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.