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Clarke Historical Library

July 2020

Library Re-opens by Appointment

We've waited a long time, and beginning Monday, August 3 Clarke will be open by appointment. Visitors will be able to view the pop-up book exhibition in the gallery and researchers will be able to use materials from our collection in the Reading Room. CMU guidelines for facial masks and social distancing will be in place. This necessitates seating only one researcher per table, for a total of seven at one time. While drop-in visitors are welcome, they will only be seated on a space available basis. In order to schedule an appointment, please phone 989-774-3352.

Let's Go Back

The most recent installment of WCMU's Let's Go Back features reference librarian John Fierst discussing the Clarke collection of bird's-eye views. These are panoramic maps that were popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the name implies streets, landscapes and buildings are typically seen from a high view. Both large cities and smaller towns were subjects of these maps. Clarke's is the second largest collection of Michigan bird's-eye views in the country, after the Library of Congress. Digitized copies can be accessed from the library web site.

Tocqueville Exhibit Online

The 2018 Clarke exhibit "Aristocracy on the Saginaw Trail: Tocqueville in Michigan" is now available online at the Clarke website. Alexis de Tocqueville?s 1831 trip to the United States provided the basis for his well-known book Democracy in America (1835). It was during that same trip that he spent time in Michigan and it's his visit to Saginaw, Michigan that was the focus of the Clarke exhibition. Reference librarian John Fierst authored the booklet and presented a talk as part of the Clarke speaker series. The online exhibit features text and pictures, as well as downloadable PDF copies of the booklet and maps.

Passion for Peonies: The Clarke Connection

This year the library received a complimentary copy of the new book Passion for Peonies: Celebrating the Culture and Conservation of Nichols Arboretum?s Beloved Flower. Within its pages is a section on the classics of garden writing and there lies the Clarke connection, a selection by Louisa Yeomans King (1863?1948). She resided in Alma, MI and was an influential garden writer of the early twentieth century. She even attracted the attention of Gertrude Jekyll, Britain's leading garden designer, who wrote the preface to King's first book. To learn more about the Clarke collection's near century old photo album of King's Alma garden, read the recent blog post.

What's New on the Blog?

During the closure, the Clarke blog has been active. The wide range of recent postings includes peonies, public health and pandemic related topics, CMU history of the last 50 years, online resources, jigsaw puzzles, international children's book reading event and even a staff publication. Check back with the blog regularly for the latest postings.


Beginning earlier this year, archivist Marian Matyn developed and implemented online internships. This summer there are two interns working from home, each encoding a finding aid for a large, previously processed collection, making the finding aids Google searchable. Both collections, C.S. Bliss records and personal papers and Channel 9&10 News films, have been processed by Marian and students over nearly a decade.