Author Archives: Linda Papa

Bulletins and Catalogs

As announced at this year’s Convocation, the Course Catalogs and Bulletins digital archive is now available on our Special Collections page.  This valuable collection offers the researcher and the curious visitor a glimpse into a structured past that may stimulate memories of hours spent arranging and managing course offerings and scheduling in years past.  There is other valuable information to be discovered in these pages, however. Now that the catalog is offered online only, it’s interesting to see how students, pencils and highlighters in hand, once determined how their semesters would be filled.

Spend a few moments checking out the evolution of course offerings. Notice how new and exciting course options have replaced old, outdated ones such as ROTC and Geography. Trace the future of technology through the pages of courses offered from then to now. There’s also a wealth of information in the first few pages of each catalog edition. Explore the differences in the rules set up by the university in its early days compared with what is important today.

This collection begins with the last hard copy version published for the 2003-2005 school year.  We are adding years to this working backwards to the early days of course publication (the first catalog appeared in 1889).

What can you find in these pages of interest?  The interest lies not only in the pictures (the changes in the campus over the years, the evolution of fashion noted on students and faculty images, even the snapshots of city spaces that hold memories of an different time), but in the excitement of finding a favorite professor teaching an unexpected course or noticing a new-found appreciation for a course load you may have previously decided to forgo.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to visit the Bulletins and Catalogs collection and see how valuable this bit of history can be.

1999-2001 University of Detroit Mercy Undergraduate Catalog

Mercy College Student Newspaper Archive

From October, 1941 through April 1989, Mercy College of Detroit offered its academic population news and information through the publication of a bi-weekly newspaper. Although the name of the newspaper changed a couple of times since it first began, the publication continued through the 1988-89 school year. Each issue has been preserved in this archive to offer readers an intimate view of life at Mercy College, and the evolution of its academic dedication to Catherine McAuley’s initial vision.

The University of Detroit Mercy Library/Instructional Design Studio is proud to introduce you to our newest collection, the Mercy College Student Newspapers archive. Through this collection, we offer visitors a student’s perspective of life on and off campus during its years of publication. Reading through each issue is a great way to travel through time and discover a bit of the history of Mercy College from its beginning to the last day of its final classes. This archive offers a wonderful complement to the wealth of information found in our other digital archives.

The stories, commentary, and photographs found within these pages are likely not to be found in any other publication. This helps make the archive a rare window into a time that only exists now in the memories of those who were there.

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

YET — Sidewalk Art

Today is “All Hallows Eve,” a day of symbols and images.  Pumpkins, Jack O’ Lanterns, ghosts, skeletons, and scary colorful things decorate yards, streets, and buildings everywhere.  And, for most of us,  when we think of Halloween, we think of “craft” in this way.  We carve pumpkins, we construct spooky masks, we cut out scary shapes to display in windows all to ward off the gloom of this one holiday from fearful stuff.  Tonight, kids dressed as creative imaginary creatures and goblins spill out into the streets in their never-ending search for sweets and mischief.

Maurice Greenia is way ahead of this creative celebration!  He’s been adding unique and colorful images to the art scene in Detroit for years. His YET sidewalk art contribution isn’t craft, it’s an artistic expression that spills out into (and onto) the downtown streets of this city even when Halloween is a distant memory.  These street images are whimsical, not scary, and offered simply with chalk and enthusiasm.

We invite you to spend your Halloween scrolling through some creative street art, along with the other collections from Maurice’s prolific artistic expression.  Recently he’s added to his Magnets and Pins, Index Cards, and Black and White Drawings Collections.  You can always find something interesting in this archive.

And unlike their ghostly counterparts that disappear from the streets once Halloween comes to an end, Maurice’s work (we’re proud to say) finds a permanent home in our digital archive to be enjoyed year round.  Luckily for us, we have saved in digital form what is no longer available on the sidewalk in chalky ephemera.  This is the perfect day to escape the goblins and ghosts and spend some time with this amazing and important work.  We hope to keep it here for you … for eternity.

Skeleton — Image 91, YET Collection

Skeleton (close-up) — Image 92, YET Collection

Fugitive Slave Laws

It could very well be that one of the “worst laws in the history of this country” is not what some might imagine.  The Fugitive Slave Laws were created in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850. Slavery was bad enough, our entire economy in those days was based on enslaved human labor.  During this time, while some in government worked for a reasoned and compassionate solution to an obvious moral crisis, there were plenty of people in government who could not see any other way to realize economic prosperity for the country.  Ending slavery meant, to them, the complete disruption of a booming economy, a growing national wealth, and a steady increase in power over England.  If we took away the foundation of this economy, what in the world would save us from… disaster!?

The political solution then was to work to discount those who argued for compassion, for change, for a balance between morality and economic stability.  The reaction for the majority of those in power was to hold fast to what was known and not to risk the unknown.  The importance of continuing this institution became paramount, and in order to insure the protection of those who benefited most, laws were enacted to help protect the “property” of the rich and powerful.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 was drawn up and passed quickly as a clause in the Constitution.  It seemed logical and understandable … at first.  In 1850, Congress got more specific with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  The idea was never about the human beings involved, but about forcing the “free states” to return slaves who had escaped to their soil. This was about returning “property” that had ended up in a state that didn’t recognize these fugitives as property.  This was a political law enacted as part of the Compromise of 1850 … a political effort to keep everyone happy.

The “unhappy” part of these laws involved the humanity at the core of them.  Not only were escaped slaves being rounded up and returned as if they were stray cattle, but those free black citizens who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time ended up in the mix as well.  (By the way, a new movie has just been released based on one interpretation of the experience of Solomon Northup, kidnapped and sold into slavery during this time.)

Despite warnings from their fellows and posted flyers and newspaper articles like the one shown here, kidnapping and profiting from the plight of this segment of humanity was prevalent.  Was this one of the “worst laws every created in this country”?  I think it would get my vote.

Visit the Black Abolitionist Archive for more on the times and the stories of those who survived those turbulent years.  (Check out the speeches of Anthony Burns for a first hand account of an escaped slave who was captured and returned to his master through the legal exercise of the Fugitive Slave Law.)

Digitized Bulletins and Catalogs Archive

When I was younger and had plenty of free time, I often enjoyed reading through the huge volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica that sat on a bookcase near the living room at my parents’ house.  These tomes seemed filled with the most interesting tidbits of information on just about everything I could imagine.  I loved discovering within these pages the changes in the world over time, how the economy would ebb and flow, how new career opportunities would spring up linked to the advancements in technology.

These days it’s fun to watch corporate computer needs grow smaller and leave the domain of the awe-inspiring professional in white lab coat and dust proof office.  Now the average undergraduate with a trusty laptop can qualify for jobs that were once reserved for a select few.  The focus in the job market has changed, and so have the demands of the work force.  This influences the type of courses offered to students these days, and it’s interesting to discover how this affects curriculum.

In the 1889-1890 Detroit College Bulletin, the focus was on two “Courses of Instruction” tracks:  the “Classical Course” and the “Commercial Course”.  The Classical Course offered an emphasis on Greek, Latin, and “…Mental and Moral Philosophy.”  This was a basic liberal arts education that allowed the graduate a purely academic education that, according to the bulletin, “…fully develops all the faculties, forms a correct taste, teaches the student how to use all his powers to the best advantage, and prepares him to excel in any pursuit, whether professional or commercial.”  (This sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?)

The Commercial Course track “… offers to those who cannot or will not avail themselves of a regular classical training, the means of acquiring a good English or Commercial education.”  The courses are basically bookkeeping, “an ample course in Arithmetic,” Algebra, Grammar, Composition, Letter Writing, and Religion.  Clearly, however, the push was towards a “classical” education in which the graduate could enter the working world knowing a lot about subjects he may after college only use to impress.  But then, what did those in the corporate world of the day really need to know to run a business that Aristotle couldn’t impart?

Today the path through the years of higher education is a bit more challenging. According to the 2003-2005 UDM Bulletin, the student body in those years was made up of “60% female, 40% male, 33% minority, and 8% foreign students, representing 38 countries.”  (The student body of Detroit College was strictly male.)  The emphasis now is on employment after graduation.  During the first years of this century, those UDM graduates who responded to a survey reported that 89% of them were working within six months of graduation.  But the goal here is now as it has been from the beginning: to serve this community and to provide “…a strong liberal arts curriculum.” This goal has now been expanded to include an “…accessible, quality education, while meeting the career preparation needs of a diverse student population.”

The digital Bulletins and Catalogs archive offers the viewer an interesting perspective on the evolution of  the University of Detroit Mercy from its humble beginnings as Detroit College to where it is today.  I hope you’ll spend some time with this bit of history and enjoy reading pages that few have seen since these books were published.

Detroit College circa 1889 (page 2 of the 1889-1890 Course Catalog)

You are invited to spend some time flipping through the digital pages of the Bulletins and Catalogs archive as we continue to grow in meeting the needs of this ever evolving social world.

Bruno Leon

This year we mourn the passing of Bruno Leon, founding dean of the University of Detroit School of Architecture (1964), who entered eternal life on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. Although I had never met him, I followed Mr. Leon’s life through the pages of the Tower Yearbooks from 1962 to 1988 (the last “official” yearbook publication) in our digital collection. In 1984, when Mr. Leon received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the university, the tribute to him posted in the University Honors archive noted that he “… always affirmed that architecture, at its best, can uplift the human spirit while at least, it must respond to human needs.” This focus on the merging of art and community through architecture seemed Mr. Leon’s primary benefit to what has become a very dynamic aspect of the university as well as the city at large.

Bruno Leon began his career as head of the Architecture Department in 1962. At that time, he was already recognized as someone who would bring a unique perspective to this exciting new area of study. After teaching at MIT and being on the faculty at the University of Illinois, the yearbook editors point out that Mr. Leon bridged the artistic and educational curriculum needed for this creative enterprise. For so long it seemed, Architecture had been housed in the shadow of the College of Engineering.  Now that it was finding a place of its own, Bruno Leon seemed a good fit from the start.

Included here is my favorite image of Bruno Leon from the 1965 Tower Yearbook. Those eyes reflect the light of a future only he could see at the time. Yet we all benefited from his vision, energy, and creativity.

1965 Tower Yearbook

95 Years Ago

Close to ninety five years ago on January 1, 1918, the first Varsity News newspaper was published.  This first headline read, “Varsity News Begins Career” and offered its readers enthusiastic reports of the booming economy, new university courses, tidbits about the happenings on campus, and the usual list of advertisers.  This newly release chronicle was a sign of the times, a fresh expression of news and information, and a slick example of the technological advances of the day.  Before the debut of the Varsity News, however, the focus of communication for the students and faculty of Detroit College was a literary one.

The first ever issue of a news publication for the school introduced The Tamarack in April, 1897.  This issue began with a poem of the same name, foreshadowing the direction of the issues to come.  The first page of this monthly offering featured a “Salutatory” welcome from the editors.  The pages that followed included poetry and essays along with a flowery overview of the 1896 “Foot Ball” and “Base Ball” seasons.  Reading through the monthly issues for this first year provides a rare glimpse into the history of the university as well as into the history of Detroit itself.

This post offers a teaser glimpse into our new Tamarack archive that will be making its debut in October. We will be making an official announcement when this interesting archive will be available.

The Tamarack, April 1897

William Whipper

“Resolved, That the practice of non-resistance to physical aggression, is not only consistent with reason, but the surest method of obtaining a speedy triumph of the principles of universal peace.” — William Whipper, 1837

Among the many speeches and editorials contained in the Black Abolitionist archive are three lengthy speeches delivered between 1833 and 1837 by William Whipper, black businessman and abolitionist.  His were among the first speeches entered into the archive and the ones that had the most profound effect on me.  Reading these speeches encouraged the excited feeling of discovery that would stay with me through the entire archiving project.  Surely, I felt, I had discovered something that few others had seen.  Surely, here is evidence of the seeds of change that would alter the course of this country’s history in the years leading up to Emancipation.

I’m sharing this one speech with you here since it seems timely in light of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.  Here is a man in the early 1800s expressing the idea of peaceful change that would be picked up by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over a hundred and twenty years later.  Calling attention to the injustice of slavery as he has in this stirring speech is later reflected in the call of attention to the injustice of prejudice during the March on Washington in 1963.  Each event spurred a nation toward change in a dramatic and inspiring way.

Yet William Whipper was not remembered for his work in urging a reasoned response to the unthinking practice of enslaving a segment of humanity.  The desire for economic gain by those occupying a large portion of this country early on overrode the recognition of the human cost involved.  Religion was used to justify slavery, and later to denounce it.  Reason was left on the sidelines by so many clamoring to reach financial abundance and power.  At some point, there must have been a shift in perception that allowed those in ownership of human collateral to stop acknowledging a sympathetic response to the tears and suffering this institution created.

This speech is 27 pages long, but if you are like me, you will be swept through them by your own interest in the content.  And, like me, you may experience the rapid heartbeat that signals the discovery of something not only important, but quite profound.  I hope so anyway … it’s a great feeling.

Digitized Yearbooks Available

This month UDM Libraries/Instructional Design Studio is pleased to announce the release of three School of Dentistry Yearbooks (1998, 1999, and 2003) into the digital archives.  The release of the final two digitized Tower Yearbooks in July marked the end of that portion of the collection.  The yearbook collection, however, will continue to add publications from the Dental and Law Schools as they become available.

The Dental School yearbooks offer a unique view of this specialized education.  Included in each book are pages of images from current news and events which help the reader travel back to a particular time and place.  The reader can say “Ah, yes, I remember when Ozzie Osbourn had his own reality show!”  Although it doesn’t seem that long ago, looking back through the glossy pages of these Dental School yearbooks allows the viewer an intimate peek at how the fashion, the state of the world, and even the campus has changed in such a relatively short period of time.  You might see some familiar faces here; and you might gain some insight into how the past creates the future.  They may look different, but students were basically the same then as they are now: fun loving, intelligent, and eager for “great things.”

To view this and other digital collections, please visit the “Special Collections” link on the Library home page.


A Tamarack is a type of pine tree with reddish-brown bark and blue-green needles.  It’s also the name of a series of publications from the University of Detroit that appeared between 1890 and 1923.  These are considered the first issues of what in 1923 would be absorbed by the Varsity Newspaper that started its publication in 1918.

We are proud to introduce you to the Tamarack, a new addition to our digitized collection.  We will begin making these available every two months beginning in late September until the collection is complete.

The first two additions of the Tamarack will be for 1913 and 1914.  Opening the pages of these two publications is like stepping inside the memories of those who are no longer with us.  The generation that created the university experience during those years still, through these booklets, offers you a way of stepping back into a time when the world was less chaotic and seemingly more fun.  But these publications offer more than just a connection to the past, they include poetry and essays written by those who could be the great grandparents of today’s students.  The writing published in these booklets may not have been saved or published anywhere else.  The wisdom and talent of the young minds of this time are held forever within these pages, now digitally preserved for generations to come.

Tamaracks are distinctive trees and so are the publications that bear their name.  They are not evergreens, however, and neither are the yearbooks.  As digitized memories, we hope to preserve them for students now and in the years ahead.

Richard Mabey says, “To be without trees would, in the most literal way, to be without our roots.”  (Beechcombings: The narratives of tree) The same seems to also apply to the history these books represent.

Page 12 of 15...1011121314...