National Automotive History Collection Branch

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About Branch

Located in the Rose and Robert Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library, the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) is regarded as the nation's premier public automotive archive documenting the history and development of the automobile and other forms of motorized, wheeled land transportation in the United States and abroad.

Since the late nineteenth century, the DPL has aggressively collected automotive print materials such as books, periodicals, advertising literature, photographs, specifications, service and owner's manuals, and personal and business papers. In recognition of this effort, the library established the NAHC as a collection in 1953.

The NAHC contains over 600,000 processed items including thousands of photographs depicting the automobile's historical, social, mechanical,and design aspects that are available for public viewing, research, and publication. Automobile manuscript files contain more than 350,000 technical and descriptive items that illuminate the styling detail, specifications, and restoration of the automobile. Biographical files, personal papers, and business documents of both pioneers and corporate leaders offer insight into the development, industrial psychology, and economics of the automotive industry.

Rich in automotive fact and lore, international in scope, customers agree that the NAHC offers unsurpassed resources and reference services.

General Photograph Collection
NAHC's largest photograph collection of more than 250,000 images traces most vehicles from their beginnings. Other photographs include events, tours, factories, individuals, and races. Click here to browse the digital photographs of Detroit automotive factories.  To order digital reproductions of photographs, please complete and return the Special Collections Reproduction Order Form.

Nathan Lazarnick Collection
More than 27,000 photographs of events, races, tours, and vehicles in American life during the first quarter of the twentieth century. 2,000 digital images of the 1909 Glidden Tour from Detroit to Kansas City, Mo. can be seen on The Making Modern Michigan web site.

Packard Motor Car Photograph Collection
Approximately 13,000 images of Packard cars, trucks, aircrafts, component parts, factories, buildings, and events. Nearly 3,000 of these images documenting Packard models can be seen on The Making of Modern Michigan web site.

Donations to Special Collections

Parking

Library customers who visit the Skillman Branch/The National Automotive History Collection and park their vehicles in the city of Detroit-owned Premier underground Garage near the Branch can now save $1.50 off the cost of the first two hours of parking. That is half off regular parking charge. To obtain this discount customers should have their tickets stamped at our circulation desk. For more information call us at (313) 481-1852. Please Note: Not valid on game days. Must present validated ticket to staffed garage exit window.