent, various temperance and prohibition publications, and issues of counter-culture underground newspapers published in the 1960s.