Michigan Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Arleigh P. Helfer, Jr. and Carol L. Maki for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Michigan Family History Research series.
History of Michigan
Michigan Vital Records
Census Records for Michigan
Background Sources for Michigan
Michigan Maps
Michigan Land Records
Michigan Probate Records
Michigan Court Records
Michigan Tax Records
Michigan Cemetery Records
Michigan Church Records
Michigan Military Records
Michigan Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Michigan Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Michigan Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Michigan
Michigan County Resources
Map of Michigan


The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine, published by the society, with a mailing address at the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library, has been published since 1937. It is not limited to Detroit but also publishes family histories and source material for the entire state, as well as states or areas from which Michigan residents came: New York, New England, Pennsylvania, and Canada, particularly Ontario and Quebec.

Also see:

  • Quigley, Maud. Index to Michigan Research Found in Genealogical Periodicals. Grand Rapids: Western Michigan Genealogical Society, 1979.
  • Michigan History. Published bimonthly by Bureau of History, Michigan Department of State, this contains state history articles, book reviews, and information pertinent to historical research.


Michigan's first newspaper, The Michigan Essay or Impartial Observer, was published in Detroit on 31 August 1809 for one single edition. It has been a short-term publication similar to most of that time western publishing writings; tiny and shabby (source: writing service). Continuous newspaper publishing began in July of 1817 with the Detroit Gazette. The most important articles in this English-language publication were also printed in French on the last page. The Library of Michigan has an extensive collection of microfilmed Michigan newspapers, which are available for use at the library or through interlibrary loan to other Michigan libraries. The Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor and the Detroit Public Library also have large Michigan newspaper collections. Following are two references that may be helpful in locating newspapers:

  • Brown, Elizabeth Reed. A Union List of Newspapers Published in Michigan Based on the Principal Newspaper Collections in the State with Notes Concerning Papers Not Located. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Department of Library Science, 1954.
  • Michigan Newspapers on Microfilm, With a Description of the Michigan Newspapers on Microfilm Project. 4th ed. Lansing, Mich.: Michigan Bureau of Library Services, 1973.


Included in the genealogical and historical collections of the University Archives and Historical Collections of Michigan State University, Main Library EG13, East Lansing, MI 48824-1048, are numerous original papers, diaries, and manuscripts. Significant in the latter category are the John Harvey Kellogg papers, the REO Motor Company records, the Land Grant Research Collection, and the Hackley and Hume papers, business records and personal papers associated with the lumber industry.

The Burton Historical Collection has over twelve million items in its manuscript archives. Bernice Cox Sprenger's Guide to the Manuscripts in the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library (Detroit: Burton Historical Collection, 1985) details these personal papers and records of churches, businesses, and organizations. Examples of genealogically important items listed in this collection include the Charles Kanter Papers' record book of an early Detroit German-American bank; the book indicates the German birthplaces of depositors. The papers of the Children's Aid Society for 1860 to 1942 could be an important resource for tracing a Detroit ancestry, especially since the organization functioned as an orphan home and an adoption agency. Also at this library is the Register of Prisoners for the House of Corrections (Detroit); the Register (1861'1983), indexed, gives the place of birth of each prisoner. See also Draper Manuscripts in Wisconsin Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections.