1828 : First Territorial Librarian Appointed

July 3, 2018 all-day

Like many early pioneers, Henry Schoolcraft came to the Michigan Territory from upstate New York. In 1822 he accepted an appointment at Sault Ste. Marie as an Indian agent for the territory. From 1827 to 1831, Schoolcraft served on the Michigan Territorial Council in Detroit. During this time, he helped name 15 counties, founded the Historical Society with Lewis Cass and began the Library of Michigan with Wolcott Lawrence.

By 1828 the territorial council realized the need to collect, compile and store Michigan territorial laws and other important documents. In that same year, Henry Schoolcraft introduced a resolution to appoint a librarian for the council library, which consisted of 131 law books and documents used by the governor and legislators. On June 16, 1828, the resolution was approved by Governor Cass. Schoolcraft and fellow council member Wolcott Lawrence of Monroe County formed the first library committee.

On July 3, 1828, the Michigan territory’s library committee appointed William B. Hunt as the first librarian for the territory. His salary was one hundred dollars per year and his duties included attending the council meetings, arriving at the meetings a half hour before they began and staying a half hour after the meeting to deliver and collect books. In addition, William Hunt was in charge of the care and preservation of the library’s book collection.

As territorial council librarian, William Hunt was in charge of the care and preservation of the book collection. He also was responsible for the halls adjacent to the legislative rooms, located in the new territorial building in Detroit. Construction of the building began in 1823 and completed in 1828 – the same year the first librarian was appointed. The territorial Capitol was early classical revival style, with six columns supporting the portico and a 140-foot-high cupola crowing the roof. A façade with architectural details of the first territorial Capitol can be seen in the statehood gallery of the Michigan Historical Center.

Sources :

The Library of Michigan: Territorial Council Era, 1828 – 1837

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