MSU Archives Year in Review 2014

29 12 2014

For the Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC), 2014 has been a busy and rewarding year.  The following are a few of the highlights of the past 12 months.

UAHC started taking small steps in preserving its audio-visual assets this past year. Interns indexed magnetic media, created a manual for handling and processing, indexed the film collection, replaced rusty canisters, and checked acetate degradation. UAHC also began setting up a video and audio digitization lab and identifying player equipment. In April 2014, a special fund was created to raise money for the AV collections, with advertising targeted to alumni ( The “baby steps” approach to AV preservation was highlighted by the poster “One Reel at a Time: Facing the Reality of AV Collections,” presented by Cynthia Ghering and Portia Vescio at the October AMIA conference in Savannah, Georgia.

This past February, the MSU Office of the President unveiled the Morrill Plaza Kiosk, which honors the memory of the late, venerable Morrill Hall and highlights 100 past distinguished professors. Built in 1899, Morrill Hall was MSU’s first residential college for women; in later years and until its demolition in 2013, it provided offices and classroom space for the History and English Departments. UAHC contributed 490 historical photos for use in the kiosk.

The first phase of the Spartan Archive digital repository went live in June 2014. UAHC had received funding from NHPRC to develop a preservation environment for four series of database records from MSU’s Office of the Registrar—Academic Programs, Course Descriptions, Course Schedules, and the Student Directory—as a prototype for a trusted digital repository for born-digital institutional records. Spartan Archive is available at

In September 2014, the third Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP) meeting was held at Central Michigan University. UAHC and the MSU Libraries formed MMDP in summer 2013 to bring together professionals engaged in creating and curating digital collections in Mid-Michigan and the surrounding region, including librarians, archivists, museum curators, historians, and more. Each of the biannual meetings held thus far has averaged 50 attendees. The next scheduled meeting is in Ann Arbor in Spring 2015. Information about past meetings may be found at

UAHC underwent much-need renovation and expansion in 2014. Over the summer, new moveable shelving and an air handler specifically designated for collection storage areas were installed. The next phase of the facilities upgrade, scheduled for completion in January 2015, includes expansion into the space next door to UAHC’s current office for a larger reading room, new workspace for students and interns, and the addition of another secure, climate controlled collections area.

MSU’s records management program, administered by UAHC, expanded its reach on campus with the addition of two new employees: Hillary Gatlin, University Records Manager, and Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist. With this support, the records management program began a long-term project to complete a full revision of the existing university records retention schedules. This revision will ensure that the university’s records policies accurately reflect current record keeping practices, including the maintenance and disposal of electronic records.

Closing for Renovations

3 12 2014

From December 8, 2014 through January 23, 2015, the MSU Archives will be closed for on-site research.
This closure is due to renovations of our Reading Room and staff area. Archivists will be available by appointment.  Please contact the Archives to schedule an appointment or for more information.

Additionally, we will be closing at noon on Friday, December 5th to prepare for the renovations.

We are sorry for the inconvenience and will try to accommodate researchers’ requests as best we can.  We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.

A Timeline of the LGBT Community at Michigan State University

1 12 2014

Early twentieth century saw an almost non-existent gay population on campus and even in the area. Students recalled a time when there were no gay bars, no gay community, and not even a real way to identify as gay (History at MSU, Report). The 1950s saw “gay purges” where people would be requested to take a lie detector test at the police station where they were asked intimate details about possible gay relations and would often leave the community (History at MSU, Report). One man was banned from the ROTC after he had been questioned. There was a looming fear for safety and job security if the community found out someone was gay, and therefore creating support groups was not a safe choice. (The Final Report Vol. I of the University Wide Task-Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues, 1992: A History of the Gay and Lesbian Experience at Michigan State University)
In the 1960s, “homosexual activity” was added to the Michigan State University Department of Public Safety Annual report as a category of complaint. Within the first year that this category was added, there were fourteen different reports and six arrests made under that claim. The following few years saw a rise from six to twenty arrests (History at MSU, Report). This decade also saw the basement of the MSU Union Building remodeled after the men’s bathroom became known as a place for homosexual activity. (The Final Report Vol. I of the University Wide Task-Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues, 1992: A History of the Gay and Lesbian Experience at Michigan State University)
Michigan State and the East Lansing community went through great changes in the 1970s. The Gay Liberation Movement became a registered student organization in 1970 and was very active on campus, responsible for the establishment of Pride Week at State. 1970 was also the year that a Human Sexuality course at MSU included materials by gay/lesbian authors and provided a safe space for student to openly discuss sexual orientation. An openly lesbian professor at MSU provided a representation of success to students in the LGBT community of the ’70s. In 1974, the East Lansing Council passed a gay rights ordinance that prohibited discrimination in the workplace and public places. Though harassment still occurred, it gave public places more power to take action, just as Beggar’s Banquet did the following year when people were being harassed in their establishment. 1977 was a big year for change as it included both progress and discouragement. The Gay Liberation Movement became the Gay Council and picked up more power and steam on campus, an anti-gay crusade caused tension and controversy, and an amendment to the anti-discrimination policy was changed to include sexual orientation. A creative event called “Gay Blue Jeans Day” asked anyone who identified as gay to wear blue jeans on a particular day. Any person that was forgetful or unaware of the call for blue jeans and found themselves dressed in jeans on that day may feel the oppression that the lesbian and gay community felt on a daily basis. That same year, the ASMSU Student Board President attempted to disband the Gay Council after he claimed it was not like other minority groups where people are born a certain way and rather “gay people choose to be homosexual” (History at MSU, Report). His proposal was voted down. The following year, in 1978, an openly gay student won the presidency of ASMSU. (The Final Report Vol. I of the University Wide Task-Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues, 1992: A History of the Gay and Lesbian Experience at Michigan State University)

(UA 12.3.14, Box 4454)

Click to enlarge (UA 12.3.14, Box 4454)

In 1982, Delta Sigma Phi suspended one of their brothers on the grounds that he was “incompatible” with the fraternity due to his involvement on the Lesbian-Gay Council. Though the student had already chosen to move out of the house after feeling unconformable when his brother found out about his involvement, Delta Sigma Phi still chose to suspend him from any house activities. The Anti-Discrimination Judicial Board ruled that the fraternity was in violation with the anti-discrimination policy at MSU, but the fraternity repealed it. When they were rejected, the group threatened to sue the school if MSU President Mackey did not veto the ruling. Due to the fact that the Greek community is a separate entity, President Mackey overruled the Board’s decision and reinforced that choice with the claim that Greek Life functioned on a single-sex basis and therefore did not fall under the sex discrimination policy. Multiple deaths in the Lansing area due to AIDS called for a step-up in awareness from both Olin Health Center and the Gay-Lesbian Council. In 1987, The College Republicans tried to fight “Gay Blue Jeans Day” with “Straight Shirt Day” in hopes to offset the mission of the day, ASMSU condemned their attempt. Beginning in 1988, Michigan State saw a string of harassment and discrimination from students to students. A State News writer was attacked in one of the halls and warned that they should stop writing about gay/lesbian issues in the paper. The 1989 Pride Week was all but welcomed with chalked messaged of hateful and demeaning anti-gay messages on the Wells Hall Bridge, some of which directly targeted a Resident Assistant who had helped plan Pride Week. That RA was targeted when his room was set on fire and the State News received an anonymous call that it was only the first strike just before another target found their car soaked in gasoline. The Department of Public Safety claimed that the fire was caused by accident as opposed to intentional harassment, however, MSU President DiBiaggio put out a statement to condemn those who discriminate or harass. (The Final Report Vol. I of the University Wide Task-Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues, 1992: A History of the Gay and Lesbian Experience at Michigan State University)

(UA 12.3.14, Box 4454)

Click to enlarge (UA 12.3.14, Box 4454)

The 1990s was another rocky decade for the LGBT community. The 1990 Coming Out Day was met with a “seltzer bomb” (a two-liter bottle with ingredients that expand and explode), no injuries or damage was done but the Lesbian/Gay Council was outraged at the act (State News, Bomb Explodes at Assembly, 10/17/1990). In 1991, a MSU student brought Sigma Lambda Phi, a socially progressive fraternity, to campus as a place for both gay and heterosexual men to build community. The Final Report of the University-Wide Task Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues was published in 1992, outlining the history and giving suggestions to better the life of lesbian and gay students at Michigan State. Some of the suggestions included improvement in anti-discrimination policies, employment, LGBT curriculum/materials and campus education, admission, Greek Life, and mentioning. Queer Color, a group created for lesbian, bi, and gay minorities was established in 1994. Michigan State University employees were given health benefits for their same-sex domestic partners in 1998. 1999 Pride Week had a special event when the ten year time capsule was opened to show newspapers clippings a letters that helped students put in perspective where MSU and college campuses nation-wide have come in those ten years, and where it still needed to reach. (The State News)

(UA 12.3.14, Box 4454)

Click to enlarge (UA 12.3.14, Box 4454)

The LGBT community grew stronger and move visible as the new millennia came. In 2000, there was a push for a LGBT aide in the residence halls, similar to the minority aides (a position that today has developed into the Intercultural Aides), though the position was never established. Pi Kappa Phi was suspended in 2002 when pledges wore pink shirts with offensive phrases including “Fag Hairstylist” and others into a dining hall. The removed leaders of the fraternity did not try to appeal the national council’s ruling to close the chapter with the chance for recolonization the following fall. That March, MSU hosted a gay conference with an attendance expected to be over 1,000 people and events that included speakers and workshops. The event proved as a mark of success for both LGBT groups on campus and MSU leaders in their progression on-campus. MSU students held a rally in 2005 to show their disapproval with Michigan’s vote of Proposal 2. The Sesquicentennial Parade included a float titled “Cheers for Queers”, created by The Alliance of LBGT and Straight Ally Students, and was met with positive cheers from the crowd. That year also saw Conservative Coming Out Day, equipped with a mock closet, which upset the LGBT community as that group is usually associate with views against the LGBT community and implies certain things about what Coming Out means to their community (10/12/2005, State News). In 2006, Michigan State University was ranked in the top 100 best colleges for LGBT students, according to The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, written by Shane Windmeyer (State News). Not long after, a bathroom crawl was conducted to raise awareness and fight for gender neutral bathrooms and “inclusion of gender identity in the MSU anti-discrimination policy” (LBGT Resource Center webpage, 4/11/2007). Also in this decade, with respect and open-mindedness, MSU’s Department of Residence Life and its LGBT Resources Center began to work with students to take into consideration transgender students in their living arrangements on campus. Late in this decade, the program New2U was created to help LGBT freshmen acclimate to campus with connections to resources and weekly meetings. (The State News)
The current decade has seen some very positive events coming out of the hard work of the LGBT and Allies in the Michigan State and East Lansing community. In 2011, Residence Halls Association (RHA) partnered with the Red Cross to do a blood-drive that protested the life-ban on gay men. Someone could donate their blood along with a note that the blood was in honor of someone who could not donate, to display the amount of blood that could have been donated if both people were allowed. The LGBT Resource Center held a Queer and Career Conference that year, to help students in their transition into corporate America. That same year, the LGBT Specialization was in the works, as was a LGBT focused study abroad. Also in 2011, Ingham County had the second highest number of same-sex couples, after Washtenaw County (home to University of Michigan). “I am an Ally” program through the LGBT Resource Center gave allies a way “to give visibility and voice to people who are supportive of the LBGTQ community” (LGBT Resource Center: Programs and Services). In 2012, RHA officially passed a policy that allowed gender-neutral housing. In March of that year, the East Lansing City Council recognized the Gay Liberation Movement as a key player in becoming the nation’s first city to “ban discrimination based on sexual orientation” in 1972 and how MSU continues to follow their lead in bringing equality to the LGBT community (East Lansing City Council: A Resolution Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of East Lansing’s First-in-the-Nation Ban on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, 3/7/2012). 2013 was another year of pride and awareness at MSU and included Celebrate Bisexuality Day, the finalization of the LGBTQ and sexual studies Specialization. East Lansing also made big moves that year; the city gave same-sex couples the right to place their names in the city directory to be recognized by East Lansing, even if the state laws prevent their formal recognition. The city also received the high score of eighty-six on the Human Rights Campaign report, though it was scored prior to the domestic partnership registry, which would have brought the city to ninety-eight (The State News).
The past year has once again brought pride to the Michigan State University community. The LGBT Resource Center received an anonymous $1 million donation. In recent news, East Lansing scored a perfect 100 point score from the Human Rights Campaign for American cities based on “discrimination laws, relationship recognition, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership on LGBT issues” (State News, East Lansing gets perfect score from LGBT group, 11/13/14). The history of the LGBTQA community at Michigan State saw many ups and downs. Recent events prove that the tireless work and discrimination endured did not go unnoticed, and Michigan State, along with its City of East Lansing, has shown its commitment to progression.

Lansing State Journal
Detroit Free Press
The State News
LGBT Resource Center
The Final Report Vol. I of the University Wide Task-Force on Lesbian and Gay Issues, 1992: A History of the Gay and Lesbian Experience at Michigan State University
East Lansing City Council: A Resolution Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of East Lansing’s First-in-the-Nation Ban on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, 3/7/2012

Written by Laura Williams

Holiday Hours and Upcoming Closings

12 11 2014

Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections will be closed Thursday-Friday, November 27-28, 2014 for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We will reopen Monday, December 1st, at 9:00 a.m.

From December 8, 2014 through January 23, 2015, the MSU Archives will be closed for on-site research.
This closure is due to renovations of our Reading Room and staff area. Archivists will be available by appointment.  Please contact the Archives to schedule an appointment or for more information.

We are sorry for the inconvenience and will try to accommodate researchers’ requests as best we can.

American Archives Month 2014

1 10 2014

American Archives Month is celebrated every October to promote the value of archives and archivists.  The Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC) is responsible for collecting and preserving the historical records of the nation’s pioneer land-grant university.  In essence, the University Archives is the memory of MSU.  Our collections contain documents, photographs, scrapbooks, diaries, and audio and visual recordings on a variety of topics, including athletics, student life, and Michigan History.  UAHC is a valuable resource for the MSU community, historians, publishers and producers, K-12 students, teachers, genealogists, and the general public.

To celebrate American Archives Month, archivists from the MSU Archives will be giving several presentations throughout October hosted by Capital Area District Libraries.

  • October 2nd, 6:30 p.m. at the Holt-Delhi branch: Outreach archivist Megan Malone will present “Know Your School: MSU History and Trivia.”   Learn fascinating facts about MSU history, campus traditions and other things every Spartan should know.
  • October 14th, 2:00 p.m. at the Aurelius branch:  Assistant Director Portia Vescio presents “Scandals, Scalawags, and Unsavory Stories in MSU History.”  Get the scoop on student strikes, pranks, undercover Pinkerton agents, and other scandals from MSU’s past.
  • October 16th, 5:30 p.m. at the Williamston branch: In “Caring for Personal Papers” processing archivist Whitney Miller will explain actions you can take to properly preserve your documents, data, photographs, and scrapbooks.  This presentation will cover how to preserve various physical and electronic formats, identifying potential dangers to materials, and where to find supplies.
  • October 21st, 7:00 p.m. at the Webberville branch: “Know Your School” presented by Megan Malone.
  • October 22nd, 6:30 p.m. at the South Lansing branch: “Caring for Personal Papers” presented by records manager Hillary Gatlin.
  • October 23rd, 7:00 p.m. at the Okemos branch: “Scandals, Scalawags, and Unsavory Stories in MSU History” presented by Portia Vescio.

Please visit Capital Area District Libraries’ website for more information:

In addition to the presentations at CADL, MSU Archives is holding a Then-and-Now Photo Contest throughout October.  For more information, please refer to: American Archives Month Photo Contest.

American Archives Month Photo Contest

30 09 2014

In honor of American Archives Month, the University Archives & Historical Collections is holding a photo contest. Learn about MSU history and see how campus has changed by creating Then-and-Now photos and possibly win a prize!


*  Create a Then-and-Now photo using historic images from the MSU Archives (found on our On the Banks of the Red Cedar website: This can be done one of two ways —

  1. Overlay a historic MSU photo from the MSU Archives over a current setting to show the past and present in the same photo.
  2. Create a side-by-side image using a historic MSU photo from the MSU Archives next to the current setting.

*  Submit photos through the MSU Archives’ email at Please include your name, address, and descriptive title for your photo(s).

*  Entries will be accepted through October 31, 2014.

Overlay Photo


Horticulture students pose for a picture in front of Eustace-Cole Hall in 1918 overlaid on Eustace-Cole Hall as it appears today.

Side-by-Side Photos

Army Air Force trainees enter Abbot Hall, 1943 and photo of Abbot Hall as it appears today.

Army Air Force trainees enter Abbot Hall in 1943 and photo of Abbot Hall as it appears today.


Entry Period: 8:00 a.m. October 1, 2014 to 5:00 p.m. October 31, 2014.

Eligibility: The contest is open to MSU faculty, staff and students, MSU alumni, and the greater Lansing community.

Entries: Submit photos through the MSU Archives’ email at Please include your name, local address, and descriptive title for your photo(s).

Prizes: The top three winners will receive a mug with historic MSU images.

Judging: Entries will be judged according to originality, creativity, communication of the contest theme, and overall appeal. Winners will be chosen by a panel of experts the first week of November.

1989 Hannah Administration Building Occupation

19 09 2014

Michigan State University prided itself for what President John Hannah called an “assault on inequality”. Though, by 1989, racial equality on college campuses was the goal, it was not in fact a reality. Fueled by tensions rising across the nation, and sparked by anonymous phone calls of racial slurs and threats, as well as racism from the police and in the classroom and newspaper, MSU found itself with a student body formed to make significant progress for racial equality. In May of 1989, a group of 200 Michigan State minority students staged a sit-in on the first floor of the Hannah Administration building. For eight days, the students blocked the doorway and crowded the hallway, costing the university a good deal of money as many financial matters were handled in the Administration building.

The events that led up to the sit-in indeed called for action. In February 1989, ASMSU was charged with discrimination during the selection process of its leaders. That same month, the State News published a personal opinion piece by a student who claimed white supremacy was on the rise due to the increase of racial discrimination claims. In April, a MSU Professor wrote in his State News column that minority student enrollment in his courses were low because his material was “too tough” for them (State News). The Black Student Alliance spokesperson and a sit-in leader, Darius Peyton, claimed that the administration had not done nearly enough in response to the obvious racial tensions and discrimination that had built up on campus.

The black students on campus formed a set of demands to be met by Michigan State’s administration, and staged the sit-in to see those demands dealt with immediately, as they had seen previous promises drawn out for too long. Some of the demands included “regular forums on racism” and awareness events, an increase in “black faculty, staff and administrators by specific dates”, reevaluation of current anti-discrimination procedures, more courses in black studies and scholarship for black students, and the observance of MLK day (to include the excuse of students from class).

Female student styles hair of another student during the 1989 Hannah Building occupation

Female student styles hair of another student during the 1989 Hannah Building occupation

The sit-in lasted for eight days, when it concluded after a very extensive negotiation period between the student representatives and President DiBiaggio. The President agreed to meet all thirty-six of the formal demands of the students, which ended the sit-in.

Not all Michigan State students agreed on the necessity or the success of the sit-in. A majority student group called No Equality Through Inequality (NETI) fought against those who partook in the sit-in. Their group called for the protestors to evacuate the administration building. Even more notable was their request to have a majority student representative present when the minority policy was to be created.

The fight did not end there. Following the sit-in, different discussions, newspaper responses, and follow-up protest occurred. At the end of May, a panel of students that participated in the sit-in led a discussion, along with a question and answer period, which addressed the event. Most of the crowd was black, but a few white students were present. One white student questioned the intentions of the protestors. The response summed up the need for such a protest; minority students simply needed to demand to be treated the same as majority students and that they wanted nothing more than what majority students already had (State News, “Students learn from sit-in”). Though the administration agreed to the demands and many demands had been met, in September of 1989, the student body once again felt that the slow pace was unacceptable and together 400 black students protested with a walk down Shaw Lane. Their persistence encouraged other minority groups to also confront the administration on accounts they had witnessed of discrimination. Though the MSU spokesperson told the Detroit Free Press in October 1989 that she was frustrated with the disapproval, the administration would continue to work with the students to ensure results. The feeling overall left students proud of the accomplishments of the sit-in and felt that their commitment would show results for themselves as well as future MSU students.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sources – (The State News 05-09/1989, The Detroit Free Press 05-10/1989)

Written by Laura Williams


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,090 other followers