Main Collections

Virtual Motor City

Virtual Motor City contains images from the Detroit News Photograph Collection, a premier photojournalistic resource that primarily documents the city of Detroit, its people, places and events from the late 19th century through the 1980s (bulk 1900-1980). This digital collection was originally made possible by DALNET, IMLS, and Library of Michigan grants in 2002-2007. It represents only a fraction of the original collection—more than 800,000 negatives and prints housed at the Walter P. Reuther Library.

Building the Detroit Renaissance Center

The Renaissance Center sits on 14 acres in downtown Detroit. Its construction began in 1973 under the Ford Motor Company. The "Building the Detroit Renaissance Center" collection documents this construction. It was purchased in 1996 by General Motors. It's now known as the GM Renaissance Center or RenCen and hosts GM as well as other businesses.

Changing Face of the Auto Industry

The Changing Face of the Auto Industry Collection contains images from the Detroit Public Library's National Automotive History Collection and Burton Historical Collections. These photographs and postcards document the auto industry in the Detroit area during the first half of the twentieth century. This digitized collection is the result of a partnership between the Detroit Public Library and Wayne State University. The original images are held in the Special Collections at the Detroit Public Library. Additional images and other related resources, including books, owner's manuals, advertising, and archival materials can be found in the remainder of the National Automotive History Collection.

Dennis Glen Cooper Collection

Dennis Glen Cooper (1905-1995) was a photographer, filmmaker and Detroit television host (Realm of the Wild) whose films were familiar to many Detroiters in the 1950s-60s. This collection consists of 35mm and lantern slides, drawn from a broader collection that also includes documents, 16mm films, and more. The collection spans the 1920s-1960s and includes coverage of Isle Royale, urban Saginaw, as well as the National Parks and the Caribbean. Cooper’s time as an Air Force captain in the Pacific arena during World War II is also documented.

Detroit Focus Quarterly

The Detroit Focus Quarterly was published by Detroit Focus, a non-profit arts organization that supports art and artists in the Detroit area. The publication, published from 1982 to 1998, included interviews with artists, articles about the art scene and current issues, and listings of art exhibits. Wayne State University Special Collections has related archival materials from Detroit Focus. Contact the library for more information.

Digital Dress Collection

The Digital Dress Collection contains images of clothing worn in Michigan during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Clothing reflects the culture and the time period of the wearer, so this collection offers insight into Michigan life and society. The items shown here are held in the collections of Wayne State University, The Henry Ford, Detroit Historical Society and Meadowbrook Hall.

Eloise Ramsey Collection of Literature for Young People

The Eloise Ramsey Collection of Literature for Young People was named for its creator, Eloise Ramsey. Ramsey was a Professor of English Education at Wayne State University, where she taught for 36 years. Ramsey believed that it was important for future teachers to take courses in children's literature. She provided over 400 rare or notable books to start this collection, which is now part of the Special Collections in the Wayne State University library system. Important books from this collection have been digitized for online access. The physical copies of these books, as well as others, can be found in WSU Special Collections. Ramsey's personal papers can be found at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University.

First U.S. Human-to-Human Heart Transplant

The first U.S. heart transplant took place on December 6, 1967 at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., just three days after Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world's first transplant in Cape Town, South Africa. The recipient, an infant boy, succumbed to a bleeding complication six and one-half hours later.
The son of a physician, Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz was born in 1918. He received his M.D. from Western Reserve University in 1943. In addition to performing the first U.S. heart transplant, he is responsible for several contributions including the plastic heart valve in 1954, the heart-lung machine in 1958, the internal pacemaker in 1961, and the auxiliary left ventricle in 1964. Dr. Kantrowitz and his wife Jeanne founded L.VAD Technology in Detroit in 1983. L.VAD Technology designs and develops leading edge cardiovascular devices.
The original slides from this collection have been donated to the National Library of Medicine.

Florence Nightingale Collection

This collection consists primarily of letters written by Florence Nightingale throughout her life. Major topics of the letters include medical care for the soldiers and the poor, the role of nursing, and sanitation and public works in colonized India. These digitized items are part of a larger collection in the Wayne State University Library Special Collections, which contains more correspondence, books, and other items.

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller, Inc., based in Zeeland, Michigan, began in 1923 as a manufacturer of residential furniture. Over the years, the company has become a leader in design and manufacture of modern furniture for both home and office. Many famous designers, from Charles and Ray Eames to George Nelson, have created furniture for the company, and they are famous for innovations in design and ergonomics such as "Marshmallow Sofa" and "Molded Plywood Chair." Today, Herman Miller, Inc. has customers and locations around the world. In 1988, Herman Miller, Inc. established the Herman Miller Consortium to share the historical product collection that had been accumulating as part of Herman Miller's corporate archives in Zeeland, Michigan. The consortium collection, now held by thirteen museums all over the country, contained about 750 pieces of furniture, as well as a large quantity of product literature. As the lead institution in the consortium, The Henry Ford maintains the record of the consortium holdings.

LGBT Detroit Records

LGBT Detroit started as Kick Publishing Company in 1994. Based in Detroit, Kick was the third Black American LGBT media company created in the United States. Distributed nationally, Kick Magazine provided the LGBT community with information, awareness, and a way to organize. In 2003, Kick Publishing Company was revitalized into the non-profit organization: KICK- The Agency for LGBT African Americans. KICK focused on health, education, employment, and social justice for the African American LGBT community in the Detroit area. Their mission was to increase awareness and to support Detroit's dynamic LGBT culture through education and advocacy. They organized and sponsored many expos, exhibits, summits, and other social gatherings. In 2015, KICK was rebranded as LGBT Detroit to better reflect their leadership and connection to the Detroit LGBT community.

Made in Michigan Writers Series

The Made in Michigan Writers Series is made up of digital versions of books from the Wayne State University Press series of the same name. The series includes fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and essays. It celebrates the diverse and talented writers from Michigan. For more information on this collection, see the WSU Press Made in Michigan Writers Series. Only a subset of these works are currently available in the Wayne State University Libraries Digital Object Repository.

Michigan Opera Theatre Archive Programs Collection

The Michigan Opera Theatre Archive Programs Collection contains the performance programs of the Michigan Opera Theatre. The early progams are part of an initiative called Overature to Opera. These were performances by local artists to promote the Metropolitan Opera Tour, which was brought to Detroit yearly by the Detroit Grand Opera Association. The modern Michigan Opera Theatre grew out of this initiative and continued after the Metropolitan Opera Tour ended in 1985. This collection documents the performances throughout the history of the Michigan Opera Theatre, and it continues to grow.

Michigan Opera Theatre Performance Images

The materials making up this collection are part of the Allesee Dance and Opera Resource Library, the official library and archive for the Michigan Opera Theatre. These photographs document forty years of performances at the Michigan Opera Theatre. These materials were digitized and cataloged with the assistance of the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science. The original images are held at the Allesee Dance and Opera Resource Library. Additional images and other related resources, including books, programs, archival materials, CDs, and videos are also available there.

Selected Cass Gilbert Architectural Drawings of the Detroit Public Library

This collection contains 19 presentation drawings of the Detroit Public Library, many of them competition drawings, which were digitized for this collection. The originals are a part of the New York Historical Society’s Cass Gilbert Architecture Collection and were digitized by them, as part of a grant project funding by the Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET). The collection includes elevation drawings, floor plans, and exterior and Interior perspective views.

Shakespeare Lear Project

This collection consists of early editions of Shakespeare’s play King Lear (1608, 1685), his sources for the play, and a 1736 adaptation of the play by Nahum Tate. These materials were digitized for Dividing the Kingdoms: Interdisciplinary Methods for Teaching King Lear to Undergraduates, an initiative funded by a micro-grant from the Folger Shakespeare Library and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Detroit Sunday Journal

The Detroit Sunday Journal was a weekly tabloid newspaper, published by striking union workers from the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The strike began in July, 1995; spanning four years and just over 200 editions, the Sunday Journal was published from November 19, 1995, through November 21, 1999. Circulation for most editions was 40,000-60,000. It was available through the mail and in stores and corner boxes throughout Southeast Michigan.

The newspaper strike formally ended in February, 1997, when the unions made an offer to return to work. Workers were rehired at a trickle’s pace as vacancies occurred, and the dispute continued until 2000, when a Federal Court of Appeals reversed NLRB and lower court rulings on an unfair labor practice and thus ended the unions’ final recourse to prevail.

The newspaper covered current events in general, with in-depth coverage of local news and labor issues. This collection includes the full run of the paper, which was published for the duration of the strike, until shortly before the final appeal ruling.

This collection includes the full run of the paper, which was published for the duration of the strike.

The Lincoln Letters

The Lincoln Letters contains digitized copies of letters written to and from Abraham Lincoln. These letters mostly focus on appointments, pardons, and discharges, as well as requests for political favors. These letters are part of the Frank Howard Collection of Civil War History in the Wayne State University Library Special Collections. Additional related materials are available.

Toni Swanger Papers

An active member of the Detroit women's rights movement, journalist Toni Swanger worked with the Detroit Women's Radio Workshop on programming for the Detroit public radio station WDET, and served in various roles for Detroit newspaper, Metro Times, including production manager and managing editor. Ms. Swanger's papers reflect her interest in women's issues and document her career as an activist and radio and print journalist.

Van Riper Family Correspondence

This collection consists of 78 letters written between 1836-1889 to members of the Van Riper family of Wayne County, Michigan. The majority of the letters are between cousins, Alexander and Henry Van Riper, from the years surrounding the Civil War; others are written between various family members and friends.

WPA Music Manuscripts

WPA Music Manuscripts is a digitization project with the goal of bringing the unique holdings of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra online. These music manuscripts represent the unique work of music copyists--men and women employed by the government with the task of copying music for the WPA orchestras, bands and choruses to perform. The full collection is housed in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Archive, and consists of more than 300 compositions that include copied parts for both conductor's scores and individual instruments from the WPA. WPA Music Manuscripts Project is a collaboration between the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and Wayne State University (WSU) Department of Music, WSU Department of Art and Art History, and Wayne State University Library System. During the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States, the federal government tried several avenues to lift the heavy unemployment within the country. One of these was the Works Project Administration (WPA), 1935-1943. Artists and musicians were particularly hard hit during this period. In an unprecedented effort not to lose the talents of the country's artists, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a section of the WPA called Federal Project One. This focused exclusively on the arts and encompassed separate Federal Projects for Theater, Music, the Visual Arts, and Writers. Within the Federal Music Project (FMP) were sections for instrumental and vocal performing groups, as well as music copyists and binders. Given the number of performing groups that were established around the country during the 1930s, there would not have been enough music for them all. Although the WPA could have used its funding to purchase music for these performing groups, it chose to put more people to work by hiring men and women to copy existing music, both conductors' scores and instrumental and/or vocal parts. Once the individual pages were copied, they had to be bound together, thus necessitating the hiring of music binders. Each state had its own cadre of copyists and binders. At the end of the WPA in 1943, all of that music was given to local state and city libraries and orchestras. The Michigan collection was given to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). The Music Copying Project under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) created these copies during the period 1935-1943 to provide the conductor’s scores and instrumental parts for the WPA performing groups. Each page of this music was copied by hand and signed by the copyist. In 1939, the Federal Music Project was turned over to the states and became the Work Projects Administration. In Michigan, the copied music was then held in a central WPA music library in Lansing, MI. When the WPA orchestras and library were disbanded in 1943, the music was sent to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), the oldest and largest continuing orchestra in the state. The DSO music library houses over 90,000 pages of music copied under the Music Copying Project, representing the scores and instrumental parts for over 300 compositions. The DSO performed selections from this collection regularly over the next 40 years. At some point during the 1980s, the collection was boxed and stored in a basement room under the main stage of Orchestra Hall, the performing home of the DSO, and not discovered there until 2005. It was at this time that the DSO music librarian contacted WSU and asked for help. The WPA music copies include historically important compositions by American and European composers, as well as compositions by women and composers of color whose contributions have long been neglected. These copies represent a unique moment in the history of the United States in which Federal assistance for the unemployed resulted in support for the arts.

Wayne Open Book Collection

The Wayne Open Book Collection contains 59 out-of-print titles from Wayne State University Press. They were digitized through a grant from a joint project between the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The titles focus on Jewish and regional studies and fall into several sub-topics that reflect current programs: industrial and labor history, maritime history, Detroit history and biographies of significant individuals.

Wayne State University Buildings Collection

The Wayne State University Photograph Collection, housed at the Walter P. Reuther Library, contains thousands of photographs documenting the built environment of main campus. This digital collection represents over 1,000 of these images, spanning the 1890s-1990s. Included are both exteriors and interiors of Wayne State's buildings, past and present, including classrooms, auditoriums, housing, and more. Many of the images also demonstrate student activities, both within the classroom and around campus.

Wayne State University Student Life

The Wayne State University Photograph Collection, housed at the Walter P. Reuther Library, provides countless examples of the student experience throughout the university’s history. This digital collection contains over 1,500 photographs representing select highlights, from 1913-2001 (bulk 1940-1970). Campus activities, housing, events, performances, leisure time, learning, and sports are depicted alongside student, club, and team portraits. These images comprise a glimpse of the changing faces and landscapes of Wayne State’s student body.

Wayne State University eBooks

The Wayne State University eBooks collection is comprised of books and texts that have been digitized or otherwise converted to electronic form by Wayne State University for search, access, and preservation per our digital collections infrastructure. These include books in the public domain, collaborations with local institutions, digitized serials, or even physical books from our collections that have been digitized for online access. Each text in this collection contains page images of the original work, OCRed or transcribed text with coordinate locations on the page, PDF and HTML full-text renderings, and descriptive metadata.

Offsite Collections

Collections listed below are not indexed in the search feature of this site.

The Story of the Beautiful

The Story of the Beautiful connects virtual tours of the Peacock Room to places and faces associated with its dynamic, cosmopolitan history. A research collaboration between the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art|Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Wayne State University’s Library System, supported in part with grants from the Smithsonian Web 2.0 Fund and the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.

American Federation of Teachers: Antecedents to Education Reform Historical Collection

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) historical collection consists of almost 100 years of historical records covering subjects that deal with US public education, tenure and academic freedom for K-16 teachers, civil rights, collective bargaining in the public sector and public employee unionism. The collection has documents from the national headquarters; over 30 affiliate locals and state federations of the AFT as well as 70 personal collections.