Two new collections related to African American students at the MSU Archives

5 04 2023

The MSU Archives has two new collections that touch on the African American Experience at MSU.

The Barry D. Amis collection contains flyers, notes and newspaper clippings about the creation of the Black Student Alliance at MSU containing materials from 1967 to 1970.  During his time as an MSU student, Amis helped found and lead the Black Student Alliance (BSA). The collection contains some of the first BSA flyers announcing meetings and listing topics to be addressed, such as a name for the organization and purpose of the group, as well as speakers. Other items in the collection reflect Amis’ activism including letters the editor, a letter and list of demands to MSU administration for more black representation on campus, and newspaper articles about rallies and forums Amis helped organize.  There is also a letter from John Hannah to Amis inviting him to meet and a letter from Hannah sending Robert Green and student representatives to the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.  This important collection documents the issues of African Americans on campus, and Amis’ and other African American’s fight for recognition of their needs and equality on MSU’s campus.

Document from the Barry Amis collection

The collection information can be found here:

The Archives is pleased to introduce another new student life collection in our holdings.  The Gayle Robertson collection contains letters Robinson wrote home to her mother, while she was a student at MSU. Robertson attended MSU from 1963-1967 and the letters describe her life as an African American student. While the letters only briefly touch on activism and racism at MSU and society, they do describe her day-to-day experiences at college. She describes dorm life and roommates, dating, classes and studying, experience as resident assistant, and student jobs. She also writes about her worries on paying for college and life after school.  While the life of a student today is very different from the 60’s, Robertson’s experience is very relatable to the students of today.  The collection also contains six photos that show Robinson and her friends in their dorm rooms.  The Archive is excited to share Robertson’s experiences with researchers.

Gayle Robertson

The collection information can be found here:

by Sarah Roberts

A Force to be Reckoned With

21 03 2023

To honor Women’s History Month, we celebrate Dr. L. Eudora Pettigrew, the first African American woman to receive full professorship and the first to head an academic department at Michigan State University (MSU). A force to be reckoned with, her achievements at MSU were an uphill battle that paved the way for other African American women who followed.

Dr. L. Eudora Pettigrew, November 22, 1971. (A010298)

Born in Kentucky in 1928, L. (Luella) Eudora Pettigrew originally didn’t have her sights on higher education but on becoming a concert pianist. She was accepted to study music at the Fontainbleau in Paris but turned down a scholarship. She received her B.A. in music from West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University) (1950). She married and became a housewife, but later divorced and returned to school. She earned her M.A. in rehabilitation counseling (1964) and Ph.D. in educational psychology (1966) both from Southern Illinois University. Pettigrew joined the faculty at University of Bridgeport in 1966 before coming to MSU.

Pettigrew came to MSU in 1970 as an associate professor in the Center for Urban Affairs (later the College of Urban Development) and the College of Education to develop educational programs with an emphasis on urban schools. In 1973, she was promoted to the newly created Department of Urban and Metropolitan Studies (UMS) in the College of Urban Development as a full professor. Pettigrew served as the chairperson for both the curriculum and advisory committees in the UMS and curriculum committee in the College of Urban Development. She then served as the acting chairperson and in 1977, she became the chairperson of the UMS, the first African American woman to chair a department at MSU.  

After arriving in East Lansing, she immediately immersed herself in local and state organizations and politics. She was a consultant for the Michigan Education Association’s Minority Affairs Division, a program development specialist with the Lansing Public School Teachers Corps Program, and many more. Pettigrew was appointed by Michigan Governor William G. Milliken to be on the boards of the Michigan Women’s Commission and the Michigan Manpower Planning Council. She was also the chairperson of the Ingham County Equal Employment Opportunity.

Unfortunately, her employment at MSU and local board positions were a constant struggle. Denied promotion, she filed an official complaint that resulted in her being awarded her full professorship. She then had to sue again a few years later to receive her chair position. Pettigrew also resigned from the Ingham County Equal Employment Opportunity committee and returned her certificate of appreciation, because she felt that Ingham County wasn’t committed to equal opportunity. In 1980, she resigned from her position at MSU.

After leaving MSU, Pettigrew continued to set numerous other firsts. From 1980 to 1986, she was a professor of the College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware (UD). In 1981, she was appointed Associate Provost for Instruction, making her the first African American to hold a position in central administration at UD. She was than appointed to the position of president of SUNY Old Westbury in 1986, making her the first female African American president in the SUNY system, a position she held until she retired in 1999. 

Dr. L. Eudora Pettigrew, October 8, 1973. (A010297)

Along with her academic career, she was very active with the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP) which promotes global awareness and competence as well as peace and international understanding through education. She served as co-chair from 1990 to 1996 and then chair from 1996 to 2002 of the IAUP/United Nations Commission on Disarmament Education Conflict Resolution, and Peace. With IAUP, Pettigrew also served on the UNESCO Peace Program in Palestine and was the European Center’s chair for the IAUP program in Austria on human rights, democracy, peace, and tolerance. Throughout her career, Pettigrew received numerous awards including three honorary doctorate degrees, and in 1991, she received the Distinguished Black Women in Education Award, the National Council of Negro Women’s highest award.

While her time in East Lansing was turbulent, she helped to pave the way for others to ascend the ranks within MSU by standing up for herself and holding her ground. She was committed to raising awareness of African American women, higher education policies and practices, and disarmament education throughout her life. Pettigrew died in 2021 at the age of 91. To learn more about the life and career of Dr. Eudora Pettigrew, view the finding aid for her personal papers that are held by the University of Delaware Special Collections,

Written by Jennie Rankin


MSS 0773, L. Eudora Pettigrew papers, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Pettigrew, L. [Luella] Eudora. (2021, March 12). Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from

Pettigrew, L. Eudora. Faculty/Staff Biographical File, Box 1837, Folder 86, Media Communications Records, UA 8.1.1. Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

Red Cedar Log, 1976. Pg. 192. Michigan State University: East Lansing, Michigan.

Sams, T. (2021, December 22). Mourning the passing of former President L. Eudora Pettigrew. SUNY Old Westbury.

Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes & Crematory. (2021, December). Dr. Luella “Eudora” (Williams) Pettigrew.

Company I, 102nd Regiment, United States Colored Infantry Muster Roll: A Collaboration

14 03 2023

Anyone who has done archival research knows that not everything is online. They will also know that an essential part of conducting archival research is that, sometimes, you must view the materials in person. And yet, during the pandemic, that was impossible. Thankfully, technology today can bring items to light that otherwise would remain in protected conditions. Luckily, we at the University Archives are in the fortunate position to have colleagues in the MSU Libraries who are experts in technology and have top-notch equipment. We are doubly lucky to have colleagues in the Conservation department who are expert in dealing with old and often fragile materials in need of repair.

At the time that the pandemic hit in mid-March 2020, and everyone went into lockdown, and everything closed, we had a researcher scheduled to come to the University Archives to view materials related to the American Civil War. That visit never happened.

Months later, the researcher contacted us again. Our reading room was still closed but an alternative space across campus was available for viewing most, but not all, items. Fragile, oversized items could not be transported for fear that they would not survive the trip across campus.

The item that the researcher had intended to view in person was a U.S. Civil War roll for Company I, 102nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops. Two of my brave colleagues brought the muster roll out of storage and examined it. It is 31 inches wide and 21 inches long. It was folded along the left side. When fully opened it is 62 inches wide. They opened it, closed it, and realized that it would be best to not handle it more than was necessary. It was decided that we could not transport it across campus, and the researcher could not come to our closed reading room to view it. What could be done?

Below are a few photographs of the front page of the muster roll and its verso plus a few close-up photographs of the more damaged sections.

(Photographs taken by Jennie Rankin)

First, we contacted the Conservation department. Conservation librarian Garrett Sumner came over to the University Archives to look at the muster roll and gave us an idea of what repairs he could do. The muster roll was transported to the Conservation Lab on a day of good weather. Garrett mended tears. He separated the sheets into two and encased each in covers so that each side could be viewed without having to open the fold. The sheets are now protected for handling.

Next, the muster roll was taken to Digital Imaging Services for scanning. This department is equipped with scanners that can accommodate larger sized materials. Madeleine Ferguson made the scans. The image files were then handed off to Metadata Librarian Lisa Lorenzo who added the images and metadata to the Digital Repository where they can be viewed.

I was able to contact the researcher and provide her with a link to the newly repaired and digitized muster roll. She was delighted and commented that it was “This is fantastic! This copy of the muster rolls is SO much better than what was turned in to the Regimental Books and now lies in NARA [National Archives and Records Administration]– I wish every Captain had kept a copy like this.”

Lastly, our student employee Rebecca Yeomans-Stephenson, transcribed the muster roll. We hope to add those documents to the Digital Repository soon.

A brief historical note about this specific muster roll which is part of the Wilbur Nelson papers. Company I, 102nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops was mustered out of Detroit, Michigan. In March 1864, Wilbur Nelson accepted the commission as captain. During the Civil War, Black troops served in segregated units commanded by white officers. Nelson kept a diary in shorthand. This had been previously transcribed and has since been digitized and placed online. You can read it here:

I recently learned that the capital letters I and J were used interchangeably during this period. The company name had been transcribed as J but further research indicates that it was company I. 

Enjoy the beautiful handwriting of the muster roll. I am glad that we were able to have this item repaired, conserved, and digitized so that we can share it with a wider audience and keep the beautifully repaired original preserved for generations to come.

Below are the repaired pages. They can also be viewed here:

Written by Susan O’Brien

Sources National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.

Battle unit details. (2015, May 14). Retrieved February 2, 2023, from The Civil War (U.S. National Park Service) website:

Soldier details. (2015, May 14). Retrieved February 2, 2023, from The Civil War (U.S. National Park Service) website:  :

Wilbur Nelson Papers, Collection c.00159, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

“Buildings do not Make a Campus, Spirit does…”

27 02 2023

Berkey Hall will forever now be tied to the tragedy of February 13, 2023. In the hopes of healing and giving the campus back to the students, here’s the story of the man that Berkey Hall is named for, William H. Berkey.

William H. Berkey, undated. (People 315)

Berkey was born in Cambria County, Pennsylvania on February 24, 1874 but a year later moved with his family to Cassopolis, Cass County, Michigan. He worked as a printer’s devil (an apprentice in a printing office) at the age of 14, and with only a high school level 2 education, Berkey became the editor of the Cassopolis Vigilant in 1893 at the age of 19. He would later be the owner and publisher of said newspaper. It was a position he held until he retired. Berkey married Olive Gard on June 8, 1911 and together they had two daughters.

Berkey was voted to the State Board of Agriculture (now the MSU Board of Trustees) and began his term on January 1, 1930. During his time on the board, he witnessed the small agricultural college grow into the university it would become. When John Hannah became President of Michigan State College (now MSU), he knew that campus would need to be prepared for the influx of students and families that would be coming to campus after the end of World War II. Berkey, along with the rest of the board, helped to secure the one to two percent interest rate loans that would be used for the necessary building expansion of academic and residential buildings. At the June 16, 1947 Board of Agriculture meeting, (Berkey was not present) it was voted and approved that the classroom building that was almost complete be named Berkey Hall to honor William Berkey. Once completed, Berkey Hall was the largest classroom on campus and could seat 3,200 students at one time.

Berkey was re-elected two more times and served as the chairman from 1940 until he retired from the Board in 1948 due to poor health. He served for 18 years which was the longest serving board member at that time. At the age of 77, he stated, “At my age I would not be doing justice to the college or myself if I accepted another six year term. It is a job for a young man.” William Berkey passed away on March 22, 1952 at the age of 78 in Cassopolis. Executive secretary of the Michigan Press Association, Gene Alleman, said this about Berkey, “He gave generously, most of his useful life, to help others.”

Along with running the Cassoplois Vigilant and serving as a board member, Berkey was also very involved in the newspaper and his local community. He was president of the Michigan Press Association in 1928 and served as chairman of the Association’s legislative committee. That same year, he was also vice president of the National Association of Governing Boards of Land Grant Colleges. He was also active in his community as a member of the Cassopolis Service Club and member of the Southwest Michigan Boy Scout Council where he was awarded the Beaver Scout Award in 1938. In 1962, he was admitted as the 31st inductee to the Michigan Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Berkey Hall is now associated with that horrible tragedy on February 13, but remember it is so much more than that moment. It was a building named for a man who did so much good for this university and community. Former MSU head football coach and athletic director Biggie Munn said, “Buildings do not make a campus, spirit does…” It will be that spirit that helps the Spartan family move forward in healing by coming together to support each other.

“Buildings do not make a campus, spirit does and as the years go on I am counting more and more on you fellows to be the leaders in the right direction.” – “Biggie” Munn, May 8, 1957 (Berkey Hall. Photo taken by Rebecca Yeomans-Stephenson, February 23, 2023)

Written by Jennie Rankin


Berkey on board. (1930, February). The M.A.C. Record, 35(6), 8.

Berkey to retire. (1947, March 5). The M.A.C. Record, 52(2), 6.

Berkey, William. Faculty/Staff Biographical File, Box 1512, Folder 77, Media Communications Records, UA 8.1.1. Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

Brody and Berkey re-elected. (1935, April). The M.A.C. Record, 40(8), 8.

Kuhn, M. (1955). Michigan State: The first hundred years, 1855-1955. Michigan State University Press.

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Printer’s devil. In dictionary. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from

Stanford, L. O., & Dewhurst, C. K. (2002). MSU campus – Buildings, places, spaced: Architecture and the campus park of Michigan State University. Michigan State University Press.

Thomas, D. (2008). Michigan State College: John Hannah and the creation of a world university, 1926-1969. Michigan State University Press.

Subject Files, 1955-1957 – Varsity Club, 1955-1957, Box 351, Folder 44, Clarence L. Munn papers, UA 17.75, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

William H. Berkey dies in Cassopolis March 22. (1952, April 15). The M.A.C. Record, 57(3), 3.

New Deal Art and Architecture at Michigan State University 

2 02 2023

The New Deal was a series of programs created by the U. S. Government between 1933 and 1938 which provided relief to the poor and unemployed, and sought to aid in the recovery of the economy during the Great Depression.  Part of the New Deal of 1933, the Public Works Administration (PWA) spent millions of dollars to improve American infrastructure.  Money was awarded to private construction companies to build schools, bridges, and hospitals.  The Works Progress Administration (WPA) also helped to improve infrastructure, but largely used unskilled labor.  As part of the WPA, the Federal Art Project employed thousands of sculptors, painters, and other artists. They were given supplies and artistic freedom to produce works of art for public spaces, such as schools, universities, public utilities, and parks.   

Michigan State University benefited greatly from these New Deal initiatives.  They provided art that continues to beautify the campus today, as well as residence halls, centers of learning, a performing arts venue, and a hospital. 

Abbot Hall (1938) 

Abbot Hall is part of the East Circle Complex, which originally was an all-male complement to the West Circle resident halls.  The I-shaped building, designed by Bowd Munson, was created as part of the Public Works Administration.   It was the second residence hall to be named after Theophilus C. Abbot, the college’s third president, and a long-time faculty member. 

Children Reading Sculpture (circa 1938) 

Sculpted by Clivia Calder Morrison, this turquoise glazed terra cotta piece depicts three girls reading.  It sits near the north entrance of Sarah Langdon Williams Hall, which originally was an all-female residence hall.  Children Reading was created as part of the Federal Art Project. 

“Children Reading” Sculpture, 1973

Michigan State College Entrance Marker (1938-1939) 

The Art Deco limestone marker at the Abbot Road entrance to campus was sculpted by Samuel Cashwan for the Federal Art Project.  The man and woman represent Michigan State students.  The horse and wheat symbolize agriculture, and the wheat also symbolized home economics.  The fluted column refers to the cultural arts.  At the bottom of the marker is “Class of 1938,” signifying that it was a gift of that class. 

MSC Entrance Marker, 1939

Olin Health Center (1939) 

In 1938 John Hannah wrote a letter to Mr. Kennicott, regional director of the PWA in Chicago, to appeal for funds.  Hannah pleaded “The College Hospital is of the utmost importance. The building we are now using for this purpose is so inadequate as to be nothing short of a public disgrace.”  Soon after, the college was given $112,500 to contribute to the hospital building fund. 

Designed by Ralph R. Calder, the college hospital was created as a state-of-the-art facility to serve 6000 students.  It was named for Richard M. Olin, the first full-time campus physician (1925-1938). The entrance features ten limestone reliefs carved by Samuel Cashwan.  On the right are “Herbs,” “Microscope,” “Anesthesia,” “X-Ray,” and “Chemistry.”  On the left are “Medical Magic,” “Diagnosis,” “Anatomy,” “Physiology,” and “Vaccination.” 

Band Shell (1938-1960) 

A gift of the class of 1937, the Band Shell was constructed in 1938. It was designed by O. J. Munson of Bowd Munson.  The graduating students raised $2,447 towards the building project that cost $25,000 to complete.  Part of the funding for the structure came from the Works Progress Administration. 

During the dedication ceremony on May 11, 1938, Michigan State College President Robert S. Shaw remarked “Because of its strength, beauty, and durability we hope it stands here forever, saying to the world that we here understand and appreciate the importance of cultural pursuits.”  Unfortunately, President Shaw did not get his wish.  The Band Shell was demolished in 1960 to make room for Bessey Hall.  A memorial rock and plaque mark the location. 

Livestock Judging Pavilion (1938-1997) 

The Livestock Judging Pavilion was a place for College of Agriculture and Natural Resources students to learn how to evaluate and judge animals.  It was also used as a laboratory for Department of Animal Science courses.  Many events, including livestock shows and sales, and rodeos, were held at the Judging Pavilion.  

This building, designed by the local architectural firm of Bowd Munson, was located on Shaw Lane, north of the Engineering Building and south of the International Center.  Two plaques in Benefactors Plaza commemorate the Judging Pavilion. 

Campbell Hall (1939) 

Campbell Hall is part of the West Circle Complex of residence hall, which were originally exclusively for female students.  It was designed by Malcomson, Calder, Hammond in a Tudor style consistent with the other dorms in the neighborhood.  Partially funded by the Public Works Administration, it was meant to house 250 women. 

Auditorium (1940) 

Designed by local architect O. J. Munson of Bowd-Munson, the Auditorium’s exterior has Gothic style pointed arches, and lancet windows.  Above the entrances are images of musical instruments, comedy, tragedy, and vines are carved in spandrels (the spaces near the arches). The Public Works Administration paid over $500,000 of the building’s total cost of $1,025,000. 

At the east side of the building is Fairchild Theater, which was named for George T. Fairchild, English professor from 1866 to 1879, and the first librarian. 

Auditorium construction, 1939

Music Building (1940) 

Funded by the Public Works Administration, the Music Building was designed by Ralph R. Calder.  It has a simple design with Art Deco flourishes, such as the limestone reliefs. Located on the southwest entrance, the reliefs are of figures playing music and singing, and quotes about music.  They were carved by Samuel Cashwan. 

Three Musicians Sculpture (circa 1940) 

This concrete sculpture of three stylized figures – a bass player, drummer, and saxophone player – was originally located on the east side of the Band Shell.  It was part of a pair given to Michigan State by the class of 1939.  It was created by Samuel Cashwan as part of the Federal Art Project.  After the Band Shell was razed the Three Musicians was moved to the lawn of the Music Building. The sculpture was removed during the construction of the Billman Music Pavilion and restored by Flatlanders Sculpture Supply and Art Galleries of Toledo. It was returned to campus in March 2021.

Three Musicians sculpture photo by Derrick L. Turner. Source MSU College of Music Facebook page, March 21, 2021.

Jenison Fieldhouse (1940). 

Jenison Fieldhouse was funded by the PWA and the estate of alumnus Frederick Cowles Jenison.  Like many other buildings on campus, it was designed by O. J. Munson, of Bowd Munson.  It was originally constructed to accommodate men’s athletics.  As such, the limestone reliefs above the entrances depict football, basketball, and baseball players. 

Three Murals by Charles Pollock 

Proclamation of Emancipation (1943), The Modern Man I Sing (1944), We Assure Freedom to the Free (1944) 

Charles Pollock created the murals in casein, as fast, evenly drying water-soluble tempera medium used by artists since Egyptian times.  The Social Realism-style murals were painted on rigid panels and then mounted on the walls of the Auditorium foyer.  “Depictions of political and economic struggles are combined with symbols of technological advances ranging from pioneer days to those contemporary to the 1940s.” (Kresge Art Museum)   

Written by Megan Badgley-Malone, Collections & Outreach Archivist

University Archives & Historical Collections publishes second “Tales from the Archives” volume

21 12 2022

The University Archives & Historical Collections at Michigan State University is thrilled to announce the publication of “Tales from the Archives, Volume 2: Sacred Spaces.” This second volume of rich and little-known campus lore comes on the heels of the initial “Tales from the Archives, Volume 1: Campus and Traditions,” published in 2017. Both are compiled by the staff and students of the University Archives.

While the first volume looks at the storied traditions found on the grounds of our nation’s premier land-grant university, this second volume gives us tales centered on the history and ever changing landscape of MSU. Featuring a foreword from MSU Associate Professor of Anthropology Stacey L. Camp, “Tales from the Archives, Volume 2” sets the scene by opening with two campus maps dating back to 1898 and 1946. It follows with brief biographies of notable campus buildings of the past and present, from College Hall to the Alumni Memorial Chapel; significant campus institutions including the Beal seed experiment and the forgotten class stone; and microhistories of campus social issues including those related to energy use on campus and the temporary housing provided on campus after World War II.

Camp, who is also the director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, cites the importance of the University Archives in preserving campus history in her foreword.

“MSU Archives plays a critical role in bringing campus history to light. They help the Campus Archaeology Program make sense of the artifacts we find beneath our feet. One of the best examples of this collaborative work can be found in this book in a section entitled ‘Digging Up MSU History.’ This chapter details how Dr. Terry Brock, a former MSU Campus Archaeologist, identified and dated an artifact featuring a student’s signature using a photograph from MSU Archives” (7).

UAHC Collections and Outreach Archivist Megan Badgley-Malone, who is a coeditor of both “Tales from the Archives” volumes, said that this second volume was especially enjoyable to work on due to the kinds of histories that it allowed her and the other contributors to unearth.

“It brings me great joy to use archival collections to help people connect to the past. ‘Tales from the Archives, Volume 2’ allows us to highlight the important work archivists do to preserve MSU’s history. The book is filled with fascinating histories of many campus spaces that hold a special place in the hearts of Spartans,” Badgley-Malone said.

“Tales from the Archives, Volume 2” is 149 pages and includes two maps and 81 illustrations. It is available for purchase at

Written by Elise Jajuga, MSU Libraries Communications Manager

Upcoming Holiday Hours

15 12 2022

Due to the upcoming Holidays, we have modifications to our hours.

December 19-22, 2022: The MSU Archives Reading Room will be closed to the public. We will still respond to email and phone reference requests.

December 23, 2022-January 2, 2023: Michigan State University will be closed for winter break.

January 3-6, 2023: The MSU Archives Reading Room will be closed to the public. We will still respond to email and phone reference requests. Responses may be delayed as we work through requests received during the winter break.

Our normal Reading Room hours will resume on January 10, 2023.

Beaumont Tower on a snowy day
Beaumont Tower on a snowy day, undated (A000581)