Culture in Michigan History – Bibliographies – Education – Folk Music – Writers

Cultural topics in Michigan history. Free online works on Michigan authors, Freemasons, folk music, folklore, higher education, novelists, Michigan State Agricultural College

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

“The Michigan State Agricultural College: The Earlier History of the College up to its Reorganization in 1861”

Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan Vol 6, 1884, 115-136

Abbot, Theophilus (President)
Lansing: W. S. George

The author was the president of Michigan’s State Agricultural College (which much later was renamed Michigan State University) from 1862 to 1884. He wrote that although nearly every state had an agricultural college (at the time of writing), Michigan’s agriculture college was the first in the nation. The article starts with an examination of arguments that were put forward on behalf of creating the college, particularly those from the State Agricultural Society, which was its most forceful supporter. The educational concepts proposed by the Society sharply departed from conventional notions of higher education in the early 19th century. The Society said the agriculture department should include “vegetable physiology, agricultural chemistry, and experimental and practical farming and agriculture”. “Besides agriculture in its details, mathematics and the keeping of accounts”, other subjects recommended were mechanics, natural philosophy, natural sciences, anatomy, structure and diseases of animals, study of insects, engineering, architecture and landscape gardening. The college should have a close connection to the State Agricultural Society, and should have. “…a model and experimental farm, a botanical garden, and perhaps a veterinary establishment. By these means will the farmers of our State – its great leading class – be furnished with institutions peculiarly theirs. They will be provided with the means of educating their youth in every practical and scientific detail necessary or useful to that most important of all occupations, to as full an extent as is now afforded by the higher colleges of our land, to candidates for the so-called ‘learned professions.” The college should also be a ‘labor school’, in which the work performed by students would “be a practical application of the precepts taught”, and would earn academic credits.

The author goes on to cover the political history of the struggle to obtain support from the Governor and state legislature for establishing and funding the college, in the early 1850s. In 1855 a bill was passed to establish the college in the vicinity of Lansing, but efforts to move the college to Detroit, Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo did not end until 1869. Meantime, the State Agricultural Society again took the lead in moving the college forward, selecting a Lansing site and beginning construction. The author covers the early operational history of the college, and includes a list of courses that made up the early curriculum.

Michigan in Literature

Andrews, Clarence A.
Detroit; Wayne State Univ. 1992

Unfortunately, only five chapters of this useful guide to books set in Michigan are available online. They are: The Michigan Farm Novel; The Michigan Small Town; The Michigan Campus Scene; Banks, Business, and Mining; and Crime in Michigan Literature.

Also see our collections of Popular Cultural History Articles: Clothes – Food – Recreation and Cultural History Articles – Literature, Music & Fine Arts

See our book collection on Education of Girls & Women in the 19th Century U.S.

“A History of the Press of Michigan”

Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan Vol. 6, 1884, 62- 98

Applegate, Tom S., compiler
Lansing: W. S. George

This history, written in 1876, begins with profiles of the four daily newspapers of Detroit; the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune (began 1836), the Detroit Free Press (began in 1831 and continues in 2014), the Detroit Post (began 1866), and the Evening News (began 1873). Each profile contains the various names and iterations of the paper, and information about editors, publishers and their political sympathies.

The remainder of the article is entitled “The Press of Michigan”, and provides profiles, county by county, of the newspapers extant when the article was written in 1876. Many profiles are brief, but a few especially significant papers receive more comprehensive treatment.

For online collections of historical Michigan newspapers, see: Michigan History Periodicals: Magazines, Historical Journals & Newspapers
For online collections of historical newspapers from throughout the U.S., see: Section 070.1 United States in Newspapers: Free Online Collections

Women’s Voices: Early Years at the University of Michigan

Attaway, Doris E. and Barritt, Marjorie Rabe, eds.
University of Michigan 2000

Contents: Introduction: The 1924 alumnae survey ; The survey ; Doing research in the surveys ; About the women — The women speak : Influence of the University of Michigan ; Early women ; Women in the medical schools ; Diversity ; Coeducation ; Faculty ; Faculty wives ; Presidents of the university ; Firsts ; Organizing ; The Women’s League ; Accomplishments ; Events ; Senior events and commencement ; Visitors to campus ; Memories

Michigan in the Novel 1816-2006: Annotated Bibliography

Beasecker, Robert
Grand Rapids: Grand Valley State University 2013

Note that this is a 630-page PDF file.
According to the Introduction of this 530-page online book, there are 2,726 novels contained here that are set at least partly in Michigan. Nearly all novels have plot summaries, which include the location in Michigan of the story setting. The book is arranged in alphabetical order of authors, but they are indexed several ways, including by setting location and by date of publication. This is probably the most comprehensive guide to fiction in Michigan.

Michigan in the Novel 2007-2011: A Five-Year Checklist

Beasecker, Robert, comp.
Grand Rapids: Grand Valley State University 2014

An 83-page PDF file. This is a supplement to Michigan in the Novel, 1816-2006, although with less information about each novel than the previous book (also found on this webpage) contained.

Page Directory of 90+ subject pages at History of the Great Lakes States

The City Library of Detroit 1817-1837; Michigan’s First Public Library

Bidlack, Russell E.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 1955

A Short History of Michigan State

Blair, Lyle and Kuhn, Madison
East Lansing: Michigan State 1955

Michigan State University.

Collection of Michigan Biographies & Memoirs

Michigan on film: A Bibliography of Films and Filmstrips on the State of Michigan

Bureau of Library Services
Lansing: Department of Education 1971

This was essentially a directory of films and filmstrips available for rent to Michigan schools by Univ. of Mich., MSU, Consumers Power Co., and State of Michigan departments.

A Brief Survey of Theses in Michigan History

Chavis, John, comp.
Detroit Historical Museum 1962

Michigan in Books; A List compiled by the Detroit Public Library

Detroit Public Library, comp.
Detroit: Detroit Public Library 1956

“Intended as a popular guide for readers, young and old, rather than an exhaustive bibliography, this is a selected list of published materials on Michigan – books, pamphlets, and maps.”
– from the Introduction.

Michigan Folklife Reader

Dewhurst, C. Kurt and Lockwood, Yvonne, eds.
Michigan State University 1987       

“Michigan folk music, art, architecture, and legends and tales are neither crude nor primitive; they are in fact sophisticated in form and meaning. The folklife of Michigan is not just rural; it is also urban and even suburban. Our folklife is neither old nor pre-industrial; it is with us today and new forms emerge even in industrial contexts. Our folk traditions are cultural specific, and we each create meaning in our lives by practicing many family, ethnic, and regional traditions. We are all tradition bearers.” – Publisher
Sections: Folk art and architecture – Storytelling and meaning – Folk music and song – Occupational folklore and play – Symbols and identity – A brief guide to Michigan resources – Bibliography

Studies in the History of Higher Education in Michigan

Eggertsen, Claude A. ed.
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan School of Education 1950

A variety of papers by advanced graduate students at the School of Education.

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

Michigan Novelists

Foster, Bernice M.
Ann Arbor: Wahr 1928

A Bibliography, not annotated, in 4 parts:

1. Novelists not born in Michigan
2. Novelists who lived in Michigan at some time, or were there in 1928.
3. Novelists who graduated from Univ. of Michigan, but not otherwise connected to the State.
4. Novelists for whom the editor had no background information. (Their connection with Michigan is not clear.)

For each novelist, their works are listed with date of publication.

A Sketch of Historical Societies in Michigan

Fuller, George Newman
Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission 1914

Suggestions for Local Historical Societies and Writers in Michigan

Fuller, George Newman
Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission 1913

Michigan Historical Commission’s Bulletin No. 2, providing guidance for the establishment and operation of local historical societies. Included are: templates for a local society’s constitution and by-laws, suggestions for kindling an interest in local history and collecting, creating a collection of artifacts, interviewing pioneers, building a collection of printed materials, involving local schools, teachers and students, marking historic sites, and many other activities.

A Bibliography of Michigan Authors

Goodrich, Madge Vriehuis
Richmond: Richmond Press 1928

This includes authors of all types of books; fiction and non-fiction. The term “Michigan author” can be interpreted in different ways. This collection is divided into three parts. Group one includes authors who stayed in Michigan, Group two includes people born in Michigan who left, and Group three consists of people who spent some time in Michigan.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

A Selective Bibliography of Important Books, Pamphlets, and Broadsides Relating to Michigan History

Greenly, Albert Harry
Lunenburg, Vt., Stinehour Press, 1958

This covers the entire period of Michigan history up to 1956. Individual entries often contain very extensive descriptions of the item, information about the author, historical background, and an evaluation of the item’s importance to historians.

Public Education in Michigan

Griffin, Gladys I. and Poor, Gerald L.
Mount Pleasant, MI: Central Michigan U 1959

This book was prepared by professors at CMU’s School of Education to serve as a resource or text for students in a course on public education in Michigan.

Dissertations and Theses in Michigan History

Hathaway, Richard J., comp.
Lansing: Michigan History Division, Michigan Dept. of State 1974

Works of Fiction set in Michigan

John D. Pierce, Founder of the Michigan School System. A Study of Education in the Northwest

Hoyt, Charles O. and Ford, R. Clyde
Ypsilanti: Scharf 1905

Pierce was Michigan’s first Superintendent of Public Instruction. The authors write in the Preface that, “What Mr. Pierce did to establish our school system marks an epoch in the civilization and culture of the Northwest…” The book is divided into two parts. Part One was intended, “…to offer some preliminary observations concerning our national and local educational inheritances, as well as to sketch briefly the course of Michigan history up to the close of the Territorial days.” Part Two was, “…given up to Mr. Pierce and his labors.” Chapter headings are:

Part 1 – Origins
– America’s Educational Inheritance – Sketch of Early Michigan History – Culture Conditions in Territorial Days – Two Direct Sources of the Michigan School System

Part 2 – John D. Pierce: Founder of the Michigan School System
– Early Years in New England – First Years in the Ministry – With the Pioneers in Michigan – Superintendent of Public Instruction – Mr. Pierce’s Educational Doctrine – the Individual and the State – The Meaning and Aim of Education – Educational Method – Organized Education – The Journal of Education – Mr. Pierce’s Second Appearance in Public Life – Last Years – Quotations from Mr. Pierce’s Educational Writings – Bibliography

See also: Lewis, G. W., Biography of Samuel Lewis: First Superintendent of Common Schools for the State of Ohio in Ohio Cultural History: Education, Recreation, the Arts;

Banta, D. D., “The Early Schools of Indiana: From the Papers of D. D. Banta” in Indiana Cultural History: Education, Recreation, the Arts;

Boone, Richard Gause, A History of Education in Indiana in Indiana Cultural History: Education, Recreation, the Arts;

Education of Females in the 19th Century

Michigan History for Young People: Selected References

Hunt, Mate Graye, and others, comp.
Kalamazoo, Western Michigan College Library 1948

An annotated bibliography.

Michigan Poets and Poetry, with Portraits and Biographies

Lamport, Warren Wayne, comp.
Leslie, MI: Michigan Publishing 1904

“Toledo War Song”

Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan Vol. 6, 1884 , 60-61

Lansing Republican newspaper
Lansing: W. S. George

This article was from an 1873 Lansing newspaper, and includes a reprint of a song believed to have been written by a participant in the 1835 confrontation between state militias known as the ‘Toledo War’ or the ‘Michigan-Ohio War’. There are more materials about that war, which did not result in any loss of human life, on this website in the Ohio and Michigan Politics and Government pages.

Books and articles on Native American tribes in historic Michigan

A History of the Development of Libraries in Michigan, with Statistical Table and Alphabetical Lists

Lathrop, Olive Clarissa
Lansing: Michigan Library Association 1901

An article within the Report of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Michigan Library Association, Nov 9-10, 1900.

Detroit Architecture: A.I.A. Guide

McElroy, Martin C. P., ed.
Wayne State University 1980       

“A pocket-size survey of architecture in Detroit and its environs. It mirrors an industrial world capital with rich roots, a deep respect for architectural achievement, and a dynamic commitment to growth.” -Book cover

History of Higher Education in Michigan

McLaughlin, Andrew C.
Washington: GPO 1891

Early Printing in Michigan, with a Bibliography of the Issues of the Michigan Press, 1796-1850

McMurtrie, Douglas C.

Chicago: John Calhoun Club 1931

Chapter headings are:

– The Apocryphal Period – The Pioneer Printer – Gabriel Richard, by Rev. George W. Pare – The Richard Press – The Press under Mettez – Later Detroit Printing – Printing outside Detroit – Bibliography – Newspaper Record – Appendix A – The Legendary Jonois Press – Appendix B – Documents relating to Gabriel Richard

For online collections of historical Michigan newspapers, see: Michigan History Periodicals: Magazines, Historical Journals & Newspapers
For online collections of historical newspapers from throughout the U.S., see: Section 071.1 United States in Newspapers: Free Online Collections

Michigan Songs

Michigan Bureau of Library Services
Lansing: Michigan Bureau of Library Services 1970

Preferred List of Books for District School Libraries in the State of Michigan

Michigan Department of Public Instruction
Lansing: Michigan Department of Public Instruction 1914

Books and articles on Religion in historic Michigan

Michigan in Books; A Selected List

Michigan State Library
Lansing 1957

Annotated bibliography.

Michigan Newspapers; Preliminary Bibliography

A partial listing of Michigan newspapers based upon a survey of public libraries and newspaper offices in the State of Michigan

Michigan State Library
Lansing: Michigan State Library 1966

Study Clubs

Michigan State Library
Lansing: Smith 1896

Bulletin no. 1 1896. Michigan State Library sent out a circular to study clubs around Michigan, asking about their their work, origin and condition. 113 clubs responded with reports; often accompanied by programs of the year’s work. This bulletin contains the results of the reports and selected programs.

“History of Hillsdale College”

Historical Collections Vol 6, 1884, 137-165

Patterson, John C.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Michigan Central College was founded by the Free-Will Baptist denomination at Spring Arbor, Jackson County in 1845, after years of planning and fund-raising. In 1853 the Spring Arbor campus closed its doors and re-opened in Hillsdale. This article contains a lot of information about the history of the Free-Will Baptist denomination in Michigan and their early efforts to establish a college, in addition to a fairly extensive history of Hillsdale College’s operations in its first decades.

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

“Education in Michigan During the Territorial Period”

Historical Collections Vol 7, 1886, 36-51

Salmon, Lucy M.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

In the first part, the author fully describes the 1817 Territorial Legislature’s very interesting plan for a “Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania”, and modifications to that that plan that led to the University Act of 1837. In the second part of the article, “Practical Experiments in Education”, the author discusses primary and secondary schooling as it was carried out in the 18th and early 19th century in Michigan, and also returns to the early history of the University of Michigan.

System of Public Instruction and Primary School Law of Michigan, with explanatory notes, forms, regulations and instructions

A digest of decisions, a detailed history of public instruction and the laws relating thereto; The history of and laws relating to incorporated institutions of learning &c. &c.

Shearman, Francis W.
Lansing: Michigan Dept of Public Instruction 1852

Some mid-19th Century school textbooks are at: Great Lakes Region Cultural History: Education, the Arts

Henry Ford and Greenfield Village

Simonds, William Adams
NY: Stokes 1938

“Profusely illustrated”

“History of the Michigan Female College, and a Sketch of the Life and Work of Miss A. C. Rogers”

Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan Vol 6, 1884, 284-290

Smith, Eliza C.
Lansing: W. S. George

This paper, authored by an alumnus of the subject college, describes the efforts by Miss A. C. Rogers and others, beginning in 1855, to establish a university for women in Lansing. The ‘college’ was begun in the face of great adversity and indifference, and operated for about 15 years, apparently without achieving recognition as a university. A substantial portion of the article consists of a biographical sketch of Miss Rogers.

Michigan Bibliography

Volume 2

Streeter, Floyd Benjamin, Preparer
Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission 1921

“A partial catalogue of books, maps, manuscripts and miscellaneous materials relating to the resources, development and history of Michigan from earliest times to July 1, 1917: together with citation of libraries in which the materials may be consulted, and a complete analytic index by subject and author.”

American State Universities, Their Origin and Progress; A History of Congressional University Land-grants

A particular account of the rise and development of the University of Michigan and hints toward the future of the American university system

Ten Brook, Andrew
Cincinnati: Clarke 1875

Chapter headings are:

– Sketch of the Early Progress of Higher Education in the Atlantic States – The State of Culture in the West at the Commencement of the Congressional Land- Grant Policy, and subsequently – Congressional Land Grants for Universities – Michigan’s Early Condition as to Culture and Education – Early Organization for Higher Education in Michigan, and their Contemporary Events – Grant of the Present University Fund and its Administration by the Board of Trustees – Organization of the School System and Administration of the Endowment Fund – The Branches – Rise of Union Schools – Preparations for the Opening of the University at Ann Arbor and the Actual Organization of its Working Forces – Review of the Period from 1844 to 1852 – President Tappan’s Administration – President Haven’s Administration, and thence to the Present Time – Conclusion of the History of the University of Michigan – The Prospective University – Conclusion – Appendix

“The Western Sketches of Caroline Mathilda (Stansbury) Kirkland”

Historical Collections Vol 39, 1915, 89-124

Twamley, Edna M.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

A literary appreciation and analysis, as well as a brief biography, of Caroline Kirkland (1801-1864). Kirkland was the author of novels drawn from her experience as a pioneer in Pinckney, Livingston County, MI, including A New Home, – Who’ll Follow?, and Forest Life. These novels are also available on this website.

“Kalamazoo College”

Historical Collections Vol 13, 1889, 571-575

Van Buren, Anson De Puy
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Rev. Thomas W. Merrill arrived in Michigan Territory with the sole purpose of setting up a college. He started a classical school in 1829 in Ann Arbor, which was then moved to Prairie Ronde in Kalamazoo, and in 1835 moved to Bronson (later Kalamazoo). In its early years it was mainly a preparatory school, being chartered as a Baptist college in 1855. This article provides a brief history of the institution’s development and funding, and describes it as it was in the 1880s.

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

Our Homes and their Adornments, or, How to Build, Finish, Furnish, and Adorn a Home

Varney, Almon C.
Chilton 1885

“Practical instructions for the building of homes, interior decoration, wood carving, scroll sawing, house painting, window hangings, screens curtains, window gardening, incidental decorations, decorative art needle-work, and economic landscape gardening; to which is added a household compendium of new, practical and valuable recipes, the whole being designed to make happy homes for happy people.”
– from the title page.

“Besides being an authority on gracious living in late 19th century Detroit, Varney was a prolific architect. His creations, which included apartment buildings, factories and offices, hotels and private residences, popped up all over the city as well as in towns and cities across the state [Michigan].”
– Martha Peterson, “Mr. Varney’s Neighborhood” post on the “El Moore” website. See photos of surviving Varney buildings in Detroit here:

Libraries in Michigan; An Historical Sketch

In the Year of the Golden Jubilee of the American Library Association 1876-1926

Walton, Genevieve Maria
Lansing: Michigan Library Bulletin 1926

Voices of Michigan: An Anthology of Michigan’s Finest New Authors

Winston, Jane H., ed.
MackinacJane’s 1999

Contains fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Cultural History’ pages.

Great Lakes Cultural History

Illinois Cultural History

Indiana Cultural History

Ohio Cultural History

Wisconsin Cultural History

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