Southeastern Michigan Bibliography

A resource guide for students, educators, researchers, Michiganders, and everyone else

Sketches of the City of Detroit, State of Michigan, Past and Present

Roberts, Robert E. 1855. Sketches of the City of Detroit, State of Michigan, Past and Present, 1855. Detroit: R.F. Johnstone & Co. (October 22, 2014).

This chatty 1885 booklet of just over 60 pages reports the social geography of mid-19th century Detroit including details such as “Width of Avenues” and “Schools – Their Early History,” relying on a combination of city records and the personal recollections of contemporaries. The ‘Sketches’ are entirely textual; despite a mention of plates and maps in the cataloging record, the digitized versions have no images except one advertisement.  In combination with Silas Farmer’s much larger and more complete History of Detroit and Michigan: Or the Metropolis Illustrated, (two vols. Detroit: Silas Farmer & Co., 1884. Revised and enlarged in 1889), Robert’s work is the basis of many subsequent historical studies.



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Supported by a Carnegie-Whitney Grant from the American Library Association.


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