Our Detroit sound research page lists places, both online and offline, to extend your research into Detroit’s rich musical histories.
The Detroit Electronic Music Archive (DEMA) – See the E. Azalia Hackley Collection.
The E. Azalia Hackley Collection at the Detroit Public Library is a critical archive for all scholars of Detroit music. Founded in 1943, the Hackley is the African American performing arts archive for the city featuring material from the 19th century into the 21st century. As it is held within the Detroit Public Library, is attached to the library’s Music, Arts, and Literature Department, and, presently, administered through the Burton Historical Collection, it is by rights the most important stop for anyone studying the history of music in the city, especially Black contributions to it.
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Archives contains musical materials as well as materials on Detroit history as a whole. Some of these materials are searchable online through the museum’s Virtual Archives and some (but not all) of them have public finding aids available online. The CHWMAAH is important for Detroit musical history because of things like the Ed McKenzie Collection, the Mary and Haley Bell Collection, and the John Sinclair Jazz Collection.
The Walter P. Reuther Library is primarily dedicated to the history of American labor but any serious work on Detroit history must examine the Reuther’s collections.
Wayne State University does not yet have an archival special collection. However, they do have a strong graduate and undergraduate library. They also have an exhibit dedicated to Cass Corridor Artists at the undergrduate library.
Museums do not necessarily have accessible public archives. Please call ahead to see if the museum’s have materials available for research outside of their regular exhibits.
Khalid Hussein El-Hakim has created a Black History 101 Mobile Museum which includes numerous materials related to music, including Detroit hip hop.
The Motown Museum or Hittsville USA offers exhibits dedicated to the history of Motown Records when it was in Detroit.
The Detroit Historical Society operates the Detroit Historical Museum due north of the Detroit Public Library.
Exhibit 3000 a techno exhibit kept up by Underground Resistance at its Submerge headquarters at 3000 East Grand Boulevard.
Detroit Music Societies
The Detroit Techno Foundation created a Web site in 2010 that said, in part, that its mission was to “promote, develop and preserve Detroit’s electronic music and creative communities.”
Locally-Owned Record Stores
Music retailers are also great resources to learn and hear more about Detroit music.
Detroit Music Center (formerly Buy Rite)
Michigan Archives and Museums
The Labadie Collection focusses mainly on radical political collections but also contains significant Detroit historical materials and materials related to queer life in Detroit and Michigan.
Eastern Michigan University’s Bruce T. Halle Library contains a Motown Records Archive.
National Archives and Museums
Canadian Archives and Libraries
Updated December 2020