01 March 2010

An Adventure Long Ago At the Clements Library

Several years ago I went to the Clements Library at the University of Michigan searching for identifying information about Abraham Howard, who may have been the father of William Howard. William Howard's father was said to be "... a Surgeon in the Royal Navy and who was slain in the commencement of the war. His mother was afterwards married to a Lieutenant McDonald, with whom he removed to Upper Canada when but a boy."

The Clements Library houses the Henry J. Young Loyalist Collection so I thought perhaps there might be a clue to my Howard family in their paper artifacts. Also my curiosity about what might be contained in that treasure trove so close to home was piqued.

The Clements Library was probably the most intimidating place I've ever attempted to research. Now I think I know why. In this article William Clements was quoted as saying that "...(he) didn’t want Michigan undergraduates or 'the ordinary graduate student' rifling through his collection; in fact, in his dedication remarks Clements said he’d be happy if only “a handful of eminent historians” used the collections annually. And there I was with no white gloves, sticking out like a sore thumb among the "eminent historians" in that small room.

However, the archivist who assisted me was quite nice. As usual, my timing was impeccable; the military expert was on vacation and the archivist on duty had only a passing knowledge of the Henry J. Young Collection.

Below is a notecard (probably from the Henry Young Collection, but it's been so many years ago (2003), I don't want to say for sure (obviously didn't cite my sources)), along with a completed but unused Manuscript Request Form from the William L. Clements Library.

Would I go back? Yes, if I was well prepared (including the white gloves). If they didn't want me to research at the Clements Library, would they have put their research guides online?!


GrannyPam said...

is grabbed my interest, thanks! I actually have the gloves right here, right now, too.

PalmsRV said...

Hi Granny Pam,

It was a memorable experience. Just realized that one of my documents didn't fit the viewing page! I'll redo the blog.

Apple said...

I just read their regulations and they sound intimidating! I took a look at their collections and may have found another collection of letters that may (or may not) contain some of my family history. As long as I'll be in Ann Arbor anyway..........

Thanks for the link!

PalmsRV said...


Hope you get to research in Michigan this summer (including the Clements Library)and that they're holding family treasures just waiting for your arrival!