Last week, I discussed the new feature, “Top Stories,” that debuted on the Detroit Jewish News Foundation website. Then, it occurred to me — “occurred” meaning that JN Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl gave me the idea and I stole it — maybe I could provide some tips on navigating the Davidson Digital Archive.

The archive was launched more than three years ago. Searching for people, including yourself, is a popular topic, so let’s start there.

The archive is a database of optical images of pages from the JN and Jewish Chronicle; this means you have to have precise phrasing for a search. So, when looking for names, use combinations if the person has a nickname, like many people in the community. For instance, the late, great “Bill” Berman can be searched in three ways: Mandell Berman, Bill Berman and Mandell “Bill” Berman.

Also remember that, when searching for women before the 1980s — and the Detroit Jewish Chronicle goes back to 1916 — keep in mind that wives rarely had first names. Instead, women were usually cited as “Mrs. Fisher” or “Mrs. Friedman,” for example. Another way to obtain information would be to search for a woman under her maiden name.

Finally, you will need precise phrasing for events as well if they were mentioned in the JN or Chronicle. If you know your relative or friend was involved in an event on a particular date or year, you can go to “Advanced Search” to find a particular issue.

If you want some fun and are not looking for a particular event or person, you can browse the JN or Chronicle issue by issue. You will certainly find something of interest, whether unexpected stories of friends or advertisements from the last 100 years of Jewish Detroit.

Mike Smith
Detroit Jewish News Foundation

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at