The Great War

No one is really sure what motivated the hand that fired the gun that started the first world war in 1914. The bullets, for sure, found their targets in June of that year in Sarajevo when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, along with his wife, Sophie, were assassinated. The events leading up to this action, however, began years before around 1871 (according to a timeline found on the PBS web site). Changes in the ruling centers of countries like Germany, Russia, and Great Britain seemed to trip a line of political dominoes that started falling into place from this point in the late 1800s to the firing of that gun in 1914. Europe seemed unsettled; the relationships between dominant countries seemed tenuous. Surely the atmosphere that hinted of the war to come was felt everywhere as the world entered its new century.

For the students at the University of Detroit, however, the new century offered the sweetness of promise and success. Those halcyon days filled with sports, poetry, and philosophic debate they spent earning their degrees felt ripe with the potential of more of the same after graduation. The Tamaracks published during the early part of the 20th century evidence the spirit of the times, the steady carriage ride into a future full of new inventions, discoveries, and continual optimism. There was no cloud on that horizon; no thought of world war. What could possibly go wrong?

Yet on the other side of the world, the possessor of the hand that would pull the trigger on the gun that fired that first fateful shot, was growing from child to man into his place in the history of the world.  (Gavrilo Princip was 19 when he killed the royal couple.) As the trauma in these countries circled into expression, it only took one hand to ignite the firestorm of the Great War.  Many of the hopeful students who wrote of sports and the magic of upcoming advances in technology, would soon be gaining an education in the struggles of mankind’s desire for power.

After the assassinations, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.

For an interesting perspective on history, read the Tamarack journals published during the years before World War I with the events taking place in Europe during this period in mind.


Tamarack, April, 1914


Summer Reading

During those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer when the sun is high in the sky and the air feels warm and comforting, it’s nice to find a cozy spot and dive into some interesting reading.  If you’re like some people, you’re reading at least two books at once.  Others find happiness in the latest novel or a stack of magazine articles.  These days readers often prefer electronic reading sources, whether it’s a book in digital format or something interesting on the web.

We have a suggestion for those of you who are searching for something inspiring, creative, and delightful, as well as educational: the [SIC] Student Arts Journal archive. In the introduction to this collection, [SIC] is described in this way:

“UDM’s irreverent, profound, and visually innovative undergraduate arts journal. Established in 1992, [sic] is published annually by the English Department’s Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture. The journal is edited and designed by students and features photography, fine art, poetry, fiction, and prose. Its mission: giving voice and vision to UDM’s exceptionally creative student body.”

The best way to really know this journal, however, is to spend some time with it.  It’s easy to get to and fun to read. Whether you’re skimming though the pages, reading one article at a time, or reading from cover to cover, you’ll have plenty of material to choose from and lots of visual variety to play with.


History and Football

When Herman J. Muller, S. J. left this world in 2007, at the age of 98, he had been a devoted and much admired Jesuit priest for over 65 years.  He left a distinguished legacy which included a devotion to history, teaching, student development, and the Detroit Titans Athletic teams.  It was this devotion that urged him to write what has become the official history of the University of Detroit since 1877, and we are proud to include his work in our digital archives.

Father Muller’s books about the history of the university are well worth exploring.  This history is not just dry fact-based information about the institution, but more a flowing timeline from the perspective of someone who was there through most of the University’s existence.  His perspective adds a human dimension to a time of expansion in the history of Detroit.

And as a reader travels through the story of this time with the University itself as main character, he or she will come upon the history of Football at U of D as well.  From its humble beginnings, through the purchase of land for the McNichols campus, the clearing of land, the construction of buildings, and the arrival of students football always had a place in the journey.  Encouraging students along the way — body, mind, and soul — the natural focus was on learning, prayer, and athletics.  Football (and athletics) seems to have always had a place in this path.

This ended with a shocking announcement on November 20, 1964, that football would no longer be offered at the University of Detroit.

An except on the history of football at the University of Detroit from Father Muller’s book, The University of Detroit 1877-1977 A Centennial History is included in the Football Collection in our Digital Archives.  After reading this it’s likely that you’ll want to spend some time in both the Football Collection as well as the University Histories collection.


Summer School

So here it is summer.  The winter term has just ended and the fall term seems far away.  Even though the break between these terms is only a couple of months, it can feel like endless freedom to a lot of students.  The choices seem endless regarding how to fill these potentially lazy days.  For students, however, they seem to come down to only a few.  They could be frivolous or practical.

To so many students summer means being outside … and mainly being outside of the classroom. This time could mean vacation trips, bicycle or hiking adventures near home, leisurely days by the pool, parties, tennis, continual recreation or continual resting.

To other students, this time could be spent earning money through summer jobs or taking care of those repair projects around the house they’ve been putting off.  This time could also be spent doing volunteer work, making a difference in the lives of others, helping the community realize a better environment, etc.

To still others, summer offers a way to catch up on course hours by taking summer classes, or honing skills through opportunities for educational growth in areas like Architecture, Engineering, Digital Media, and others through their summer camp programs.

Summer School has been available to students at UDM throughout its history.  Our collection of course catalogs offers insight into the choices students had during the summer months.  The 1934 Summer Session Bulletin below shows that even eighty-one years ago, students had an opportunity to continue their course work during the summer months.  The opportunities weren’t as diverse, but the courses offered were always a great way to stay sharp, keep motivated, and continue learning during days filled with sunshine and fun.


Defining American Slavery

In an editorial published in the the Weekly Anglo-African newspaper on March 9, 1861, there’s a review of a recent book (titled, American slavery distinguished from the slavery of English theorists, and justified by the law of nature) on the defining of slavery and slaves as human beings.  The writer of this article compares this recent publication with another book published by John H. Van Evrie (another pro-slavery writer) about the same time. The focus is on the question of whether a slave owner has the right to take the life of a slave when he chooses. And this question comes down to the definition of slavery itself.

Dr. Seabury defines American slavery in this way:  “And if I am asked to state precisely what I mean by American slavery, I answer that a slave is a person who is related to society through another person called as master, to whom he owes due service, or labor for life, and from whom he is entitled to receive support and protection.”

It seems Dr. Seabury argues that slavery agrees with the “Law of Nature” and this is one reason he also agrees with it. The editor points out the flaws in Dr. Seabury’s definition and compares Dr. Seabury’s reasoning with his own experience of slavery. While Dr. Seabury’s definition seems lofty, wordy, and aloof, the editor offers examples from actual state laws that indicate the opposite of this interpretation.  The editor argues that the “…dollar value of the slave, and not the law, is the only protection to the slave’s life.”

But while the article begins with emotion, the argument ends with the logic of John Locke. The editor prefers the definition offered by Locke in his book, Two Treatises of Government: “To be a slave is to be subject to the absolute, arbitrary power of another; as men do not have this power even over themselves, they cannot sell or otherwise grant it to another. One that is deserving of death, i.e., who has violated the law of nature, may be enslaved. This is, however, ‘but the state of war continued’ (2nd Tr., §24), and even one justly a slave therefore has no obligation to obedience.”

The Weekly Anglo-African newspaper, in circulation in New York between 1859 and 1865, was among the first black newspapers.  It focused on communication within the black community, and helped weave together a people struggling to find a place in the predominately white America of this time.  It connected free people of color, encouraged the young, and offered a link with like minds.  These newspapers became a way out of despair, a safety net, and a forum for expression.

Use the magnifier tool to gain a closer look at this article in the Black Abolitionist Archive.  It offers a well written glimpse into the often irrational discussions on slavery taking place just before Emancipation.  (The “Dr. Seabury” the article refers to is Dr. Samuel Seabury, Protestant Episcopal minister known for his justification of slavery during this time.)

Summertime Colors

When I think of summer, I tend to think of color.  Winter seems so stark and colorless, as if every living thing has become dormant and still.  The black and white of winter has its own beauty, but the spectrum of summer colors seems to draw everyone outside and into the light again.  There’s something about the play of light and colorful new life that feeds the soul and brings out the artist in us all.

Maurice Greenia, Jr., probably knows this feeling well.  Often the urge to express interesting forms on media includes the urge for a colorful expression.  While Maurice’s archive offers some interesting and exciting black and white work, summer is best expressed in his colorful images of the season.

I asked Maurice if he would share some of his favorites that represent summer to him and he sent me several to choose from.  I couldn’t choose!  They were all great.  So I decided to include almost all of his examples here as a unique way to enjoy the activities of the summer months.

From the Paintings Collection, this one is titled “At the Hollow Sea” (image 244):


At the Hollow Sea

From the Magnet and Pin Collection, this one is titled, “Walking on the Beach” (image 198):


Walking on the Beach

From the Index Card Collection, this one is titled, “Picnic” (image 122) (it’s not in color, but the movement of the line seems to the suggest the bright energy of a peaceful summer day) (besides, I just like this one):



From the Color Drawings Collection, this one is titled, “The Old Ball Game” (image 41):


The Old Ball Game

Now if you’re inspired to get outside and enjoy the warmth and sunshine, you might also be inspired to visit the Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collections digital archive and enjoy the beautiful expressions waiting for you there.


The Future of Warfare

When the 1918 edition of the Tamarack was published in June of that year, the first few pages held more advertising than content.  Slowly over time, ads had gone from simple product mentions at the end of each issues to full page graphics at the beginning.  It was obvious the Tamarack’s days were numbered.  Even the tone of the content had changed.  The early literary volumes filled with poetry and prose were now offering a more somber tone, concentrating more on engineering, the military, and the future of warfare.  This was the year the “Great War” would finally end, but at this point, the battles still raged.  The sobering atmosphere had likely influenced the writers; the country itself was forever changed.

This volume speaks to those who are graduating into a world where “invention” is more about “protection” than the advancement of human knowledge.  Engineering is recommended as the best major for incoming students who would realize success in this newly changed world.  And Engineering is about the technology of war more than the technology of business as it had once been (and will be again).

On page 174 of this issue is a contribution titled “Warfare–Past, Present, and Future.”  In it, the author imagines the future of warfare that now includes technology such as machine guns, submarines, airplanes, gas shells, and “deadly projectiles.”  Designing for warfare was not just about inventing new ways to kill the enemy, but new ways to protect ourselves from the enemies attempts to kill us.  He also talks about the “English tanks,” once thought of as novelties but now, thanks to German reverse engineering of stolen tanks, a threat to future soldiers in future wars (something the writer seems to believe is only a matter of time).

A degree in Engineering seems appealing based on the seemingly urgent need to build up our defenses.  Ship building, the author notes, will require steel, and “steel magnate” Charles M. Swab (mentioned in the text) will make a fortune because of it.

On November 11, five months after this issue of the Tamarack first appeared in print, at 6 a.m., Germany signs the Armistice of Compiègne.  Fighting stops at 11 a.m., ending the “war to end all wars.”

As it turns out, this essay written five months previously, offered an eerie foreshadowing of the bleak future engineers would indeed design in the years to come.  As it turns out, warfare does have a future after all.


University History

You may know that the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) is the oldest Catholic university in Michigan, and you may also know that in 1990, the merging of the University of Detroit and Mercy College formed UDM.  But did you know that the university originated with the founding of Detroit College in 1877, or that Detroit College became the University of Detroit in 1927?  Did you know that the land for the current UDM campus was purchased from local farmers and established in 1927?  Did you know that Mercy College of Detroit opened in 1941, and that this campus is now part of the Wayne County Community College system?

If you love history, or even if you just want to know more about the university, the University Histories collection in our digital archives offers a great resource.  This archive leads visitors on a journey through time from the humble initial foundation work of dedicated men and women, to the distinguished center of education UDM is today.

This archive is made up of PDF versions of books published by Herman J. Muller S. J., and Mary Justine Sabourin, RSM (links to their biographies are included).  Each offers a personal perspective on life in the early days of the university and Mercy College.  In Sister Sabourin’s book Risk & Hope: An Early History of Mercy College of Detroit, for example, is the following impression of Mercy College in August, 1941, just a few days before the start of the first term:

“My first view of the College was a sea of black mud crisscrossed here and there by tracks of heavy machinery. Practically in the center was a very plain, cream-colored block building of five stories…. As we opened the door, I gazed with consternation at the marble stacked on the lobby floor. Beyond the foyer I could see the unfinished Chapel; to the left, unfinished offices. Workmen were jostling each other trying to meet the September 1 deadline. I turned to Sister Patricia and asked, ‘Did you say we are opening our doors to college students on Sept. 1?’ ‘No,’ replied Sister Patricia, apparently unalarmed, “I did not say it. Mother Carmelita said it and I believe her. The residence halls are ready for 60 young ladies; the cafeteria is set up for meals; the classrooms are ready; the faculty have been interviewed and are ready to teach; administration is complete now that we are here. We’re ready to begin tomorrow.” Mercy College of Detroit’s first building was ready on August 26, six days ahead of schedule. She continued, “No one had told the first dean that one of her functions prior to the opening of the school would be to scrub and wax the sanctuary floor on her hands and knees and to decorate the main altar with a profusion of red roses.”

The history archive is a hidden jewel among our digital collections.


Sometimes just considering diving into the pages of one of our digital archives to search for an interesting article or a former professor or alumni can seem daunting.  On a page of faces, names and text can appear tiny.  Even familiar faces can be lost in a photograph of a crowded event.

When the collection offers a PDF version of a document, the material can be enlarged through a PDF reader.  This allows for a more user-focused reading experience.  Materials in collections that contain images include a “magnifying” option (shown below) that enables visitors to gain an enhanced version of the image under review.

The magnification tool is a way of “scaling up” the images to see more detail, without changing the perspective of the image.  And the magnifier goes where you point it so the entire page doesn’t zoom, just the portion you wish to view.  It’s like having a magnifying glass at your fingertips!  Click the link (shown in the example below) to turn it on.  When you’re finished using it, just click it again to turn it off.

This tool, along with a link for any keywords included on the page, will help make your visit to the archive a lot more enjoyable.

Commencement Collection

Graduation is arguably the best time in any student’s educational experience.  It’s not so much a “finish” line as it is a “starting point”; not so much a door that’s closing but one that’s standing wide open.  The beginning of any student’s college career may be exciting and challenging, but that moment when the hard won diploma is handed to him or her has got to be the most meaningful.  Even sitting in that mass of gowned graduates waiting for a turn to walk across that stage is worth the necessary patience expressed on that amazing day.

A lot of the students waiting during Commencement sit with this anticipation while holding a Commencement booklet.  As they wait, this booklet can get perused or thumbed through several times.  It almost seems part of the ceremony.  It can get rolled up, crushed, stepped on, dog-eared, even tossed aside.  And years later, this one booklet can trigger so many memories of that day.

As we have in the years since the University of Detroit Mercy, the University of Detroit, and all the way back to Detroit College, has been holding Commencement ceremonies, the university has issued Commencement booklets.  Our digital archives now makes these available to you.  Now, not only can you trigger memories from your own graduation by reviewing the booklet from that year, but you can also access the booklet available when your parents graduated or your grandparents or your distant cousin or great grandparent.  It’s even kind of fun to watch the changes these booklets have gone through over time.

And speaking of time … we’ve just released the 2015 Commencement booklet in digital format for you.  Take a look when the dust of this year’s graduation has finally settled and you’re ready to relive this wonderful day.


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