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 (http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-1548/msc-football-team-goes-to-washington-dc-1930).

If you would like to help save Spartan history, please consider donating to our MSU Film and Video Digitization Fund (https://givingto.msu.edu/gift/?sid=1484).  More information about the Film Fund can be found here: https://msuarchives.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/msu-film-and-video-preservation-fund/.

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 (https://msuarchives.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/msu-film-and-video-preservation-fund/). 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” (http://www.throughthebanksoftheredcedar.com/). 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsyjA77H8_Y.

New Year, No Space? Records Management Services at MSU

31 08 2015

By Hillary Gatlin, University Records Manager

As a new school year begins, you may look around at the paper files and documents in your office and think: Where am I going to store these documents? I have no space!

University Archives recently constructed a new records management area for staging and processing of university records.


University Archives can help! The University Archives’ Records Management Program provides a variety of services to assist departments and offices with identifying, storing, and organizing their university records.


What kind of documents do you create in your office? Are they university records? Are they considered permanent or temporary?

The Records Management program creates and manages the University’s records retention schedules, which will tell you what records to keep and for how long. If a record your office creates is not mentioned in the University’s general schedules, the Records Manager will work with your office to craft specific retention schedules to meet your needs. For more information, visit our retention schedules at archives.msu.edu.


Just because you need to retain a document for 6 years doesn’t mean you have to store it in your filing cabinet.

The records management program provides storage to offices/departments free of charge (all you need to purchase are the boxes). This storage service allows you to store your temporary paper records off-site until they are eligible for destruction. University Archives will then store the boxes and contact you for approval when they are eligible for destruction. You can even request the return of materials if they are needed for review or audit. This service will free up your office space and help ensure that your records are retained for the full required retention period. For more information, check out the records transfer process at archives.msu.edu.


Do you have questions about how to organize, file, and otherwise manage a variety of records, both in paper and electronic formats?

University Archives provides free records management consultation on a variety of topics, including shared drive organization strategies, file naming conventions, and general records management best practices. The Records Manager is available to meet on a one on one basis or can present to a whole office if preferred.

Contact University Archives at 5-2330 or archives@msu.edu to schedule a consultation.

Looking to explore any of these services? Check out the Records Management program on archives.msu.edu for more information.

Join us for “An Evening with Through the Banks of the Red Cedar” on Sept. 10

18 08 2015

msu football

The Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections is pleased to announce our upcoming event “An Evening with Through the Banks of the Red Cedar,” featuring Clinton Jones, Gene Washington and special guests, with filmmaker Maya Washington, and moderator Jack Ebling. This event, which is co-sponsored by the MSU Retirees Association, will be held September 10, 2015 at Michigan State University’s Conrad Hall. Join us for a celebration of the College Football Hall of Fame induction of Clinton Jones and the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 National Championship team. Enjoy a preview of the highly anticipated documentary, Through the Banks of the Red Cedar, following the journey of MSU and College Football Hall of Famers Clinton Jones, Bubba Smith, Gene Washington, George Webster, and teammates during the historic era. Archival materials from the University Archives & Historical Collections will be on display for the public with an open house at 6 pm followed by the program at 7 pm. Admission to the event is free by RSVP. Please RSVP online at www.throughthebanksoftheredcedar.com/events/criticalconvo or call (517) 353-7896.

Free parking is available in Lot #32 on Fee Road.  Directions can be found on the MSU Archives’ website: http://archives.msu.edu/about/map.php?about_contact_map.


MSU in the Year 2055

12 06 2015

What will life be like in 100 years? It’s a question that preoccupies the minds of humans from time to time – particularly during anniversary celebrations. This was the case when Michigan State University was celebrating its centennial in 1955. Professor William Henry Roe, Sr. wrote a piece for the Centennial edition of the Wolverine yearbook imagining what life would be like for MSU students in 2055.

Roe was an associate professor of administration and education at MSU from 1952 to 1965. He taught school administration to graduate students. Roe’s literary pursuits centered on this topic as well; authoring books such as State School Administration and Financing Michigan’s Schools. No evidence could be found that he was a creative writer or typically engaged in fanciful imaginings of the future. This appears to be his only foray into future fiction.

So what did Roe see in our future?

By 2055, all young people who are capable of learning will be required to attend college. A person’s learning potential will be determined with tests, including an EEG. Despite college being mandatory, MSU will cap the number of students on campus at 30,000. Other adults will be educated by MSU faculty at satellite branches state-wide, which is reminiscent of the extension service. This will allow the University to better meet the needs of local communities.

Transportation will be revolutionized. Rather than driving cars, we will use motor-scooter helicopters. And yes, we will still have to pay for parking.

Roe believed swans will replace ducks on the Red Cedar by 2055. No word on the future of our beloved squirrels

Roe believed swans will replace ducks on the Red Cedar by 2055. No word on the future of our beloved squirrels.

Some things will remain the same in 2055. Beaumont Tower will continue to stand as a memorial to the college’s agricultural roots. And the Sacred Space will remain sacred.

The year 2015 gets a mention as well. This is the year that a universal language is adopted internationally, and “a new world understanding of groups, races, and nations had developed.” It could be argued that Roe was not too far off on these points. Thanks to advances in technology, we do have the capability of learning about and, perhaps, understanding other cultures and nations more easily than we did in 1955. Further, English is often regarded as the universal language of science, technology, business, and diplomacy.

We’ll just have to wait another 40 years to find out if Roe was correct about biotic pills, a nuclear reactor in the Stadium, and the end of the MSU-UM rivalry.

For those interested in learning more about Roe’s vision of 2055, his essay can be viewed in its entirety here: “2055 A.D.: Michigan State Observes its Bi-Centennial” [opens as a pdf].


Written by Megan Badgley Malone, collections & outreach archivist.



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