Tocqueville's Two Weeks in the Wilderness exhibits the history of Michigan

Visitors gather inside the reception of the Tocquesville's Two Weeks in the Wilderness exhibit on Oct. 9 inside the Clarke Historical Library.

The fall colors from outside of Charles V. Park Library carried into the library with the opening of a new exhibit: Tocqueville’s Two Weeks in the Wilderness. The walls are now colored orange with quotes, and painted with history dating back to the 1800s. 

On Oct. 9 the public gathered in the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium in Charles V. Park Library for a presentation about the history of Tocqueville, given by Exhibit Curator John Fierst. 

The Clarke Historical Library is a special collections library, meaning it collects in certain subject areas, the primary area being the history of Michigan. The exhibit displays the history of Michigan through maps, literature, and photos during the time Alexis de Tocqueville came to America.  

Tocqueville left France to study the prison system in the United States, but found himself traveling from New York to Michigan. Over the course of his journey, he was guided by indigenous people and wrote about his experiences in his book.

“One of the important missions of the library, being a part of the university is education,” Fierst said. “It exposes students to something maybe they haven’t seen before. I would hope that this might surprise someone and interest them.”

The event carried into the exhibit for celebration with food and refreshments for the guests. Students from French and history classes came to view the display. 

“Personally, I think a lot of students just walk past usually passing through to go to class or are going to study,” Belleville junior Delionte West said. “But, maybe if someone is interested in history or studying French, they should come in here and check it out. It was actually pretty interesting. I never knew any of this stuff.”

Booklets and information about the exhibit are available on The exhibit will be on display until the end of the fall semester in the Clarke Historical Library.