A History of the MSU Yearbooks

6 10 2017


1945 Wolverine, page 15

In the 1945 Wolverine, Sparty’s girlfriend, Spartina, was introduced. She wrote “letters” to Sparty, updating him about the events on campus while he was off fighting in WWII, page 15.

A common reference question at the Archives is a researcher wanting more information about a family member that attended MSU. The first place we look are the commencement programs, the student directories, and the yearbooks. The yearbooks provide the most information, such as activities they participated in, and most of the time (but not always), a senior photograph. That can lead to other photos in the yearbooks, such as student clubs or athletic team photos. For that reason, the yearbooks are a valuable resource in the Archives and help tell the story of the time. While the MSU yearbooks help tell the story of MSU, the yearbooks themselves have had their own interesting history.


Before the first “official” yearbook, Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.) had class albums. Unlike yearbooks that include photographs and stories of the academic year, class albums only included photographs of the faculty and students with no text or name indication. Some of the albums at the Archives have names written under the photographs, but except for the more easily recognized faculty members, we can’t know for sure if the penciled-in names are correct. The only album that does have identifying names to photographs is the first photo album that appeared in 1877. It is only 25 pages long, but it has an index of the corresponding names to all 14 seniors and faculty members pictured. A quick cross-check of the names with the student lists in the 1877 M.A.C. course catalogue shows 15 seniors that year. The student whose picture was missing was Frank Kedzie, who would go on to be MSU’s eighth president from 1915-1921.

In 1887, the Harrow, the first yearbook at M.A.C. was published. Different from the class albums, the Harrow was mostly text with few photographs. If any photos were included, it was usually the president of the college, a few select faculty members, and the editors of the Harrow. With the text, detailed information can be found, such as students’ names, lists of faculty members, sport teams rosters, and members of the literary societies. Instead of photographs, there were hand-drawn illustrations. The back of the yearbook had several pages of humor, mostly puns. Some of the humor is timeless while some has lost its meaning with the passage of time.

1925 Wolverine, Page 371

Cartoon from the 1925 Wolverine, page 371.



Off and on from 1877 to 1896, class albums, yearbooks, or nothing at all was produced. Finally, in 1900, a format of the yearbook that we are familiar with today was published. The Wolverine contained pictures of students and faculty members, along with team and group photos, and humorous stories. Unfortunately, the yearbook was not a financially stable venture. Yearbooks under different names appeared in 1904 and 1907, and finally in 1910, the Wolverine once again returned. The yearbook kept this name until 1975. In 1976, the name was changed to Red Cedar Log, to better reflect MSU and to avoid confusion with the University of Michigan.

1930 Wolverine Cover

Cover from the 1930 Wolverine.


The Red Cedar Log continued until 1996 when the yearbook production ceased due to a lack of student interest and financial difficulties. A senior edition booklet with only senior pictures and a few campus photos was distributed that year. No yearbook was published in 1997. Finally, in 1998, the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) reestablished the Red Cedar Log and was a success. To help offset the cost, in 2000, a $3 tax was included in each student’s tuition that is used to produce the yearbook. Today, all students can pick up a copy of the Red Cedar Log free of charge.




The MSU Archives has the entire collection of the class albums and yearbooks and maintains several copies of each yearbook because of the value they provide. Since the yearbooks are used heavily by researchers and the archivists on a daily basis, they eventually wear out! Pages become loose and the bindings fall apart. Keeping extra copies allows us to provide better quality yearbooks for researchers to use. Unfortunately, there are a few years we have no extra copies. These are the years we are seeking:

Class Albums: 1877, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1893

Harrow: 1887 and 1889

Heliostat: 1896

Red Cedar Log: 1978 Freshmen Ed., 1979, 1982, 1986-1990, 1993, 1998, 2004, and 2014

If you have any of these issues and would like to donate them to the Archives, we would be most appreciative of your assistance in preserving MSU’s history.

MSU Yearbook Names by Year

Class Albums: 1877, 1885-1888, 1890, 1893

Harrow: 1887-1889

Heliostat: 1896

Wolverine: 1900

Glück Auf: 1904

Jubilee Wolverine: 1907

Wolverine: 1910-1975

Red Cedar Log: 1976-1992

Red Cedar Annual: 1993-1995

Senior Edition: 1996

Red Cedar Log: 1998 – Present

Fun Facts

The yearbook was named the Wolverine for the simple reason that is represented the state animal of Michigan and nothing to do with the rivalry between the University of Michigan.

The Archives was featured in the 2017 Red Cedar Log, pages 228-229!

1978 Yearbook cover

Cover of the 1978 Red Cedar Log. This yearbook had a senior and freshmen editions.


The Archives learned this year that the 1978 Red Cedar Log actually had two versions, the senior and freshmen editions. The senior edition has photos of the seniors while the freshmen edition only has photos of the freshmen. The rest of the content is the same, except for the class photos and this was the only year when two different editions were created.









1877 Class Album.

1877 M.A.C. Course Catalogue, pages 6-7.

1998 Red Cedar Log, pages 296-297.

2005 Red Cedar Log, page 360.

2007 Red Cedar Log, page 362.

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist





SAA Workshops: Arrangement and Description of Digital Records, Parts I and II at MSU

29 09 2017

The early bird deadline is approaching for the Society of American Archivists workshops held at Michigan State University!

Arrangement and Description of Digital Records, Parts I and II will be held on November 2-3, 2017 at the MSU Library.  These workshops are jointly sponsored by the MSU Archives & Historical Collections and MSU Libraries.



Early-Bird deadline  – October 2nd

This course introduces you to processing strategies that are applicable to born-digital records, with an emphasis on basic concepts that archivists use to establish descriptive control over digital content. You’ll learn about standards and tools that can be used to implement an integrated processing strategy. You’ll also participate in a set of instructor-led exercises that arrange and describe some digital records in ways that maintain the integrity and authenticity of the digital records.



Registration Open for MMDP Workshop & Meeting in Lansing

18 09 2017

Hello all! The Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP) will convene for its next workshop and meeting on October 19-20, 2017 at the Library of Michigan in Lansing, MI sponsored by the Michigan Archival Association. Workshops will be held on October 19 from 1 to 4:30; the meeting will be held on October 20 from 9 to […]

via Registration Open for MMDP Workshop and Meeting — Michigan Archival Association

In Memoriam: Jud Heathcote

31 08 2017

Former MSU basketball coach George ”Jud” Melvin Heathcote passed away on August 28, 2017 in Spokane, Washington, at the age of 90.


Jud Heathcote and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, 1980 [A005938]

Jud Heathcote born on May 27, 1927, in Harvey, N.D and later moved to Washington State.  He was a high school basketball coach for 14 years before being hired as an assistant coach at Washington State University (1964-1971).  In 1971 he became head coach at the University of Montana where he led the team to their first Big Sky Championship.  He was then hired by MSU in 1976 to rebuild the Spartan basketball team.  His most notable accomplishments were coaching Magic Johnson and winning MSU’s first NCAA title with Johnson in 1979.  Although Heathcote’s teams never won another championship, he did hold the record for the most wins of basketball coach at MSU at his retirement.  Heathcote was known for his no nonsense coaching style, intensity on the court, and great sense of humor. Heathcote retired from MSU in 1995.   He was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of fame September 2001 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Heathcote is survived by his wife Beverly, three children, and grandchildren.


In March 1995, Jud Heathcote was honored at the Breslin Center following his last home game as coach of the MSU Spartans.  In his speech he stated ” I’d like to be remembered for two things, nothing great, just a good coach, and a good guy.”  [full video available at http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-16A2/juds-farewell-event-1995%5D

Rest in Peace, Coach Heathcote.

Summer’s Almost Gone…

28 08 2017

It has been a very busy summer at the MSU Archives.  Before we get started on what is to be a fun and productive fall, let’s recap a few of the big events of the summer.

Grandparents University

We have been participating in the Alumni Association’s Grandparents University for many years, and it’s always a rewarding experience. This year we taught one session titled “College Then and Now” to 17 grandparents and their grandchildren.  They enjoyed a short presentation about college life through the years, and got to peruse scrapbooks created by students in the 1910s.  Many participated in fun activities like making postcards, writing letters with dip pens, and using a typewriter.


Grandparents and their grandchild looking at student directories during the MSU Archives’ Green and White Night Open House

As part of Grandparents University, the Alumni Association held a Green and White Night tailgate in the courtyard between Akers, Hubbard, Fee, and Conrad Halls.  It featured food, music, games, and a giant inflatable Sparty.  The MSU Archives hosted an open house during Green and White Night.  Approximately 75-100 people dropped in to view materials from our collections, and to chat with the archivists.  We had a scavenger hunt style trivia contest, where participants hunted for answers in the displayed materials.


Giant inflatable Sparty at Green and White Night

Alumni University (formerly Alumni Reunion Days)

This year the Alumni Association invited us to host a tour for Alumni University.  Twenty-five enthusiastic alumni came to the archives to tour the reading room, staff area, and a display of materials from our collections.  Unfortunately, the bus driver got lost on the way and the group arrived late.  As a result, we did not have time to show them our high-density storage area.  The group was very engaged in the photographs, documents, ephemera, and other materials on display.  They also asked many thoughtful questions.

We also created a pop up exhibit for the hospitality room at the Kellogg Center for Alumni University.  We filled the room with reproductions of photographs and publications from the mid-1960s through the early 1990s.  Alumni were asked to jot down a few memories of their student days at Michigan State to be preserved in the MSU Archives.

89349-2 student radio WDBM UA 4249 box 6.jpg

Photo of WDBM DJ in 1989. This is one of the images displayed in the Alumni University Hospitality Room

Collections Update

Despite being busy with events, classes, and researchers, we arranged and described many new collections, including:


Pages from Mary Neller’s college scrapbook (Walter Neller family papers, scrapbook #3)

Upcoming Society of American Archivists Workshops at MSU

24 08 2017

The early bird deadline is fast approaching for the following Society of American Archivists Workshops in East Lansing, Michigan.

Copyright Issues for Digital Archives [DAS]

East Lansing, MI / Michigan State University / September 21, 2017

REGISTER HERE: https://saa.archivists.org/events/copyright-issues-for-digital-archives-1824/818/

Early-Bird deadline – August 29

Copyright Issues for Digital Archives covers copyright legal issues specific to archives of digital material. You’ll examine the impact of electronic technologies on the long-held law and tenets of copyright, including digital rights management and acquiring and advising on the use of rights in records. You’ll look at the basic text of relevant federal statutes and significant case law as well as examine case studies. A very brief review of copyright essentials will be provided to ground the discussion. The focus of the day will be on how to think through and identify options for resolving the most commonly encountered.

Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives [DAS]

East Lansing, MI / Michigan State University / September 22, 2017

REGISTER HERE: https://saa.archivists.org/events/privacy-and-confidentiality-issues-in-digital-archives-1825/817/

Early-Bird deadline – August 29

Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives covers privacy and confidentiality legal issues specific to archives of digital material. You’ll examine the intersection of (and the tension between) privacy/confidentiality, free speech, and freedom to research/write, and focus on how electronic records and the digital realm have altered the scene. You’ll look at privacy and confidentiality issues in the context of third-party rights, donors, special situations such as medical and education records, national security legislation, and the overriding impact of the digital world. Through case studies, you will examine specific situations pertinent to the work of archivists. The focus of the day will be on how to think through and identify options for resolving the most commonly encountered privacy and confidentiality legal issues regarding electronic records.


We will also be hosting two other Society of American Archivists workshops in November.

Arrangement and Description of Digital Records, Parts I and II

East Lansing, MI / Michigan State University / November 2-3, 2017

Register Part 1:  https://saa.archivists.org/events/arrangement-and-description-of-digital-records-part-i-1855/815/    Early-Bird deadline  – October 2

Register Part 2: https://saa.archivists.org/events/arrangement-and-description-of-digital-records-part-ii-1856/816/  Early-Bird deadline  – October 3

This course introduces you to processing strategies that are applicable to born-digital records, with an emphasis on basic concepts that archivists use to establish descriptive control over digital content. You’ll learn about standards and tools that can be used to implement an integrated processing strategy. You’ll also participate in a set of instructor-led exercises that arrange and describe some digital records in ways that maintain the integrity and authenticity of the digital records.

The Forgotten Class Stone

17 07 2017

Class of 1900 posing with their stone; June 15, 1900 (A005318)

An icon on the campus of Michigan State University, the Rock that resides off Farm Lane has been a meeting point and photograph backdrop for generation of students. Most know the Rock as a brightly-colored billboard that anybody can paint anew everyday, but most don’t know it was a class gift from the Class of 1873. It was dug out of the ground and was first placed in the Sacred Circle near Beaumont Tower. It stayed there for 112 years, but September of 1985, it moved to its current location off Farm Lane. Following the Class of 1873’s example, the Class of 1900 decided to gift their own stone. Unfortunately, people will not be able to locate the stone; instead, people will notice the Class of 1900 Fountain that is near Linton Hall. How did the Class of 1900 come to donate two gifts? Here is the tale of the forgotten class stone.


Men pay their respects to the buried stone.  The grave marker reads, ” ’00 Stone Dead”, circa 1900 (A005419)

The Class of 1900 donated their own stone, which was placed near the current Music building. During this time, the seniors and juniors were having a competition to publish the first Wolverine yearbook. The juniors beat the seniors to the punch and won. In response, the seniors stole 75 copies of the yearbook. To retaliate, the juniors buried the Class of 1900 stone, and marked it with a wooden plaque that read, “’00 Stone Dead” in the night. The seniors dug it back up, but later, an “unknown person,” built a fire and set the stone ablaze. To put the fire out, water was thrown on the stone. Unfortunately, the water caused the stone to shatter and became unrecognizable. No person was ever charged with destroying the stone.


The aftermath of the Class of 1900 stone being set on fire and put out with water.  The stone is unrecognizable from what it used to be, circa 1900 (A005345)

Four years later, the Class of 1900 donated the white sandstone rock drinking fountain. This fountain was unique because it worked as a drinking fountain for both people and horses. It was situated between Williams and Linton Hall. People on the sidewalk could walk up to the people side of the fountain while horses on the road could get water from the watering trough side.

As time passed, the driveway leading up to Linton Hall was removed and the fountain was turned off. At some point, flowers were planted into the basins of the fountain. Today, the fountain is still in its original location, but the sidewalk is now located on the watering trough side, so the front is not easily visible.


Man drinking from the Class of 1900 Fountain, date unknown (A001724)

It’s a short story of the forgotten class stone with very little sources. Unfortunately, a firsthand account could have been added but Irma Thompson ’00, when writing her memories of M.A.C., purposely left out that information. She wrote, “I decided to skip the class stone. The story has been told again and again. What new material I could add would still be a betrayal of 1900 to its ancient enemies. I lived with a 1901 graduate for 58 years and never told him what happened to the 75 missing Wolverines.”

To learn more about the Rock, visit http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Exhibit/1-6-1D/the-rock-at-msu/.


Beal, W.J. (1915). History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors. East Lansing: Agricultural College.

“The Drinking Fountain,” from the M.A.C. Record, Vol. 10 No. 2, September 27, 1904

“Fountain by Class of 1900,” from the M.A.C. Record, Vol. 9 No. 39, June 21, 1904

Kuhn, Madison. (1955). Michigan State: The First Hundred Years, 1855-1955. Michigan State University Press. East Lansing, Mich.

“Memories”, 1963, n.d., Irma Thompson Papers, UA 10.3.35, Box 761, Folder 1. Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections. East Lansing, Mich.

“The Senior Class Stone,” from the M.A.C. Record, Vol. 5 No. 37, June 5, 1900


Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist