Every four years, the Winter Olympics bring figure skating to a world-wide audience. At the University Archives, figure skating fans can learn about our local ties to this graceful, artistic sport. The Archives are fortunate to hold the Beryl Williamson Papers and the Paul Dressel and Family Collection, both of which provide an insider’s view of the world of figure skating.
Beryl Williamson taught figure skating at MSU from 1957 to her retirement in 1996. Williamson grew up in London, Ontario and learned to skate from her father, a referee with the National Hockey League. She came to MSU in the summer of 1957 to teach a student, was offered a job, and never left East Lansing. Her dream to train somebody bound for the Olympics was achieved, both for the U.S. and Canadian Olympic teams. Williamson coached Alice Cook as a child, right here on campus, who would later attend the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics. Her collection includes programs, newspaper clippings, photographs, photo albums, and film. Included is a photo of a young fashion designer, Vera Wang, participating in a figure skating show.
The Paul Dressel and Family Collection includes mementos from Wilma and Jenna Dressel, both long-time members of the Lansing Skating Club. Members used to skate at Demonstration Hall and Munn Arena, where numerous shows and competitions took place. Within the collection are programs from various figure skating shows, which again include a young Vera Wang, Carol Heiss who was a world and Olympic champion, and Bradley Lord and Douglas Ramsey who were both killed in the 1961 Sabena Flight 548. Included in the collection are programs, directories, newspaper clippings, magazines, photographs, and Wilma’s hat and patches she wore when judging figure skating competitions.
Figure skating enthusiasts, both new and old, will enjoy these two fascinating collections!
Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist