In 1937, when the University observed the 100th anniversary of its re-establishment in Ann Arbor, the University Committee on Archives declared that “a treatment, in encyclopedic form, of the University's past and present accomplishments, by those most competent to chronicle them, would form a desirable and unique evidence of the progress of the University since its first establishment in 1817.”

This led to an extraordinary collective effort that produced some 400 individual articles on the University’s history. These were published in four volumes entitled The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, appearing from 1942 to 1954. Updates of the entries for many University units were published in the 1970s. In recent years the entire work has been digitized and made available online.

The digitized version of the entire Encyclopedic Survey, 1941to 1975, may be found at

In preparation for the University’s bicentennial in 2017, the University’s Committee on History and Traditions, the Bicentennial Planning Committee, and the Bentley Historical Library committed to updating the Encyclopedic Survey through the 2010s and to making it available in a new and easily navigated digital format.

The histories of the academic departments form the Survey’s nucleus and the first phase of the update. They comprise an essential source of institutional memory and a guide to research for U-M faculty, other scholars, students, alumni and other friends of the various departments.

At the close of the University’s bicentennial activities, the Encyclopedic Survey Update was transferred to the University’s Bentley Historical Library. The development and digitization of this Encyclopedic Survey is an ongoing project and will eventually integrate all versions in the online/PDF format of the Bicentennial Update. Please check back for updates. If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to send them to Gary Krenz (