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Detroit History

This Special Collection was created as Detroit prepared to celebrate its 300th birthday, a year-long event that was marked by a host of festivities and events. The history of the city is broad enough and rich enough, though, to warrant a continual presence and periodic updating as one of the library's special online resource collections. As we celebrate the city's 313th birthday, check the books, websites and other materials listed here to discover more about the Motor City and its colorful past.

History of Detroit

Celebrating 300 Years of Detroit Cooking, 1701 to 2001 edited by Marguerite J. Humes: A "historical cookbook" presenting information about Detroit's social setting and cooking history from 1701 to 2001. Includes original recipes handed down by Native Americans and immigrants alike, as well as some developed by native Detroiters.

Detroit, 1860-1899 by David Lee Poremba: Venture back in time to Detroit in the mid to late 19th century with this fascinating book.

Detroit: A Motor City History by David Lee Poremba: A concise and highly readable history by the acting manager of the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library.

Detroit: Across Three Centuries by Richard Bak: Bak introduces readers to some of the epic names and events from the city's past.

The Detroit Almanac: 300 Years of Life in the Motor City by the Detroit Free Press: A nostalgic view of Detroit and its surrounding suburbs' history. Many facts, figures and photos included.

Detroit in its World Setting: A 300 Year Chronology 1701-2001 by David Lee Poremba: A chronological and historical view of Detroit.

Detroit Then & Now by Cheri Y. Gay: A fascinating look at the city's great history, taking historic photographs from the dawn of the camera age and comparing them with full-color photos of the same scenes as they are today.

Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit 1701-1838 by Brian Leigh Dunnigan: Beautiful portraits, maps, and photos of artifacts of early Detroit grace the pages of this oversized book.

History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan: A Chronological Encyclopedia of the Past and Present by Silas Farmer: Originally published in 1890, historian Silas Farmer recounts the history of Detroit with text, maps and drawings.

This is Detroit 1701-2001 by Arthur M. Woodford: Three hundred years of memories in text, drawings and photos are included in this book.

Time Frames: Our Lives in 2001, Our City at 300, Our Legacy in Pictures edited by Nancy Andrews: A visual "time capsule" of metro Detroit during the year of Detroit's 300th birthday. Photographs by the Detroit Free Press.

Art and Architecture

Art in Detroit Public Places with text by Dennis Nawrocki, photos by David Clements : A guidebook of eighty works of art in public areas in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs.

Detroit Architecture: AIA Guide edited by Katherine Mattingly Meyer: A survey of the architecture in and around Detroit.

Detroit: A Postcard Album by Richard Bak: Hundreds of real photo postcards are featured in this book, recording and preserving the history of Detroit.

Detroit's Michigan Central Station by Kelli B. Kavanaugh: Captures the glory of Michigan Central Station with 200 vintage photographs from the Burton Historical Collection.

Detroit's Statler and Book-Cadillac Hotels: The Anchors of Washington Boulevard by David Kohrman: The past and present history of the historic hotels.

Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals by Linda Bank Downs: Criticism and interpretation of Diego Rivera's murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit by Nola Huse Tutag: Beautiful photographs highlight the stained glass in Detroit's churches and other prominent buildings.

The Hudson's Building (DVD): A documentary about the history of the Hudson Building and its fate after the company abandoned it in 1983.

The Legacy of Albert Kahn by W. Hawkins Ferry: Photos and sketches of architect Albert Kahn's industrial, institutional and residential works in and around Detroit from 1888-1943.

Motor City Marquees: A Comprehensive, Illustrated Reference to Motion Picture Theaters in the Detroit Area, 1906-1992 by Stuart Galbraith IV: From early nickelodeons to modern multiplexes, this work reflects the rich movie theater tradition of the Detroit area.

A Museum on the Verge: A Socioeconomic History of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1882-2000 by Jeffrey Abt: A well-researched case study of the prestigious museum's struggle to survive, disclosing the political, economic and social forces that shaped the museum from its founding to the present day.

Ethnic Detroit

Arab Americans in Metro Detroit: A Pictorial History by Anan Ameri: A visual journey exploring the history of four generations of Arab Americans in Detroit.

The Jews of Detroit from the Beginning 1762-1914 by Robert Rockaway: Traces the origins of Jews in Detroit. Includes a proliferation of maps, photos, and interesting facts and figures.

Modern Journeys: The Irish in Detroit edited by Ed Marman: This anthology about the Irish in Detroit provides readers with some history, some biography and some autobiography about the lives and accomplishments of the Irish who helped build the city.

OPAA! Greek Cooking Detroit Style by George J. Gekas: Recipes and kitchen hints from Detroit's Greektown restaurants.

The Polish Experience in Detroit by Joseph Anthony Wytrwal: Traces the origins of the Polish in Detroit and their adjustment to American society and culture. Includes maps and photos.

Untold Tales, Unsung Heroes: An Oral History of Detroit's African American Community 1918-1967 by Elaine Latzman Moon: Intriguing interviews and biographies regarding African-American residents of Detroit from the years 1918-1967.

Industry and Labor

Brewed in Detroit: Breweries and Beers Since 1830 by Peter H. Blum: A history of the breweries of Detroit, complete with company histories and photos.

How Detroit Changed History by Nelson Bolan: A unique book about Detroit and its best known industry, the automobile. Includes pictures, ads, photos and diagrams.

Maurice Sugar: Law, Labor and the Left in Detroit 1912-1950 by Christopher H. Johnson: Explores the life and times of UAW labor activist Maurice Sugar.

Working Detroit by Steve Babson: With stories and pictures, the history of union organization in Detroit unfolds in this detailed book.

Sacred Places

The Catholic Church in Detroit, 1701-1888 by George Pare: A detailed history of the Catholic Church in Detroit, including the early church leaders.

Created for the Ages: A History of Mariners' Church of Detroit: Mariners' Church of Detroit, known as the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral, was consecrated in 1849.

The Detroit St. Josaphat's Story 1889-1989: A History within a History by Edward Adam Skendzel: A historical glimpse into one of Detroit's oldest Polish parishes.

Elmwood Endures: A History of a Detroit Cemetery by Michael Franck: A visual journey into Detroit's most famous cemetery. Includes many pictures as well as life stories and lists of some if its most famous residents.


Black Baseball in Detroit by Larry Lester: Chronicles the history of the various teams and players that played in the Motor City.

Detroit Red Wings: The Illustrated History by Richard Bak: A detailed history of Detroit Red Wings hockey, from its earliest days as the Detroit Cougars in the 1920's, to the present.

Greatest Moments in Detroit Red Wings History by Joe Falls: A year-by-year synopsis of Hockeytown's Red Wings.

Hockey Gods: The Inside Story of the Red Wings' Hall of Fame Team by Nicholas Cotsonika:The Detroit Free Press hockey writer provides a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most compelling stories in the history of sports - how nine future Hall of Fame players, and one Hall of Fame coach were formed into one of the greatest NHL teams in history and captured the Stanley Cup for the 2001-2002 season.

Detroit Personalities

Al Kaline: the biography of a Tiger's icon by Jim Hawkins: A glimpse into the life of one of Detroit's most famous baseball players.

Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker by Wilbur C. Rich: A detailed account of former Detroit mayor Coleman Young's life and career.

Father Clem Kern: Conscience of Detroit by Genevieve M. Casey: The biography of Father Clem Kern, former pastor of Holy Trinity in Corktown.

Hello Everybody, I'm George Kell by George Kell: A heartwarming look at one of Detroit's favorite sports announcers.

Hoffa by Arthur A. Sloane: A book regarding the remarkable life and career of former Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa.

J.P. McCarthy: Just Don't Tell 'em Where I Am by Michael Shiels: A touching account of former Detroit radio personality J.P. McCarthy.

Made in Detroit: A South of 8-Mile Memoir by Paul Clemens: Clemens' autobiography of growing up in Detroit is described as, "A story about being caught in the middle: about being white in a black city, urban in suburban America, blue collar in an increasingly obsolete Rust Belt, and Catholic in a place where churches close at an unprecedented pace."

The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor by Nelson Lichtenstein: An insightful look into Walter Reuther's life as well as the history of labor in Detroit.

Polish Detroit and the Kolasinski Affair by Lawrence D. Orton: The story of Reverend Dominik Kolasinski and his turbulent ecclesiastical career in 19th century Detroit.

Music, Radio and Television

Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit, 1920-60 by Lars Bjorn: An engaging history of the musical development of Detroit's jazz artists - many of whom were among the genre's most influential performers.

From Soupy to Nuts: A History of Detroit Television by Tim Kiska: A fun look at the colorful history of Detroit television.

Grit, Noise and Revolution: The Birth of Detroit Rock 'n' Roll by David Carson: In Grit, Noise and Revolution, David Carson turns the spotlight on those hard-rocking, long-haired musicians who helped to change the face of rock 'n roll.

Motown: Music, Money, Sex and Power by Gerald Posner: A behind-the-scenes history of the legendary Detroit music label, with profiles of the artists - many from the city's inner-city projects - who achieved fame.

A newscast for the masses: the history of Detroit television journalism by Tim Kiska: Explores the development of local Detroit television news and the economic and social factors that elevated it to prominence.


Detroit Historical Museum: Check out the virtual tours of various places in Detroit as well as other nifty information under the reference link.

Rearview Mirror: A page of historical features and perspectives prepared by the Detroit News. It includes much information related to Detroit, some of which was created in conjunction with the city's 300th birthday in 2001.

Ste. Anne de Detroit: Historical information regarding Sainte Anne de Detroit, one of the oldest churches in the United States, which also celebrated its tricentennial in 2001.