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Twelve Decades of Michigan History at Your Fingertips

A new online database of The Michigan Daily has made more than 23,000 issues digital and searchable.

The Bentley Historical Library has just unveiled 12 decades of The Michigan Daily history through a new online database that will contain searchable digital copies of the historic paper.

The first online search of the digitized Daily was performed by U-M President Mark Schlissel during a reception hosted at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library on March 30, 2017.

“This effort celebrates and preserves 125 years of editorial history for America’s greatest public university,” said Bentley Director Terrence McDonald. “This database will be a gold mine of University of Michigan and state of Michigan history.”


The first issue of The Michigan Daily was published in September 1890.

The digitization has been a collaboration between the Bentley, The Michigan Daily and the U-M Library. The digital archive contains every extant issue of The Michigan Daily, from its founding in 1891 to 2015—including more than 300 volumes from 23,000 issues.

The new, high-resolution scans will be available for free via an online database that was designed and developed by the U-M Library. According to John Weise, associate director of IT at the U-M Library, the database will reduce the need for the handling of the original, fragile materials, making the content browsable and searchable by date and full-text.

“The U-M Library is proud to provide the digital preservation and web infrastructure for this remarkable chronicle of the university,” Weise said. “Bringing this online required a high degree of expertise, collaboration and efficient productivity. It is an exemplary demonstration of the commitment of libraries and archives to ensuring enduring access of the human record.”

Neil Chase, chairman of the board for student publications and former editor in chief of The Michigan Daily (’85-’86) said that before the digitization effort, there were only a couple of ways to search through older issues of the Daily—either in the archives at the Bentley, or in bound volumes at the Daily’s office.

“I think that there will be a lot of interest in this project not only from alums, but also from researchers, or anyone interested in regional, national or world history,” Chase said. “People will be able to search through everything from Tom Hayden’s early work and what he did at the Daily, to coverage of presidential elections of the past, the civil rights movement in the ’60s, and so much more.”

The digitization was made possible by a gift from the Kemp Family Foundation. The Kemp Family Foundation was established by John B. Kemp (’60, J.D. ’63), founder and chief executive officer of Lease Corporation of America in Troy, Mich. He is also a co-founder and board chairman emeritus of the Troy Michigan law firm of Kemp Klein, which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of a family with deep roots in the history of U-M, with four generations of family members having received their education at U-M.

“The digitized Daily will help something we feel strongly about, which is history and the study of history,” Kemp said. “The Daily is a significant publication, so many important events are recorded in its pages.”  

Visit the new Daily digital archive.