Author Archives: Linda Papa

Time Travel Archive Style

Got a few minutes?  How about a few hours?  Somewhere in between perhaps?  Maybe this weekend you’ve got some free time and are wondering how to spend it.  May I suggest spending that time doing something worthwhile?  With just a little bit of extra time you can offer yourself an amazing adventure, a wealth of knowledge, and a lot of interesting trivia.  Step into the past with the click of a button and explore the university’s digital archives.  You can choose from a number of eras to visit and learn a lot in the process.

Interested in the 1930s?  Click into the Father Charles Coughlin collection and learn about his unique perspective on the social world of his time.  If you haven’t heard of his influence through radio broadcasts, I think you’ll find this a great place to start your journey.  Expand this by visiting the Shrine Herald Collection.

What about the 1800s?  This period was filled with triumph as well as heartbreak.  The Black Abolitionist Archive offers you access to speeches and editorials that not too many people have read.  These works allow you to see this period in our human history from another perspective than you may have previously had.  The history of the university begins in the late 1800s, and perusing the writings from this period of time in the Tamarack collection and the University Histories collection is a great complement to these early archives.

Perhaps you’re interested in Mercy College.  A great place to explore this great school is through the Mercy College Student Newspapers collection, the Commencement Collection, the Convocation Collection, and the Sisters of Mercy Collection.

We have a fine collection of original art from artist Maurice Greenia which is sure to please the art lovers among you.  For fans of the unique, check out the Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S. J. Marine Historical Collection and the James T. Callow Folklore Archive.  And who can resist the pages of the Tower Yearbook in our University of Detroit Yearbook Collection.

Remember football at the University of Detroit?  It’s still there among the digitized programs in our University of Detroit Football Collection.  Each program offers visitors a glimpse into a time when football reigned supreme at U of D.

And wait … there’s more!  Stay for an hour or spend the day!  There’s a lot of discovery waiting for you on our Special Collections page.  Invest some quality time during these cold winter afternoons with history and learning.  It’s a great way to time travel archive style!

Football Collection

On November 30, 1964, the University of Detroit announced that it would no longer support a football team.  This decision was the result of a long and much debated effort to deal with a financial deficit that the university faced that year.  The resources to continue offering football were just not there.  And so the axe fell and the cut was made.  Father Laurence V. Britt, president of the university at that time, had hoped that students would understand, that they would realize the necessity of this decision.  Eventually, they did, but not after a great deal of protest and demonstrations.

Earlier that month, on November 6, what would become the one of the last games was played against Virginia Military Institute.  The program issued for this game would now mark the Titan’s final victory with a 28 to 7 win . (The final game was played at Boston College on November 21, 1964 with a 17 to 9 loss.)

The University of Detroit Football programs offer more than just a glimpse into the details of particular games, however.  Page through the issues to discover what it was like to attend a game during the height of the glory that was once Titan football.  View the ads; read the profiles and greetings from the mayor, university president, and coaches; and share in the excitement that devoted fans brought to each game.  A visit to the University of Detroit Football Collection can be your ticket back to the thrilling days that once were.





The Existence of God

Ever since questions regarding life were first asked, thinkers have been seeking to prove the existence of God.  Through the ages, various arguments have been put forth on this subject, from Plato and Thomas Acquinas to modern scholars.  In the late 1800s, this question was taken on by the students at the University of Detroit.  The result was a prize Catechetical Essay published in the July, 1898 edition of the  Tamarack.

No more important or more worthy question could be asked.  No heavier topic could be addressed, and no greater potential to miss the mark could be with this one question.  Fred L. Milligan, class of 1898, takes it on with aplomb and produces the winning essay.  With a creative mixture of sound reasoning and educational sources, his work offers a striking place in the list of those who have tackled this question before him.

In the first few lines, Milligan points out that, “If there is no God, then are virtue, goodness and wisdom delusions and shams; then is man nothing more than the brute, an admirable and superb brute, if you will, but yet distinguished from the most ignoble animals only by accidental variable.” His writing is expressed in the language of his day and offers a clue to what he has learned regarding the skill of good argument.

Without statistics or technology or experiment, without the aid of any modern scientific device for proving something that is known only through experience, with words alone, those who have set out to argue for the existence of God have entered the ultimate challenge.  Yet through reasoning such as the essay offered here, they manage to make a convincing point.  And isn’t that ability alone proof enough?

Visit the Tamarack to read this and other thoughtful explorations into these timeless ideas and experiences.


The Great Debate of 1898

In the first few pages of the June 1898 issue of the Tamarack is the Skinner Prize Debate, an interesting argument on U.S. immigration laws.  The discussion begins with a resolve:  “That the immigration laws of the United States should be made more stringent.”  This caught my eye as I was skimming over the offerings in this edition of our new Tamarack archive.  From what I remembered from U.S. history, the U.S. during this time was welcoming immigrates with few exceptions.  We had a vast country to fill in the late 1800s and those from other countries who sought freedom and boundless beauty were clamoring to populate it.

According to, immigration increased substantially between 1870 and 1880, and it seemed at the time that this trend would continue.  This was the land of prosperity and endless resources and it must have looked like heaven to those who only knew restriction and limitation.

Emma Lazarus in her 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus,” said,

Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

And we said, “YES! We agree!”

But in 1889, we began to rethink our agreement.  The U.S. had already placed restrictions on who could enter the country.  These, mentioned in this debate, were not written in the language we’d use today.  The limits were all about keeping out those we considered “unhealthy” and “undesirable.”  Now, in this debate, students took a more focused look at these restrictions from an industrial and political point of view.

In one example, a comparison is made between the immigration laws of Carthage (where, as the author tells us, the immigration laws were most stringent) and Rome, where “…the peoples of the earth” were welcomed.  Of the two, Rome “…remained the supreme mistress of the world in every department of human energy” for centuries.  While the glory of Carthage was “short lived.”

These days this debate seems to continue.  And while forming a 21st century opinion of the laws currently in place on immigration, it might well benefit us to take a look at the thoughts of those who won the Skinner Prize for their own questions on this subject over 115 years ago.  This issue of the Tamarack allows entry into ideas that may help broaden our perspective on this question today.


“My First Experience as an Aeronaut”

On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made history with the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Six years before that in 1897, William Ryan (class of 1902) was writing about his adventure in flight in the Detroit College Tamarack.

It’s likely that William didn’t notice the typo in his essay that put the year at 1950 instead of 1850, but maybe he did.  In those days, it wasn’t that easy to catch and correct an error in the final copy.  This was only one page out of 80 pages in the November, 1897 issue.  Not worth a reprint or recall.  And a reader of the day casually glancing at the story seemingly set in 1950, may have thought the date gave the entire adventure a futuristic quality which could have worked in the author’s favor instead of against him. While Wilbur and Orville were still playing with gliders, an “air ship” of the future may have sounded mighty fantastic to a reader of the day. Reading that this flight would take place in Detroit, on Belle Isle, almost a hundred years from when the essay was printed, probably made a deep impression on anyone happening upon this adventurous tale.

It could be that astute readers caught and allowed for the date error.  Maybe some even remembered a flight in 1850, with this huge ship “built to resemble a pure white dove” hovering above Detroit as it “sailed” out towards San Francisco on that July 4th.

After researching this online, however, I couldn’t find any record of this event.  Now I’m wondering if this really was a typo or if this essay is a work of fiction.  Maybe this event, as grand as it was described, never really happened.  Or perhaps this essay is the only recorded history of the event.  Maybe there was more than one “Queen of the Air” airship.

This is a puzzle waiting to be solved.  There are clues in this essay to help the inquisitive reader, though. The essay tells us that the author read about this upcoming July 4th event in the June 3rd issue of the Detroit Free Press.  It would be interesting to know if this is a bit of history hidden all these years within these yellowing Tamarack pages, or if this is just another example of how creative the students of Detroit College really were.

To read more of this thrilling adventure, visit the Tamarack collection in our Digital Special Collections.

November 1887 issue of the Tamarack, image 20


Close your eyes and for a few moments, take a quick trip with me back to 1968.  Could you visualize it?  Even if you were born after this time, the history of the ’60s is a pretty dominate part of the story of social culture.  Colorful time, wasn’t it?  The Vietnam war was in full swing, people young and old were taking to the streets to protest an unjust conflict, Nixon was about to become the 37th president, and the planet was in peril from a polluted and uncaring world.  Yet all this trouble, all the gloom of an unsettled global social climate, was seemingly balanced by the small things people managed to value in their lives.  A good education was one of these things.

And being in school was not just a way to get out of being drafted or meeting suitable marriage partners.  It was also a way of making life meaningful when everything outside the campus gates seemed to be falling apart.  The students of the day were determined to change the world… and this is what they did.

The 1968 Tower Yearbook focuses on the student of this period, the way they looked, played, studied, and dreamed.  The attention here is on those who worked to make sense of a senseless time, to gain knowledge that would allow them to make changes and help create the future we know now.  They paved the way and redefined dedication, honor, and freedom.  And while they may look and dress and communicate differently today, that drive and quest for knowledge still defines what being a UDM student really is.

1968 Tower Yearbook, page 3

We invite you to step back in time with a visit to our digital Special Collections page.

Welcoming the Tamarack

The University of Detroit Mercy Libraries/Instructional Design Studio is proud to announce that our newest archive, the Tamarack collection, is now available. Beginning in 1897, these publications are considered the first issues of what in 1923 would be absorbed by the Varsity Newspaper that started its publication in 1918.

Reading through each issue of this unique resource is a great way to explore not only a bit of UDM history, but a historical perspective of a very interesting time for the city and the country. These rare issues encompass the years just prior to and during the first world war.  The innocence was still there in the fresh outlook of an academic world whose students were not yet jaded by the devastation the world was about to experience.  Each essay, with its emphasis on spiritual values, studied philosophizing, and boyish humor, offers entry into the hopes and dreams of the still pure hearts of its young writer.  There was more focus on keeping a light heart than knuckling down to the hard facts of living in a dangerous world that the war would encourage in later years.

The stories, commentary, and photographs found within these pages are unlike any to be found in other publications. This helps make the archive a rare window into a time that now only exists in distant memory.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to visit and discover the value of this unique collection.


Now Available: The Shrine Herald Collection

The University of Detroit Mercy Libraries/Instructional Design Studio is proud to announce that our newest archive, the Shrine Herald collection, is now available.

The Shrine Herald, weekly newsletter of the National Shrine of the Little Flower, began publication on November 9, 1935, and continues through today.  It provides readers with an interesting overview of activities within the parish and its many organizations. Within these pages are reports regarding parish births, baptisms, marriages and deaths, along with information about upcoming events and services.  The Shrine Herald serves as a wonderful way to bring the parish together as a close spiritual community.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to visit and discover the value of this unique collection.



The Value of Archiving

I watched an interesting documentary not long ago on the Discovery channel. In this program, an archeologist who had just entered a recently discovered Egyptian tomb, was being interviewed about his find. The interviewer asked if he’d found gold, jewels, or precious metals inside … “anything of value.” The archeologist explained in his excited enthusiasm that what they’d discovered was more precious than any jewel or rare metals; they’d discovered information.

The world is currently reflecting a different approach to understanding the evolution of human existence. We now exist in a “globalized social world” with time and space seemingly collapsed by technology. We not only allow ourselves to dream about the future’s potential, but we can now allow ourselves access to the past in ways unknown in previous centuries. Exploring our collective past helps us better understand ourselves. By watching our own social evolution, we can document our path to the place we find ourselves in now. The question we are seeking to answer these days is one that we’ve always asked but seem closer to answering than ever before: “Who are we?”

So, why archive anything? The idea is no longer one of item storage or preserving references to important directions from previous generations on how to accomplish some task or other (although, of course, those things are still important). These days we archive to provide information from our social past to our ever evolving social future. We seek to connect those who have gone before us with those who are yet to come. We seek to provide an answer to questions like, “How did we get from then to now, and where do we go from here?” “How can we work together and build a cooperative future?”  “How can studying our past help us effectively create a beneficial future?”

If we now attempt to determine what of the past is of value based on what we value on a personal basis in the present, we miss the point of archiving in the first place. This focus on preservation is not for us … it’s for those researchers, students, explorers, and social archeologists who are “out there” looking for information.  And it’s for generations to come who will have different experiences of the world than we do.

Archiving allows us to “read” the past in a number of ways:

  • It connects us to a time when technology had a different meaning, where life could be unpredictable and scary, where differences between us could elicit fear and lack of cooperation, in order to bring us into a more cooperative existence
  • It allows us to study the mechanics of accomplishing form of correspondence and communication (type of paper used, formatting structure that may not be used any longer, evidence of a strict adherence to formality that once dominated human interaction, etc.)
  • It follows the type, quality, and quantity of human interaction (How long are the letters and journals? How much deference is involved? What was considered “proper” at the time? Etc.)
  • It allows us to see the relationships in place at the time between students, faculty, and administration, as well as family members and friends.
  • It allows us to study requirements and rules that were in place at the time which may now no longer be in use, or which may find a new place in the administration of the school and work place record keeping

The value in archiving documentation may even be gained by studying the way the typewriter key hammers placed the letters, the way the paper allowed the ink to “bleed” just slightly into the fabric of it, the way each typewriter of the day included a unique “signature” text placement, etc. (Someone somewhere may be writing a research paper on topics like these.)

We archive for others, for the human beings out there who find this type of material valuable for one reason or another. We archive to offer value to the university. We archive to make a positive difference in the city, state, world, planet. We archive because we have the technology now to preserve the valuable information of the past.

University of Detroit Mercy Digital Special Collections
Digital Special Collections, University of Detroit Mercy

Catalogs Offer More than just Class Listings

Here’s a thought puzzle:  You are working on a research paper or book about the university in the 1940s and you need quick access to some basic statistical information.  You might have questions about the G. I. Bill for returning veterans.  Or maybe your question is about accreditation during this time; or the number of volumes the library had on January 1, 1949; or even the location on campus where the evening division office was located in the early 1940s.  (And what the heck is “accreditation” all about anyway?)

This diverse information could be found a number of places (you might have started with Google, for example).  But faced with the potential of weeding through too many hits and too many sources to really pin down what you’re looking for can be pretty daunting.

So, what do you do?

Well, here’s one solution: find the answers to all of these questions quickly and easily in the Bulletins for these years in our digital collections!

Shown here are two pages from the 1949 evening division bulletin.  This isn’t the only year offering information like this, but it’s a great place to start.  You might be surprised to discover that bulletins and catalogs offer more than just course listings.

bulundeve_1949_0025-2 bulundeve_1949_0026-2

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