Biographies & Memoirs of People from Michigan

Books on the lives of well-known people from Michigan, and of lesser-known people of interest.

A few of the people here: First Lady Betty Ford, Bruce Catton, Ty Cobb, Madonna, Sojourner Truth, George Armstrong Custer, Diana Ross, Erik Prince, Thomas Edison, President Gerald Ford, Henry Ford, Aretha Franklin, Lee Iacocca, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Berry Gordy, Laura Haviland, Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Louis, Father Jacques Marquette, Larry Page, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Governor Lewis Cass, Walter Reuther, and Governor George Romney.

Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.

Hint: When a book you want to borrow at Internet Archive is already checked out, go to the Internet Archive’s ‘Search’ box, check “Search Metadata”, and search for the book’s title. Quite often they have two or more copies.


Go Down to Collective Biographies


Michigan Biography Collection

About 80 free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Michigan Biography”. Be patient as the page loads.

The Reminiscences of James Burrill Angell

Angell, James Burrill
NY: Longmans, Gree 1912

President of the University of Michigan for 38 years and a “man of national affairs”.

Angell, James Burrill (1829-1916)

Please visit our collection of selected online magazine and newspaper Biography Articles

The John Askin Papers, edited by Milo M. Quaife

Volume 2

Askin, John
Detroit: Detroit Library Commission 1928

Vol. 1: 1747-1795
Vol 2: 1796-1820

John Askin was a young British merchant engaged in the Indian trade in Albany, NY when he ventured into the Northwest soon after British forces won it from France in 1760-61, during the French and Indian War. In 1764 he began conducting a successful Indian trade from Mackinac, where he was also appointed as Commissary for the British army post there. In 1780 he was forced to leave Mackinac through a falling-out with the new commander, so he moved his family and business to Detroit. He remained in Detroit until 1802, moving across the Detroit River to a farm near Windsor soon after Detroit was transferred to American control.

Editor Milo Quaife writes in his introduction that Askin’s papers are of great importance not only because he was a leading merchant in Mackinac and then Detroit, but because he was close friends with other leading citizens of both the Northwest and British Canada. These two volumes contain a selection of Askin’s surviving papers, which unfortunately includes relatively little from before 1880.

Askin, John (1739-1815)

Books and articles about workers, medical care, business & industry, etc. at Michigan Economic History

“Reminiscences of Early Days on Mackinac Island”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 17-64, 1898

Baird, Elizabeth T.
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Elizabeth Therese Fisher Baird was born at Prairie du Chien in 1810, the daughter of fur trader Henry Munro Fisher. She spent much of her youth on Mackinac Island, where she was married to Henry S. Baird at age 14 in 1824. She and her husband, a young lawyer, immediately departed for Green Bay, where she lived until her death in 1890.

Elizabeth Baird published a series of articles about her memories in the Green Bay State Gazette from 1886 to 1887. Those articles were reproduced in condensed and edited form in two articles in the Wisconsin Historical Collections. This is the first of that pair; the second is “Reminiscences of Life in Territorial Wisconsin”, found on the Wisconsin Biographies and Memoirs page of this website. A third article, “Indian Customs and Early Recollections” had been previously published in Wisconsin Historical Collections in 1882. That is also found on the Wisconsin Biographies and Memoirs page.

At the beginning of this article are portraits of Elizabeth Baird and her mother.

Baird, Elizabeth T. (1810-1890)

Of Me I Sing

Bingay, Malcolm W.
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1949

A former newspaperman recalls his life in Detroit.

Bingay, Malcolm W. (1884-1953)

Find 14 more subject pages of books and articles about Michigan at the History of the Great Lakes States Directory.

Burrows of Michigan and the Republican Party; a Biography and a History, Vol 1

Vol 2

Orcutt, William Dana
Longmans, Green 1917     

Julius Caesar Burrows (1837-1915) moved to Michigan from Ohio in 1860 after completing the bar, and began practicing law in Kalamazoo. He served in the Civil War as a Captain, then returned to Kalamazoo where he was prosecuting attorney for Kalamazoo county for several years. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1872, where he served most of the years until 1895, when he was elected as a U.S. Senator. He served in the Senate until 1911.

Burrows, Julius C. (1837-1915)

Lewis Cass

McLauglin, Andrew C.
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1891

Cass served as U.S. Congressman from Ohio, military colonel and brigadier general in the War of 1812, Governor of Michigan Territory, Secretary of War, U.S. Ambassador to France, U.S. Senator for Michigan, Democratic nominee for President, and U.S. Secretary of State. The author was a professor at the University of Michigan, and most of the content of the book is based on the written record. However, a number of Cass’s friends and political foes were still living in the 1880s when this book was being researched and they provided considerable input.

See also related works on this site: political history of Michigan on Michigan History: Politics & Government

For biographies and memoirs of early 19th century governors in the Great Lakes states, see:
– Edwards, Ninian Wirt, History of Illinois, from 1778 to 1833; and Life and Times of Ninian Edwards in Illinois History Politics & Government
St Clair, Arthur and Smith, William H., ed., St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Esarey, Logan, ed., Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Alvord, Clarence W. ed., Governor Edward Coles in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Reynolds, John, My Own Times, Embracing also the History of my Life in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Hemans, Lawton Thomas, Life and Times of Stevens Thomson Mason in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;

Cass, Lewis (1782-1866)

Fifty Years of Public Life. The Life and Times of Lewis Cass

Smith, W. L. G.
NY: Derby & Jackson 1856

Lewis Cass’s long public career included service as Michigan’s Territorial Governor, and as Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson. This biography by W.L.G. Smith was published during Cass’s lifetime, while he was a U.S. Senator. Also see the biography of Cass by Andrew McLaughlin, on this page.

See also related works on this site: political history of Michigan on Michigan History: Politics & Government

Cass, Lewis (1782-1866)

Waiting for the Morning Train; An American Boyhood

Catton, Bruce
Doubleday 1972

Michigan memoir by a popular historian and novelist of the Civil War.

Catton, Charles Bruce (1899-1978)

Works of Fiction set in Michigan

An Informal Biography of Ty Cobb: The Tiger Wore Spikes

McCallum, John
NY: Barnes 1956

Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers; the last six as player-manager. He was known for his surly temperament and extremely aggressive playing style, described by the Detroit Free Press as “daring to the point of dementia”. He set some 90 Major League records during his career, including a career batting average of .366. In 1999 the editors of “The Sporting News” ranked Cobb 3rd on their list of “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players”.

Cobb, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” (1886-1961)

Six Months among Indians, Wolves and other Wild Animals, in the Forests of Allegan County, Michigan in the Winter of 1839 and 1840

Cook, Darius B.
Niles, MI: Cook 1889

A colorful and lively writer, Cook combines a narrative of his sometimes-harrowing six-month stay with a Pottawatamie Indian tribe in southwestern Michigan with a variety of stories he heard from them.

Cook, Darius Burgess (1815-1901)

Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin & the Great Depression

Brinkley, Alan
Vintage 1983       

Father Coughlin was a very popular anti-Semite in the 1930s with fascist sympathies.
In 1926 Charles Coughlin was a 34-year-old parish priest in a Detroit suburb when he asked a local radio station to broadcast his Sunday sermons. In the early 1930s his sermons, by then almost entirely political in content, “attracted an audience as high as 40 million [of a total U.S. population of about 150 million]… As the years passed and his popularity grew, a strain of megalomania wore away his self-restraint until finally his excesses destroyed him.” -pp. 82-83.

Coughlin, Charles Edward (1891-1979)

Custer: The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer

Wert, Jeffrey D.
Simon & Schuster 1996       

George Custer was born and raised in New Rumley, Ohio, where his father was a blacksmith. When he was 14 his mother died, and he went to Monroe, MI to live with a much older half-sister. Although his education at West Point Military Academy and his service in the Civil War immediately following that took him to other areas of the country, he returned to court and marry Monroe native Libbie Bacon. After the war he maintained close ties to the area, partly because Libbie’s family was there and partly because many of the officers he led in the First Michigan Cavalry were from the Detroit area.

Custer, George Armstrong (1839-1876)

General histories and works that don’t fit the descriptions for other pages are in The History of Michigan

Timberland Times

Davenport, Eugene
Urbana: University of Illinois 1950

An autobiographical account of pioneer life in the Grand River Valley at about the time of the Civil War.

Davenport, Eugene (1856-1941)

Thomas E. Dewey and His Times

Smith, Richard Norton
Simon and Schuster 1982       

Thomas Dewey was born and raised in Owosso, MI, where his father owned and published the local newspaper. Dewey graduated from high school there, and then earned a B.A. at the University of Michigan. Following that he went to law school at Columbia University, completing his degree there in 1925. For a number of years he pursued a highly successful career as a prosecuting attorney in New York, until in the late 1930s he was able to use the celebrity he gained there to become a nationally known political figure. In 1942 he was elected governor of New York, and in 1948 he won the Republican nomination for President. He lost a close election later that year to incumbent Harry Truman.

Dewey, Thomas E. (1902-1971)

The Dream Maker: William C. Durant, Founder of General Motors

Weisberger, Bernard A.
Little, Brown 1979       

Recounts the accomplishments and misfortunes of the daring and original entrepreneur who formed General Motors in the early 1900s, founded and lost Durant Motors after his final break with GM, and died nearly penniless in 1947

Durant, William Crapo (1861-1947)

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World

Stross, Randall E
Three Rivers Press 2007       

“An in-depth portrait of America’s greatest inventor journeys inside the life and laboratory of Thomas Edison, documenting not only his revolutionary technological innovations, but also his ability to promote and market himself and his creations.” – Publisher

Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931)

Thomas Alva Edison: An American Myth

Wachhorst, Wyn
MIT 1981       

“The subject of this book is larger than life: Edison the Myth, Edison the Hero. It traces the transmutations of Edison’s image in the eyes of his countrymen as the ideal embodiment of American values and virtues: hard work, perseverance, the gospel of technological progress, the mythology of the self-made man, individualism, optimism, practicality mingled with idealism. . . Sifting through the layers of myth, the author finds that “the man who remains is finally greater than the myth. Edison can now be seen as the real and symbolic figure who led us from the First into the Second Industrial Revolution in which communication overtook transportation and the consumer outstripped the producer in status.” -Book jacket

Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931)

Books and articles on Local, City, and County History in Michigan

Life and Adventures of William Filley, who was stolen from his home in Jackson, Mich., by the Indians, August 3d, 1837

And his safe return from captivity, October 19, 1866 after an absence of 29 years

Filley, William and Ballard, James Z.
Chicago: Filley & Ballard 1867.

A dramatic story, that one reviewer called ‘fraudulent’.

Filley, William (1832-1900?)

Betty Ford: Courage and Candor in the White House

Greene, John Robert
University Press of Kansas 2004       

“An independent, free spirit who regularly ranks among the most-admired first ladies, Betty Ford is considered by many to be the most outspoken since Eleanor Roosevelt: She spoke her mind publicly and frequently, sometimes sending the president’s political advisors running for cover… John Robert Greene traces Betty Ford’s problems and triumphs from her childhood through her husband’s political career, including his controversial presidency, which thrust her into an unrelenting media spotlight. He then tells how she confronted her personal demons, and became a symbol of courage for women throughout the nation.” – Book jacket

Ford, Elizabeth “Betty” Anne (1918-2011)

Gerald R. Ford

Brinkley, Douglas
Thorndike 2007       

Contents: Michigan upbringing — Man of the house — Foot soldier for Nixon — The Watergate blues — Changing of the guard — The pardon meets whip inflation now — The agony of peace — The Mayaguez incident and the Helsinki accords — Looking for traction — The bicentennial campaign — Retirement decades

Ford, Gerald R. (1913-2006)

Henry Ford: The Wayward Capitalist

Gelderman, Carol
Dial 1981       

“Henry Ford spent most of his life making headlines – good, bad, but never indifferent. Both a technological genius and a worldwide folk hero, Ford was the creative force behind an industry the size and scope of which had never been seen before … Ford was indeed a brilliant, contradictory, and controversial man, and this thorough biography, rather than taking a moral position for or against him, wisely tells his story as a story by reporting the fascinating events of his life and letting the facts speak for themselves.” – Book jacket

Ford, Henry (1863-1947)

Books and articles on Native American tribes in historic Michigan

Henry Ford’s own Story

How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power that Goes with Many Millions Yet Never Lost Touch with Humanity, as told to Rose Wilder Lane

Ford, Henry and Lane, Rose Wilder
NY: Jones 1917

“A very human book. If it were just plain fiction it could not interest one more. . . . To read it is to get a new realization of what work means, what persistence will do, on what efficiency must build, and of the tremendous power in unselfish will.”
“The platitudinousness and naiveté, the well-meaning but sophomoric approach to a problem that are revealed in Mr Ford’s utterances on all subjects not relating to engineering are almost incredible. Such intellectual infantilism would be impossible in any grown man in any other civilized country — as would Miss Lane’s ecstatic admiration of it. But the story of Henry Ford does not end there. Against his contempt for the amenities of life and the finer cultural satisfactions may be set his hatred of poverty and wretchedness. In that balance, who can say that the admiration of Miss Lane is misplaced?”
– The Book Review Digest

Ford, Henry, My Life and Work in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F

Ford, Henry (1863-1947)

Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate

Baldwin, Neil
Public Affairs 2001       

“Drawing upon oral history transcripts, archival correspondence, and unpublished family memoirs, independent scholar Baldwin describes Henry Ford’s rabid anti-Semitism and the Jewish American community’s response to him. Topics include Ford’s hateful essays in The Dearborn Independent, his publication of treatises on the alleged international Jewish banking conspiracy, and his impact on the anti- Semitic movement in Europe in the years leading up to World War II”. -Publisher

Contents: McGuffeyland — The great questions — Tin Lizzie — The Christian century — Working man’s friend — “I know who caused the war” — The Bolshevik menace — Exit Mr. Pipp — The Jewish question — Retaliation — The Talmud-Jew — Heinrich Ford — Sapiro v. Ford — Apology — Apostle of amity — The chosen people — “I am not a Jew hater” — Hitler’s medal — The radio priest — Transitions

Ford, Henry (1863-1947)

Books and articles on Politics & Government in historic Michigan

Aretha: From These Roots

Franklin, Aretha and Ritz, David
Villard 1999       

“A child prodigy of the golden age of gospel, the daughter of a world-famous preacher, Aretha was the anointed successor to Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward. But her father had a broader vision and helped Aretha enter the field of pop and jazz… Her song “Respect” became the anthem of an epoch, a touchstone for African Americans, for women, for all people struggling to be free. Aretha became the Queen of Soul, the genre’s finest interpreter since Ray Charles.” – Book jacket

Franklin, Aretha Louise (1942-2018)

The First Twenty Years

Gallery, Douglas C.
Philadelphia: Dorrance 1962

“Looking back in laughter at boyhood days in Caro, in the “Thumb.””

Gallery, Douglas C. (1904-1991)

To Be Loved: The Music, The Magic, The Memories of Motown: an Autobiography

Gordy, Berry
Warner 1994       

Berry Gordy founded and ran Detroit’s Motown Records, which churned out hits in the 1960’s and ’70s from new stars, including Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.
“Berry Gordy, as a young black man in the inhospitable 1950’s, set out to make music for all people, whatever their color or place of origin. ‘To Be Loved’ is the very frank, sometimes hilarious, always fascinating account of how he made his impossible dream come true.” -Sidney Poitier

Gordy, Berry Jr. (1929- )

Alex J. Groesbeck; Portrait of a Public Man

Woodford, Frank B.
Detroit: Wayne State University 1962

Groesbeck completed a law degree at University of Michigan in 1893 and then established a law practice in Detroit. He entered Michigan state politics in 1912, becoming the state’s Republican party chairman. After losing a 1914 primary race for Governor in 1914, he succeeded on his next try in 1920, spending six years as governor.

Groesbeck, Alex J. (1873-1953)

Collection of Articles about Racism in American History

First Lady of Detroit: The Story of Marie-Thérěse Guyon, Mme. Cadillac

Bush, Karen Elizabeth
Wayne State University 2001

Biography of the wife of Detroit’s founder.

Guyon, Marie-Thérěse (1658-1730)

A Quaker Pioneer: Laura Haviland, Superintendent of the Underground

Danforth, Mildred E.
NY: Exposition 1961

Also see Haviland’s memoirs on this web page.

Haviland, Laura S. (1808-1898)

A Woman’s Life-Work: Labors and Experiences of Laura S. Haviland

Haviland, Laura S.
Cincinnati: Walden & Stowe 1882

Autobiography of a leader of anti-slavery activities in Michigan. She helped found the “Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society” in 1832, and founded the “Raisin Institute” in Lenawee County in 1837, which brought together African American and white children for vocational training. She later became very actively engaged in the Underground Railroad, even traveling in the south at great personal risk to help slaves escape to Canada.

For biographies of people in the American abolition movement, see:
– Swift, Lindsay, William Lloyd Garrison in Century Past Biographies: G & H
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Coffin, Levi, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, Frederick Douglass in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F;

Haviland, Laura S. (1808-1898)

The Land of the Crooked Tree

Hedrick, U.P.
Oxford Univ 1948

A first-person account about life among the early settlers of a community at the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, in the 1870s and 1880s.


Sloane, Arthur A.
MIT 1991       

Jimmy Hoffa moved with his family in 1924 from Brazil, IN to Detroit, where he lived the rest of his life. He left school at 14 and went to work to help support his family, as his father had died in 1920. He got involved in union activities as a young man, and worked for 20 years to help consolidate local truckers’ unions into a national Teamsters’ union. Membership grew from 75,000 members in 1933 to over a million by 1951, according to the Wikipedia entry for Hoffa. He became the organization’s president in 1957. In the ensuing years he and the union were repeatedly investigated by federal authorities and he served a prison sentence, which President Nixon commuted after Hoffa served five years. On July 30, 1975 Hoffa disappeared. To date, his disappearance has never been solved, although theories abound.

Hoffa, James Riddle (1913-1975)

Books and articles about everyday life, women, ethnic groups, social issues etc. at Topics in the social history of Michigan

“Dr. Douglass Houghton”

Historical Collections Vol 39, 1915, 127-134

Allen, Rolland C.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

A short biography of Houghton, a medical doctor and geologist who was a leader in science in Michigan in the 1830s and early 1840s. Among his contributions were geological surveys of the state; most importantly in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Houghton, Douglass (1809-1845)

The Story of a French Homestead in the Old Northwest

Howe, Frances R.
Columbus: Nitschke Bros. 1907

The French homestead was also a trading post, established in 1824 on the Calumet River near present-day Chesterton, IN by the author’s grandfather. The author’s mother and her sister were sent to the Detroit area for education, where part of this story takes place.

Howe, Frances Rose (1851-1917)

White Pine Days on the Taquamenon

Hulbert, William Davenport
Lansing: Historical Society of Michigan 1949

“Colorful saga of the land-looker, timber-cruiser, and logger who chewed through Michigan’s pine wilderness.”

Hulbert, William Davenport (1868-1913)

Iacocca: An Autobiography

Iacocca, Lee
Dell 1984       

Iacocca grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, going to work for Ford Motor Co. in 1946. He transferred to the company’s Dearborn, MI headquarters about 1956, where he move up the ranks to President in 1970. However, he was fired by owner Henry Ford II in 1978. He was then hired by Chrysler to save that company, as it was nearly bankrupt. He brought Chrysler back from the brink and became a national celebrity in the process. His autobiography was a huge best-seller.

Iacocca, Lido Anthony (1924 – )

See our book collection on Auto & Motorcycle History

My New Home in Northern Michigan and other Tales

Jay, Charles J.
Trenton, N.J.: Sharp. 1874

A long-time newspaperman arrives in Northern Michigan and portrays his new life. Quite entertaining.

Jay, Charles J. (?-?)

Between the Dying and the Dead: Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s Life and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia

Nicol, Neal and Wylie, Harry
University of Wisconsin 2006       

“Dr. Kevorkian gained international notoriety in the 1990s for his passionate advocacy of choice for terminal patients, who have increasingly won the right to decide the time, place, and method of their own death in several Western countries. In 1998 he assisted Thomas Youk, a terminally ill patient suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, with a lethal injection that was broadcast on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’. Immediately thereafter, Kevorkian was arrested, charged with second-degree murder, tried, and sentenced to 10-25 years in Michigan’s maximum-security prison system… Here, finally, is his own life story, as told to Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie.” – Book jacket

Kevorkian, Jacob (1928-2011)

Ring Lardner: A Biography

Elder, Donald
NY: Doubleday 1956

An American sports columnist and short story writer widely known for his satirical writings about sports, marriage and the theatre. The author grew up with Lardner in Niles, MI.

Lardner, Ringgold “Ring” Wilmer (1885-1933)

Selected Articles from a Century Ago on Miscellaneous Topics

Joe Louis: Heavyweight Champion

Jakoubek, Robert E.
Chelsea House 1990       

A biography of Joe Louis describing his youth in a Detroit ghetto, his rise to heavyweight champion and major sports hero, and his role in destroying the myth of racial inferiority. (Real name: Joseph Louis Barrow)

Louis, Joseph (1914-1981)

Joe Maddy of Interlochen

Browning, Norma Lee
Chicago: Regnery 1963

“In 1924 Maddy was invited to Ann Arbor to be the supervisor of music in public schools and the Music Department head for the University of Michigan, where he developed one of the few conducting courses in the country… In 1928 Maddy formed the National High School Orchestra and Band Camp, incorporated as the National High School Orchestra Camp on July 6, 1927. The camp exists today as the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and has spawned several complementary entities including Interlochen Arts Academy, Interlochen College of the Creative Arts and Interlochen Public Radio in Interlochen, Michigan”. -Wikipedia entry for Joseph E. Maddy

Maddy, Joseph Edgar (1891-1966)

Books and articles on War in historic Michigan

Madonna: An Intimate Biography

Taraborrelli, J. Randy
Simon & Schuster 2001       

Madonna was born in Bay City, MI and grew up in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Avon Township. She graduated from Rochester Adams High School and began working on a degree at University of Michigan, but dropped out in 1978 and relocated to New York City, to pursue a career as a dancer.

Ciccone, Madonna Louise (1958-)

Father Marquette

Thwaites, Reuben Gold
NY: Appleton 1902

Father Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) was a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan’s first European settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, and later founded St. Ignace, Michigan. In 1673 Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to explore and map the northern portion of the Mississippi River.

Reuben Gold Thwaites was a noted historian and a director of the Wisconsin Historical Society. He carried out extensive research on Father Marquette as well as other French Jesuits in North America, compiling a 71-volume collection of Jesuit documents called The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. See the link to that collection, which is available online in translation, on the Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History page of this website.

Marquette, Jacques (1637-1675)

Life and Times of Stevens Thomson Mason, the Boy Governor of Michigan

Hemans, Lawton Thomas
Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission 1920

Stephens T. Mason was appointed acting Territorial Secretary (of Michigan Territory) at age 19 and acting Territorial Governor in 1834 at age 22. He was elected Governor of the newly-established state in 1835 and served until 1840. Mason died of pneumonia in New York in 1843, where he had started building a law practice after leaving Michigan politics. Mason’s sister was still alive when the author was researching this book, and she provided most of the details about Mason’s family origins in Kentucky, his boyhood, and his personal life. The political history in the book, which is almost entirely limited to the 1830s, was the product of years of research by the author. The volume contains about 70 illustrations, including portraits of many people prominent during that era.

Some of the chapter headings are:

-The Boundary Dispute with Ohio
-The Constitution of 1835
-Organizing the State Government
-Financial Difficulties and the Election of 1837
-Governor Mason’s Second Term
-The Patriot War
-Banks and Banking
-Internal Improvements and the Five Million Dollar Loan
-“Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”

See also related works on this site: political history of Michigan on Michigan History: Politics & Government

For biographies and memoirs of early 19th century governors in the Great Lakes states, see:
– Edwards, Ninian Wirt, History of Illinois, from 1778 to 1833; and Life and Times of Ninian Edwards in Illinois History Politics & Government
St Clair, Arthur and Smith, William H., ed., St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Esarey, Logan, ed., Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Alvord, Clarence W. ed., Governor Edward Coles in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Reynolds, John, My Own Times, Embracing also the History of my Life in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
McLauglin, Andrew C., Lewis Cass in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Mason, Stevens T. (1811-1843)

See our book collection on Aviation History & Space Exploration

One Woman’s Work for Farm Women; the Story of Mary A. Mayo’s Part in Rural Social Movements

Buell, Jennie
Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows 1908

“Mary Anne Mayo was a pioneer woman born in a log cabin in Calhoun County, Michigan. She believed
passionately in the need for education for farm women. Becoming active in the Patrons of Husbandry, more commonly known as the Grange, she used this organization as a forum from which she voiced her concerns about education for women in a time when women did not speak in public. She traveled widely, conveying the importance of education for women, and especially rural women. She worked to improve the facilities for women’s education at institutions of higher learning… Her concern for the well-being of women and children led to the idea of the “Fresh Air Outing Program,” designed to give poor children from the city, working women, and mothers with babies, a two-week outing in the country in the summer. More than 1000 people participated in the program from 1895 to 1900.” – “Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame” website.

See also: Paine, Arthur Elijah, The Granger Movement in Illinois in Illinois Economic History

Mayo, Mary Anne Bryant (1845-1903)

Alfred Street

McLauchlin, Russell
Detroit: Conjure House 1946

Nostalgic reflections about boyhood on a quiet neighborhood in Detroit at turn of the 20th century. The articles first appeared in the Detroit News, apparently in the early 1940s.

McLauchlin, Russell Jaehne(1894-1975)

Pioneer Recollections; Semi-Historic Side Lights on the Early Days of Lansing

Mevis, Daniel S.
Lansing: Smith 1911.

The author’s recollections of his youth in Lansing as it was becoming the state capital. The volume is made up entirely of lively and unusual anecdotes. The book contains a photo of Chief Okemos at the age of 119(!).

Mevis, Daniel Stafford (1837-?)

Books and articles on Religion in historic Michigan

The Bark Covered House or, Back in the Woods Again

Being a graphic and thrilling description of real pioneer life in the wilderness of Michigan. (illustrated)

Nowlin, William
Chicago: Donnelley & Sons 1937

This memoir was originally written in 1876, and vividly describes the struggle of Nowlin’s parents to carve a living out of the wilderness in Michigan after their arrival in 1834 in the place that would later be within the city limits of Dearborn. The narrative begins with the family’s trip from New York on the Erie canal and then a harrowing cruise on a steamboat from Buffalo to Detroit. Historian Milo Quaife supplemented the narrative with footnotes providing additional background information of interest.

Nowlin, William (1821-1884)

The Iron Hunter

Osborn, Chase S.
NY: Macmillan 1919

“Originally published in 1919, The Iron Hunter is the autobiography of one of Michigan’s most influential and flamboyant historical figures: the reporter, publisher, explorer, politician, and twenty-seventh governor of Michigan, Chase Salmon Osborn (1860-1949). Making unprecedented use of the automobile in his 1910 campaign, Osborn ran a memorable campaign that was followed by an even more remarkable term as governor. In two years he eliminated Michigan’s deficit, ended corruption, and produced the state’s first workmen’s compensation law and a reform of the electoral process. His autobiography reflects the energy and enthusiasm of a reformer inspired by the Progressive Movement, but it also reveals the poetic spirit of an adventurer who fell in love with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula after traveling the world.” -Publisher

Osborn, Chase Salmon (1860-1949)

Google Speaks: Secrets of the World’s Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page

Lowe, Janet
John Wiley & Sons 2009       

Larry Page, co-founder of Google with Sergey Brin, was born and raised in East Lansing, MI. His father was a computer science professor at MSU and his mother was an instructor in computer programming there. Larry Page was interested in computer science from a very early age, and was also a musician. He graduated from East Lansing High School in 1991 and then earned his B.S. at University of Michigan before going on to attend graduate school at Stanford. As of 2018, Page is the chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company), and has an estimated personal net worth of around $50 billion.

Page, Lawrence Edward (1973 – )

C. W. Post; The Hour and the Man. A Biography with Genealogical Supplement

Major, Nettie Leitch
Washington: Judd & Detweiler 1963

The man who founded Post cereals after visiting John Harvey Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium for treatment for stomach problems. His first cereal was “Grape-nuts” and his second was “Post Toasties”; similar to the nearby Kellogg’s company’s “Corn Flakes”. When Post died in 1914 he left his 27-year-old daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, the company and one of the largest fortunes of the early 20th century.

Post, Charles William (1854-1914)

American Empress: The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post

Rubin, Nancy
Villard 1995       

Post was an American socialite, heiress, philanthropist, and owner of General Foods, and for many years was considered the wealthiest woman in the U.S. She spent much of her youth near Battle Creek, MI.

Post, Marjorie Merriweather (1887-1973)

See our collection of articles on Higher Education Issues

Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army

Scahill, Jeremy
Nation 2007       

Erik Prince, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Blackwater, was born and raised in Holland, MI, graduating from Holland Christian High School and earning a B.A. from Hillsdale College. His father had founded and managed an auto parts manufacturing company in Holland.
In 1997 Erik Prince, by then an ex-Navy SEAL, financed and founded the Blackwater security services company, which grew rapidly as a result of large contracts from the CIA and State Department during the George W. Bush administration. This book (‘Blackwater’) details the infamous history of that company. As of 2018, Prince continues to be in the news occasionally, usually in connection with Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the government of Russia. Eric’s sister Betsy DeVos, as of 2018, serves in the Trump administration as U.S. Secretary of Education.

Prince, Erik (1969- )

Between the Iron and the Pine. A Biography of a Pioneer Family and a Pioneer Town

Reimann, Lewis C.
Ann Arbor: Reimann 1951

Lewis Reimann was the son of German immigrants who ran a boarding-house for miners and loggers in the Iron River district of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This book consists of the author’s recollections with anecdotes and historical commentary about the region. Reimann conveys a sense of the occupational lifestyles and multiple ethnicities of Iron River’s inhabitants and deals in some detail with its folklore, material culture, foodways, and memorable local characters. He devotes a special chapter to Carrie Jacobs Bond, the genteel doctor’s wife who left the area after her husband died and became a noted composer of songs.
– Library of Congress American Memory website

Reimann, Lewis Charles (1890-1961)

Collected Maps & Gazetteers for Historic Michigan

The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor

Lichtenstein, Nelson
Basic 1995

“A marvelously researched, most complete history … It is a very readable work that anyone with any interest in Walter Reuther, the UAW or the labor movement would enjoy reading.” – Douglas Fraser, UAW President 1977-83

Reuther, Walter Philip(1907-1970)

Journal of Major Robert Rogers

Rogers, Robert. Clements, William L., ed.
Worcester: The Society 1918

Robert Rogers was a frontiersman in New Hampshire at the beginning of the French and Indian War, when he began recruiting volunteers to serve as soldiers in new military companies that were soon being called “Rogers’ Rangers”, as he commanded them. Rogers and his rangers went on to fame in a number of actions against the French, and also led an attack against Pontiac at Detroit in 1763 to relieve the siege of Detroit.

In 1766 Rogers was given command of Fort Michilimackinac, at the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan. In that position Rogers tried to put into play his own plan for establishing improved relations with the Indians in the region, but he had strong opposition from other British commanders. In 1767 Rogers was arrested and charged with treason. Although eventually acquitted, that essentially ended his military career. This journal covers the period of his command at Fort Michilimackinac.

Rogers, Robert (1731-1795)

The View from the Dugout: The Journals of Red Rolfe

Anderson, William M.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 2006

Rolfe managed the Detroit Tigers for four seasons – 1949 through 1952, and was named manager of the year in 1950. A Dartmouth graduate and studious person, he took detailed notes of every game and each morning typed up the notes into a record of the game. The editor drew upon those notes for this book, which covers those four seasons.

Rolfe, Robert Abial “Red” (1908-1969)

Online Collections of Maps Worldwide

Romney’s Way: A Man and an Idea

Harris, T. George
Prentice Hall 1968       

George Romney came to Michigan in 1939 and worked at the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. He became chief executive of American Motors Corp. in 1954, and was elected governor of Michigan in 1962. He was a popular governor and was re-elected in 1964 and 1966. In 1968 he was briefly a Republican candidate for President, but dropped out of the race early in the primaries. He was the father of Mitt Romney, U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate.

Romney, George Wilcken (1907-1995)

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me: the Story of Diana Ross

Haskins, James
Dial 1980       

Traces the life of singer Diana Ross from her early years in a Detroit ghetto to Hollywood.

Ross, Diana (1944- )

Wah Sash Kah Moqua, or, Thirty-three years among the Indians

Sagatoo, Mary
Boston: White: 1897

The author was born and raised in Boston, where she met and married a man who was half-Chippewa. He died soon after they returned to his home near Bay City, Michigan, but she stayed on and married another Chippewa from his tribe two years later.

Sagatoo, Mary (Henderson) (1837-1914)

Books and articles on education, the arts, journalism, recreation and architecture are in Michigan Cultural History

Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers

with brief notices of passing events, facts, and opinions, A.D. 1812 to A.D. 1842

Schoolcraft, Henry R.
Philadelphia, Lippincott. 1851

“This is the autobiographical account of an explorer, government administrator, and scholar whose researches into the language and customs of the Chippewa and other Native American peoples of the Great Lakes region are considered milestones in nineteenth-century ethnography”. – American Memory Project.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864) left the family glass-making business in New York at the age of 25 to explore the western frontier. In 1818 he and a companion traveled into frontier Missouri, where he employed his interest in geology and mineralogy to write A View of the Lead Mines of Missouri. The expedition and publication brought him to the attention of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who recommended him to Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass, who in turn invited Schoolcraft along on the 1820 Cass Expedition. That expedition traveled nearly 2,000 miles along Lake Huron and Lake Superior, down the Mississippi River, and back to Detroit. Schoolcraft chronicled the expedition in a book, which can be found on the Michigan-Explorers & Travelers page of this website.

Schoolcraft was a prolific writer on a number of subjects, and also participated in more expeditions. In 1822 he was appointed the first U.S. Indian Agent, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He married the daughter of an Ojibwa chief there, who helped teach him the Ojibwa language and assisted him in his ethnological studies of Native Americans. The couple moved to Mackinac Island in 1833 and remained there until 1840. Among his numerous accomplishments, he named many of Michigan’s counties. He created Indian-sounding county names by combining syllables from Native American languages.
– Wikipedia was used as a source for this note.

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe (1793-1864)

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone; Her Life Story and Reminiscences

Perry, Belle McArthur
Detroit: Blinn 1902

This is a collection of reminiscences of and about Lucinda Hinsdale Stone (1814-1900), one of Michigan’s foremost spokespersons for coeducation and equal educational rights for women during the late nineteenth century. Born in Hinesburg, Vermont, she received a classical education as the first female graduate of Hinesburg Academy. After teaching at Burlington Seminary and, later, as a private tutor on a Mississippi plantation, she married James Andrus Blinn Stone, a Baptist minister. In 1843, Lucinda Stone took over a fledgling branch of the University of Michigan in Kalamazoo. There she began to teach women through a separate female department until she resigned in 1863 in a controversy over exposing students to literature considered inappropriate for ladies. She continued to teach most of her students out of her own home and eventually escorted women on guided study tours of Europe. As part of her efforts to educate women, she helped found the Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo. In 1873, influenced by various New England women’s clubs, she organized the first full-fledged women’s club in Michigan. There are few details here about her later life, but there are abundant testimonials about her importance as a public speaker, journalist, and charter member of the Michigan Woman’s Press Association. The book also includes abundant excerpts from Stone’s writings about eminent people she encountered abroad and at home.
– Library of Congress American Memory website

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

Stone, Lucinda Hinsdale (1814-1900)

Some Notes of Her Personal Recollections

Tripler, Eunice H.
NY: Grafton Press 1910

This book was written by Eunice H. Tripler’s (1822-1910) son-in-law, Louis A. Arthur, from his notes of conversations with her. The story begins with her father as a young soldier being taken prisoner when Fort Detroit was surrendered to the British in the War of 1812. Eunice was born in Washington DC, while her officer father was stationed at the War Department. During the chapters covering Washington, as throughout the entire book, there are many remarks and anecdotes about prominent people, and also numerous random observations of the details of ordinary life in an upper-class household. In 1836 the family returned to Detroit, and in 1841 she married an army doctor, Charles S. Tripler. They lived in Detroit for many years, with Eunice remaining there when the doctor was deployed during the Mexican War and the Civil War.

Tripler, Eunice H. (1822-1910)

Soujourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend

Mabee, Carleton
New York University 1993       

Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree) was a very influential African American abolitionist and activist for women’s rights. In 2014, Truth was included in Smithsonian magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time”. In 1857 she moved from Massachusetts to Battle Creek, MI in 1857 and lived there for the remainder of her life.

Truth, Sojourner (c. 1797-1883)

See our book collection of Architecture & House Design

Petticoat Surgeon

Van Hoosen, Bertha
Chicago: Peoples Book Club 1947

Autobiography. The author graduated from the University of Michigan Medical school in 1892 and spent her medical career in Chicago. She gradually became an outspoken feminist who opposed the medical establishment’s discriminatory treatment of women, becoming in 1915 the first president of the American Medical Women’s Association.

Van Hoosen, Bertha (1863-1952)

Albertus C. Van Raalte, and His Dutch Settlements in the United States

Hyma, Albert
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1947

“Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte is the unquestioned leader of mid-nineteenth century Dutch immigration to Western Michigan, as well as the founder of what eventually became the City of Holland, Michigan….Van Raalte was a minister in the Dutch Reformed church in the Netherlands prior to his emigration to America. The Dutch Reformed Church [DRC] was essentially the national church in the Netherlands during the early nineteenth century…. Within three years of the arrival of [Van Raalte and] the first group of 53 Dutch immigrants, the Dutch population in Western Michigan expanded to 5000.” – New Netherland Institute website

Van Raalte, Albertus Christiaan (1811-1876)

Mary Austin Wallace: Her Diary, 1862: A Michigan Soldier’s Wife Runs Their Farm

McCune, Julia, ed.
Lansing: Michigan Civil War Centennial Commission 1963

This 20-page booklet consists of daily extracts from 24-year-old Mary Wallace’s diary after her husband enlisted. Interesting for the wide diversity of problems and tasks she mentions.

Also see: Taylor, Jefferys, The Farm: or a New and Entertaining Account of Rural Scenes and Pursuits in Section 630 Agriculture in Agriculture, Fruit, Forestry, Gardening & Domestic Animals

Wallace, Mary Austin (1841-1921)

The Autobiography of David Ward

Ward, David
NY. 1912

A literate life story apparently written for Ward’s children. Ward arrived in Michigan as a teenager in 1836 with his family. For nearly 10 years he taught school and worked at other odd jobs while pursuing a medical degree. Instead of becoming a doctor he emerged as a very successful lumberman. He describes his career in detail and doesn’t hold back in expressing his views of certain relatives and business acquaintances.

Ward, David (1822-1900)

Please visit our collection of 2,000+ selected online magazine and newspaper articles on 40 subjects, plus online map & vintage photo collections, at Century Past History Resources

A Child of the Sea; and Life among the Mormons

Williams, Elizabeth Whitney
Brooklyn: Jewett 1905

“This is the vivid memoir of a mid-nineteenth-century girlhood spent mostly on the islands of Lake Michigan and the onshore communities of Manistique, Charlevoix, Traverse City, and Little Traverse (now Harbor Springs), written by a woman who grew up to be a lighthouse keeper on Beaver Island and in Little Traverse. Williams was brought up Catholic by a French-speaking mother and an English-speaking father who was a ship’s carpenter for entrepreneurs engaged in the mercantile trade to and from these rapidly developing settlements. Williams depicts cordial, even intimate, relationships between her family and the Indians who lived nearby, and describes the courtship and arranged marriage of an Ottawa chief’s daughter who lived with her family for an extended period. The major portion of the book, however, is devoted to her eye-witness recollections of James Jesse Strang’s short-lived dissident Mormon monarchy on Beaver Island, amplified by stories she heard from disillusioned followers. Strang was expelled from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after disputing Brigham Young’s right to succeed Joseph Smith. Eventually he and his own loyal followers settled on Beaver Island and attracted a stream of new converts; at their demographic peak, the “Strangites” numbered 5,000 strong. Strang saw himself as a prophet and believed the rules he tried to establish were in accord with divine revelations. Williams describes the mounting tensions between Strang’s followers and the “gentile” residents who fled the island as Strang’s influence grew; incidents connected with Strang’s assassination by two former followers; and the ensuing exodus of most Strangites from Beaver Island. She later moved back there with her family, as did many of the earlier inhabitants.”
– Description from the U.S. Library of Congress American Memory website.

Williams, Elizabeth Whitney (1844-1938)

“Personal Reminiscences” Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Historical Collections Vol 8, 1886, 233-59; Vol 9, 1886, 166-72; Vol 10, 1888, 137-42; Vol 10, 1888, 142-47

Williams, Ephraim S.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Ephraim Williams (born 1802) of Flint, MI relates the family’s history in Michigan, beginning with the arrival of his father, Major Oliver Williams, in Detroit in 1808, where he established a mercantile business. Major Williams brought his family, including young Ephraim, from Massachusetts in 1815. In 1819 he bought land near Saginaw and they became pioneer farmers in that area. In addition to farming, the father and sons began trading with the Indians, and over the years established trading posts. These memoirs include many details about their contacts with the Indians as well as anecdotes about travel, hunting, recreation etc. in Michigan in the early years.

Williams, Ephraim S. (1802-1890)

Soapy: A Biography of G. Mennen Williams

Noer, Thomas J.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 2006

Williams was a lawyer and political reformer in the Democratic party in the 1930s, served four years in the Navy in World War II, and was elected Governor in 1948; where he served six two-year terms. He later served on the Michigan Supreme Court for 17 years.

Williams, Gerhard Mennen “Soapy”(1911-1988)

“Hurry Up” Yost in Story and Song

Lawton, J. Fred
Ann Arbor: Edwards 1947

“Fond reminiscences of the almost legendary football coach at Ann Arbor.” Yost was the football coach at U of M from 1901-1923 and 1925-1926. While he was coach, Michigan won six national championships, ten Big Ten titles, and amassed a record of 165-29-10.

Yost, Fielding Harris (1871-1946)


Collective Biographies

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940

Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress

This collection of life histories consists of approximately 2,900 documents, compiled and transcribed by more than 300 writers from 24 states, working on the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program that was part of the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1940. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents vary in form from narratives to dialogues to reports to case histories. They chronicle vivid life stories of Americans who lived at the turn of the century and include tales of meeting Billy the Kid, surviving the 1871 Chicago fire, pioneer journeys out West, grueling factory work, and the immigrant experience.
– From the Collection’s Website.

American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men: Michigan Volume

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Volume 5

Barnard, F. A.
Cincinnati: Western Biographical 1878

These contain quite detailed biographies – often more than 500 words – of prominent people living in Michigan at the time of publication in the late 1870s. There are full indexes in the back of each volume.
Vol 1 – First Congressional District
Vol 2 – Second Congressional District
Vol 3 – Fourth & Sixth Congressional District
Vol 4 – Fifth Congressional District
Vol 5 – Seventh & Ninth Congressional Districts

See the list of resources on this website for: Genealogy & Local History Research

Cyclopedia of Michigan: Historical and Biographical

Comprising a synopsis of General History of the State, and Biographical Sketches of Men who have, in their various spheres, contributed toward its development. Illustrated with steel-plate portraits

NY: Western Publishing 1900

A 22-page history of Michigan is followed by a chapter entitled “Material Development” providing information about economic activity at the end of the 19th century, and containing many demographic and economic tables and statistics. The biographies begin on page 69, in alphabetical order.

See also related works on this site: histories of Michigan on Michigan General History

“Detroit Rulers: French Commandants in the [Michigan] region from 1701 to 1760”

Historical Collections Vol 34, 1905, 303-340

Burton, Clarence M.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

This paper contains brief biographical sketches of each of the 19 French commandants at Detroit. The first was Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded a colony at Detroit in 1701. The last was Sieur de Bellestre, who, shortly after the defeat of the French at Quebec in September 1759, was replaced by the first British commander at Detroit, Sir Jeffrey Amherst.

See also related works on this site: histories of Michigan on Michigan General History

Collected articles from a century ago on History and Military Topics

In Memoriam, Founders and Makers of Michigan : a Memorial History of the State’s Honored Men and Women

Memorial Society of Michigan
Detroit: Clarke 193?

No Table of Contents; see the index at the back of the volume.

Men of Michigan: A Collection of the Portraits of Men Prominent in Business and Professional Life in Michigan

Michigan Art Company
Detroit: Michigan Art Co. 1904

The volume consists entirely of photo portraits, usually with no biographical details beyond, name, city and professional title. About 1,500 men are included. There is a 2-part index; the first arranged by name, and the second by town.

Collection of Local Histories and Atlases

Michigan County Histories and Atlases

The Michigan County Histories and Atlases Digitization Project is comprised of nearly 500 titles published before 1925. You can search, or browse by title, author or subject. The collection contains:

-County and town histories.
-Biographies. Many of the county histories contain large biographical sections, and there are also individual biographical volumes.
-Business directories.
-Multi-volume photo collection sets entitled “Art Work” for the Lake Superior region, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, published in the 1890s.
-Atlases or plat books for many counties, often with directories. There are 131 atlases, nearly all post-1870.

But Men are More Interesting than Rivers

Michigan State Library
Lansing: Michigan State Library 1968

Annotated bibliography of 110 Michigan biographies.

Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Website – Inductees by Name

Michigan Women’s Historical Center        

This website contains one-page biographies of numerous Michigan women of note.


Of nearly 250 webpages of books and other resources at Century Past History,

over 90 pages are in the group History of the Great Lakes States.



We also have hundreds of biographies of Americans and famous people worldwide on our Century Past Free Online Library. Visit the Biography Index.


Your comments and feedback are welcome!