“Our Wish is to Do Good”

goodThe Colored American was among 40 black newspapers published before the Civil War.  Although it’s first issue was available in March of 1837, it was the July 7, 1838 (shown here), issue that offered a pointed expression of its purpose and direction.

Like all such newspapers in circulation at the time, the Colored American offered a way to keep people connected and informed.  It offered them a voice and a platform for debate when no other resource was available. And though various sources disagree on the years of its publication (originally from 1837 to 1842), it made a significant impact on those who would fight for freedom.

In the article shared here, the writer informs his readers that the newspaper’s intention is simply “to do good in the community and to assist an oppressed segment of society.”  There were always disagreements and debates, both political and ethical, even in this tightly knit group of people. The newspaper offered the perfect way to present both sides of issues to encourage readers to draw their own conclusions and make informed choices.  And while the readership consisted mostly of free, literate African Americans, both the free and the enslaved were affected by the topics addressed in the articles.

Contribution by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

Fall Homecoming 2016

homecoming1This year the University of Detroit Mercy is going all out to celebrate a fall homecoming for students and alumni. There will be a campus-wide BBQ, 5K race, an old fashion tug-of-war that was an annual event with the St. Francis Club, and since many alumni met their future spouses when they were students at the university, a ceremony to renew their vows. There are a number of other events scheduled for the weekend-its just too bad that it looks like rain over the weekend might force some of the outdoor activities indoors.

For those who were not able to attend homecoming, the library has other means to help you remember “the good ol’ days”. The library has digitized many of the publications that have been produced over the years by and for students of Mercy College and University of Detroit. They include:

Varsity Newshomecoming2

Mercy College of Detroit Student Newspaperhomecoming3

Bulletins and Course Catalogs of both institutionshomecoming4

UD Football Programshomecoming5

Commencement Programshomecoming6

Tower Yearbookhomecoming7

Dichotomy:School of Architecture Student Journalhomecoming8

[SIC] Student Arts Journalhomecoming9

So if you can’t make it to the homecoming, the library will try and bring it to you!

Edgar Allan Poe’s Purloined Letter

poe1This post is more of a sidebar of what else I do in the archives and special collections. In the process of weeding material out of the regular circulating collection, I go through the material to see if there are any items that are worth finding new homes for instead of sending to some landfill. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is the case with many of the items that I have posted on the library’s ebay page. I have one regular customer who likes to pick up any material I post on automotive or engineering type of books, even though they are old and outdated. He does not seem to mind that he has to pay outrageous shipping cost to ship to Spain! The money I get from the sales goes back into the library and I use it to pick up items for the archives related to the University of Detroit Mercy. I have picked up items that fill holes in our collection (old football programs), memorabilia (mugs, banners, decals) and things that who knew even existed like junior prom gifts given to students for attending the event.

When I get old journals that I have never heard of, I have to do a little research to know what kinds of subjects it covered. Such was the case with a journal titled “Living Age”. In trying to find out more about this title, which turns out to have the full title “Littell’s Living Age”, someone had noted that it has the second appearance of Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Purloined Letter”. The problem was, I had my journals all on microfilm, which required a little more digging around the internet so I would not have to scroll through all the film to see it for myself. I eventually found a site that listed the contents of the journal.


Like many writers, such as Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, and H.G. Wells, in that time period (1800′s to early 1900′s), the first publication of their works were serial publications through magazines. When I had paper copies of those to post, I had no problems finding bidders who would bid against each other for those “First Editions”.

When it comes to old journals, my own personal holy grail is to find Vol. 1 of “The Ring”, which is a boxing magazine. When we weeded the collection of that title which started with Vol. 1, 1922-WOW. The winning bid was over $3,000 for just the first volume! Apparently it is very rare to find a complete set of 12 issues in good condition of volume one. I have not had anything since then come even close to that bid.

So while a lot of material is being digitized and made available through the internet, there is a lot of stuff that is NOT online. As long as there are things available only on paper or in some kind of physical artifact, the archives are not going to go away anytime soon.




Birth of a Student Newspaper, Part 2: Outer Echoes

Outer Echoes Still Heard

In 1940, the Sisters of Mercy established a presence in Detroit at Southfield and West Outer Drive. About a year later, Mercy College of Detroit began offering classes on this spot that would leave an indelible mark in this city’s history. Over the years until its consolidation with the University of Detroit in 1990, Mercy College expanded from offering nursing and teaching classes to women into a comprehensive coeducational liberal arts college.

In October 1941, the first issue of the Mercy College newspaper, then called “Outer Echoes,” was published. The first column on the first page of this issue welcomed the first classes to this new college on September 8, of that year. Even in its publication infancy, this first issue is loaded with information regarding the beginning of this new institution of higher learning. We can read about the dedication ceremonies, along with details of the elections and activities involved with the opening of a new college. We can see who was chosen for each important aspect of the governing of this new institution, along with photos of the bright faces of those who could consider themselves the first students in what would become such an influential school for those to follow. On page 3, we get a glimpse into one of the dorm rooms at “McAuley Lodge” (the residence building at the time), along with a brief description of campus life written by excited freshmen.

Four pages of history are here in this issue of the Mercy College Newspapers digital collection for your review. It’s worth the time just to look at the photos! But linger a while in these pages, and I think you’ll be pleased by the treasure you’ll find.

Outer Echoes, Volume 1, Number 1

Contributed by Linda Papa, Digital Technician


The Birth of a Student Newspaper: Varsity News

In 1918, while the country was focused on the misery of WWI and the devastation of the Spanish influenza epidemic (said to be the worst in U.S. history) there was a desperate need for a reliable distribution of information.  With so much upheaval and uncertainty, newspapers around the country offered a way to connect individuals with vital details concerning the seemingly fast moving changes taking place in the world.  The value of this form of communication was also recognized by the University of Detroit, and in that year (on January 30), the Varsity News was born.

It wasn’t only that the need was there to connect U of D’s growing student and faculty population, however.  There’s something of the essence of community included with being part of a university that can’t be expressed in any way other than a newspaper.

With all the digital advancements taking place these days, it’s really interesting to note that the Varsity News in its original form endures.  This is more than just entertainment or even communication … this is about representing in tangible form the whole of the university’s existence.  A newspaper unites, includes, expresses and helps provide an identity to who we are.

There’s a difference between providing information and communicating with readers.  The News offers that connection, that communication, and that relationship feels more like a handshake than a memo.  Behind every one of the articles is a student who has stood in the shoes of each and every reader, who knows those eyes that peruse the page.

Sydney J. Harris, American journalist, once said, “Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”  The Varsity News, from its beginning until now, offers great communication.

See more issues of the Varsity News in our digital archive.

Contribution by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

Freshmen’s first week


For all the new freshmen students: overwhelmed? exhausted? feeling lost? Whatever you are feeling, you are not alone. It happens to everyone, some just hide it better than others. If you are a First Gen student (first in your family to go to college), there are a number of resources on campus and online to check out if you need to reach out somehow. If you go to this site, you will see some very short videos put together by Detroit Mercy students, staff and faculty who were first generation students and talk about their experiences and offer words of encouragement. If you need to talk to someone, TRiO is a student support service located on the third floor of the library that can work with you and help you get through whatever problems or concerns you may have.

You will survive this experience. Everyone on the library staff will do whatever we can to help you get through all those papers, presentations and research projects that faculty are assigning.


Welcome Freshman Class of 2020!

lovlibWelcome to all new and returning students! Hope you had an enjoyable summer and are ready to get into the swing of a new school year. There are all kinds of new things happening in the library including some new group study rooms. Its your tuition dollars at work!

For all the returning students, you might not notice right away, but we have a new library page to search out what books, journals and media are available through the Detroit Mercy Library system. It still has a few bugs to work out, so if you have any problems do not hesitate to ask us for help. This new system can do some really cool stuff, but you probably won’t notice anything new until you actually need to use it.


Everyone here at the library are here to help you. If you have ANY questions, do not hesitate to ask us for help.


Sojourner Truth


One hundred fifty-three years ago in June, 1863, Sojourner Truth (a name chosen by Isabella Baumfree, former slave and abolitionist) attended a Sunday School Convention in Battle Creek, Michigan. On the last day of the convention, during a mass meeting of white children and their teachers at the local Methodist Church, she sat patiently in the back of the church listening to various speakers. When the last one finished his speech, she rose and spoke clearly and distinctly to the men at the podium, “Is there an opportunity that I may speak?”

By this point in her life, Sojourner Truth had already fought a long battle against slavery and gender inequality. Her devotion to her cause and the sheer inner strength of her character, were well known to most people in Michigan (both black and white). Anyone else asking to speak may have been brushed aside, but the respect she had earned by her persistence as a humble freedom fighter, allowed the crowd to part so that she could make her way to the front of the church to speak.

The National Anti-Slavery Standard newspaper reported on the events of this day and the wisdom she offered to such a young audience. In part of the article, the writer notes, “She said that the Spirit of the Lord had told her to avail herself of the opportunity of speaking to so many children assembled together of the great sin of prejudice against color.” She knew instinctively that the best way to slow the ugly spread of racial prejudice was to teach children to love one another, regardless of skin color or appearance. The children who sat in the church that day had the potential to grow to be the adults who would influence a social world toward the acceptance of all human beings as children of God. As she spoke to the white children gathered before her, she presented a rational approach to the idea of seeing all human beings as one in God’s eyes.

The Black Abolitionist digital collection is proud to offer not only a PDF version of this published article, but also an audio version of this inspiring speech read by a volunteer. Please visit the archive to read and listen to this moment in history.

Contributed by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

UDM President’s Convocation

Have you ever wondered about the history of UDM’s yearly Convocation?  Each year university faculty and employees gather together to kick off the new academic year.  Did you know that the Digital Archives offers a way to trace the history of this annual event through our Convocation Collection?  And not just the history of these important assemblies at UDM, but also those held when we were known as the University of Detroit and Mercy College.

What can you find there?  Well, you’ll find names (who’s who and who’s new!):

  • of those who were honored,
  • of the current university president,
  • of new colleagues,
  • of retiring colleagues,
  • of current university faculty

And you’ll sometimes find images:

  • of the campus,
  • of maps,
  • of new buildings

In this excerpt from the introduction to this collection, Margaret Auer,  Dean of University Libraries and Instructional Technology, describes the collection this way:

“The University of Detroit Mercy has primarily held two types of convocations. The first is the annual convocation called by the president of the university. The purpose of the convocations is for the President to provide a “state of the university” speech and the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs to provide a “state of academic affairs” overview. Over the years, convocations have also provided an opportunity to introduce new faculty, staff, and/or administrators and to honor those individuals who have retired from the university during the previous academic year. For many years, a booklet was distributed in which the Deans of the colleges/schools and the Deans of the academic support units provided annual reports on their respective unit’s successes and challenges. As time went on annual reports from major administrative offices, such as student life and admissions and enrollment management were added to the booklet.”

Entering this digitized aspect of the university’s story is only a matter of a few clicks.  Each booklet is like a small opening to a larger history of the university itself.



Contributed by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

Tamarack-First UD Student Newspaper

tamThis first publication of the Tamarack came after 20 years of discussion about whether or not to start a college newspaper, or so the editor tells his readers in his “Salutatory” introduction (shown below). The college itself had only been around that long. And during those first 20 years, Detroit College was alone the only Catholic college in Michigan. Having its own newspaper was important not only to ensure its place among institutions of higher learning, but as an expression of pride in its knowledgeable and talented student body. And now, at long last, here it was fresh and humble.

Within this issue we discover a page that offers the names of the Editorial Board, those first intrepid few who worked so hard to make this happen.  And on this page we find that for $1.00 a year (10 cents an issue), readers could subscribe to the monthly paper.  Sweet deal; although this amount may have been quite dear for that time. While this first edition encourages students and alumni to help by contributing money (through subscriptions) and/or writing, the quality is already first rate and foreshadows the excellent content of future volumes.

The Tamarack was a strong presence in the lives of Detroit College students between 1897 and most of 1901.  But then it grew silent.  In 1907 it rallied for the publication of an “Athletic Number,” but then returned to silence for another few years.  In December 1913, without much fanfare or explanation, the Tamarack reappeared.  Detroit College had become the University of Detroit by then and maybe this explains the Tamarack’s absence.

The next publication, in April 1914, let readers know that the long silence was over and the Tamarack was back.  From then on, it would be a quarterly publication.  And so it was, for a while.

In June 1918, we see the final Tamarack. The Varsity News had begun publication by this time, and it would soon assume prominence as the University of Detroit newspaper. (Be sure to also check out our Varsity News digital archive!)

Contributed by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

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