Suggested Research Topics - The Creation of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The enormous sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Leelanau and Benzie counties have long been considered one of Michigan's most remarkable natural features. The effort to have the dunes protected as part of a national shoreline was one of the major environmental controversies of the 1960s and 1970s. Conservation groups, state and federal agencies, and some local tourism and business interests favored the park proposal. Opposition came from local government officials, business interests, and property owners who feared the national shoreline designation would hinder economic development and restrict property owners' rights.

The issues involved in the creation of Sleeping Bear National Shoreline can be traced in the papers of politicians and environmental activists, local newspapers, government publications, and publications of conservation organizations. Questions to be examined include: What were the arguments for and against the park? Who supported and who opposed the park proposals? How did the various proposals evolve over the years and what compromises regarding size and permitted uses were incorporated into the final legislation? How did the Sleeping Bear Dunes controversy relate to the national environmental movement? What was the role of the state in promoting national legislation regarding Sleeping Bear?

Examples of Primary Source Collections and Other Resources:


In an effort to encourage creative thinking about possible research topics for students unfamiliar with archives and their inevitable complexities, archivists and student employees of the Bentley Historical Library have authored "suggested research topics ." The purpose of these is not to define a topic but rather to stimulate thinking about a topic where the holdings of the Bentley Library are particularly strong.