Local History

Prior to becoming incorporated as a city on November 8, 1921, Royal Oak was first established as a township on January 23, 1819, and then a village on March 18, 1891. The city’s first mayor was George A. Dondero, who later went on to become a Michigan representative to the U.S. House. 

Though Royal Oak’s first library appeared in 1852 as a reading room in the Township doctor’s home, it was not until almost the mid-twentieth century before the city’s librarians started collecting information about the city and documenting its history. The local history collection contains: 

     • Yearbooks for Dondero, Kimball, and Royal Oak High Schools starting in 1928 
     • Polk City Directories for Royal Oak from 1922 to 1960 
     • Bresser’s Criss Cross Index for the Royal Oak area covering 1952 to present 
     • Historic atlases of Oakland County 
     • A series of lectures by Father Charles Coughlin in addition to his paper “Social Justice” from 1938-1941 
     • Old City Ordinances 
     • Royal Oak City Budgets back to the 1940s 
     • Various City Planning Studies 
     • Royal Oak and Oakland County history books 
     • An extensive newspaper clipping file of Royal Oak newspapers 
     • Microfilm of the Daily Tribune back to the early 1900s 

The bulk of the materials in the local history collection focus on Royal Oak. There is a separate filing cabinet that contains news clippings related only to Oakland County history. In addition to these resources, microfilm reels of Oakland County census records and mortality schedules are available.

Local History Collection Finding Aid (PDF)