Friday, July 1, 2022

Good Luck, Christa Clare!

by Bryan Whitledge

Since Christa Clare joined the Clarke Historical Library, a lot has changed: the Clarke moved from the fourth floor of the Park Library to the first floor with a (not so) brief layover at Rose Arena, dozens of staff members as well as members of the Clarke’s governing board have come and gone, hundreds of students have earned some extra money working part-time in the Clarke, thousands of books and records have been acquired, and tens of thousands of researchers have made use of the library. Through all of the changes, Christa has been central to the success and excellence of the Clarke.

Christa Clare Portrait

A good many of the Clarke’s regular visitors and supporters would count Christa as a friend. Her warm smile and genuine kindness have been available to everyone who has walked through the doors—attendees of speaker series events, CMU employees coming into the library on business, Clarke board members coming for the semiannual meeting, donors dropping off materials to add to the collections, new student employees on their first day, and more. Countless relationships with donors, benefactors, and supporters have started with Christa’s friendly, “Hi, how are you today?” offered to anyone who has walked into the Clarke. It is no overstatement to say that there has been no better person to welcome visitors, to converse with people about anything and everything they wished to talk about, and to make everyone feel like the Clarke was an excellent place that would take care of history and make it available to everyone.

For the staff, Christa has meant more to our success than she will ever know. As with many offices and workplaces, most people have little idea all of the little cogs, widgets, and levers that are needed to make the Clarke machine move. Christa has been relied upon to keep the machine running by handling a multitude of behind-the-scenes tasks. Because it would be impossible to list all of her contributions, we have offered up a very small sampling of all that she has provided and has helped with during her time at the Clarke (in no particular order): 

Christa and a colleague
gathering, sorting, and keeping track of all sorts of financial reports, helping hire students, purchasing new books, purchasing old books (but new to us), tracking acquisitions, creating lists of donors, providing the address of an old colleague, covering the reading room when we are short-staffed, purchasing supplies, processing payments, adding bibliographic information to the catalog entries, making sure student staff get paid, reporting broken… everything—lights that won’t turn on, copy machines that won’t act right, HVAC systems that are too hot or too cold, phone lines that won’t operate, etc., managing our memberships in dozens of historical organizations, arranging for catering, giving us a band-aid in the all-too-frequent event of a paper cut, and being a sympathetic ear and a friendly conversationalist. 

We’ve counted on her to relay our messages that we would be absent. And we’ve all come to expect that she will wish us well and hope we feel better before she hangs up the phone.

Getting the job done is great, but Christa takes it one step further—she infused her personality, compassion, and zest for life in the Clarke’s work culture. Every staff member, including every single student employee, has received a birthday card signed by the entire staff each year… and if a person’s birthday falls during the winter break or when a student is away during the summer, you can bet that Christa will put a stamp on it and make sure the birthday celebrant gets their card. Not as joyous, but possibly more meaningful, she also has made sure that sympathy cards were circulated for a colleague who suffered a loss or illness. These small gestures have gone a long way to make staff members feel welcome and valued.

When it comes to a making the most of life, Christa walks the walk. It has not been unusual to come to work in the morning and see a container of cookies awaiting the students—why? Because Christa woke up and thought fresh homemade cookies would brighten our day. She has shared the bounty of her garden with the staff because, why not? When she feels like fresh flowers will spruce up her space, she brings in fresh flowers. And for those who say they don’t have a green thumb, Christa never gives up on the aspiring horticulturalist and continues to bring in cuttings and shoots and offers some helpful advice.

The Clarke staff as "Scrabble" for Halloween, 2012

Everyone has shared a laugh with her, and a lot of those laughs start with ideas for social events. The Clarke’s Halloween costumes at the annual staff potluck were second-to-none… for a long time, at least… and she was always the ring-leader master-minding the whole operation. You can guess who wiped away the competition in the winter ugly sweater contest. And you know who has been behind-the-scenes making sure there were plenty of chairs, napkins, cups, and, most importantly, good attitudes at a barbecue for graduating students. Just when the winter doldrums were really settling in for everyone and she could tell, Christa would suggest that the staff hold a tea exchange and tea party to lighten our spirits. It was just what we needed.

Similar to how one book or one box of records is only a sliver of everything that the Clarke holds about Michigan history, this is merely a sliver of how meaningful Christa has been to Clarke and to the lives of the staff members. We wish her the absolute best in her retirement.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Help the Clarke Historical Library and the Museum of Cultural and Natural History Preserve CMU’s Pandemic Experiences

To document and preserve the various experiences of the CMU community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clarke Historical Library (Clarke) and the Museum of Cultural and Natural History (Museum) encourage CMU members, students, faculty, and staff, on- and off-campus, to share their documented personal experiences during COVID-19 and contribute them to the Clarke and Museum. When future students, scholars, and researchers seek to understand what it was like at CMU during the pandemic, these materials will provide a first-person account.

Submission process:

If you are a current CMU faculty, staff or student please fill out this form. A CMU email is required. Your email will not be shared or sold. You will be required to sign an agreement allowing the Clarke to preserve your submission, and you will receive important information about copyright and the use of your content. The Clarke and the Museum are not obligated to keep everything that is submitted. You can submit materials and the form as often as you like. This project is focused on submissions from individuals or small groups of people.

If you work for a CMU unit and have questions about preserving your office's records, please contact Bryan Whitledge.

If you are a Mount Pleasant, Michigan, community member who is not a current CMU student, faculty, or staff member, with relevant information you wish to donate, please contact before submitting material.

If you have physical artifacts or object, please contact the Museum at

Materials in the following formats that could normally be uploaded to Google Drive will be accepted: Images (jpg, png), Videos (mp4, mov), Audio (mp3), and Text (txt, pdf, docx, doc) files. If you want to donate a physical printed or written item, please submit a digital image, and indicate that you wish to give it to the Clarke in the description field of the form. Clarke staff will contact you.

If your submissions are works you created with others, such as interviews or group project, the Clarke requires permission from everyone who contributed to the work, including co-authors, whether students, classmates, friends, and family. We will not retain the material if we do not receive all relevant forms. Only one person needs to attach the files to the form.

Materials will first be reviewed and processed by Clarke staff, so they will not be available to the public immediately.

Campus resources:

For CMU’s updates on the pandemic and available resources, visit

For informational resources on the United States’ response to COVID-19 see

What to submit:

Here are some examples of what you may wish to submit:


  • Course assignments you completed related to the pandemic
  • Images or videos from moving off-campus due to the pandemic
  • Communications with your family about what was happening when campus closed
  • Communications with administrators or faculty negotiating issues related to travel, internships, visa status, living arrangements, or food and dining
  • Student organization activities that may continue over a distance or volunteer work done in response to the pandemic
  • Reactions to campus events being canceled or delayed, including but not limited to: graduation, sports, theatre or musical performances, Study Abroad, or trips
  • Your remote learning experience or how your classes changed when they went virtual


  • Redesigned course materials for remote delivery, new assignments, or syllabus changes
  • Communication with your students and colleagues
  • Plans for pausing or adapting research projects while campus was closed


  • Work you did on-campus as essential employees
  • Experiences in student services such as dining halls, dormitories, and other services that shut down
  • Messages of encouragement from co-workers and the community
  • Changes to your job due to working remotely

Health Care Providers and Patients (CMED and CHP):

  • Your experiences preparing for or treating COVID-19 patients
  • The effect on your work with patients who need medical care unrelated to COVID-19
  • How your workplace, schedule, or job duties have changed
  • Your experience being treated for or recovering from the virus


  • Journal or diary entries about the impact of the pandemic on your life
  • Interviews with friends or family members
  • A description of your schedule or routine during quarantine
  • Images of your new work space
  • What it’s like to work at an essential business or organization


Aspects of this project were adapted from similar efforts by the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, Michigan State University Archives, University of North Carolina Charlotte Special Collections and University Archives, and the University of Virginia Library Digital Collecting Toolkit. Thank you to Katie Howell of J. Murrey Atkins Library, University of North Carolina Charlotte for allowing us to use text and ideas from UNCC’s “Contribute Your Stories of the COVID-19 Outbreak” website.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Abundant Waters: Our Relationship with Michigan’s Most Precious Resource

 By Gillian Macdonald 

Entrance to the Clarke Historical Library

Among a host of other exciting things happening in 2022, the Clarke Historical Library’s new exhibit explores a topic close to the heart of every Michigander…water and its value to our society. Abundant Waters: Our Relationship with Michigan’s Most Precious Resource tackles an important question: how often do we actually think about our relationships with this most precious resource? With water at the forefront of our minds in today’s climate, the abundance of freshwater in the Great Lakes State is an aspect of our lives that we often take for granted. The Clarke Historical Library’s exhibit explores the many ways that abundant freshwater defines Michigan through five themes—politics, recreation, commerce, disasters, and the spirit nurturing aspect of water. Highlights include the construction of the Mackinac Bridge, canoe manifests from the fur trade, the pollution of the Pine River watershed and the ongoing clean-up, and Hemingway family scrapbooks showing a young Ernest Hemingway and his family enjoying Walloon Lake and the Little Traverse Bay region.

"Political Waves" Wall
Water is arguably Michigan’s defining feature. The Great Lakes State is surrounded by and encompassed in an abundance of water, freshwater to be exact. In Michigan, you are never more than six miles from a lake, stream, or waterway. Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes, 76,000 miles of rivers, 6.5 million acres of wetlands, and more than 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline. For thousands of years, the Great Lakes—and Michigan’s water in general—have provided people with freshwater for survival, spiritual rejuvenation, a means of travel, and a place to have fun. In the last few decades, conservationism has reinforced the importance of these natural wonders. Abundant freshwater is at the root of why many choose to live, work, and play in the Great Lakes State. Explore the relationships that connect us to these bodies of water through recreation, politics, commerce and transport, our defining geography, early tribal histories, nurturing water springs, and through environmental stressors.

In researching and designing the exhibit, we had to first decide on a mission statement and then themes that would best illustrate this. For all intents and purposes, this is the hardest part. What does this exhibit need to project and what is the goal? The Clarke’s voluminous collections actually answered this question for us. The sheer abundance of water and activity connected to the water found in the books and manuscript collections illustrated that all aspects of life in Michigan have a relationship with the water. Although most of us have a general awareness of the water around us—many would even proclaim a deep love for the Great Lakes State’s water—how often do we truly contemplate our relationships with it? 

Installation of Recreation wall panels

Our ideas and imaginations came to life thanks to the capable hands of John Metcalf of Good Design Group. His striking designs help tell the stories of our relationships with water. I would like to thank not only Bryan Whitledge, Kathy Irwin, and Marian Maytn for their editorial help and suggestions, but also Colleen Green, Director of the Office of Native American Programs & Student Transition Enrichment Program, for her guidance, and members of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe for their participation. The production of the exhibit wouldn’t be possible without Rebecca Zeiss, the CMU Sign Shop, CMU Facilities Management, and everyone in between. Installation of the exhibit was made all the more enjoyable and efficient with the helping hands of our capable student employees, Camille Dixson, Nova Moore, David Wright, Maggie Gipe, and Ben Ackley. 

We officially opened the 2022 exhibition on February 22. As part of the Speaker Series, Jim Diana retired director of the Michigan Sea Grant, kicked off the exhibit with a discussion about the effectiveness of Great Lakes environmental regulations in protecting our incredible ecosystem. 

Intrigued? Please come and visit us! Explore how we are connected to water through recreation, politics, commerce and transport, our defining geography, early tribal histories, nurturing water springs, and environmental stressors.

Installation of the floor graphic

In true Clarke fashion, we have also started construction on our digital exhibition. This project is being designed and created as a complementary counterpart to our physical exhibition at the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University. Under construction since February 2022, the digital exhibit is a platform dedicated to Michigander’s relationship with their water resources. One particularly important theme we are exploring is the future of Michigan’s water. Crowd-sourced videos and audio answers to these important questions can be found on our exhibit website. 

Participants responded to one or more of these questions:

1. How can we protect our most precious natural resource?

2. Why is protecting Michigan’s freshwater so important?

3. What does it mean to be a good steward of the water?

4. What does the future hold for the Great Lakes & water in Michigan?

5. What are you doing to protect the water? Should we be doing more?

6. How do you see our policymakers helping to preserve this resource?

Digital Exhibit

If you would like to participate in our digital exhibit by responding to one or more of these questions, please get in contact with us at: Check back for news about the public launch of our Abundant Waters digital exhibit in the coming weeks.

The Abundant Waters exhibit is funded, in part, by an award from the American Library Association as part of the ALA’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries program.


Monday, March 14, 2022

The Clarke Historical Library and the CMU Libraries Awarded $10,000 Grant from American Library Association

The Clarke Historical Library and the CMU Libraries have been selected as one of 200 libraries nationwide for the American Library Association’s American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries opportunity, an emergency relief program to assist libraries that have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University will use funds to build the new exhibit, Abundant Waters: Our Relationship with Michigan’s Most Precious Resource. The Clarke Historical Library and the CMU Libraries have a long tradition of being strong humanities institutions and this competitive award, which comes with a $10,000 grant, will help support the Libraries’ ongoing programs and services related to culture, history, literature, and other humanities subjects.

The participating libraries, selected through a competitive, peer-reviewed application process, include public libraries, academic/college libraries, K-12 libraries, and tribal, special and prison libraries. The recipients represent 45 states and Puerto Rico and serve communities ranging in size from 642 residents in Weir, Kansas, to the city of Los Angeles. Libraries were chosen with an emphasis on reaching historically underserved and/or rural communities.

“We are so proud to be chosen for this amazing opportunity,” said Kathy Irwin, dean of University Libraries. “This grant will allow us to plan strong, enriching humanities programming and also support the people who make these programs possible.”

“The Clarke has hosted many incredible exhibits over the years—our latest, Abundant Waters, is no different. We have an ambitious goal to create a visually stunning exhibit that meaningfully resonates with people, because we want our community to develop a better understanding of all the ways that our culture and history in the Great Lakes State is influenced by lots and lots of freshwater,” said Bryan Whitledge, project director for CMU’s grant and Clarke Historical Library staff member.

“Libraries have faced significant hardships throughout the pandemic —from budget cuts to staff furloughs to building closures — especially in our communities of the greatest need,” said ALA President Patty Wong. “This crucial support from NEH will enable our beloved institutions, and the dedicated people who run them, to rebuild and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.”

American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. View the full list of selected libraries on the ALA website.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Clarke Historical Library Welcomes a New Member to the Family

 By C.J. Eno

Earlier this year, the Clarke Historical Library was blessed with a new addition to our happy family. While the stork took a little longer than expected (supply chains and such), our newest teammate arrived safe and sound, albeit in some rather large shipping crates. After some diligent prep by Clarke staff, a little expert help from CMU Facilities, as well as the assistance of a cheerful installer/trainer from the vendor (it really does take a village), our little guy was ready to hit the ground running.

So, without further ado, please join the Clarke in welcoming our newest: the Phase One camera system (camera head and motorized column, oversize table and LED lighting).

What a bundle of joy.

Why is the Clarke so excited about a new camera? So happy you asked. For starters, the previous camera no longer worked. The former occupant of this camera room was a completely analog microfilm camera, severely outdated, and no longer repairable. While the Clarke is able to continue providing clients with analog preservation microfilming services with its remaining camera, a replacement was sorely needed.

Our new, fully digital camera is equipped with a 100-megapixel sensor, which allows it to capture images at high resolution and unparalleled clarity. It was designed with cultural heritage projects in mind and offers new imaging options for the Clarke.

The new camera can handle large format materials such as maps and newspapers especially well and can capture oversize documents without compromising any of the essential detail. Additionally, with its specialization in cultural heritage projects, the camera system comes with a clever book cradle that can safely hold in place delicate bound materials for filming. Anyone that has worked with old, delicate/decrepit bound materials knows the feeling of dread as the object slowly falls apart with each subtle jostle. The book cradle, as well as the large surface, helps to mitigate some of these unfortunate hazards of historic preservation.  

Now don’t think this is all about high resolution and document safety; the camera also streamlines our digitizing operations. Working with analog cameras can be slow and tedious for large projects, especially when the number of documents involved is in the hundreds or thousands, as is frequently the case here at the Clarke. The rapid capture photography of the camera provides quick, digitized images ready for post-processing. Considering that the camera is made with aerial-grade aluminum and designed with a minimum of moving parts, that tenure should be a long and happy one.

While the Clarke’s digitizing department has traditionally worked primarily with Michigan newspapers, expanding our largescale digitizing projects into other formats has previously been less than practical. This was unfortunate, as the full scope of the Clarke’s collections goes well beyond Michigan newspapers and covers a wide array of media and formats. With the addition of our new camera, a significant portion of these works can be digitized, not only for the sake of posterity, but for much broader accessibility to those that wish to view these irreplaceable works. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Student Wins Grant

By Marian Matyn

Katie Higley won The Nancy Mysel Legacy Grant, a $5,000 Grant for Film Preservation Students! Since 2020 Katie worked initially as a volunteer and now as a student employee in the Clarke Historical Library on the Moving Image Film Preservation Project.  Her work in the project includes archivally processing, splicing, describing, viewing, and archivally housing mostly Channel 9 & 10 News original film footage. Katie also trains and reviews other film students’ work and helps train and plan work for the film students with Marian. Working on the Film Project inspired Katie to wonder about films in Michigan museums and how they were being used, if at all. This led to her conducting a statewide survey as part of her McNair Scholar research. Her paper, "Reel Talk: The Current State of Film Collections in Michigan Museums," analyzing the results of her survey, will soon be published in the The Moving Image, the academic paper-reviewed journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. Katie is a junior at CMU in the Museum Studies Program. Marian Matyn, her supervisor and mentor, is very grateful for Katie’s work and extremely proud of Katie and her accomplishments. Read more about her award here

Monday, January 17, 2022

“One of the most wonderful things”: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Detroit Walk to Freedom

by Gillian Macdonald

As we celebrate and commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., many will recall the 1963 March on Washington, but we highlight the Walk to Freedom in Detroit that happened two months prior.

Detroit Tribune front page, June 29, 1963

Detroit has a rich history of civil rights activism. Famously, Detroiters donated around $35,000 to the Montgomery Bus Boycott—a crucial moment in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s emergence as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. The Detroit chapter of the NAACP was particularly active in the ‘40s and ‘50s—on various occasions African American autoworkers worked with the chapter to uphold anti-discrimination laws. In 1949, protestors led sit-ins along Woodward Avenue demonstrating against the illegal discrimination practiced by restaurants against Black people.[1] Leading the fight against the American Automobile Association for equal employment laws, the Detroit chapter of CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) was pivotal rallying white support for Civil Rights.

By the 1960s, there was stalwart support throughout southeastern Michigan for the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King made a trip to the University of Michigan in 1962 in support of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s advocacy for student civil disobedience.[2] And in the summer of 1963, ahead of the March on Washington and King’s momentous “I Have a Dream” speech, Detroit played host to the Walk to Freedom in Detroit, which was a formative event for the Civil Rights Movement and inspired thousands of Detroiters.

In 1963, CORE, the NAACP, and Rev. Albert Cleage and Rev. Clarence L. Franklin—Civil Rights leaders in Detroit--came together to propose a large, organized event or demonstration in Detroit. What emerged from this convergence of leadership was the Detroit Council for Human Rights (DCHR), the organization that was largely responsible for that auspicious day in June 1963. The Walk to Freedom in Detroit—after some initial debate—was open to all participants. The purpose of the march, the date of which was chosen to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Detroit race riot of 1943 [3], was to admonish discrimination, brutality against activists, and segregation policies across the United States.

Contained within the program was, “The Declaration of Detroit,” which stipulated the terms and purpose of the march. The document declared “before God and all men this 17th day of May in the Year of Our Lord 1963, that we will no longer abide, tolerate or countenance this manifest injustice.” The program added that all Detroiters should know that the march organizers pledged to support—both in numbers and financial aid—to “alleviate those intolerable conditions about which we have complained in vain for too many years.” The program for the day included various speakers and artistic shows, but the esteemed guest was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was to meet the march and then speak at Cobo Arena.

As one of the largest demonstrations to date, the Detroit Walk to Freedom saw approximately 125,000 people march from Woodward Avenue to Cobo Hall. The Free Press reported that only Labor Day demonstrations of the 1930s and a 1936 rally in support of President Franklin Roosevelt attracted anywhere near the numbers seen with the Walk to Freedom. Among the marchers were the Detroit Civil Rights leaders Rev. Albert Cleage, Rev. C. L. Franklin (Chairman of the DCHR), Benjamin McFall (Director of DCHR), State Auditor General Billie S. Farnum, UAW President Walter Reuther, Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, former Governor John B. Swainson, Congressman Charles Diggs, representatives of the then-Governor George Romney, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.

The Detroit Free Press front page on the morning of the event reported on the plans for the demonstration alongside a photograph of singing protestors in Dearborn, Michigan: “Thousands of Detroiters will march down Woodward” in support of the racial equality. [4] Governor Romney—who could not attend the march because of his religious commitments—decreed the Sunday as “Freedom March Day in Michigan.”

Detroit Free Press front page, June 24, 1963

Photos of Walk to Freedom
from Detroit Free Press,
June 24, 1963, p. 13
After the rally, both the Detroit Tribune and the Free Press commented on the success of the day. Packed from pavement to pavement, the Detroit Tribune front page reported that the “tremendous participation” signaled to the globe that African Americans would not be left behind by the united progressive action in Michigan. The “NEW DAY” was here, and Detroit would never be the same. The Detroit Free Press hailed the demonstration on its front page as a “record rights plea.” [5] The front page detailed that the march with its 125,000 participants and 15,000 spectators was the “largest civil rights demonstration in the nation’s history.” After the march, 25,000 people, 95% of whom were Black, packed Cobo Hall “to hear a rousing speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

In addition to Dr. King, the program was packed full of dignitaries of the state, African American business leaders, Civil Rights leaders, and public officials. Rev. Cleage began the speaking with a speech pledging to boycott all Detroit A&P and Kroger stores for failing to hire African Americans. Governor Romney’s message of support was booed for his failure to show up. The climax was King’s appearance, which electrified the crowds and many burst into song and cheers of “God Bless America.” After being introduced by Charles C. Diggs, Dr. King began by remarking that the peaceful march was a “magnificent demonstration of our commitment to non-violence.”

What is most often remembered about Dr. King’s speech in Detroit is that it was an early version of his monumental “I Have a Dream” speech: 

“And so this afternoon, I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day, right down in Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to live together as brothers. 

I have a dream this afternoon that one day, one day little white children and little N---- children will be able to join hands as brothers and sisters. 

I have a dream this afternoon that one day, one day men will no longer burn down houses and the church of God simply because people want to be free. 

I have a dream this afternoon, that we will no longer face the atrocities that Emmett Till had to face or Medgar Evers had to face, that all men can live with dignity. 

I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children, that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin. 

I have a dream this afternoon, that one day right here in Detroit, N------ will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job. […] 

And with this faith I will go out and carve a tunnel of hope through the mountain of despair. With this faith, I will go out with you and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. With this faith, we will be able to achieve this new day when all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing with the N------ in the spiritual of old: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”[6]

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. greeted at the airport,
Detroit Free Press, June 24, 1963, p. 3

Dr. King said that the demonstration and rally in Detroit, Michigan, on that June day in 1963 was “one of the most wonderful things that had happened in America” (Detroit Free Press, June 24, 1963, p. 3). Directly after the Walk to Freedom, Dr. King went to New York for the all-important meeting for the March on Washington. The Detroit “Great March” might have been smaller, but it was a crucial part of the Civil Rights Movement, and is often cited as the test-run for the historic March on Washington, which was highlighted by Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

For more information on the Detroit March to Freedom, children’s books about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Civil Rights in Detroit, Senator Robert P. Griffin’s thoughts on Dr. King, and the history of Detroit in the 1960s, please visit the Clarke Historical Library.

[1] Rise Up North: Detroit,

[2] In 2012, David Erdody of the Bentley Historical Library found photo negatives depicting King’s visit to Ann Arbor archived in the Bentley’s holdings.

[3] View a recording of Rachel Williams’ discussing about her graphic novel about the 1943 Detroit Uprising, Run Home if You Don’t Want to Be Killed.  

[4] View the June 23, 1963 Detroit Free Press on ProQuest, free at subscribing libraries. 

[5] View the June 24, 1963 Detroit Free Press on ProQuest, free at subscribing libraries.

[6] Full text of the speech available via links in the 2017 Michigan Radio article: See also Fox 2 Detroit's article about the Walk to Freedom speech:

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Carrie Marsh Announced as New Clarke Director

Carrie L. Marsh has been named the director of the Clarke Historical Library of Central Michigan University. She begins her duties on February 14. The announcement was made by Kathy Irwin, dean of University Libraries. A nationwide search was conducted after the August 2021 retirement of Frank Boles, who served as Clarke’s director for more than 30 years.

Marsh comes from The Claremont Colleges Library in Claremont, California, where she has served as director of Special Collections and Libraries since 2014. Her tenure in the Claremont consortium included library assistant director and head of special collections, reference librarian for the Denison Library, and special collections librarian for the Honnold/Mudd Library.

Marsh is a proud CMU alum, earning a B.A. in English and Art History in 1984, followed by a Master’s in Literature in 1986. She was a student assistant for the Park Library during her undergraduate and graduate studies. She has a Master’s in Library Science with an emphasis on special collections librarianship from the University of Arizona.

“Carrie has excellent management experience, has a track record of developing successful partnerships with college faculty, and has demonstrated a thorough understanding of DEI needs and opportunities in archives and special collections. I look forward to working with her as she advances the mission and vision of the Clarke Historical Library,” said Irwin, who led a search committee that included current faculty, library staff, and members of the Clarke Historical Library Board of Governors.

Among Marsh’s professional achievements: a collaboration that began in 2012 with Laura Stalker, former deputy director of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, to teach a course for the California Rare Book School about history, theory and practice of special collections librarianship, and, a key role in writing and collaboratively implementing a $333,574 three-year Digitizing Special Hidden Collections from a Council on Library and Information Resources grant with Pomona College and five Southern California libraries (public and academic) and the National Archives and Records Administration in Riverside, California. The “Digitizing Southern California Water Resources” project digitized materials from federal, state, and local governments, water companies, local agencies, engineers, and individuals involved in water development in the Southern California region from the 19th through the 20th centuries.

The Clarke Historical Library, founded in 1954 by a gift from Dr. Norman E. Clarke, Sr., collects, preserves, and promotes nationally recognized collections that include the history of Michigan and the Old Northwest Territory, the history of Central Michigan University, and selected topics including children's literature, campaign biographies of U.S. presidential candidates, the history of angling, and historic Michigan newspapers. The Clarke serves the needs of the CMU community, fosters scholarly activity through its collections and exhibits, and strengthens community partnerships through an active outreach program. Learn more online at Clarke Historical Library.