The University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library invites you to dive down its most compelling rabbit hole yet: a vast, new online database that covers more than 12 decades of The Michigan Daily.
The Bentley, the Daily, and the U-M Library collaborated to produce the searchable, digital archive. It contains every extant issue of The Michigan Daily, from its founding in 1891 to 2015 — including more than 300 volumes from 23,000 issues.
“This effort celebrates and preserves 125 years of editorial history for America’s greatest public university,” says Bentley director Terrence McDonald. “This database will be a gold mine of University of Michigan and state of Michigan history.”
The new, high-resolution scans are available for free via an online database designed and developed by the U-M Library. According to John Weise, associate director of IT at the U-M Library, the database will reduce the need for the handling of the original, fragile materials, making the content browsable and searchable by date and full-text.
“The U-M Library is proud to provide the digital preservation and web infrastructure for this remarkable chronicle of the University,” Weise says. “Bringing this online required a high degree of expertise, collaboration, and efficient productivity. It is an exemplary demonstration of the commitment of libraries and archives to ensuring enduring access of the human record.”
Search — and you shall findNeil Chase, chairman of the board for student publications and former editor in chief of The Michigan Daily (’85-’86) says that before the digitization effort, there were only a couple of ways to search through older issues of the Daily — either in the archives at the Bentley, or in bound volumes at the Daily’s office.
“I think that there will be a lot of interest in this project not only from alums, but also from researchers, or anyone interested in regional, national or world history,” Chase says. “People will be able to search through everything from Tom Hayden’s early work and what he did at the Daily, to coverage of presidential elections of the past, the civil rights movement in the ’60s, and so much more.”
Listen in, Michigan
Episode 3 of the Michigan Today podcast, “Listen in Michigan” (10/15), featured journalist Stephanie Steinberg, 2011 editor-in-chief at The Michigan Daily. In 2015, she edited a book marking the Daily’s 125th anniversary: In the Name of Editorial Freedom — 125 Years at The Michigan Daily. The book includes 39 essays from Daily alumni who have gone on to impressive careers at such prestigious publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, and GQ, to name a few. The paper has produced Pulitzer Prize winners, award-winning filmmakers and photographers, documentarians, professors of journalism, and more. “Listen in” for some great stories about life as a student reporter at U-M.
A ‘gold mine’
The digitization of the Daily was made possible by a gift from the Kemp Family Foundation. The Kemp Family Foundation was established by John B. Kemp (’60/JD ’63), founder and chief executive officer of Lease Corporation of America in Troy, Mich. He also is a co-founder and board chairman emeritus of the Troy Michigan law firm of Kemp Klein, which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of a family with deep roots in the history of U-M, with four generations of family members having received their education at the University.
“The digitized Daily will help something we feel strongly about, which is history and the study of history,” Kemp says. “The Daily is a significant publication, so many important events are recorded in its pages.”