In honor of the University’s upcoming bicentennial in 2017, the Bentley Historical Library is compiling a bibliography of stories, histories, photographs and other artifacts that are representative of the University’s past.
The contents of the bibliography are accessible to the public online and include everything from histories written about the University to photographs of the first football team. Bentley archivists are currently looking to expand the fiction section of the work, which either includes or lightly alludes to the University.
In 1936, Wilfred B. Shaw, then director of the University Alumni Association started the bibliography. Archivists at the University have recently picked up the project in preparation for the upcoming bicentennial.
Brian Williams, the lead Bicentennial Archivist, said the contents of the bibliography include histories and case studies that James J. Duderstadt, president of the University from 1988 to 1996, wrote, as well as others, such as Shaw. Some of these works include “The Making of the University of Michigan” by Howard Peckham, Margaret Steneck and Nicholas Steneck, and “History of the University of Michigan” by Elizabeth Ferrand.
Bicentennial archivists have found a total of 2,500 artifacts that relate to the University, but Williams said they are still looking for more. Williams added that, while the bibliography itself may not be exciting, the books and stories included in it are.
“You’d find some really interesting little anecdotes,” Williams said. “By today’s standards, student life was hard. At first, students lived in the dorm, had to cut their own wood, and classes started at five in the morning. A bell would wake everyone up to begin studying.”
Williams added that hazing was a significant part of student life at the University.
Some of it was sports-minded, but in other cases they’d kidnap students,” Williams said. “… a lot of freshmen would get their hair cut. We have scrapbooks that have snippets of hair from students.”
In addition to the campus atmosphere, Williams said the history of library cataloguing is starkly different from its present state, said Williams, who noted the various changes in research technology. HathiTrust, a digital library that partners with academic institutions, has collaborated with Google to scan each page and digitize the books in Bentley, Shapiro and Hatcher, as well as those in the bicentennial bibliography.
“The whole field’s changed,” said Williams. “Just getting our catalogue online was a huge thing. And now having the texts themselves online is just a quantum leap forward.”
Williams said those interested in viewing the books can read them online or even print them with Shapiro’s Expresso Book Machine, which quickly prints up to 300-page manuscripts.
On the Bentley Historical Library’s website is additional information about the bicentennial, the history of the University and links to digital copies of the books included in the bibliography.