From the Collection

Haunted History: Devil's Night

The night before Halloween — on October 30, was once considered Devil’s Night in Detroit. Devil’s Night for Detroiters was marked with flames and fear, but later was recognized as an example of the power of community

Haunted History: Hermit's Cave

Know Your Hats: A Quick History of Men’s Hats 1790 to Present


The Detroit Historical Society Collection is home to approximately 1,800 hats: Men’s, women’s, children’s, winter, summer, military, formal, casual, etc. These function as a critical part of the larger Costume and Textile collection which, at 20,000 artifacts strong, is the single largest grouping of objects in our holdings. A good chunk of the 1,800 hats were sold from Detroit department stores or were created by local designers, but the majority of them were collected to serve as representatives of certain periods and styles. 

Pandemic: Detroit’s Deadly History

The latest virulent health threat affecting our world seems new to most of us. The Ebola, SARS and MERS outbreaks were recent, but distant. Flu scares never cut this deep. So, in our collective memory, the mass closure of all public spaces is unique. “Novel” you might say. Among Detroit’s many, many stories there are tragic tales of devastating epidemics, mass self-isolation, unintended misinformation, poor preparedness and fantastic fatality rates.

Lions, Bears, the Red Grange Trophy, and a Thanksgiving Football Mystery

This time of year the Detroit-centric internet is full of Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Game facts. Here are some more:

Elizabeth O'Sullivan and the 1935 Detroit Tigers

"Take me Out to the Ball Game" Lyrics by Jack Norworth, 1908


Red Star: Help the Horse to Save the Soldier

World War I was an unprecedented conflict. At the intersection of dramatic new weapons of war, a shrinking globe, automobiles, aviation, and more hallmarks of innovation, the world was changing – for both soldier and civilian. Before the emergence of television or even commercial radio, governments needed a widespread and effective method of delivering wartime information to their population. This led to many countries using the already popular advertising medium of posters to broadcast messages during the war.

Downtown’s Forgotten Resort

In addition to the original structure, and the Wayne Gardens, this c. 1915 postcard shows a planned six-story addition to the complex, which was to follow the construction of the two-story mineral baths.


Bill Kennedy at the Movies

Heavyweight boxing champion, Joe Louis, with Kennedy in 1961.