Special Collections

Ernie Harwell Collection at the Detroit Public Library
The Ernie Harwell Sports Collection began in 1966 when sportscaster Ernie Harwell made his initial donation. It consists of books, team annuals,...
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The Burton Historical Collection (BHC) of the Detroit Public Library began as the private library of Clarence Monroe Burton. In addition to being a...
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Located in the Rose and Robert Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library, the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) is regarded as the...
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The E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts was established in 1943 when original materials were presented to the...
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The Burton Historical Collection (BHC) of the Detroit Public Library began as the private library of Clarence Monroe Burton. In addition to being a prominent attorney, Mr. Burton was a Detroit historiographer and the founder of the C. M. Burton Abstract Co. Mr. Burton’s original intention was to assemble a collection on the history of Detroit. Realizing that Detroit’s history was inextricably connected to that of Michigan and the Old Northwest and those histories to that of Canada and New France, he assembled a collection that was one of the most important private historical collections in the country.

Over the course of 40 years, Mr. Burton systematically collected original documents and personal papers of prominent citizens of Detroit and Michigan. By 1914 the library contained 30,000 volumes, 40,000 pamphlets and 500,000 unpublished papers. Mr. Burton donated his collection, including the building it was housed in, to the Detroit Public Library in 1915. The collection was moved to the new main library in 1921.

Located in the Rose and Robert Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library, the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) is regarded as the nation's premier public automotive archive documenting the history and development of the automobile and other forms of motorized, wheeled land transportation in the United States and abroad.

Since the late nineteenth century, the DPL has aggressively collected automotive print materials such as books, periodicals, advertising literature, photographs, specifications, service and owner's manuals, and personal and business papers. In recognition of this effort, the library established the NAHC as a collection in 1953.

The E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts was established in 1943 when original materials were presented to the Detroit Public Library by the Detroit Musicians Association to serve as the nucleus for a special black music collection. The first of its kind in the world, the Hackley Collection, named after a Detroit music educator and performer, quickly broadened its scope to include dance, drama and other forms of the performing arts.

Many rare books, manuscripts and archives of performing artists are available to serious researchers. The archives include materials on organizations such as the Motown Recording Company, the National Association of Negro Musicians, on dancers Rael Lamb and Lavinia Williams, singer Roland Hayes and many other concert and opera singers.

The Ernie Harwell Sports Collection began in 1966 when sportscaster Ernie Harwell made his initial donation. It consists of books, team annuals, media guides, programs, scorecards, baseball cards, clippings, photographs, video and audio tapes. Baseball is the principal sport represented. A printed finding aid, available at the reference desk of the Burton Historical Collection, and the library’s online catalog provide access to the Collection.

Since 1948, the Detroit Public Library Rare Book Collection has acquired and preserved rare materials such as first editions, fine bindings, illuminated manuscripts, and incunabula.

Information on autographs, book collecting, the history of printing, bookplates, book values, calligraphy, conservation and preservation can be found in the collection.

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Special Services

Resources for making career decisions, strategizing your job search, and finding job listings are available in the Technology, Literacy and Career (TLC) Center at the Main Library.

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Services for the blind, the visually handicapped, the physically handicapped, or reading disabled.

Welcome to HYPE, the Detroit Public Library's Teen Center.

Library On Wheels (LOW) brings books and other reading materials, audiocassettes and information to Detroit's seniors and schools.

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