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Primary Sources

Newspapers, Archival Documents, Personal Papers, Census Data

Selected Digital Collections in the WSU Libraries

Antique vehicle

CHANGING FACE OF THE AUTO INDUSTRY 1902-1940

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. 

Photo of a folded newspaper

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.

Image of a vintage dress

DIGITAL DRESS COLLECTION 1850-1990

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.

photo of Lincoln with hand-written correspondence

THE LINCOLN LETTERS 1861-1865

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.

Photo of a Herman Miller Chaise

HERMAN MILLER CONSORTIUM COLLECTION 1905-1994

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. 

WPA Sheetmusic

WPA MUSIC MANUSCRIPTS 1935-1943

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.

Historic View of the Downtown Detroit Riverfront

VIRTUAL MOTOR CITY 1860-1980

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). 

hand-written correspondence

VAN RIPER FAMILY CORRESPONDENCE 1836-1889

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.

Photo of the cover of an issue of Detroit Focus Quarterly

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. 

Photo of the first heart transplant procedure

FIRST U.S. HUMAN-TO-HUMAN HEART TRANSPLANT 1967-12-06

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 original slides from this collection have been donated to the National Library of Medicine.

Photo of the Ramsey Collection Bookplate

ELOISE RAMSEY COLLECTION OF LITERATURE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 1880-1923

Eloise 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. 

Photo of the Renaissance Center in Detroit

BUILDING THE DETROIT RENAISSANCE CENTER 1973-1996

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.

Photo of a Michigan Opera Theatre Performance

MICHIGAN OPERA THEATRE PERFORMANCE IMAGES 1964-2004

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. 

Photo of the Bonstelle Theatre

WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS COLLECTION 1890-1990

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. 

Photo of Florence Nightingale

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE COLLECTION 1850-1901

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.

Digital Collections, Archives, and Online Exhibitions

Europeana Collections Collage

Digital Collections in the WSU Libraries

Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Alice in Wonderland Illustration

Illustration from a mid-nineteenth century edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Private Collection / J. T. Vintage / Bridgeman Images

Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO) spans over 450 years of history and supports research in dozens of academic fields. 94 institutions combined their collections into 186 themed collections.  Materials are available in 29 different languages.  Electronic Access Requires WSU Access ID and Password

Available archives include: 

  • Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange
  • British Politics and Society
  • British Theatre, Music, and Literature: High and Popular Culture
  • Children’s Literature and Childhood
  • Europe and Africa: Commerce, Christianity, Civilization, and Conquest
  • European Literature, 1790-1840: The Corvey Collection
  • Mapping the World: Maps and Travel Literature
  • Photography: The World through the Lens
  • Religion, Society, Spirituality, and Reform
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine: 1780 – 1925
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine: 1780 – 1925, Part II
  •  Women: Transnational Networks

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