The Bentley Historical Library collects the materials for and promotes the study of the histories of two great, intertwined institutions, the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan. The Library is open without fee to the public, and we welcome researchers regardless of academic or professional affiliation.

The Bentley’s 11,000 research collections range from the papers of governors of Michigan, to the records of student and faculty life at the University, to the entire historical record of intercollegiate athletics at Michigan, and much more. The Library houses a state-of-the-art conservation lab that conserves books, maps, architectural drawings, and other materials. The lab is also where expert archivists and conservators teach conservation techniques and aid in the reformatting of preserved materials.

The historic Detroit Observatory, located on the University of Michigan’s central campus, is a division of the Bentley Historical Library.

The Bentley also manages and maintains the History of U-M site.

Our staff are available to help you answer your questions and engage with the collections in a meaningful way.

The Bentley’s Namesake

Alvin M. Bentley III was a graduate of the University of Michigan (’40 B.A.,’63 M.A.), a member of Congress, a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, a University of Michigan Regent, and a philanthropist. Bentley died in 1969 at the age of 50. In the fall of 1971, his widow, Arvella, donated funds to build new quarters for the Michigan Historical Collections, which became the Bentley Historical Library. Today, the Alvin M. Bentley papers are housed at the library and are open to the public.