Documenting Detroit

From 1972 to 1984, the Detroit Historical Museum partnered with the Center for Creative Studies (today the College for Creative Studies) to create the Documenting Detroit photography series.

The students, taught by prolific Detroit photographer Bill Rauhauser, explored aspects of documentary photography using the people and landscape of Detroit as their subjects. Many of the photographs were exhibited at the museum, and all became part of the permanent collection. Several students featured in this exhibition went on to professional careers in photography, such as Dave Jordano and Carla Anderson.

Documentary photography aims to chronicle the world around us from the exciting to the mundane. For a street photographer like Rauhauser, the beauty of the image in in its uniqueness. Not only is the moment gone forever once the photograph is taken, but each viewer will find different personal meaning in the photo.

Documentary photography balances art and history. These photos give us a glimpse into a Detroit that existed years ago, as well as the human spirit that continues to thrive in the city today. This set of photos focuses specifically of the people of Detroit. The Detroit Historical Society also offers the Documenting Detroit: Architecture traveling exhibition, with a set of photos that focuses on the architecture and landscape of Detroit.

The full Documenting Detroit traveling exhibition features 30 black and white framed photographs. 10 photos feature extended labels, which explore the students’ future professional life. A smaller set of 20 photos is also available, for institutions that do not have the room to display the entire set.

Exhibit Specifications


  • 30 photo set: approx. 50-95 linear feet wall space, depending on configuration.
  • 20 photo set: approx. 45-70 linear feet wall space, depending on configuration.


  • Large photos – 20.25” x 16.25”
  • Regular photos – 14.5” x 11.5”
  • Extended labels – 6.25” x 7”
  • Labels – 5” x 2.5”

Loan fee:

  • 30 photo set: $900 /per 3 months
  • 20 photo set: $675 /per 3 months

For more information, or to schedule a rental, please contact:

Jeremy Dimick
Manager of Collections


Bill Pringle
Curatorial Assistant

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