Michigan school records available at Bentley

May 30, 1997
Contact: umichnews@umich.edu

School records from throughout state available at U-M’s Bentley Historical Library

ANN ARBOR—Looking for a historical story on your local schools? The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan recently accessioned more than 150 feet of Bureau of School Services records that document all high schools in the state of Michigan from the end of the 19th century to 1992.

Originally a voluntary program, the accreditation of Michigan public, parochial and private high schools was conducted by the U-M from 1871 through 1991. Before 1948, several different units had responsibility for administering the accreditation process, but then the U-M Board of Regents created the Bureau of School Services, a university-wide agency assigned the task of accrediting Michigan’s high schools. In 1970, the Bureau of School Services was placed in the U-M School of Education.

A sample of several files illustrates the rich documentation on Michigan secondary schools, and their local communities, found in the Bureau?s material. For example, the records for Chelsea High School cover 1905 through 1992. The 1907 report includes information on the population of the city, school enrollment, the number of teachers, the number of recitations, the number of graduates attending higher education, teacher education, employment practices, library facilities in town and school, and laboratory facilities. The 1936 Chelsea report includes information on school income, teacher education and schedules, counseling standards, health programs, and correspondence with the accreditor.

The reports for Redford High School in Detroit cover 1925 through 1992. The report for 1984 includes information on the size of the school, policies and objectives, staff information, library information, teacher education, the guidance program, the year and daily schedule, administrator qualifications, financial data, the number of graduates going on to higher education, and course offerings.

“The Bureau of School Services records give evidence of the U-M’s important role in developing public education in the state of Michigan through its accreditation program,” says Marjorie Barritt, head of the Bentley’s University Archives and Records program. “The records also map changes in secondary educational institutions throughout the state since the late 19th century and they document individual school policies, programs and curricula as well as changing expectations of educational performance.”

Long used for research by faculty and students in the U-M School of Education, the Bureau accreditation records have recently formed the foundation of a study of the development of high school curricula being conducted by U-M education Prof. David Angus and by Jeffrey Mirel, a former professor at the School.

For more information about the Bureau of School Services records, call the Bentley’s reference unit, (313) 764-3482, or send an e-mail to bentley.ref@umich.edu. To contact Barritt, call (313) 764-3482.

E-mail: jmendler@umich.edu

Bentley Historical LibraryU-M Board of Regentsjmendler@umich.edu