New history portal explores stories of U-M’s varied past


A doorway to the University of Michigan’s past is wide open with the launch of a new history portal that leads to stories, exhibits, videos and more.

With the university now in its third century, the History of U-M site is an essential resource for exploring U-M’s impact throughout the decades, said Gary D. Krenz, director of post-bicentennial planning at the Bentley Historical Library.

more information

“We want to make U-M’s past as accessible as possible,” he said. “With a history that dates to 1817, our stories are abundant, varied and often complex. We’re excited to share so many different aspects of the institution’s legacy.”

Historical resources and archival materials are important tools not only for understanding U-M’s past accomplishments and challenges, but also for engaging with current events and shaping the university’s future, Krenz said.

Screen shot of the homepage from the History of U-M website.
The new History of U-M site will include resources and information dating back to the university’s founding, as well as more recent history including the #BBUM movement.

While the Bentley is sponsoring the site, it also draws on primary sources, databases, multimedia resources, e-books and narratives from schools, colleges and units across campus.

“We are pleased to bring together all this content in one online location,” Krenz said. “We hope it encourages further analyses and deeper storytelling about who we are as a university.”

One feature of the site is the Encyclopedic Survey, with hundreds of entries about the founding and growth of academic departments, schools, colleges and presidential administrations.

The original four-volume survey began in 1937 with more than 400 articles. Updates and three additional volumes were added up until the 1970s. As part of U-M’s bicentennial in 2017, the survey was expanded to include the histories of many units that did not exist when the publication was first produced.

Today, all of the Encyclopedic Survey’s entries are online and searchable. “It’s an excellent starting point for anyone interested in examining U-M’s evolution,” Krenz said.

Other features of the site include:

  • Oral histories, such as the recollections of African-American student-athletes through the years. 
  • Videos such as the series, “An Uncommon Education,” co-produced by U-M and Detroit Public Television for the bicentennial.
  • Timelines and histories from schools, colleges and institutes.
  • Digital exhibits assembled by faculty, students, staff and others that provide a visual journey of U-M’s past.
  • Performances and artistic interpretations that explore people and episodes throughout campus history.
  • Symposia and lectures, including an array of talks and panel discussions with scholars from U-M and beyond.


  1. John Johnston
    on December 9, 2019 at 8:18 am

    An outstanding resource; What a rich tapestry of stories of the faculty, staff, and students whose ingenuity, toils, and commitment serve both as our deep-rooted foundation and our guidepost forward.

    • James Crowfoot
      on December 9, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      I hope this archive includes a section on the history of the University in relationships to Native Americans that begins with the treaty that provided land that was sold for the monies to found the University. Thank you for considering this suggestion.

Leave a comment

Commenting is closed for this article. Please read our comment guidelines for more information.