How to Apply for a Michigan Historical Marker

The Michigan Historical Marker Program relies heavily on the applicants. Applicants must make the case through their application and the documentation they acquire through historical research that the historic resource or topic is worthy of a Michigan Historical Marker. Applicants also raise the funds to pay for their marker and are responsible for the installation.

The Michigan Historical Commission operates the program in partnership with the Eastern Michigan University graduate program in historic preservation.

BEFORE BEGINNING THE APPLICATION PROCESS, PLEASE REVIEW:

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
  • Applications received without the $250 application fee will be returned.
     
  • Incomplete applications will be delayed. An incomplete application is one for which information is missing from the form, or for which any of the additional required items are missing. Be sure to read the application carefully for requirements.
     
  • You will be billed for the cost of the marker when your text has been approved and you are notified by letter.
     
  • Rights to Photographs and Electronic Images: The Michigan History Center accepts all photographs and images only on the condition that the State of Michigan has full right to use such accepted photographs and images for reports, presentations or other purposes as it sees fit.
     
  • The application and approval process typically takes one year to complete. Guarantees for specific dedication dates cannot be made at the time of application. You should not schedule your dedication until your marker text is approved.
    1. THE PROCESS BEGINS WITH AN APPLICATION. USE THE FORMAT YOU PREFER:
        If the new site that you wish to designate is a cemetery, you must also complete the following form (use the format you prefer):
        Your application will need to include:
       
      • Primary source documentation: All facts and statements must be documented with copies of primary sources—sources created by people who saw or participated in an event and recorded it at the time, or documents of legal transactions. These may include tax records, deeds, newspaper articles, meeting minutes, diaries or letters. In addition, you may provide photocopies of secondary sources such as published county and community histories. You must include copies of the sources with your application. Be sure the source's title, author, date of publication, publisher and page numbers are clear. Photocopies of all documentation must be submitted with the application.
         
      • Photographs: Photographs may be submitted as high-quality prints or digitally. Label all photographs, including the name of the property, date of the photograph and description. The description should include what is depicted in each view, e.g. "front façade," "stamped metal ceiling detail." Directional information is also helpful, e.g. "view facing west." Complete requirements can be found on page 5 of the application.
         
      • Map: A map showing the location of the site, indicating main crossroads near the site, the address, and GPS coordinates.
         
      • Information: A list of facts you feel are important to include in the marker text. These facts must be documented by the primary sources submitted with the application.
         
    2. With the application materials, you will need to submit a $250 application fee. Make the check payable to "Michigan History Center." If the application is not approved for a marker, the fee will be promptly refunded; otherwise, the fee is nonrefundable. This fee is not included in the cost of the Michigan Historical Marker. The Michigan History Center will send a letter to confirm receipt of the application and payment.
       
    3. The application and materials are reviewed and a recommendation made to the commission whether the site qualifies for the State Register of Historic Sites.
       
    4. Once your application is accepted, an Eastern Michigan University graduate student guided by faculty will verify the research and work with you as he/she prepares the draft text for the marker. After you accept the draft text, it will be presented to the Michigan Historical Commission. The commission will approve, table or reject the text, and determines the final wording of the marker. If you disagree with historical information in the marker text, you must submit primary source documentation to support your position.
       
    5. If your site is not already on the State Register of Historic Sites, upon commission approval of the marker text, a site number will be assigned and your site will be listed. When that happens, you will receive a letter with that information as well as delivery and installation instructions.
       
    6. That letter will also ask you to send a check for the cost of the marker to the Michigan History Center, which will order your marker for you. You should allow at least eight weeks for the manufacture and delivery of your marker.
       
    7. Now you can also start planning your marker dedication ceremony and notify us of the date. Whenever possible, a member of the Michigan Historical Commission will attend your ceremony to present the marker. You will be responsible for installing your marker. You may want to inform state and local government officials, local historical societies and local media that your marker is being installed and dedicated.
    Updated 03/09/2017