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Newspapers in Michigan

If, as it has been said, that journalism is the first draft of history, then newspapers are the original history books. Because of the close relationship between reporters and scholars, it is particularly appropriate that the Clarke Library celebrate the 200th anniversary of Michigan’s first newspaper’s publication. On August 31, 1809 the The Michigan Essay: or the Impartial Observer, appeared on the streets of Detroit. It was a small paper of only four pages, one of which was printed in French, and, in the end, a very short-lived enterprise. But those few pages opened one of the most important windows on Michigan and its people. Americans, then and now, learned about their world, exercised their democratic rights, discovered what was happening in their community, and planned their weekly shopping trips all from the same source at the same time. And when the rush of daily life past by yesterdays paper, it was taken up by historians, who continued to use it for their own purposes.

As part of this celebration the Clarke Library has published a history of our state’s newspapers. We hope those who read this history will find it as informative, lively, and interesting as the best in local journalism.