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These books have been chosen as a critical mass of literature concerning Michigan’s dense history in order to narrow the playing field for teachers who find themselves overwhelmed by an academic atmosphere drenched with pop-history. There are so many books around today that wading through the multitude of books and journals to determine which ones warrant studying is too much for any one person. So as a teacher, here– we’ve eliminated one giant step for you.
Each book on this list was hand-selected by a group of historians who were in turn hand-selected by the Department of History, Arts and Libraries for their essential understanding of not just history, but Michigan’s history in particular. They were aided in their selection process by Randy Riley, the Special Collections Manager for the Library of Michigan.
Armour, David A. and Keith R.Widder. At the Crossroads: Michilimackinac During the American Revolution. Mackinac Island, MI: Mackinac Island State Park Commission, 1986.
Bogue, Margaret Beattie. Fishing the Great Lakes: An Environmental History, 1783-1933. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.
Brehm, Victoria, ed. The Women’s Great Lakes Reader. Duluth, MN: Holy Cow! Press, 1998.
Buley, R. Carlyle. The Old Northwest: Pioneer Period, 1815-1840. 2 vols. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1950.
Carson, Gerald. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart, 1957.
Catton, Bruce. Waiting for the Morning Train: An American Boyhood. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987.
Cleland, Charles E. Rites of Conquest: The History and Culture of Michigan’s Native Americans. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992.
Clifton, James A., George L. Cornell, and James M. McClurken. People of the Three Fires: The Ottawa, Potawatomi and Ojibway of Michigan. Grand Rapids, MI: Grand Rapids Inter-Tribal Council, 1986.
Clive, Alan. State of War: Michigan in World War II. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1979.
Darden, Joe T. Detroit, Race and Uneven Development. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987.
Dunbar, Willis F. All Aboard! A History of Railroads in Michigan. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1969.
Dunbar, Willis F. and George S. May. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State. 3rd rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1995.
Dunnigan, Brian Leigh. Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.
Eckert, Kathryn Bishop. Buildings of Michigan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Fine, Sidney. “Expanding The Frontiers of Civil Rights”: Michigan, 1948-1968. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000.
Fine, Sidney. Frank Murphy. 3 vols.Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1975-1984.
Fine, Sidney. Sit-down: The General Motors Strike of 1936-1937. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.
Fine, Sidney. Violence in the Model City: The Cavanagh Administration, Race Relations, and the Detroit Riot of 1967. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989.
Formisano, Ronald P. The Birth of Mass Political Parties in Michigan, 1827-1861. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.
Gilpin, Alec R. The Territory of Michigan, 1805-1837. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1970.
Gilpin, Alec R. The War of 1812 in the Old Northwest. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1958.
Gray, Susan E. The Yankee West: Community Life on the Michigan Frontier. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Halsey, John, ed. and Michael Stafford, assoc. ed. Retrieving Michigan’s Buried Past: The Archeology of the Great Lakes State. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science, 1999.
Holli, Melvin G. Reform in Detroit: Hazen S. Pingree and Urban Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Hyde, Charles K. and colored photographs by Ann and John Mahan. The Northern Lights: Lighthouses of the Upper Great Lakes. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995.
Jager, Ronald. Eighty Acres: Elegy for a Family Farm. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.
Karamanski, Theodore J. Deep Woods Frontier: A History of Logging in Northern Michigan. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989.
Katzman, David M. Before the Ghetto: Black Detroit in the Nineteenth Century. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973.
Kestenbaum, Justin L., ed. The Making of Michigan, 1820-1860: A Pioneer Anthology. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
Kilar, Jeremy W. Michigan’s Lumbertowns: Lumbermen and Laborers in Saginaw, Bay City, and Muskegon, 1870- 1905. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
Klunder, Willard Carl. Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1996.
Lankton, Larry D. Cradle to Grave: Life, Work, and Death at the Lake Superior Copper Mines. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Lewis, David L. The Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and His Company. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1976.
Lichtenstein, Nelson. The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor. New York: Basic Books, 1995.
Mason, Philip P. Rumrunning and the Roaring Twenties: Prohibition on the Michigan-Ontario Waterway. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995.
May, George S. A Most Unique Machine: The Michigan Origins of the American Automobile Industry. Grand Rapids, MI: W. E. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974.
Nevins, Allan and Frank E. Hill. Ford. 3 vols. New York: Scribner, 1954-1963.
Peckham, Howard H. Pontiac and the Indian Uprising. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
Romig, Walter. Michigan Place Names: The History of the Founding and the Naming of More Than Five Thousand Past and Present Michigan Communities. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1986.
Sugrue, Thomas J. The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.
Tanner, Helen Hornbeck, ed. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.
Thomas, Richard W. Life for Us Is What We Make It: Building Black Community in Detroit, 1915-1945. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.
Thompson, Mark L. Steamboats and Sailors of the Great Lakes. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.
Thurner, Arthur W. Strangers and Sojourners: A History of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
Vander Hill, C. Warren. Settling the Great Lakes Frontier: Immigration to Michigan, 1837-1924. Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1970.
Vinyard, JoEllen McNergney. For Faith and Fortune: The Education of Catholic Immigrants in Detroit, 1805-1925. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998.
Weeks, George. Stewards of the State: The Governors of Michigan. 2nd rev. ed. Detroit: Detroit News; Ann Arbor: Historical Society of Michigan, 1991.
White, Richard. The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Woodford, Arthur M. This Is Detroit, 1701-2001. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001.
Zunz, Olivier. The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
The panel of reviewers who selected this list includes Dr. William M.Anderson, Director of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries; Dr. Frank Boles, Director of the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University; Sandra Clark, Director of the Michigan Historical Center; Dr. Brian Dunnigan, Curator for the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan; Dr. Sidney Fine, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Michigan; Dr. Charles Hyde, Director of the Great Lakes Series for the Department of History at Wayne State University; Dr. Larry Lankton, Professor of Social Science at Michigan Technological University; Dr. Russell Magnaghi, Professor of History at Northern Michigan University; Dr. Philip P.Mason, Distinguished Professor of History at Wayne State University; Larry Massie, Historian and Storyteller from Allegan; Robert M.Money, Professor of History at Lake Superior State University; Gordon Olson, City Historian for Grand Rapids Public Library; Randy Riley, Special Collections Manager for the Library of Michigan; Dr. Roger L. Rosentreter, Editor of Michigan History magazine; Dr. Jo Ellen Vinyard, Professor of History at Eastern Michigan University; Larry Wagenaar, Director of the Historical Society of Michigan; Dr. Robert M. Warner, Professor Emeritus of History and Information Studies at the University of Michigan; Dr. Benjamin C.Wilson, Director of Africana Studies at Western Michigan University.
Please contact staff at the Michigan Historical Center with questions, concerns, and requests for educational content.Contact