U-M Heritage

  1. December 5, 2022 When the new novel "Arrowsmith" reached the nation’s bookstores in 1925, the author, Sinclair Lewis, was already the most celebrated American writer of the day. What neither Lewis nor his publishers said — at least not very loudly — was how much "Arrowsmith" owed to Paul De Kruif, an obscure young U-M scientist.

    The Michigan scientist who was ‘Arrowsmith’

    When the new novel “Arrowsmith” reached the nation’s bookstores in 1925, the author, Sinclair Lewis, was already the most celebrated American writer of the day. What neither Lewis nor his publishers said — at least not very loudly — was how much “Arrowsmith” owed to Paul De Kruif, an obscure young U-M scientist.

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  2. November 21, 2022 Astronomer James Craig Watson was U-M's "brightest son." After discovering 22 asteroids between 1863-77, during a solar eclipse in 1878, Watson was sure he’d observed the rumored intra-mercurial planet Vulcan. He had hoped to better observe Vulcan and and record more extensive calculations but died two years later.

    Vulcan’s muddy light

    Astronomer James Craig Watson was U-M’s “brightest son.” After discovering 22 asteroids between 1863-77, during a solar eclipse in 1878, Watson was sure he’d observed the rumored intra-mercurial planet Vulcan. He had hoped to better observe Vulcan and record more extensive calculations but died two years later.

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  3. November 14, 2022 Heritage Project — When heads rolled

    When heads rolled

    When William W. Cook gave his alma mater an extraordinary financial gift to transform the Law School, he imagined a setting so beautiful it would lure the nation’s brightest law students to Ann Arbor. What he did not envision was the whimsical likeness of Dean Henry Moore Bates, a man he reviled, carved in stone.

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  4. November 7, 2022 By all signs, the future was very bright for Douglas Joy in the summer of 1881. At age 27, he was a physician in the Department of Medicine and Surgery at U-M and working alongside doctors who had been his professors. By June 1882, Douglas Joy was fighting for his job and, more important, his reputation. 

    Dr. Joy’s undoing

    By all signs, the future was very bright for Douglas Joy in the summer of 1881. At age 27, he was a physician in the Department of Medicine and Surgery at U-M and working alongside doctors who had been his professors. By June 1882, Douglas Joy was fighting for his job and, more important, his reputation. 

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  5. October 31, 2022 You may never have heard of the Michigan law professor who was baked to a crisp in the oven of the Lawyers Club kitchen. Or the English professor presumed dead when his face suddenly went missing. If not, then you’ve missed out on the shelfload of not-so-cozy mystery novels set in a fictionalized University of Michigan.

    Mysteries at Michigan

    You may never have heard of the Michigan law professor who was baked to a crisp in the oven of the Lawyers Club kitchen. Or the English professor presumed dead when his face suddenly went missing. If not, then you’ve missed out on the shelfload of not-so-cozy mystery novels set in a fictionalized University of Michigan.

    Read a summary of this story
  6. October 24, 2022 Three years after accepting the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in the land, Tom Harmon and his his World War II fighter were shot down. A dogfight with Japanese pilots had exploded the plane’s fuel line and he was being burned alive from the legs up. He needed to eject or he would die.

    Tom Harmon is missing

    Three years after accepting the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in the land, Tom Harmon and his his World War II fighter were shot down. A dogfight with Japanese pilots had exploded the plane’s fuel line and he was being burned alive from the legs up. He needed to eject or he would die.

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  7. October 17, 2022 Every alumnus carries a cherished memory of Michigan — then returns in 20 years and realizes that “my Michigan” is hard to find among the new construction of someone else’s Michigan. Those old Michigans – the Cat Hole, the Boulevard, Sleepy Hollow, and more – make up what we might call the Lost Campus.

    Lost campus

    Every alumnus carries a cherished memory of Michigan — then returns in 20 years and realizes that “my Michigan” is hard to find among the new construction of someone else’s Michigan. Those old Michigans – the Cat Hole, the Boulevard, Sleepy Hollow, and more – make up what we might call the Lost Campus.

    Read a summary of this story
  8. October 10, 2022 In the summer of 1936, a procession of scholars — including a junior professor from U-M — crossed the main plaza of the University of Heidelberg to celebrate the 550th anniversary of one of the great universities of Europe. His involvement in a Nazi-orchestrated event was the culmination of an intense debate in Ann Arbor.

    In the face of fascists

    In the summer of 1936, a procession of scholars — including a junior professor from U-M — crossed the main plaza of the University of Heidelberg to celebrate the 550th anniversary of one of the great universities of Europe. His involvement in a Nazi-orchestrated event was the culmination of an intense debate in Ann Arbor.

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  9. October 3, 2022 The Great Depression tore a hole in the University of Michigan, and students who went to college in the 1930s lived in a realm of scarcity and fear. Edmund Love’s memoir "Hanging On: Or How to Live Through a Depression and Enjoy Life" gives us a glimpse of what truly “hard times” were like.

    Depression generation

    The Great Depression tore a hole in the University of Michigan, and students who went to college in the 1930s lived in a realm of scarcity and fear. Edmund Love’s memoir “Hanging On: Or How to Live Through a Depression and Enjoy Life” gives us a glimpse of what truly “hard times” were like.

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  10. September 26, 2022 Their names are nowhere on the U-M campus. Unlike professors who taught them, there is no monument, no dormitory wing, no conference room that pays homage to their tenure or contributions. But in 1841, they did what no other young person had ventured to do in Ann Arbor. These six young, white males enrolled.

    The first freshmen

    Their names are nowhere on the U-M campus. Unlike professors who taught them, there is no monument, no dormitory wing, no conference room that pays homage to their tenure or contributions. But in 1841, they did what no other young person had ventured to do in Ann Arbor. These six young, white males enrolled.

    Read a summary of this story