The Historical Detroit Free Press Provides Gateway to the Motor City’s Past

by | Nov 3, 2009 | 0 comments

ProQuest First to Offer Online Access to More than 90 Years of the Detroit Free Press (1831‐1922)

News from the Motor City — from before statehood to the American Civil War to the birth and growth of the automotive industry — is now available in ProQuest Historical Newspapers, the definitive digital archive offering cover-to-cover, full-text, and full-image articles for significant newspapers dating back to the 18th Century. The Detroit Free Press (1831‐1922) provides one of the deepest historical files and comprehensive coverage of the social, political and economic development of the Midwest, and offers new avenues into understanding the history of Detroit and Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press has been added to ProQuest Historical Newspapers allowing users to follow the history of Detroit from a small frontier town through its growth into one of the largest cities in the U.S  by the early 20th century.  Founded six years before Michigan statehood, the Detroit Free Press is recognized as the leading newspaper in the region. The newspaper rose to prominence as Detroit became a major trading post and industrial hub. From advocating statehood, to walking the beat along the waterfront, to producing the first newspaper supplement for women, the Historical Detroit Free Press (1831‐1922) chronicles the history of Detroit.
Researchers will be able to study significant events as they appeared in contemporary news accounts, such as daily coverage of the Great Lakes trade industry, the early days of Ford and General Motors, as well as almost forgotten car manufacturers such as Packard and Hudson.  The Detroit Free Press also recounts the founding of the Republican Party in Jackson, MI in 1854, and includes detailed coverage from the battlefield of the American Civil War.   As Detroit grew into a large city, renowned architects built manufacturing facilities, skyscrapers and mansions. The newspaper follows the works of Gordon Lloyd, Sheldon and Mortimer Smith, Albert Kahn, and Cass Gilbert, as well as the construction of Detroit’s Neo-Classical, Beaux Arts, Art Deco, and Arts and Crafts buildings and homes.
The Detroit Free Press is also a rich source of genealogical and local history information. The growth of the mining, timber and auto industries attracted migrants from across Europe and the American South.  Before the American Civil War, Detroit also played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad serving as the last stop in the journey to freedom in Canada.  Additionally, in the early 1900’s the evolution of the automotive industry drew many people to Detroit to work on the auto assembly line.  Within the pages of the Detroit Free Press genealogists can find local news stories, ads from family business, accounts of city, county and state government meetings, in addition to obituaries, marriage and birth announcements — all which tell the story of Michigan’s rich history.

For more information, visit or the ProQuest parent company website,

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