Author Archives: Linda Papa

The 1965 Campus

There are two great aerial photos of the campus in the beginning pages of the 1965 Tower Yearbook.  All the changes that have taken place on campus and the surrounding neighborhood since this time are easy to see from this vantage point.

Some readers might recognize the Dinan stadium in the first image.  What was once referred to as a stately “mission on the plains” when it was first built in 1923, came to a sad and deserted end just months before this photograph was taken.  And while it had graced the McNichols campus for almost 50 years, it was unceremoniously bulldozed in 1971 to make way for more parking and the Titan Track and Field area we enjoy now.

And speaking of parking, it’s interesting to see the creative solutions to the growing parking problem students encountered when this first photograph was taken. Back then, cars could drive through campus on a couple of small connecting streets.  Parking was at a premium and available spaces were scattered around the campus (as this photo shows).  In those days, finding a place to park was basically a matter of luck.  This was becoming a major problem and the razing of the stadium helped.

This photo also shows an empty section of the campus across from the Engineering building and clock tower that would one day hold the student center and ballroom.  The older buildings pictured here offer indicators to help imagine the newer ones.  It’s interesting too to realize how many of the surrounding homes would be completely gone in the fifty years that followed.

For one brief moment, the shutter on someone’s airborne camera, captured a slice of 1965 campus life. It’s unlikely that this lone photographer could have had any idea how important to campus history his (or her) photograph would become.

Want more?  Visit the Tower Yearbook digital collection and discover the treasures of the past waiting for you there.

The Digital Archive

Digital archives are a valuable resource.  Once online, digitized items are more accessible to researchers than non-digitized materials. Digitizing makes documents and images available to users from any computer with an Internet connection.  This helps reduce or eliminate the need to travel and/or spend time pouring through hard copy originals.

And making digitized materials available online helps reduce handling and potential damage to valuable and sometimes fragile original items, which helps protect their longevity and historical value.

So, what does it take to make a digital archive?  It’s not just a collection of scanned images.  There’s a lot of time, space, thought, and organization that goes into creating and maintaining an archived digital collection.  Mostly, though, it takes dedication and a desire to preserve the value of the transitory things in this world.  Paper doesn’t survive long; photographs dim and disappear over the years.  Even objects like clothing, medals, and trophies have a “shelf life” if left sitting on a shelf or closed inside boxes.  Things break down over time.  What lasts a lifetime is the value we hold for these items, these links to the past, and preserving an image of these items is one sharable way of reconnecting with what has gone before.

These days a lot of historians are realizing that one of the best ways to preserve the ideas, documentation, and treasures of the past is through digitization.  And while even those images won’t last forever, UDM is focused on preserving what we can of our past for the benefit of our future.  We scan the photograph or document, we title the resulting image to indicate the date and original location (whether it’s a catalog or speech, a yearbook or commencement book), and then add the finished product to a database location maintained within the library.  We then make a link to this finished product available on the Digital Special Collections pages of the library’s web site.  (The hard copy originals are returned to either our archive room within the library or to their owners.)

UDM’s Libraries and Instructional Design Studio is committed to preserving knowledge and learning, and part of this involves preserving the knowledge of the past through digital capture and storage.  And we offer access to this to you, our students and readers everywhere, in an effort to share how we got from then to now.  We learn from the past by repeating our successes and avoiding repeating our failures.  There is value in this and UDM is there to work to maintain that value by incorporating scanning and archiving technology.


Items of College History: The Picnic of the Acolytes

Long before the world became a blurry line of activity speeding towards the future, Detroit College was a seemingly gentle place filled with the hum of academic learning in the classical sense.  Students, dressed in business attire, dutifully sat in stark classrooms memorizing dates and names and theories at wooden desks lined up properly in front of filled blackboards and pacing professors.  After class, the halls were likely filled with chuckles and guffaws at jokes that have become tired and boring in the century since.  It’s easy to imagine these students walking to their classroom buildings through the bustling streets of the economic boom of downtown Detroit in the late 1800s.  They were the future of Detroit, rowdy and driven, and it was these students who would pen the prose and poetry that would be bound and published in the Tamarack, a student publication that appeared between 1890 and 1923.

The digitized collection of the Tamarack offers readers a rare glimpse into not only the day to day life of the University of Detroit students during this time, but also of the time itself.  Unlike photographs which present one static perspective of the past, writing offers insight into the heart and soul of the people who lived, worked, played, and learned there.  The story shared here is just one example of this.

A lot of the Tamarack issues included a section called Items of College History which contained a mishmash of anecdotes, fiction, and humor.  The page shown here is the first of three telling the tale of an 1881 picnic to Grosse Pointe taken by professors and students by “covered wagon” from downtown Detroit.  Readers will encounter a unique treat, and may feel inspired enough to read more.




Significant Trivia

Did you know that there are currently 112 digitized course catalogs (bulletins) (both undergraduate and graduate) from the University of Detroit, Mercy College, and the University of Detroit Mercy available in our digital archives?  These range from 1928 through 2005, and represent offerings from every college, including the Law School and the Dental School.  We even have the very first course catalog published for the 1889 to 1890 term.  And this archive is growing!  Each month, more catalogs are being published to offer visitors a wealth of history in digital format.

And this is just one digital archive.  We also have:

  • over three thousand digitized publications (speeches and editorials) in the Black Abolitionist Archive,
  • around 42,000 items in Professor Callow’s Folklore Collection,
  • 197 digitized commencement booklets in the Commencement Archive,
  • 51 digitized Convocation booklets,
  • 20 digitized issues of Dichotomy magazine,
  • digitized football programs and materials that span the years 1919 through 1971,
  • over a thousand images of Maurice Greenia, Jr.’s artwork (this one is growing so fast it’s hard to keep count),
  • digitized Tamarack publications that span the years 1897 through 1918,
  • every year book published between 1923 and 2003, and
  • much, much more!

Don’t you think it’s time to come check out what’s available in the Digital Archive?  It’s growing so fast that I’ll wager you can find something new and unique each time you visit.  Take a tour of our Special Collections page, and stop your rush to the future for a little while.

bulall_1889-90-2Detroit College 1889

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Among the items in the Black Abolitionists digital archive are a few hand-written speeches.  The words of the speaker always offer insight into a perspective of history that is only left to use through text records. Yet when you add the actual handwriting, it seems to offer a connection to the writer herself in a more personal way.  This speech by Mary Ann Shadd Cary is a great example of this.

While Mary Shadd Cary was widely recognized as a force for change by her fellow abolitionists during her time, there are few who remember her name today.  Back then, there were very few women abolitionists, and African American women abolitionists were extremely rare. tells her story quite well.  She was a teacher, a journalist, and “one of the best known and most prolific black writers of her generation.”  Besides her tireless work against slavery and gender equality, she was also the first black woman to edit a newspaper (The Provincial Freeman — March 24, 1853, to September 20, 1857).

Handwritten materials from the 1800s can be difficult to decipher.  This is especially true as the hard copy pages age.  We have transcribed this digitized work as best we can, and we offer our translation of the writing next to the actual text in PDF form.  This allows readers a fascinating glimpse into the author’s thought process, energy, and intense commitment to ending the horrors of slavery.  It demonstrates in a unique way the dedication of this one determined woman to do all she could to help make this happen.

The image below is from the Mary Shadd Cary Papers archive held in Ontario, Canada.  They have graciously given us permission to share this wonderful document with visitors to our digital archives. To read more of this speech, click here.




Free Soil Party and the Voice of the Fugitive

In 1850, the Free Soil Party was formed to organize the more radical members of the Whigs and Democrats. tells readers that the party leadership consisted mostly of anti-slavery members who opposed expansion of slavery within the U. S.  Good intentions, no doubt about it, but this noble third party practically fell apart about a year after it was formed.

In 1852, however, the party was almost revived during a Free Soilers Convention held in Ann Arbor on September 1.  A reporter for The Voice of the Fugitive newspaper (Canada’s first black newspaper) was there and summed up the event in a short but powerful article (shown here) published towards the end of that month.

The Free Soil party basically ended after the election of 1852 (their candidate, John P. Hale, lost).  Those who remained were swept into the Republican party in 1854.

The Voice of the Fugitive didn’t survive much longer than the Free Soil Party, however.  It’s final publication was issued in December, 1852.  The Voice of the Fugitive (and newspapers like it that followed) helped encourage Canadian sympathy and acceptance of the growing black population as more and more slaves escaped into its territories.



Education and Slavery

Alexander Crummell, among other Black Abolitionists of his day, spoke frequently and eloquently about the plight of the slave and the cause of freedom. His thoughts were offered not just to those with the power to free the enslaved portion of the population, but to the slaves themselves, encouraging them to live full and productive lives, urging them to be strong in their religious convictions, and offering them words of hope and comfort.  He also stressed the importance of education and the idea that an educated population was a successful one.  Although few slaves had the option of a formal education (in most places during this time, educating the slave was illegal), this was the key to their futures.

Few people have heard of this great man or know the legacy of his great works. Not only was he a wonderful orator, he was also very involved in the political “agitation” (as it was known then) toward a reasoned governmental approach to the question of slavery.

Reading through the many speeches and editorials from Crummell in the Black Abolitionist Archive, we learn that he moved to Liberia in 1853, at first as a missionary, then as a proponent of the American Colonization Society (an organization he had at one time spoken against).  This group was dedicated to relocating newly freed slaves and free people of color to newly settled areas in Africa and the West Indies. Crummell worked to help establish Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, in the newly independent country, along with converting the native people to Christianity.

His strong beliefs in the welfare of his people are obvious in his writings and speeches.  Crummell’s speech on education is among the few handwritten speeches in the Black Abolitionist archive.  Included with the transcription of this speech are his editing marks and notes. This allows the reader to not only get a feel for the way the speech was delivered, but it also allows the reader to step inside the thoughts of an amazing man working tirelessly for a noble cause.

Page 1 of 50 page speech by Alexander Crummell

This is the first page of a 50 page document delivered before the members of the Hamilton Lyceum on July 4, 1844. Interested?  Read more here.

A Colorful Winter

Winter in Detroit is usually experienced in variations of black and white: the frozen ground holds only a deep layer of snow broken here and there by stick black tree trunks and drab gray buildings.  The sky is often white before settling into its gray descent to early darkness.  Everything sleeps; and it seems all color is drained from the world during the bleak winter months.

Art allows a bridge for the seasons here.  Dynamic color temporarily replaces what nature withholds this time of year.  And one of the best places to find a colorful respite from these drab winter scenes is the Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collection in the Digital Archives.

This week we take a look at Maurice’s collage collection.  What better way to bring together color and seasonal change (two things that don’t usually belong together) than with a collage?   There are 21 items in this collection and each one is a wealth of color, offering viewers a momentary departure from the blank cold of winter and into the creative warmth of a colorful array of pattern for a while.

The introduction to this section of the archive tells us:

“Maurice Greenia, Jr. has long experimented with collage.  He enjoys the medium as a change of pace from drawing and painting.

He draws from a large collection of paper materials in this work.  These include wallpaper sample books, clippings from various sources, old photographs, ticket stubs and other found materials.”



Fifty years ago in 1965, students at the University of Detroit were much like the students on campus today … well, mostly.  There were a few things different back then.  Imagining the average student in those days compared with students today is likely to conjure immediate visions of lack: no technology, no polar fleece, and no backpacks.

One thing students in 1965 did have in common with students today is registration.  The difference here is not one of lack but of abundance in terms of time, convenience, and assistance.  These days access to online registration helps new students negotiate what was once a tedious manual enrollment process.  A prospective student now can peruse the detailed offering of programs all online.  (That’s where the technology comes in.)

In 1965, a prospective student found this type of information through written correspondence, course catalogs, and visits to campus.  Registration in those days was a commitment of time, energy, and logic with negotiating the labyrinth of hallway tables seemingly designed to offer a challenge to critical thinking skills. It was accomplished, but not without some complaint.

Shown here is a page from the 1965 Summer Session Bulletin for U of D.  The instructions on this page offer a bit of insight into the registration process of students back then.  It’s a whole lot easier now and a whole lot friendlier. Now that we have backpacks and polar fleece, however, maybe a trip to campus for in-person registration is not such a bad idea.

Want to see more pages like this one?  Check out our Course Catalogs and Bulletins Digital Archive!



 University of Detroit Summer Session Course Catalog, 1965.



One of the most recent additions to our Digital Archives is in the Dichotomy collection.  This archive provides access to the digitized issues of Dichotomy, a journal published by the School of Architecture students since 1978. In the archive’s introduction, Noah Resnick, Associate Professor of Architecture, tells visitors that Dichotomy,

“… strives to be the critical link to the discourse on design, architecture, urbanism, and community development. Like the institution, Dichotomy focuses on social justice and critical thought concerning intellectual, spiritual, ethical, and social development issues occurring in and outside of Detroit. The aim of Dichotomy is to disseminate these relevant investigations conducted by students, faculty, and professionals. “

Since 1978, Dichotomy has been a repository of academic discourse from students and professors as well as luminaries in the fields of architecture and design.  Each issue focuses on a simple yet provocative theme around which articles and featured projects are curated.”

This original collection was digitized by the 2011-12 Dichotomy student editors.  While not all issues are included at this time, we are adding more as they become available.

The latest addition to the collection is titled “Geodesics,” published in 1968.  This issue, authored by Edward Popko and considered a primer on geodesic domes, offers a unique investigation of Geodesic structures that is at once educational and fascinating.  Previous visitors to this archive may find exploring the drawings contained in this issue to be an engaging and delightful way to spend a snowy afternoon this winter.


Come explore all the Dichotomy: School of Architecture Student Journal collection has to offer by clicking here.


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