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.