Four Reasons to Invest in the Bentley

The Library’s four Campaign priorities showcase four reasons to invest in the Bentley. Select each one for a full PDF.


Because students deserve to work with original source material: enrich the student experience.

For thousands of students, it’s through the Bentley Historical Library that they first touch the primary sources of history, whether letters, diaries, photographs, or books, or other materials. Each year, U-M’s robust coursework introduces students to historical sources, modes of inquiry, and interdisciplinary methods. Students work not just with their respective faculty instructors, but also with archival experts in the Bentley, who guide their research projects into the historical records. This powerful experience is more important than ever, as U-M faculty call for more “engaged learning” opportunities whereby students can apply the facts and theories they have learned inside the classroom to information and experiences outside the academy.


Because one of U-M’s greatest strengths is its traditions

Athletic competition at the University of Michigan has been an integral part of student life since the Pioneer Cricket Club was formed in 1864 and the football team scored its first points in 1879. U-M’s athletic prowess has amassed a monumental archive of athletic achievement. In addition to thousands of photographs, the athletic archives include film, video, schedules, rosters, programs, and so much more. Each year, the Bentley fields hundreds of reference requests from major media outlets such as ESPN, the Big Ten Network, Sports Illustrated, and more, all wanting information from this archive.

3. ARCHIVES 24/7

Because we live in a digital world, and our collections should, too

Both archival preservation and the spread of historical consciousness demand that more of the Bentley’s 7,000 collections be available on the Internet in digital form. After all, history is now made 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and instant worldwide access is now the norm. The materials for writing and understanding history should be made available around the clock as well. At the same time, preserving the Bentley collections and making them available for study is a continuing challenge. The paper that makes up many of the collections is acidic and, over time, becomes brittle. Best archival practices can slow this process but not stop it. Moreover, sound and video present enormous challenges for long-term preservation and access. A strategic plan to convert 100,000 pages of paper records and 500 recordings per year to digital format will allow the Library to meet its commitment to both preserve its holdings and increase access to the collections.


Because history never ends

Every year, the University of Michigan’s Department of History and School of Information train scores of master’s and doctoral students, many of whom go on to a variety of careers including positions as academic historians and archivists. It is critical to support and train those whose work is related to the Bentley’s core mission to collect the materials for and promote the study of the histories of both the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan.



We are seeking contributions to a number of funds to support these priorities and additional opportunities, and would like to discuss your ideas about investing in the Bentley. If you would like a copy of our complete case statement or would like to learn more about the Bentley’s plans for the Victors for Michigan campaign, please contact Director of Development, Ceci Riecker, at 734-647-3534 or