Don Coleman, 1928-2017

1 02 2017
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Don Coleman, MSC football player, poses on the field, circa 1950s

Former Michigan State Lineman Don Coleman has died at the age of 88.

A three-year letter-winner (1949-1951), Coleman was MSU’s first unanimous choice for All-American, in 1951.  In that year, Don Coleman helped propel the Spartan football team to their first ever national championship.  He was also the first Spartan athlete to have his jersey retired (#78), and Clarence “Biggie” Munn called him “the finest lineman ever to play for Michigan State”.  Soon after being drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in the 1952 NFL Draft, Coleman ended his football career to serve in the Korean War, adopting an orphanage overseas and acquiring clothing for the orphanage through work with the city of Flint, Michigan.

Coleman left the Army in 1954 to work in education in Flint, ultimately joining MSU’s faculty in 1968.  There, he served as an assistant professor in intercollegiate athletics, and even worked as an assistant coach under “Biggie” Munn that same season.  He was named Assistant Director of Student Affairs the following year, and was named Director of the Minority Comprehensive Support Program of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1974.  In 1978, Coleman was named an Assistant Dean of the MSU Graduate School, and soon after served as the first Executive Director of the Black Child and Family Institute in Lansing, among many other prestigious roles in the Lansing area.

Don Coleman was also the first player named to Notre Dame’s All-Opponent Team three years in a row.  A complete film of the historic November 20, 1951 game against Notre Dame, in which the 5th ranked Spartans shut out the 11th ranked Fighting Irish by a score of 35-0, is available at the MSU Archives & Historical Collections (UA 17.75, reel 653).

Written by Matthew Wilcox, Audiovisual Archivist





Audiovisual Collections: Blanche Martin and the 1957 Spartan Football Team

16 01 2017
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Blanche Martin

January 16, 2017 marks the 80th birthday of Blanche Martin – an academic all-American MSU football running back (1956-1959).  The 1957 Spartan Football team were national champions, one of six seasons in the team’s history in which they held that distinction, and thanks in no small part to Martin.  During that season, he scored 7 touchdowns and ran for over 600 yards.  But Martin is known for so much more than being a great Spartan running back.

Dr. Blanche Martin (DDS,  University of Detroit Dental School, 1967) was elected to the Michigan State University Board of Trustees in 1969, the first African American to hold the position.  He chaired the Board from 1974 to 1976, and served on the board until 1984.  Dr. Martin also made great strides in improving conditions for minorities at Michigan State, increasing minority hiring and enrollment.  Dr. Martin was also a co-founder of the College of Urban Development at Michigan State University.

A video of the October 26, 1957 game film against Illinois is available for viewing online at the MSU Archives & Historical Collections’ site for digital collections, On the Banks of the Red Cedar: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-55F/msu-football-vs-illinois-1957/.  Other film reels from the 1957 season are available at the Archives, including most of the other games from that season, a highlights reel, and an “old timers” game reel!

If you would like to help preserve Spartan history and get this footage preserved and digitized for online access, please consider donating to the MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund (https://www.givingto.msu.edu/gift/?sid=1484). More information about the Film Fund can be found here: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/msu-archives-preserves-spartan-history/.

Written by Matthew Wilcox, Audiovisual Archivist

Editor’s note: Dr. Blanche Martin was interviewed for MSU’s Sesquicentennial Oral History Project in 2000.  The recording and transcripts are available on our On the Banks of the Red Cedar website: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/sohp/Object/2-D-E3/blanche-martin/.

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MSU Board of Trustees, 1969. (standing L to R) Don Stevens, Frank Hartman, Warren Huff, Frank Thompson (sitting L to R) Stephen Nisbet, Blanche Martin, C. Allen Harlan, Frank Merriman





Upcoming Holiday Schedule

15 12 2016
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Co-eds by the Rock during the winter of 1947-1948

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

December 19-20:  By Appointment Only

December 21: Closed

December 22: By Appointment Only

December 23: Closed

December 26: Closed

December 27: By Appointment Only

December 28: Closed

December 29: By Appointment Only

December 30: Closed

January 2, 2017: Closed

Please contact the University Archives as soon as possible if you need to do research on the dates listed as “By Appointment Only” above.  Turn around on email and telephone reference questions may be longer than usual during this two week span. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

We will resume normal Reading Room hours on January 3, 2017.  Please check our website for hours during the Spring 2017 semester.

Happy Holidays!

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Cowles House surrounded by snow, late 1940s (A000478)





As the Semester Ends, It’s Time to Review Your Records!

7 11 2016

As we move closer to the end of the semester, it may be a good time to review your records and determine what you should keep in your office or transfer to the Archives in preparation for next year.

The Records Management Program is happy to accept transfer of both temporary and permanent records in paper format. We also accept transfer of permanent records in electronic format. Both permanent and temporary records can be sent to the Archives through our transfer process.

Permanent records have important historical value to the university and may include items such as meeting minutes, videos, reports, presentations, speeches, photographs, scrapbooks, and organizational histories. These records will be processed by the Archives and eventually become part of the University’s historical collection.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATemporary records need to be retained for a specific period of time, and then can be destroyed once the retention period is met. Retention periods are set by the University’s records retention schedules. Please review the schedules for these retention periods. Temporary records sent to the Archives for storage will be retained until the end of their retention period; the Archives will then contact your office for approval to destroy the records. You may also destroy eligible temporary records in your office by completing and submitting an in-office records destruction form. Temporary records may include documents such as fiscal documents, student files, personnel files, search committee documentation, and general files.

If it has been a while since you have transferred records to the Archives, don’t worry. The Records Management program has developed three new video tutorials to assist you with records management forms and procedures.

These new videos cover three important topics:

These videos can also be found on the Archives website.

Whether you are new to the records management process or simply need a refresher, these tutorials will provide you with detailed instructions for completing key records management processes.

For additional information on transferring records to the Archives, please review the Archives website. You may also contact the University Archives at archives@msu.edu or 517-355-2330 for assistance.

Written by Hillary Gatlin, University Records Manager





Audiovisual Collections: 1960s College of Veterinary Medicine films

2 11 2016

Rainstorms can provide needed nourishment to dried-out grass and plants.  They can also promote an increase in the population of mosquitoes.  Water can be welcomed or cursed, depending on the situation.  During the end of August 2016, rain water and condensation leaking through indoor pipes caused concern for the safety of some archival materials.  Among some documents that were addressed for potential water damage were a set of nine 16mm film reels from the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Upon initial inspection at least a couple of reels showed slight signs of warping, which may or may not have been caused by the recent rainfall.  One of the films was sticking to itself along the first few frames, so great care had to be taken to unspool the film and ensure that the emulsion was not being removed.  While some of the boxes housing the films experienced noticeable water damage, the movies were still in good condition overall.  Inspecting the films also generated interest in some of the titles (“Campus Scenes, Summer 1969”, “MSU Farms, 1966”, “Outside Lepto Barn, 1966”, etc.).

If you would like to help preserve Spartan history by getting this footage digitized for online access, please consider donating to the MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund (https://www.givingto.msu.edu/gift/?sid=1484). More information about the Film Fund can be found here: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/msu-archives-preserves-spartan-history/.

Written by Matthew Wilcox, Audiovisual Archivist





Rumor Has It…

19 10 2016

With cooling temperatures, shorter days, and the crunch of fallen leaves, the setting couldn’t be better for a ghost story.  MSU is over 160 years old and, as with any old institution, whispers of ghosts and satanic rituals have spread.  At the MSU Archives, we don’t have official proof of spirits roaming the halls and dorms.  You can believe the tales or not, but we can share with you the stories that have been told about the various spirts that haunt this university.

Mayo Hall

The most famous ghost story on campus is the ghost of Mayo Hall, who people believe is Mary Mayo herself.  Mary Anne Bryant was born in Calhoun County on May 25, 1845 and married Perry Mayo, a Civil War veteran, on April 14, 1865.  They had two children together, a son named Nelson and a daughter named Nellie.  In 1884, the Mayos were founding members of a chapter of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, also known as the Grange.  Within the Grange, Mary advocated for girls and women to better themselves and to receive the same education as the men.  Even though women were admitted to MAC in 1870, the classes weren’t tailored to women; women were expected to work the land just like the men.  Only a handful of women graduated from MAC during this time.  In response, Mary was the main driving force for domestic science classes to be taught at MAC because she thought plowing and crop maintenance weren’t suitable for young women.  Her persistence paid off in 1896 when 42 women enrolled in the new Home Economics Program, which was an instant success.  Mary continued her work until she became ill in 1902; she died a year later on April 21, 1903.  She is buried in the Austin Cemetery that is located in Convis Township, Calhoun County.

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Mayo Hall, 1940; A000343

It is said that the ghost of Mary Mayo haunts the dormitory named after her.  Students have claimed to see the apparition of a woman, lights which turn off and on randomly, and a piano that plays on its own accord.  Additionally they claim that the eyes of the Mary Mayo portrait that hangs on the first floor follow people across the room.  As to why Mary Mayo would haunt Mayo Hall, stories range from the theory that she killed herself, was murdered, or otherwise died in Mayo Hall.  The fourth floor, referred as the “red

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Portrait of Mary Mayo that people claim the eyes will follow you across the room, undated; A003629

room,” is rumored to be sealed off to students because of satanic rituals taking place and rumors of a woman hanging herself.  None of these claims are true about Mary since she died at home from her illness in 1903.  Also, she died 28 years before Mayo Hall was built in 1931.  It seems very highly unlikely that Mary Mayo would haunt the building named after her years after her death, but many students believe that Mayo Hall is haunted.

Beaumont Tower

One of the most famous sites on campus, Beaumont Tower, also has its own ghostly stories to tell.  One legend states you aren’t a true Spartan unless you have been kissed in the shadow of the tower.  No reference as to how that legend got started has been found in the Archives.

Another story involves the ghost of a student that was killed in World War II.  He is said to haunt the tower as he searches for his lost sweetheart.  It would make sense that the student was from World War II because Beaumont Tower wasn’t built until 1928, 10 years after World War I.  Many students throughout the history of MAC have died in various wars, as far back as the first graduating class when two students died in the Civil War.  If there is a ghost of a student haunting the grounds of Beaumont Tower, it would be difficult to know who the student was.  Also, if a ghost is haunting Beaumont Tower, it could be a student that used to reside in College Hall, the first building on campus, since Beaumont Tower was built on the same location.  Or it could just be people’s eyes playing tricks on them as they kiss in the dark beside Beaumont Tower.

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Beaumont Tower, 1969; A000236

The Halloween Massacre at Holden Hall

The most recent urban legend that affected MSU was back in 1998.  That October, a rumor spread around campus that a psychic on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” predicated that a mass murder might occur on a college campus.  This rumor was told a few different ways.  The story that MSU believed was that a serial killer dressed as Little Bo Peep would appear on a Big Ten campus in Michigan on Halloween. The killer would murder around 20 people in a dorm located near railroad tracks with a name beginning with an “H.”  Other versions claimed that the killer would be dressed in regular clothes, that the crimes would happen in a dorm shaped like an “H”, or that the building would be located near a cemetery.

Most people believed that the prediction related to MSU because we are located in Michigan, we are a Big Ten University, Holden Hall starts with an “H”, is shaped like an “H,” and is located next to some railroad tracks.  Of course, this rumor was just that – a rumor.  This rumor has been around since 1968 and has resurfaced other times in various locations since it first appeared, the most recent at Kent State University in 2007.  People believe that the rumor resurfaced again in 1998 because the movie Urban Legend was released on September 25 of that year.  Some students were worried about staying on campus that weekend with some parents even calling the university.  Needless to say, no murders happened that Halloween.

More Haunted Stories

There are many other ghostly and macabre stories about MSU.  It is up to the listener to decide if they are real or not.  If you do want to learn more about real grisly tales, the MSU Archives has some items in our collections to spark your interest.  We have Spirit Communication letters in two different collections where “the dead” would communicate via a person and write out what they wanted to say, information on the real “Burning Bed” incident that was popularized as a TV movie starring Farrah Fawcett, a Halloween play that was performed on campus at the turn of the century, and more.  You can read more about some of these grisly tales by reading some of our older blog posts or exhibit pages.

https://msuarchives.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/spooky-stories-from-the-msu-archives/

https://msuarchives.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/more-spooky-stories-from-the-msu-archives/

http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Exhibit/1-6-13/campus-legends-and-myths/

No matter how you celebrate, whether by watching a scary movie, telling a ghost story next to a bonfire, passing out candy, or Trick-or-Treating, have a safe and Happy Halloween!  And that rustling of leaves you just heard, it was just the cat…or so you think.

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist





Earning a Seat at the Big Ten Table

6 10 2016

by Nick Kurtansky

This Saturday, the Michigan State football team looks to veer off the losing track with a visit from Brigham Young University. In many ways this game feels odd, and I believe it has to do with some source of unfamiliarity. Most likely it is because the two teams have never met before, especially since we are coming off of games with Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Indiana, in which we have played a combined total of 194 times. But then again, after a string of years competing as one of the national elites, maybe we are less accustomed to our 0-2 record in the Big Ten than we are a Mormon school located in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. It is unusual that, after coming off of games versus two conference opponents, State faces a team that has no such affiliation. People today can’t imagine Michigan State not being part of the Big Ten. Yet it took a combination of administrative moxie by John Hannah, the cessation of an entire athletics program, consent among regional sportswriters, and a Clarence Munn coached football team to get them in. The only fans who might recall the independent status would have been born before World War II. So as we set to face conference Independent BYU, I figured I’d write about Michigan State’s ambitious campaign that triumphed in 1948’s vote into the Big Ten, where we have since grown entirely familiar.

John Hannah believed very strongly in athletics. He said, “I have always thought that a sound athletic program was good for a university… they unify probably more than any other feature of the institution… they merge the enthusiasm of students, alumni, faculty, friends and supporters of the university, and all to the university’s good.” In 1939, the University of Chicago dropped its football program, putting the Big Ten Conference, known as the Western Conference, at nine teams. From Hannah’s start as president of the college in 1941, his ambitions were to build Michigan State College into a worldly prominent university. He saw the open seat in the Western Conference as his opportunity.

Scheduling was very difficult for Michigan State as an Independent. In order to receive national or even regional attention, you have to play tough teams and be competitive. This has not changed. However, Michigan State was unable to attract tough teams or regional rivals to East Lansing. Reputable competition usually had to be played on the road, leaving home contests to weak, small schools and school out West, in which regional attention cared little. Only five of State’s 48 meetings against the University of Michigan were in East Lansing before election into the Big Ten. Inclusion into the premier Western Conference offered consistent opportunity to play tough competition evenly between home and road games.

As an independent, MSC did not have the same experience that Notre Dame had and continues to have. As a state college, they did not have access to similar resources or operate under such privileges as Notre Dame by virtue of being a rich, private, Catholic school. Nevertheless, Michigan State owes Notre Dame a great deal of thanks. John Hannah had built a valuable relationship with Father John Cavanaugh of Notre Dame, and in 1943 the two are said to have agreed upon an annual series beginning in 1948 (which lasted over six decades until Notre Dame’s recent decision to end the annual agreement). However Notre Dame has always been considered a powerhouse football program. This series was very attractive to the Western Conference as they considered candidates to fill the University of Chicago’s old seat in the Big Ten.

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1948 action shot from the first annual meeting between the Spartans and Fighting Irish in South Bend.

 

Understandably, the interest in sports was at a low during World War II. But shortly after the War had ended, Hannah wrote a letter to the Big Ten requesting admission into the conference. At the same time, the student population under Hannah at Michigan State grew exponentially with Hannah’s efforts and help from the G.I. Bill. Then in 1946, the University of Chicago dropped the rest of its athletic program and the conference began considering candidates including Michigan State College, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nebraska. The University of Michigan and their president, Alexander Grant Ruthven, represented strong opposition to Michigan State’s case. In the First half of the century the Wolverines had been nationally dominant. Adding an intrastate rival to the conference would undoubtedly dilute their resources and ability to sign the best athletes. Indiana and Illinois were concerned that an annual Michigan vs. Michigan State conference game would take the air out of their nationally recognized contest with the maize and blue. Iowa lobbied for Nebraska because of geographical proximity would have resulted in another neighboring rival. But for the most part, the Big Ten schools supported Michigan State in this so called election in order to weaken Michigan and level the playing field.

Especially beneficial was John Hannah’s relationship with Lewis Morrill, the president at the University of Minnesota. It was from this city that the sports editor of the Minneapolis Star urged his fellow Big Ten regional sportswriters to support Michigan State in their newspapers. Logically, media support weighed heavy in the conferences decision. Even legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote in support of Michigan State to a national reading audience, and in particular, expressed admiration for John Hannah. In justifying their case, he wrote, “And why not? Michigan State has more than 15,000 students. It also has one of the best football layouts in the game, a new stadium that can handle 55,000 spectators, the most modern one yet build. Beaten only by Michigan and Notre Dame, Michigan has known one of its best seasons this fall. It has a better team than several members of the Big Nine.” In support of Hannah’s ideas in favor of college administrative control over college athletic programs in order to preserve the purity of amateur athletics, Rice would later write in the Pittsburgh Press, “I would like to see Dr. Hannah put in charge of handling all of college football.”

One of the obstacles involved athletic scholarships. Michigan State awarded their Jenison Awards, a scholarship for tuition, books, room, and board, to 90 athletes each year. At the time, this aid was one the level of schools from the Southeastern Conference. The Big Ten did not approve of the Jenison Awards and looked down upon all athletic scholarships. State complied, and decided to drop this tradition in order to please the Western Conference.

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Clarence “Biggie” Munn and his assistant coaches, including Duffy Daugherty.

 

Biggie Munn was hired in as the MSC football coach perfectly in between the folding of the University of Chicago’s athletic program and the beginning of the series with Notre Dame. He went 7-2 and 6-2-2 in his first two years, 1947-48. As a great coach, Biggie looked the part, and he went on bring the football team to national glory in the early 1950s. When the Michigan State News published the headline “State Makes Big 10” on December 12, 1948, a crowd of students gathered outside the home of John Hannah. It was announced as a unanimous, although that score is a likely formality to underscore any strife. In front of the joyous crowd, Hannah graciously downplayed his role in the decision, boiling the situation down to a credit to Biggie Munn and the football team’s performance.

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State News of December 12, 1948 breaking the news with the headline “State Makes Big Ten.”

Because of scheduling, Michigan State did not play its first official conference football game until 1953. That year they were coming off of AP and Coaches’ Poll national titles in 1952 as independents, but in their first conference season, the Spartans won their first Big Ten title. As far as getting into the Big Ten, of course it was much more complicated than president Hannah claimed on the night of December 12, 1948. It required the recipe of student populating growth after WWII, administrative networking, one school’s crumbling athletics program to contrast State’s up-and-coming football program, and a little bit of help from our friends, the talking heads in the media, for Michigan State to since reap the fruits as a member of the proud Big Ten tradition.