Welcome Freshmen-Class of 2019!

Welcome Freshmen!

Welcome to all the new and returning students! The library has lots to offer and not just within the building. Online access to most of the material and reference assistance is available 24/7. Just check the library page: http://research.udmercy.edu

The new students may find the first week a bit overwhelming, but that is normal. In the archives are copies of what Freshmen went through in past years. A lot has changed over the years, but one thing has not-DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP! If you don’t know what to do, chances are you are not the only one and everyone on the library staff can help point you in the right direction.

freshman1 freshman2 Freshman3 freshman4

Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma at Mercy College of Detroit

“The name Alpha Mu Gamma is composed of the names of the initial Greek letters found in the phrase “Amphi Mouse Glosson,” meaning “For the Muse of Languages.” Alpha Mu Gamma was established at Los Angeles City College on April 29, 1931, by five members of the foreign language faculty who recognized the need for society to honor achievement in all languages at an early stage in the student’s career. The interest shown by other colleges inspired an almost immediate expansion into a national organization….In 1957 the National President of the Society persuaded President Eisenhower to proclaim National Foreign Language Week.. ” (From Alpha Mu Gamma Initiate brochure)

alpha1 alpha2

On April 2, 1957, the charter members of the Alpha Theta chapter of Alpha Mu Gamma were installed at Mercy College in Detroit.


The charter members initiated:

French: Miss Mary Ellen Favara, Miss Mary Geraldine Green, Mrs. Dorothy Wagner

Italian: Miss Sharon Schumaker

Spanish: Miss Gail  Bowler, Miss Patricia Francis, Miss Therese Gostomski, Miss Bernadine Sherby, Miss Darlene Smith, Miss Carol Verreau

Not sure what the requirements were for the very first group to become a member of the Alpha Theta Chapter, but there is in the file a listing of what potential members needed to do in 1962 to be accepted into Alpha Mu Gamma:

1. Each candidate must memorize:

  • the names and terms of the first officers of Alpha Mu Gamma
  • the Greek alphabet
  • the names, locations, and sponsors of the first ten chapters of Alpha Mu gamma plus that of Alpha Theta chapter
  • the date of writing and the dates of revision of the constitution
  • Article 2 of Alpha Theta’s constitution
  • an excerpt in the language which the  candidate is studying

2. Each candidate must wear a costume on Monday, May 7, 1962, which represents the language she is studying.

3. Each candidate is to wear a ribbon until date of induction. This ribbon will be given one week before induction.

[All the material they were required to memorize, was listed on the same pages listing what they needed to memorize.]

Some of the activities the Mercy College chapter included;

      • Books for Asia drive (in 1970 contributed 925 books, came in third place!)
      • Co-sponsored a Christmas party and open house featuring a multi-lingual sing-along, a pinata, and a feast of ethnic goodies
      • Marked National Language Week by hosting 300 students and teachers from the Metropolitan Detroit area at a Foreign Language Festival. There were awards given in foreign language skills contests while non-contestants viewed films and took part in games.
      • Recorded on tapes a Spanish book to be used by a blind teacher.
      • Brought in guest speakers to give lectures on various topics.

There is nothing in the file dated any later than 1975. I can only guess that a lack of interest and/or perhaps low enrollment in the language classes probably ended the Mercy College chapter.



When the circus came to town to U of D, August 1944

circus1From August 7 to August 20, 1944, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus used the University of Detroit Stadium for its performances. At the time it was the only facility available in the city of Detroit that could be used.  It was an open air performance since the tragic disaster in Hartford, Connecticut, just a month earlier, had destroyed almost everything when the tent and seats caught fire. According to an article in the Detroit Times, August 8, 1944, “The performers say they like playing in the open, for no matter how hot the sun is, it can’t equal the temperatures high under the canvas.” Since there was no tent to limit the heights the Wallendas could go, their high wire act would operate at 130 feet in the air, twice as high as under the big top.

Since World War II was going on, the circus cooperated with the Treasury Department War Finance Committee to stimulate the sale of war bonds. Only purchasers of war bonds were admitted on the opening day and a special section was set aside on all other days for those who purchased war bonds.

I don’t know if the weather held out for the duration of time the circus was scheduled for all its performances. If the show did not go beyond the “fifth inning” (not sure how circus time is divided), rain checks would be issued.

For the citizens in and around the Detroit area, that summer of ’44 was a time when as Mayor Jeffries put it: “it was a good attraction for Detroiters who are spending their vacations, patriotically, at home.”




Mystery of Ten Pounds of Peanuts


This is another one of those files that does not have enough information to know what is going on! There are pictures and a very brief description of a photo, but no news article to explain anything. There is just a tantalizing bit of a news press release in one photo, but a search through the student newspaper, Varsity News, comes up with nothing. So here is what information is available:

  • “Peanuts project” April, 1963 (label on file folder)



  • From the little bit of the news release: “the red peanut in the midst of the…?….message from the students. so just search…?…you find it) and read away.”



  • Members of the Regency Heights House of the University of Detroit Shiple Residence Hall writing “U of D” on ten pounds of peanuts
  • The students in the picture: (L. to R.) Tom Weisenberger, junior, majoring in accounting; Micky Hellrung, freshman, majoring in mathematics; Dick Hicke, sophomore, majoring in political science; and Bob Douglas, freshman, majoring in accounting

No contact information is available for any of these students if they are still around (its been more than fifty years since this picture was taken!). If anyone knows what this “peanut project” was all about, I would love to hear from you.





Peter Pan Restaurant



Doc Speros

Back in the early days of the University of Detroit, Peter Pan Restaurant was a popular place to eat. It was right across from the McNichols campus on Livernois. The original owners were Nick Krametes and Speros Sassalos, better know by students as “Doc” Speros.

The university’s famous undefeated football team of 1928 ate at the Pan at a long table reserved for its use. Doc would claim credit for the winning year. He told the team captain that if they beat everyone that year, he would throw them a banquet and give each lettermen a $5 gold piece. There were 38 lettermen. In 1928, Doc and his partner enlarged the restaurant and built a hotel above it because the university had no dormitory facilities for out-of-town students.

In 1944 Doc’s partner died and the work was too much for Doc, so he sold the Pan. The ownership changed hands a few times, but eventually the place closed and the building torn down. In its location at 16875 Livernois is a vacant lot.


peter3a peter1a














Eastwood Night at University of Detroit


Eastwood Night (which has nothing to do with the actor Clint Eastwood), was an annual dance sponsored by the Student Union,  marking the end of the school year and was usually held at a place called Eastwood Gardens. Some of the bands that played at this occasion included Louis Prima, Woody Herman and Skitch Henderson (well known dance bands back in those days!).

For one year, 1948, the dance was held at the State Fair Grounds when Eastwood officials refused to admit African Americans to the dance hall. The ban caused a campus uproar and the Union board voted to cancel the dance at the amusement park and reserved the State Fair grounds instead. They returned to Eastwood in 1949 when the management agreed to dispense with its policy in regard to African Americans. In 1949, pre-sale tickets were $2.50 and $3.00 at the gate. Management’s policy was to limit reservations to 2,000.


However, the following year, 1950, The”Eastwood Night” had to be held at Jefferson Beach when Eastwood closed because of licensing difficulties. In 1951, Jefferson Beach was not available and no other site was suitable for the dance, so the dance was cancelled. Nothing else was planned to take its place, but browsing through the Varsity News during that period, it does not look like it was missed. There were plenty of other end of year activities for students by other student organizations.

Livernois by any other name….


Livernois and Fenkell, looking north toward intersection

There are several letters in the archives file about changing the name of “Livernois” to something else. In 1925, UD President Rev. John McNichols, inquired the City Council of City of Detroit that since the University of Detroit would be erecting a number of buildings potentially worth more than $15,000,000, that Livernois Ave. could be renamed as “Varsity Road”. In addition to the considerable amount of money being invested in the property, he listed a couple more reasons for the name change:

  • “The west boundary of the property is Livernois Avenue, ordinarily pronounced “Liver” “noise”.  As Mr. McGinnis, a prominent Boston architect, remarked some years ago, after pronouncing the name several times, “this is an utterable unmentionable name.” In the ordinary language of the day, it is an expression of undesirable meat.”
  • “As this name seems to bear no particular meaning in the history of the city of Detroit, I would respectfully submit that it be changed to Varsity Road. I believe the substitution will give us a name of better flavor. I believe further that the substitution of the name I have suggested is not a greater concession than should be made to an institution of our standing, especially when for such a change we have the precedent of the change of Bag St. to Temple Avenue.”

In a follow-up to this request, the City Planner replied that such a name change is not easily done for a number of reasons. Livernois Avenue is an old historic name representing early settlers and the street goes beyond the limits of the City of Detroit into Oakland County. There is also a concern that the business and property owners would incur considerable expense to change their stationery as well as confusion in the delivery of mail.

There is additional correspondence with Clarence Burton of the Burton Abstract and Title Co. for information about the Livernois family name. Turns out Livernois had a large family with branches all over the city and state.  In his letter to Fr. McNichols he writes: “The people have been generally law abiding and honorable members of society, filling neither places of great importance nor the jails and penitentaries (sic). They were and are just the plain people. They represent the farmers and country people of the two centuries of our existence.” In addition, he felt if the authorities were to change the street name, he suggested that “University Place” or Avenue or Boulevard would be more appropriate. “Varsity is not a name, (i)t is not even a word. It is slang and has no business in our street nomenclature.”

Rev. McNichols thanked Mr. Burton for his information, but still was not convinced that the Livernois name should be kept.  “But to have the insinuation of decayed meat cast into your face every time the place of your residence is mentioned is really hard, even for a humble and unassuming University President.” He also contended that “Varsity” was a valid word and had a more English flavor than “University” and since he was Irish, would like a name with an English flavor. So then he asked if “Pere Richard Highway” as the name would work. Mr. Burton replied that Father Richard had already been honored by the city by placing his name on a branch library.


University of Detroit McNichols Campus 1932

The discussion about changing Livernois to a different name comes up again in 1932. Rev. John McNichols had retired from active presidency on April 7, 1932 to enter Ann Arbor Hospital. A few weeks later a cold developed which further undermined his health and he passed away April 26, 1932 at the age of 57. This time the request was made to change Livernois to McNichols Road. There are letters of protest from some of the businesses on the expense and confusion that would be created by changing the street name. There is one letter, however, from a representative of the Livernois family that suggests that instead of changing the Livernois name to McNichols, that it would be better to rename Six Mile Road to McNichols Road in memory of Rev. McNichols. Although I have not been able to find when that name change became official, no one seemed to have any objection to calling it McNichols Road instead of Six Mile Road. So maybe Rev. McNichols can rest in peace that the official address of the the University of Detroit Mercy is 4001 W. MCNICHOLS Road to mitigate his distaste of a “Livernois” street name.




Page 10 of 25...89101112...20...