Anthony Koo: From Chinese Diplomat to MSU Professor

17 11 2015


Thanks to the MSU Department of Economics, the papers of Anthony Y. C. Koo are now available to researchers in the University Archives & Historical Collections.

Professor Koo, a native of Shanghai, grew up in a family that was open to Western ideas, unusual in China at the time. He graduated from St. John’s University, a highly-respected institution in Shanghai which had both Chinese and Western students. He then came to the United States, earning a master’s degree at the University of Illinois before completing a doctorate in economics at Harvard.

The majority of Professor Koo’s papers concern his appointment as an advisor to the Chinese delegation of the Far Eastern Commission, which was formed by the Allied Powers in 1946 to develop the policies and principles which would guide the post-war occupation of Japan. The Commission included representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; India, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the Republic of China.

The Far Eastern Commission papers provide a little-known perspective on the complex regional and global politics of the late 1940s, and the economic challenges facing Japan after the war. The material will be a valuable resource for students and researchers in history, international relations, and Asian studies.

Professor Koo worked with the Far Eastern Commission until 1950, when he joined the economics faculty at MSU. He was honored with the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1956 and the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1976. Both Professor Koo and his wife, Dr. Delia Koo, were enthusiastic supporters of MSU, and the academic wing of MSU’s International Center is named in her honor. Professor Koo died in 2011.

Written by Sarah Roberts, Acquisitions Archivist

Electronic Records Processing

26 10 2015

When most people think of an archive, they naturally gravitate to images of faded photographs, journals of soldiers from past wars, silent film reels, and the like. And it’s true – the Archives here at Michigan State University is full of such vital remnants of our cultural legacy.

However, our society is now generating another type of legacy – a digital one. One made up of computer files and digital media. What’s surprising to most people is that this legacy and these digital items are actually in danger of disappearing far sooner than your grandmother’s photographs from the 1930s.

How is that possible?

One of the biggest reasons, and the one that I am going to explain here, is obsolescence. This is a subject familiar to anyone over the age of 30 who grew up playing video games and waxes nostalgic over the old Nintendo cartridges, or even Dreamcast discs, that can no longer be readily played. Obsolescence occurs when new technologies are developed, making the older ones, well, obsolete.

As the rate of changeover between newer technologies increases, as we have seen it do over the past few decades, digital materials created on older technologies can become lost when their media can no longer be accessed or if the software they were created with is no longer supported.

I’ll give you two examples in one. Your father wrote a book on his Mac twenty years ago and saved it to a floppy disk. If you wanted to scrounge up that book and launch your father to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, you’d have a bit of work ahead of you. First of all, you’d have to find a machine or use an adapter to read that disk. Computers nowadays don’t even have floppy drives. Second, the program that he used to write that book was probably discontinued fifteen years ago. The file will need to be converted if a newer program cannot read it.


Examples of older media that we work with at the Archives. The most iconic is probably the 3 ½ inch floppy disk

This is where Electronic Records Processing comes into play. A lot of what we do at the University Archives is to rescue old files from media, and take steps to make them accessible in today’s technological environment.

These are some of the tools used to “rescue” files from obsolete media. The Mac laptop has an old OS on it to help us access files on older disks, usually using the blue floppy reader beside it

These are some of the tools used to “rescue” files from obsolete media. The Mac laptop has an old OS on it to help us access files on older disks, usually using the blue floppy reader beside it

In addition to saving old files from old media, we also proactively take current files and, if necessary, put them into formats that industry professionals believe will be usable for some time. Once that is done, we store them in accordance with established preservation standards. Consequently, we also work with files from CDs, DVDs, downloads from the web, and flash drives. Because of the ephemeral nature of digital formats and platforms, taking steps to safeguard files created today is just as important.

Some potentially more familiar media. We work with files from these types of objects frequently. Increasingly, we are receiving downloaded or transferred files and sometimes do not have any physical object at all

Some potentially more familiar media. We work with files from these types of objects frequently. Increasingly, we are receiving downloaded or transferred files and sometimes do not have any physical object at all

So what can you do to preserve your information, thereby aiding in the safeguarding of our own cultural history? (It’s not bombastic; our photos, files, letters, papers, etc., are the stuff that history is made of!)

There are a few simple actions anyone can take. The first is to back up your files! One threat not mentioned so far is us – our own mistakes; things just sort of get deleted and then that’s it. They often cannot be saved. Accidentally deleting your one and only hard drive (if you aren’t a forensics whiz kid), is the equivalent of burning down your file cabinet in the “old days”. Take care!

Second, proactively labeling, dating, and organizing your files makes keeping track of, and migrating them, much easier. Going in, checking on your files, and copying/moving them to updated media every few years will also help to protect them from degrading over time.

For more information on protecting the longevity of your files, you can refer to our 8 Good Practices in Creating & Maintaining Electronic Records guide (

For more general information on Electronic Records Management at UAHC, check out our website, Electronic Records Management (

Written by Courtney Whitmore

Introducing the In-Office Records Destruction Form!

22 10 2015

University offices produce a variety of records on a daily basis, and sometimes departments do not have the staffing, time, or ability to box and ship records to off-site storage with University Archives.

If, due to necessity, you must manage, store, and ultimately dispose of your records in your own office, you are still responsible for following all records management policies and procedures, including ensuring that all records destruction is authorized by the University Archives.

The records management program can now assist you with documenting records destruction with its In-Office Records Destruction form.


Downloadable version of the form is available on our website –

This new form:

  • Identifies the university records you wish to destroy in your office
  • Ensures that you are authorized to destroy official university records
  • Documents that university records were destroyed in case of future inquiries

Both the form and detailed instructions can be found online at

To document your In-Office Records Destruction:

Complete the following contact information at the top of the form:

  • Name of contact person
  • Contact person’s phone number and email
  • Office/Department name

Archives may need to contact you if there are questions about your records.

Then, identify the record type, date range, volume, and destruction method of the records you have to be destroyed and complete the chart on the form.

  • Record type can be determined using the University Records Retention Schedules. You may view the retention schedules online or contact the Archives at 5-2330 with any questions.
  • Date range is typically a range in years.
  • Volume refers to the amount of records to be destroyed. Paper records are measured in cubic feet. Typically, one file drawer equals two cubic feet of paper records.
  • Destruction method refers to how you plan to destroy the records. For paper records, that is usually “Shred”.

Once the form is complete, sign the form, or have your department representative sign the form, and send it for review to University Archives at DO NOT PROCEED WITH RECORDS DESTRUCTION UNTIL YOU RECEIVE ARCHIVES APPROVAL.

The University Records Manager will review the form and contact you if there are questions. Then, the University Archivist will sign the form and approve the records destruction. This process may take 1-3 days, although Archives tries to process the forms as soon as possible.

A signed copy of the form will be emailed to your office. Once you have received a signed form, you may proceed with records destruction.

Please retain a copy of the signed form for your records. Archives will also retain a signed copy of the form.

While completing this process may be a change for many offices, completing the In-Office Records Destruction form will create necessary documentation in case of future records requests and will ensure your office’s compliance with University regulations.

If you have any questions or concerns about the form, please contact University Archives at 5-2330 or at .

Written by Hillary Gatlin, University Records Manager

Digitized interviews with the Navajo Code Talkers

20 10 2015
Navajo Code Talker interview tapes and other materials prior to digitization

Navajo Code Talker interview tapes and other materials prior to digitization

In 1973, Doris A. Paul released a book called The Navajo Code Talkers, about a group of men from the Navajo tribe who used their native dialect to transmit secret messages that could not be decoded by Japanese troops during World War II. Two years earlier, she and her husband (armed with a tape recorder), recorded interviews with many individuals involved with the transmission of these secret codes.

In 1995, Paul donated the tapes (along with some transcripts) to the Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections (her husband had been a lecturer at Michigan State). Twenty years later, these tapes have been digitized for posterity.

Screen shot of the digitization process

Screen shot of the digitization process

Thirteen cassettes were in the collection; twelve of the 1971 interviews, and one from a banquet in 1975 honoring the Navajo Code Talkers for their efforts during the war. The original cassettes are once again stored away, and the digital audio files will allow listeners to learn about the efforts of the Navajo Code Talkers, in their own voices.

Written by Matthew Wilcox

Interested in hearing the interviews? Contact the MSU Archives to make an appointment to listen to the newly digitized recordings. 

Lyman Family Descendants Visit MSU Archives

14 10 2015

On Monday, October 5, John Lambertson (a retired archivist) and his sister Lois Wain, visited the MSU Archives to research their family through the Lyman Family Papers (collection 00128). They are descendants of Liberty and Lucinda Lyman. The Lyman family papers include correspondence, diaries, property deeds, newspapers, photographs, and other materials for the family of Liberty Lyman and Lucinda Sikes Lyman covering the years 1812-1910. The bulk of the family correspondence consists of letters to Lucinda Lyman from her sons and daughters, as well as letters from friends and relatives in Massachusetts. James Lyman’s diary of 1863-1864 is useful for details on Civil War campaigns. This diary will be soon transcribed, scanned and placed on our Civil War Letters and Diaries website.

During the visit, John also donated photographs and other materials pertaining to the Lyman Family that will be added to the collection.

John Lambertson and Lois Wain researching their family's history in the MSU Archives' Reading Room

John Lambertson and Lois Wain researching their family’s history in the MSU Archives’ Reading Room

Newly Digitized Film Footage of 1930 Spartan Football Team

5 10 2015

1-4-1548-48-MSCFootballGoesToWashingtonYour support makes a difference!

The University Archives recently acquired several hundred films from WKAR, including a 1930 nitrate film of an MSC football team trip to Washington, D.C. to play Georgetown.1-4-1246-54-19301101sm_Page_01Thanks to support from a donor, we were able to digitize the fragile nitrate film in high definition. The film shows the team touring the nation’s capital, visiting Annapolis and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and meeting President Herbert Hoover.


President Hoover meets the Spartan Marching Band

Sadly, there is no actual gridiron footage because the game was played at night. But there are great scenes of football coach Jim Crowley, Spartan Marching Band director Leonard Falcone, and the MSU team enjoying this marvelous trip – which must have been a highlight of their college careers.1-4-1246-54-19301101sm_Page_04

The digitized film can be seen on our MSU history site, On the Banks of the Red Cedar (

If you would like to help save Spartan history, please consider donating to our MSU Film and Video Digitization Fund (  More information about the Film Fund can be found here:

Recap of “An Evening with Through the Banks of the Red Cedar”

25 09 2015

Critical Conversation Flyer top

 Guests, including Lorenzo White (Spartan running back, 1984-87), examining football collections at the MSU Archives

Guests, including Lorenzo White (Spartan running back, 1984-87), examining football collections at the MSU Archives

The “Evening with Through the Banks of the Red Cedar” event, co-hosted by MSU Archives and MSU Retirees Association,

on Thursday September 10th was a huge success. Approximately 250 guests had the opportunity to mingle with Spartan football greats such as Gene Washington and Clinton Jones. The evening started at 6:00 pm with refreshments in the lobby of Conrad Hall and an open house of the MSU Archives. Archivists were on hand to answer questions about MSU’s rich history. MSU athletics collections were featured, such as a football poster from the 1910s, Rose Bowl programs and memorabilia from the 1950s, and photographs and programs from nearly every sport played at MSU.

At 7:00 pm guests gathered in the Conrad Auditorium for the program, which featured sports radio broadcaster and author Jack Ebling as moderator. Cynthia Ghering, Director of the University Archives, gave a short presentation about the importance of the University Archives and our efforts to preserve and digitize MSU’s athletics history ( Jack Ebling sat down with documentary film maker Maya Washington to discuss her upcoming film “Through the Banks of the Red Cedar.”

Jack Ebling discusses the documentary with Maya Washington

Jack Ebling discusses the documentary with Maya Washington

The film “follows the 50 year legacy of the filmmaker’s father, legendary Vikings wide-receiver Gene Washington (College Football Hall of Fame, Big Ten Ford-Kinnick Leadership Award, Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame, 50 Greatest Vikings Honoree) from the segregated South to MSU alongside highly decorated teammates Bubba Smith (Defensive Lineman), George Webster (Rover Back) and Clinton Jones (Running Back) as they become members of the first fully integrated football team in America, later making history as first round picks in the 1967 Draft” ( Maya Washington showed the trailer for the film, which was enthusiastically received by the audience.

Ebling was then joined by Gene Washington and Clinton Jones who discussed how they were recruited by MSU football coach Duffy Daugherty in the 1960s and why they believed their team was important. They then asked several other former team members to join them on the panel, including Don Weatherspoon and Sterling Armstrong. For the remainder of the evening they regaled the audience with stories of camaraderie on and off the field.  It was a wonderfully entertaining evening.  Many thanks to all who made it possible!

Jack Ebling, Gene Washington, and Clinton Jones

Jack Ebling, Gene Washington, and Clinton Jones

Video of the program is available on Youtube:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,324 other followers