May is Michigan Month and we’re celebrating all the amazing things about the great state of Michigan. We're known as the Wolverine State and the Great Lakes State. Michigan joined the union as the 26th state on January 26, 1837 when Martin Van Buren was serving as the 8th president of the U.S.
The first Europeans to arrive in the state were French explorers in 1618. Prior to European settlement, Michigan was home to twelve Native American tribes. Back then, fur trading by canoe with local Native Americans was way of life for French settlers. The first settlement was named Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit by the French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701, now known as the city of Detroit.
After France was defeated in the French and Indian war, the region fell under British rule, and later became part of the United States. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the boundaries of our new nation were expanded. From the beginning of the 19th century until 1836, our state was known as the Territory of Michigan.
The population began to grow as immigrants from the New England region settled in the state to raise families and farm the land. In the early part of the 20th century, the automobile industry would change the state's future forever. Detroit would become the car capital of the world and adopt a new moniker, the Motor City. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Activities to Celebrate Michigan
- You know you are from Michigan when... - How many of these describe your experience as a Michigander?
- Michigan Trivia- Test your trivia skills and see how much you know–or didn’t know–about Michigan.
- Detroit History Tours - Book an on-foot or a bus tour for an in-depth, highly researched tour that has something for everyone.
- A Hundred Years of Detroit: Then and Now - This split-screen tour highlights the iconic landmarks and auto-manufacturing industry of the Motor City.
Books About Michigan
Michigan Myths & Legends
From tales of pirate treasure to Jimmy Hoffa’s mysterious disappearance, Michigan Myths and Legends makes history fun and pulls back the curtain on some of the state’s most fascinating and compelling stories.
City of Champions
From Ty Cobb and Hank Greenberg to the Bad Boys, from Joe Louis and Gordie Howe to the Malice at the Palace, City of Champions explores the history of Detroit through the stories of its most gifted athletes and most celebrated teams, linking iconic events in the history of Motown sports to the city's shifting fortunes.
Featuring over 200 full-color photographs, there is beauty that can be found in decay as we look at these buildings, many for the last time before they are lost forever to time or the wrecking ball. Look inside these lost places that tells the story of how they came to be abandoned.
Fading Ads of Detroit
Across Detroit, fleeting symbols of the past hide in plain sight; behind weeds and under veneers of paint. Demolished vacant buildings sitting among empty storefronts on the west side uncover a familiar glint of a Vernors Ginger Ale sign, preserved almost as vibrantly as the artist intended. These gripping stories of Detroit’s fading ads are deeply connected to the Motor City's heyday of industry.
Iconic Images Of Detroit's Past
From World War I to the birth of the auto industry, the Great Depression to celebrations, Prohibition to presidential visits, this book is full of dynamic photos of the past that is sure to delight. It showcases Detroit in the late 1800s through the 1930s with award-winning photojournalism from the Detroit News.
Black Bottom Saints
A celebrated columnist, nightclub emcee, and fine arts philanthropist draws inspiration from the Catholic Saints Day books to reflect on his encounters with black artists in Detroit's legendary Black Bottom neighborhood, from the Great Depression through the post-World War II years.
Summer on Fire
The characters in this novel are thrust into tumultuous episodes of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion, anti-war demonstrations, fighting fascists, rock and roll at the Grande Ballroom, drugs, anarchism, the White Panther Party, Wilhelm Reich, and a bomb plot that provides "a people's history and radical folklore of Detroit." The setting is seven weeks during a critical year that demands ethical choices by all involved, ones which mirror today's crises.
Once in A Great City
It was 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city's leaders were among the most visionary in America. It was the American auto makers' best year, and the revolution in music and politics was underway. The time was full of promise. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design, yet so much of what Detroit gave America is a lasting legacy.
The Women of the Copper Country
In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She's spent her whole life in the coal-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries. The women labor in the houses of the elite and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren't coming home. When Annie decides to stand up for herself, and the entire town of Calumet believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle.