The Detroit Historical Society

About Us

Since its founding in 1921, the Detroit Historical Society has been dedicated to ensuring that the history of our region is preserved so that current and future generations of metro Detroiters can better understand the people, places and events that helped shape our lives.

In 1928, our leaders founded the Detroit Historical Museum, and for the next 20 years, we operated the Museum and preserved our region’s rich history through the collection and conservation of artifacts. In 1945, we transferred ownership of the Museum and the collections to the City of Detroit and changed our focus to fundraising and marketing activities for the Detroit Historical Museum and, later, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

Throughout the next five decades, we raised funds, recruited volunteers and ensured that the Detroit Historical Museum, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and Historic Fort Wayne (which opened as a City-owned and operated historical attraction in the 1970s) remained a vibrant presence in Detroit’s cultural landscape.

In 2006, our leaders reached a new agreement with the City of Detroit to once again become the day-to-day manager of the Detroit Historical Museum, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and the more than 250,000 artifacts held in the collections. Management of the historic re-enactments, special events and outdoor activities at Historic Fort Wayne was assumed by the City of Detroit’s Recreation Department.

Since that time, our Board of Trustees and staff have consistently reinforced their commitment to ensuring excellence in all of the organization’s activities. 




Our Commitment to Racial Justice:  

Throughout the country, Americans still mourn the personal and collective loss of Black lives; people who were our neighbors, sons, daughters and friends. With the recent conviction in the murder of George Floyd, policy changes following the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and continued instances of death and brutality, we reaffirm our commitment to and support of our community. 

As the keeper of our city’s history, the Detroit Historical Society stands in solidarity with the Black community and all Detroiters in emphatically and unequivocally denouncing racism, injustice, oppression and hate in any form. Our mission is to tell Detroit’s stories and why they matter. During this time, we commit to not only to hearing your stories, but to being a safe and welcoming space at our museums and across all platforms for perspective and also for respite. The history that Detroit is creating matters. We still see you. And who you are - right now and always - matters.  

Detroiters, we honor your truths. We see you.

#keeptalking #detroit67


Our mission is: 

The Detroit Historical Society tells Detroit's stories and why they matter.

Our vision is:

To be an integral part of Detroit's present and future by providing meaningful experiences that preserve and share its past.

Our values are: 
  • Authentic: We demonstrate the highest level of integrity and scholarship in all of our words and actions, ensuring that our work is balanced and truthful.
  • Relevant: We provide informative, engaging and dynamic experiences that help community members see their place in Detroit's history.
  • Creative: We embrace fresh and innovative approaches to our work and mission, and encourage our board, staff and volunteers to think imaginatively.
  • Professional: We are dedicated stewards of assets held in public trust, and our board, staff and volunteers are committed to carrying out the mission with the highest standards of excellence. 
  • Inclusive: We provide informative, engaging and dynamic experiences that offer opportunities for broad and diverse participation. 
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