Issue 96, MARCH 2003

Table of Contents

  1. The Library of Michigan - 175 Years of Page-Turning History
  2. Michigan Cemetery Database Launched
  3. Celebrate Women's History Month
  4. Read Michigan

(1) The Library of Michigan - 175 Years of Page-Turning History

In 2003, the Library of Michigan celebrates 175 years as Michigan's official state library agency. Since frontier days, the Library of Michigan has strived to ensure the best possible library service for state government and the people of Michigan, beginning before Michigan became a state as a collection of territorial laws and government documents and developing into the extensive information resource it is today.

By meeting the information needs of the legislature and state government, meeting the library service needs of Michigan residents as a statewide resource and contributing to the advancement of library service throughout the state, the Library of Michigan continues as an invaluable part of Michigan’s landscape after 175 years.

On June 12, the Library of Michigan will host an anniversary celebration featuring a presentation about the library’s history, refreshments and workshops. Check,1607,7-160-17447_18625_18627-58712--M_2003_06,00.html for more information.

Articles about various eras in the Library of Michigan's history will also appear in Access, the library's newsletter, each month throughout the year.

Key Moments in Library of Michigan History:

  • 1828 – A territorial library, containing laws and government documents for use by the territorial council, is created, and a librarian is appointed.
  • 1837 – One month after Michigan becomes a state, the former territorial council library becomes the State Library, and Governor Stevens T. Mason appoints Oren Marsh Michigan’s first state librarian.
  • 1869 – Harriet Augusta Edgerton Tenney, wife of former State Librarian Jesse Eugene Tenney, is appointed state librarian. She is one of the few women in the country to achieve such a position.
  • 1879 – The library moves to the new State Capitol building.
  • 1880 – The State Library opens to the public for the first time.
  • 1893 – Mary Clair Wilson Spencer is appointed state librarian. The first native-born Michiganian to serve in the position, Spencer will be reappointed nine times.
  • 1895 – The very popular traveling libraries program is implemented, effectively providing statewide library service to all Michigan residents.
  • 1899 – The State Board of Library Commissioners is created to promote the establishment of new libraries and to standardize existing libraries around the state.
  • 1928 – The State Library celebrates its 100th anniversary.
  • 1941 – Loleta I. Dawson Fyan becomes the first academically trained professional librarian to head the State Library.
  • 1951 – A fire in the State Office Building, where the State Library is housed, destroys 20,000 books and damages 30,000 more.
  • 1956 – Congress passes the Library Services Act, which would eventually become the Library Services and Technology Act, to promote library development. The Library of Michigan is designated to administer this program for the state of Michigan.
  • 1959 – The State Library for the Blind in Saginaw is transferred to the State Board for Libraries.
  • 1965 – The State Library, now housing 1.3 million titles, becomes a division with the Bureau of Library Services at the Michigan Department of Education.
  • 1975 – The library first uses a computerized database, OCLC.
  • 1983 – Public Act 540 creates the Library of Michigan, transferring control of the library from the Department of Education to the Legislative Council. The law patterns the new Library of Michigan after the Library of Congress.
  • 1985 – The Library of Michigan Foundation, which secures funds to support the Library’s priority programs and projects, is established.
  • 1988 – The Michigan Library and Historical Center opens, tripling the Library of Michigan’s space and merging its full collection of books in one place for the first time since the 1951 fire.
  • 1993-1996 – The Library of Michigan expands its services with new technology, introducing Internet access, an online public access catalog (ANSWER) and a new Web page.
  • 1998 – The library launches AccessMichigan, the precursor of the Michigan eLibrary, offering free access to online databases for Michigan libraries and their patrons.
  • 2000 – Christie Pearson Brandau becomes Michigan’s thirty-ninth state librarian.
  • 2001 – The Library of Michigan becomes part of the new Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries.
  • 2002 – The Library unveils the new Michigan eLibrary, accessible to Michigan residents 24 hours a day from any Internet connection.
  • 2003 – The Martha W. Griffiths Michigan Rare Book Room is constructed to house and preserve the Library of Michigan’s rare and valuable materials and provide customers access to these special items.

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    (2) Michigan Cemetery Database Launched

    The Library of Michigan has unveiled a new Michigan Cemetery Sources database, offering genealogists, historians and researchers online access to information about cemeteries in Michigan. The database, located at, identifies the location of over 3,700 Michigan cemeteries and lists sources at the Library of Michigan where the researcher can find the names of those buried in each cemetery.

    “The Library of Michigan has an incredible collection of genealogy materials, one of the largest in the nation, and this database provides another tool for navigating those resources,” said State Librarian Christie Pearson Brandau. “We are committed to improving access to genealogy materials and will continue to help researchers find information by making it available online.”

    The database is searchable by cemetery name, county, township, specific location and keyword. The record for each cemetery contains detailed information about its location and whether the Library of Michigan owns a transcription of the cemetery. A transcription is a listing of persons buried at a cemetery, taken either from cemetery records or copied directly from headstones. Transcription sources may also include sexton’s records, obituaries or other historical information.

    The Library of Michigan will continually update the database as cemetery sources are added to its collection, and potential plans to expand it in the future include scanning the pages from transcriptions, with the publisher’s permission, and linking each cemetery to an online map.

    Source: Michigan NewsWire, Feb. 4, 2003.

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    (3) Celebrate Women's History Month

    Michigan History, the state's history magazine, pays special tribute to women during Women's History Month in March.

    "The role of women in our history demands greater attention," said Michigan History editor Roger L. Rosentreter. "They fought for political rights, worked in wartime manufacturing plants, built businesses and nurtured families. Women have been an essential part in building Michigan and the United States."

    Michigan History is featuring its recently released special issue dedicated to women in Michigan's past. This publication tells the stories of political activist Mildred Jeffrey, women's rights activist and former lieutenant governor Martha Griffiths, George Custer's devoted wife Libbie and more. This special issue also features readers' submissions about the women in their lives who made a difference in their towns, families and the state.

    The latest issue of Michigan History for Kids, a quarterly magazine created for the state's fourth-grade classrooms, also focuses on women's history and will be delivered to schools in early March. This publication teaches topics such as woman suffrage, women's roles during war and prominent women in politics, sports and music.

    For more information on Michigan History or Michigan History for Kids, visit or call (800) 366-3703.

    Finally, Michigan History's website,, celebrates Women's History Month with stories about nineteenth-century activist Sojourner Truth, members of late-nineteenth-century women's clubs and the establishment of women's sports programs in Michigan high schools. Visit the site for these and other fascinating stories about historical Michigan women.

    Michigan History has provided engaging articles about the state's past since 1917. Every issue tells exciting stories of Michigan people and places, is filled with bold illustrations and colorful photos and highlights history-related books and places to visit. The magazine is produced six times a year, including an annual single-theme special issue.

    Michigan History, the nation's most widely circulated state history magazine, is part of the Michigan Historical Center. The Michigan Historical Center is an agency of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. Dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Michigan, the department also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Library of Michigan, the Michigan Film Office and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

    Source: Kristin M. Phillips, Marketing Manager, Michigan History, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Box 30741, Lansing, MI 48909-8241; Phone: (517) 335-2747; Fax: (517) 241-4909; E-mail:

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    (4) Read Michigan

    Read Michigan, a Michigan Week tradition since 1994, is an annual list of books representing the diverse history and culture of our state. Each year’s list features books published the previous calendar year that are about or set in Michigan or on the Great Lakes or written by a native or resident of Michigan. Selections, which include nonfiction and fiction titles, typically have a wide appeal to the audience and cover a range of topics and issues important to Michigan residents.

    The 2003 Read Michigan list encompasses subjects ranging from memoirs, automotive history, ships and shipwrecks to the history of Michigan and its cities and features two of Michigan's best-known authors, Jim Harrison and Gloria Whelan. A special aspect of this year's list is that it includes, for the first time, a multi-media title - Windjammers: Songs of the Great Lakes.

    This year’s selection committee, comprised of Library of Michigan staff, had many excellent titles about Michigan or by Michigan authors to choose from. Narrowing down the list was no small task, but the result is a great guide for literary exploration of the Great Lakes state.

    2003 Read Michigan selections :,1607,7-160-17447_18630_22778-61921--,00.html

    2002 Read Michigan selections:,1607,7-160-17447_18630_22778-11050--,00.html

    History buffs should also check out "50 Essential Books on Michigan History" -- -- which was prepared by a group of historians for Michigan History under the direction of the Department of History, Arts & Libraries (HAL), for Michigan Week 2002.

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