New Partnership Forms to Ensure Future of Michigan Historical Marker Program

by Pamela Young, Published February 18, 2010

LANSING – Department of Natural Resources and Environment Director Rebecca Humphries today announced that Eastern Michigan University and the Michigan History Foundation have joined the Michigan Historical Commission in a new partnership to ensure the continuation of the Michigan Historical Marker Program. The partnership was in response to Executive Order 2009-36, which abolished the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.

Michigan Historical Markers are well-documented histories, easily accessible to the public. They reflect the importance a community places on its heritage and remind decision-makers that a site is historically significant. When an application for a Michigan Historical Marker is submitted, the Michigan Historical Commission approves or denies the application, and reviews the text that will appear on the marker.

The commission will continue its role, begun in 1955, of ensuring that the markers tell important, accurate stories about Michigan's past. "With more than 1,630 markers across the state, we know how important this program is to local communities," said Commission President Edward Surovell. "We are excited to find new partners to help us continue the program."

The Michigan History Foundation will serve as the fiduciary and administrative agency for the program, which is supported by the sponsorships of communities, organizations and individuals seeking to commemorate significant Michigan people, places and events. "The foundation is proud to be a part of the future of the marker program," said Michigan History Foundation Director Patricia Clark. "Each marker tells a story that is not only significant for the immediate community, but also part of the collective story of our state's history."  

Eastern Michigan University will incorporate the historical markers into its graduate Historic Preservation Program. Selected students will prepare marker texts as the final project for the master's degree and present the marker text to the commission for approval.

"Eastern Michigan University's Historic Preservation Program is very excited about this partnership with the Michigan Historical Commission to help perpetuate the State Historic Marker Program," said EMU professor and director of the university's Historic Preservation Program Ted Ligibel. "This collaboration represents a unique opportunity for our students who will be actively engaged in verifying historical research and in preparing marker texts."

EMU's Historic Preservation Program is the largest graduate program in historic preservation in the nation, and the only such program in Michigan.

"The DNRE is excited to add the EMU Department of Geography and Geology to our growing list of university partnerships," said Director Humphries. "This program will continue to help build the sense of place that attracts tourists and residents to Michigan communities at the same time that it provides the opportunity for Michigan students to obtain real-world experience in their chosen field of study."

The Michigan Historical Commission advises the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment on its Michigan Historical Center programs. The Center includes the Archives of Michigan and the Michigan Historical Museum System.  For information about the Michigan Historical Marker Program, visit

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is committed to the conservation, protection, management, and accessible use and enjoyment of the state's environment, natural resources, and related economic interests for current and future generations.

Pamela Young

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