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The Clarke Historical Library has a very large collection of material telling the story of Michigan's communities. For many years we have actively sought this material because, taken together, these local histories make up state history. By knowing what has happened in Michigan's cities, towns, and rural communities a researcher can develop more accurate generalizations about change and continuity throughout the state. Because of the importance of local history we hope that this bibliography will make these often elusive resources better known to researchers as well as stimulate use of our local history material. The bibliography was prepared to supplement an exhibit, "Local History: Isabella County," which appeared in the Clarke Library from January 13 through May 9, 1998

Although local history is important defining what it is, and is not, can be difficult. For the purposes of this bibliography we have defined local history sources to be published material intentionally produced to document residents of a specific place or publications that, while not specifically intended to document the residents of a place, nevertheless includes substantial information about a well-defined, geographically-based community. To illustrate this definition, consider publications about Michigan's mining industry. Mining is obviously an intensely local activity. A history of a mining town or a history of a mining company that included substantial information about the company's workers or the impact of the mine on the local community would be included in this bibliography. However, a book about mining operations, even if it incidentally described some specific activities that were undertaken in a particular Michigan mine, would not be included in this bibliography. Similarly, we would not include the history of a single family that might reside within a mining community. This bibliography cites sources that tell how either residents or scholars have consciously chosen to document the places where people live. It is only incidentally and tangentially about the individual families that make up those communities, the processes by which community residents live, and the natural environment upon which rests the local community.

This bibliography is organized by county. Although Michigan's county boundaries are not unchanging, for the last century the state's counties have had stable boundaries. Counties are also conveniently-sized. They are large enough to encompass inter-related nearby communities but sufficiently small so that unique local characteristics are not lost in broader generalizations. In a few cases, particularly for the upper peninsula, we have organized material by geographic region rather than a county. These are, however, the exceptions that prove the rule. Where possible we have taken multi-county, regional histories and made an entry for the work under each of the counties it covers.

Local history is documented through a variety of formats. Books, newspapers, photographs, postcards, manuscripts, maps, and videos all have been used to document a time and place. The Clarke Historical Library has materials in all these formats. All, however, are not found in this bibliography. Listed here are generally textual sources such as books, newspapers, and some term papers found in the Clarke Library, as well as birds-eye views. Excluded from this bibliography, primarily to make the publication of manageable size, are unpublished manuscripts, most maps, government documents, post cards, photographs, corporate history, and genealogical material.

Most of the entries found in this bibliography are for books. A few of the volumes were produced either by scholars or other professional authors but most are the product of the hard work and dedication of local volunteers and were published by small, local presses. A significant minority were self-published, either by the author or, more often, by the sponsoring organization. Because the critical ability and writing skill of local history authors varies widely, so to does the quality of these volumes. The intent of the author, however, is almost always to record and inform.

Local newspapers are a rich source of local history, both intentional and unintentional. Newspapers are almost always closer chronologically to the event then any subsequently published local history. Nevertheless newspaper accounts, like most published local history, represent the work and perspective of a third party. Because of an ongoing project to microfilm Michigan newspapers, the Clarke's holdings of microfilmed local newspapers is particularly extensive and thus are included in this bibliography.

Although maps are generally excluded from this bibliography on special category of map, called birds'eye views, has been included in this work. We decided to include birds' eye views for the pragmatic reason that the Clarke has the largest collection of these views of Michigan cities found anywhere outside of the Library of Congress. To publish a bibliography of the library's local history holdings that excluded these unique visual representations because other cartographic holdings were not included seemed a foolish consistency. Rather we believed it was important to share with researchers our holdings of these carefully researched artist's renderings, named because they were usually drawn from the perspective of a bird looking down on the scene. Most birds' eye views detail major businesses, schools, and churches, delineate homes, and include various modes of transportation, including rivers and railroad tracks (usually with a train passing by).

Student works would also customarily be excluded from a published bibliography. However, at Central Michigan University for several decades professors who taught local history routinely asked their students to produce term papers about local communities. With equal routineness, the professors deposited these term papers in the Clarke Library, presumably with the permission of the student. Very often the students chose to research the histories of small, otherwise undocumented communities. Some students included photographs with their term papers while others conducted and wrote up extensive interviews with local residents. Although the quality found in these papers varies dramatically, nevertheless the papers offer important and sometimes unique insights into Michigan communities. Researchers should know, however, that because of more recent federal legislation these term papers cannot be copied without the written consent of their authors. In most cases the Clarke does not have this written consent.

Collecting local history material continues to be a priority of the Clarke Library and new items are regularly added to the collection. However, materials accessioned after July 1997 are not included in this bibliography.

Evelyn Leasher