Michigan collection (1759-1959)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Shannon Wait, February 2011
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Michigan collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1759-1959
Extent: 0.75 linear feet
The Michigan collection contains appoximately 300 miscellaneous items relating to the history of present-day Michigan between 1759 and 1947.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

M-1265 et al.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation

Michigan Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


Prior to European contact, present-day Michigan was inhabited by several major Native American groups, including the Ojibwe, Menominee, Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox, Wyandot, Kickapoo, and Miami. Approximately 15,000 native people lived in the upper and lower peninsulas in 1621, when Étienne Brûlé became the first European to explore Michigan. The area received its first permanent European settlement in 1668, when Father Jacques Marquette founded a mission at Sault Ste. Marie. In the 18th century, both peninsulas served as important hunting, trapping, and trading grounds, and the British and French disputed their ownership. Present-day Michigan became part of the Northwest Territory in 1787, although the British continued to occupy Fort Detroit until 1796. In 1805, the Territory of Michigan was created, with Detroit as its capital; the territory became the 26th state to join the union on January 26, 1837.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Michigan collection contains approximately 300 miscellaneous items relating to present-day Michigan during the 18th through the 20th centuries. Spanning 1759 to 1947, it comprises letters and documents pertaining to Native American activities, French settlement, trade, politics, town growth, agriculture, and land surveying.

A few notable letters and documents include:
  • August 8, 1763, account of the Siege of Detroit by James MacDonald.
  • Speech to the Ottawas attributed to Pontiac [1763].
  • Robert Rogers' request for the removal of "Mr. Roberts the Commissioner of Indian affairs" (September 4, 1767).
  • May 12, 1781 deed granting Michilimackinac to the British, signed by four Chippewa chiefs with their totem marks.
  • A letter from John Jacob Astor, dated August 18, 1819, which refers to the fur trade and "Mackinaw skins."
  • Discussion of the advantages of Niles, Michigan, by a recent settler (Sept. 1, 1836).
  • August 26, 1840, letter concerning the political and economic climate of Michigan.
  • Discussion of farming near Kalamazoo, Michigan (January 28, 1847).
  • Three letters from Robert McQuaid, a soldier in the 27th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War (May 21, 1863; July 12, 1863; June 28, 1864).
  • A letter dated August 7, 1916, with a description of summer vacation on Isle Royale.
  • A letter on the prospects of the Democratic Party in Michigan (May 13, 1935).

Subject Terms

  • Agriculture--Michigan.
  • Detroit (Mich.)--History--Siege, 1763.
  • Fur trade--Michigan.
  • Indians of North America--Michigan.
  • Isle Royale (Mich.)
  • Land settlement--Michigan--History.
  • Michigan--History.
  • Michigan--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Michigan--Politics and government.
  • Niles (Mich.)
  • Soldiers--Michigan.
  • Surveying--Michigan.
  • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 27th (1863-1865)
  • Angell, James Burrill, 1829-1916.
  • Astor, John Jacob, 1763-1848.
  • Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866.
  • Ottawa Indians.
  • Pontiac, Ottawa Chief, d. 1769.
  • Potawatomi Indians.
  • Rogers, Robert, 1731-1795.
  • Tappan, Henry Philip, 1805-1881.
Genre Terms:
  • Legal documents.
  • Letters (correspondence)

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Michigan Collection [series]
Box   1  
Box   2  
Box   3  
Box   4  
 1844-1959 and  undated
Box   5: [RBR Oversize]  
Michilimackinac Deed,  1781     Located in Oversize Manuscripts 

Additional Descriptive Data

Alternate Locations

Manuscript dated August 14, 1837, is physically located in the Postal History collection.