Thank you for visiting the website of the Bentley Historical Library.
The Bentley Historical Library is home to the archives of the University of Michigan, as well as one of the largest collections of materials on the history of the state of Michigan (outside of the Archives of Michigan in Lansing, which collects the state’s official records). At the Bentley, you will find hand-written records documenting the earliest history of Michigan and the University, as well as digital records created only a decade ago that document contemporary life at the University and across the state.
The Library’s holdings encompass paper records, digital files, maps, audio and video recordings, and photographs. You will find the records of former governors and University administrators, along with collections that document community groups and student organizations. The Bentley also holds the archives of the University’s Athletics Department, which documents more than a century of University of Michigan sports history. Many of our materials are also available digitally. These include digitized photographs in the Image Bank, digitized and born-digital archival collections, archived websites, and our digital media archives of audiovisual materials.
Ultimately, the Bentley is a repository of people’s stories, told from a variety of perspectives. The Library also contains silences because some individuals and communities’ stories were not included in the archives. I want to acknowledge both the power of the archives to connect people with stories that are meaningful to them, as well as the ways in which archives have not always lived up to their aspirations to document the full scope of society, often neglecting the most marginalized communities.
As the Bentley looks to a more inclusive future, we will proceed thoughtfully to ensure our holdings are representative of the communities that make up the University and the state of Michigan. We will engage in reparative archival description, to ensure that the records of marginalized communities we do hold are described respectfully and according to anti-racist principles. We will create an environment where individuals from all backgrounds feel welcome and comfortable in pursuing their research, and we will seek to create authentic partnerships based on shared power with individuals, organizations, and communities that have often been excluded from the archives to ensure their stories are available for future generations.
In the meantime, we invite you to explore our website. Here, you will find resources to help you get started on your research journey into the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan, two great intertwined institutions. We are open to the public by appointment and invite researchers of all kinds to use our collections, whether you are writing your next scholarly monograph, writing a paper for a class, or researching the history of your family.
So take a look around; browse our social media feeds, and feel free to reach out to staff to get started on your research journey.
Bentley Historical Library