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

In addition to these resources, microfilm reels of Oakland County census records and mortality schedules are available as well as a local history image gallery on our website that features images of Royal Oak’s World War II service men and women.

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.

  • Collection Finding Aid: listing important items and subjects in this collection. Compiled by Monica Brady, ROPL Library Science Intern Project, 2011.
  • World War II Scrapbooks: This World War II Soldier's Archive was digitally reproduced through funds provided by the Grant Howell Memorial Fund, 2006. Grant Howell worked for the Daily Tribune from 1937 to 1979 including 25 years as managing editor. He is a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
  • Oakland County Historical Resources a 501(c)3 consortium of libraries, genealogical and historical societies, seeks historical materials pertaining to the Oakland County, Michigan area to make them searchable and accessible to the public. They digitize local history materials and make them available to the world through our website.
  • Obituaries published in The Daily Tribune are posted monthly with the assistance of Ranger Data, Inc., a Royal Oak-based technology company. Online obituaries are available for Jan. 2010 – present. Earlier obituaries are available at the library.
  • Royal Oak Cemetery List (requires a PDF reader) A listing of names and burial locations in Royal Oak (up through 2012, incomplete)