Subject of the Month: 2018

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July 2018


Motown photo of the Supremes


Selector: Serena Vaquilar

Motown is a record company, a musical style, and a corporate conglomerate with several subsidiary labels. The company was founded in Detroit Michigan, in 1959 by Berry Gordy Jr. A black entrepreneur and songwriter, Gordy built a successful, independent company that became a formidable phenomenon in the music business. Motown racked up an enviable number of releases that posted on both pop and rhythm and blues (R&B) charts.

At the company's height, an overwhelming 75 percent of Motown's releases charted, compared to the industry average of about 10 percent. By Gordy's estimation, 70 percent of the buyers of a million-seller Motown record were nonblack. Between 1960 and 1970 Motown issued a total of 535 singles, 357 of which became hits. Motown issued fifty-six number one pop and R&B songs in a decade. But the most important Motown asset was its talented and diverse artists, songwriters, producers, and musicians, not the solid gold records or the millions earned in revenue.

Motown derived its name from a popular slang contraction of motortown, a nickname for Detroit. Detroit, which was known for its automobile production, also spawned a number of fine musicians, among them rock-and-roll stars Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, distinguished jazz artists such as Milt Jackson and Yusef Lateef, bluesman John Lee Hooker, soul singer Little Willie John, gospel diva Aretha Franklin, and many others who became Motown artists. But prior to Motown, Detroit had no major recording company.

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Databases July 2018

Videos July 2018

Wayne State University Press

Logo for the Wayne State University PressThe Wayne State University Press is a distinctive urban publisher committed to supporting the core research, teaching, and service mission of WSU by generating high-quality scholarly and general-interest books of global importance.

Through its publishing program, the Press disseminates research, advances education, and serves the local community while expanding the international reputation of the Press and the University.

Wayne State University Sesquicentennial

WSU Logo with 150 years in the heart of Detroit

On May 18, in 1868, Wayne State University was officially founded as the Detroit Medical College. The first academic term began on Nov. 3, 1868.  On April 22, 1956, the Michigan Legislature adopted Act 183 “to establish and regulate a state institution of higher learning to be known as Wayne State University.” 

Photo of Detroit Medical College with the WSU Seal, Making History Since 1868


Throughout 2018, the WSU Libraries invite you to join us as we celebrate our University's rich history and sesquicentennial. The official celebration period will run from Jan. 1, 2018 to Nov. 1, 2018.  In addition to the Subject of the Month displays, please check the University Calendar for Special Events and Exhibits.


Books in Print

Special Collections in the WSULS

The Wiz, a Motown Production. Dorothy is a 24-year old Manhattan kindergarten teacher who is whisked away from her inner-city neighborhood via a snowstorm to the mysterious land of Oz. Oz is a sprawling, decaying, nightmarish, and dangerous megalopolis that resembles the physical characteristics of New York City. Cast includes: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Ted Ross, Mabel King, Theresa Merritt, Thelma Carpenter, Lena Horne, and Richard Pryor.