M.A.C. Goes to War – Carl F. Miller

30 11 2017

Lt. Carl F. Miller, circa 1917

On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war against Germany. At that time, my grandfather, Carl F. Miller, was a student at the Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.) in East Lansing studying engineering. He was also active in campus activities including varsity and intramural sports, the Varsity S Club and the Eclectic Society. (The Eclectic Society became Alpha Tau Omega in 1940.)

Carl was born in 1894 in Saginaw, Michigan to William and Bertha (Meyer) Miller and he attended Saginaw schools. He graduated from Saginaw High School in 1913 and entered M.A.C. as a freshman in 1914 as part of the class of 1918. As a sophomore, he was a member of the M.A.C. varsity basketball team for the 1915-16 season. Coach John Macklin led the team that year. Carl’s brother, Oscar (aka Dutch) Miller, class of 1915, was an assistant coach, and Spartan notable, Lyman Frimodig, was the captain of the team. The team had a record of nine wins and seven losses.


Group photo, possibly of the Varsity S Club, circa 1915-1916

It was during Carl’s junior year that the call to arms came. At this time, military training was required for all male students. His registration card shows that he participated in the military exercises at M.A.C. for 3 years and attended R.O.T.C at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.


Carl F. Miller’s registration card

In 1915, Major General Leonard Wood commissioned Fort Sheridan as the site of the nation’s first Reserved Officer Training Camp (ROTC). When the U.S. entered the war, Fort Sheridan was adapted to model the situation in Europe with trenches to simulate the battlefield in Europe. Fort Sheridan became the induction and training site for the Midwest states of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

On August 15, 1917, Carl was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.  It was during this month that Ft. Custer in Michigan was opened and became the home of the 85th Division which included the 338th Infantry Regiment. He was assigned to this regiment for the duration of the war. The regiment trained at Ft. Custer for a year and deployed to France in 1918. Carl was promoted to First Lieutenant on September 28, 1918. The 85th division did not deploy together; the regiments were used to reinforce existing positions.

The 338th primarily performed a defensive mission while in France. His military record shows that his regiment participated in operations as part of the Second Army between the Meuse and Moselle Rivers between November 9 – 11. This was the Third Phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The Second Army, led by Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, was directed to move eastward towards the city of Metz. News of the German Government surrender on November 11, 1918 halted the offensive.


Carl returned home and was honorably discharged April 29, 1919 at Ft. Custer, Michigan. He re-enrolled at M.A.C. and completed his degree in Civil Engineering as part of the class of 1920. The 1920 Wolverine yearbook lists his nickname as “Frenchy” and identifies him as a member of the Eclectic Society and the ’18 Club.


Senior year photo, 1920

Following graduation, he was hired by the City of Saginaw as a civil engineer and remained there his entire career. He married in 1922 to Gertrude McGavock and they had three sons and a daughter. He became the City Assessor of Saginaw in 1944.  During WWII, he was the administrator of Saginaw’s War Transportation Conservation Commission. He retired in 1961.


Biggie Munn shaking hand of Carl Miller, chairman of the newly created O.R. (Dutch) Miller scholarship board. Also in the photo are Jim Krohn (retiring MSU club president) and Duffy Daugherty.

Carl was a lifelong Spartan serving as president of the Saginaw Chapter of the Alumni Association. Many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren have attended MSU.

Carl F. Miller died April 23, 1967.

Written by Ed Busch, electronic records archivist





Saginaw News clippings

Personal files

Alumni Magazine, March 1954



The Reality of World War I

9 11 2017

I was excited to start writing biographies for World War I fallen soldiers who attended the college that would become Michigan State University.  As a new historian who finally had the opportunity to do the kind of research I’d fantasized about since changing my major, I was given a stack of death certificates and was ecstatic.  At the time, my perception of the thick manila folders handed to me was clinical and academic: I was truly doing raw research.

Death is no stranger to me as a resident of the digital world, which is used to senselessly and insensitively overshare anything that will garner attention and interactions.  I have seen videos of people being shot and bleeding, photos of executions from across the planet, and I daily prepare myself to see footage of someone being beaten, either by an individual or an unfairly massed group: I am desensitized.  After compartmentalizing so many visual acts of obscene violence, how could an innocuous document do anything to me emotionally?  With so much time having passed between the World War and now, how could I be moved emotionally?  I would be an unaffected researcher and reporter. I started by making a list of those that had died.  I saw the names, Bauer, Laurence J.; Halbert, Earl, but even those were nothing more than gathered data, waiting to be sorted and notated.  Once I had compiled a list of the names, I went through the death certificates in the University Archives, and the losses quickly became anything but distant.

In the first World War, 1,225 Michigan Agricultural College students and graduates joined the armed forces to fight, and 48 of them lost their lives.[1]  These numbers are both disconcerting and familiar.  All wars have an assumed loss of life, and the numbers themselves convey the losses experienced in an accurate but detached way.  They are numbers; large or small, there is not much more to them than the quantitative values that are being communicated. Grouping together the dead into a total value says something about how many were killed in war, but it leaves out what is now missing in the world and the deep effect it has.

My biases towards the culture during WWI set me up for my first shock.  I had a prejudice that in 1917, everyone would get married at 18, 19, 20 years old, so I expected to see “wife” next to “relationship” in the listed contact on the death certificates.  I didn’t: I saw parents.  Page after page, I saw “relationship: mother” and “relationship: father” next to a name of who was to be notified of this individual’s death.  I went back and started paying particular attention to the ages that were listed and saw 20, 21, and 24.  It dawned on me that these people were truly children.  I suppose the label of grownup or adult would have made their deaths more easy to swallow, and being married would have helped endow those labels.  Instead, I had to accept the bare realization that they weren’t married and most of them were younger than me.  They served and died as children.

After that, I started to see other connections that made them closer to me and not just names on a plaque or numbers in a statistic. I perceived the documents I was reading as a connection to a person who had lived.  I started paying closer attention to the little details I was given in these single sheets of paper, some filled out thoroughly, others missing most of the information, even the date of death.  I saw that an Olin Hinkle had died, and I thought of the Hinkle who was in the dorm next to mine.  I saw the name Granger, and thought of a younger Granger I went to high school with.  I couldn’t help but wonder if they were related to each other; Michigan people tend to stick close to home.  I saw that Irving Hill, who died of a skull fracture in Germany, was born in Shiawassee county, lived in Owosso and was inducted at Corunna.[2]  I grew up in Genesee county, which is directly next to Shiawassee county, and faced Owosso and Corunna High School teams in swim and track meets.  The geography of my life growing up directly overlapped with this young man.  We grew up in neighboring cities and towns and chose to attend the same college one hundred years apart from each other.  He was 29 years old when he died, which is the age that I am as I discover him and all of our uncanny connections.

The most surreal moment for me that made all of this real was when I was compiling names of service members from the first collection published by the MAC Record.  The first death of a MAC alumnus was on February 6, 1918, and the edition I was reading was published on September 14, 1917, so I was mentally focused on the living.  There was so much to record and sift through, and I found a rhythm that allowed my mind to drift a little.  Then I typed in the name Churchill and was alerted that this information was repeated somewhere in my document.  Google spreadsheets, ever helpful, offered to fill in the repeated information.  It read “Churchill, Thomas W. ‘15 Died.”  Thomas didn’t make it.  I was so occupied with recording information about living people that seeing the word “died” next to his name shocked me.  He was alive in this issue; I would find the student newspaper’s obituary for him in a later one. I still don’t know how old he was when he died.

thomas william churchill 1915 yeabook_1

Thomas W. Churchill (1915 Wolverine yearbook)

For the first time, I finally understand what is lost in a war.  It is no longer cliche to hear the phrase “a life cut tragically short.”  I have found the names of those who died too soon, read through the paper remnants of their service memories, and can imagine the empty space in time that their absence provided for those who loved them.  Their existence has become a hollow echo that replaced the lives they should have lived and experiences they should have shared.

These lives are now personal for me, but they aren’t necessarily lost.  Their time alive was shortened, taken, and ended, but they aren’t lost.  Their names are still known.  I know them, and others remember them.  They are memorialized on campus where people can walk by and read their names.  There are physical files of them, saved, stored and digitized.  They are not lost, but there was a loss.  The files and papers don’t describe who they are or what it was like to sit next to them.  But they are not lost completely, and finding them in whatever form they still exist in makes that true.

[1] “MAC Alumni-War Rosters” in Frank S. Kedzie papers (Box 1166, Folder 34).

[2] “Service Record of MAC Students killed in World War I” in Frank S. Kedzie papers (Box 1166, Folder 37).

Written by Catharine Neely, intern for MSU Archives & MSU Museum

Horror! Hollywood! Halloween 1952

31 10 2017

On October 31, 1952, four Hollywood actors dressed in fine suits and a beautiful dress stood on a bare stage with only four microphones stands and stools. The actors had scripts and only rose to read their parts. The reading seemed simple and unembellished, but the actors’ voices made it feel like they were in Hell, observing Don Juan and the Devil. On that cool, windy Halloween night, a group known as “The First Drama Quartette” performed Don Juan in Hell by George Bernard Shaw. The cast included four people: Charles Boyer as Don Juan, Vincent Price as the Devil, Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the Statue, and Agnes Moorehead as Donna Anna. The play was directed by Charles Laughton and produced by Paul Gregory.


Vincent Price as “The Devil.” Vincent autographed the photo and it reads, “With all my best thanks, ever Vincent Price”, 1952. (A006667)

Don Juan in Hell is actually part of a four-act drama called, Man and Superman, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1903. Shaw wrote the play in response to people wanting a Don Juan-themed play. When the play was first performed in 1905, the third act was omitted. The play wasn’t performed entirely until 1915. The third act, Don Juan in Hell, is usually removed because it is a play amongst itself. The act is quite long and is completely different from the rest of Man and Superman since it is a nonrealistic dream episode consisting of Don Juan having a philosophical debate with the Devil.



Agnes Moorehead as “Donna Anna”, 1952. (A006668)

Even though Halloween seemed to be the perfect time to perform this reading, it wasn’t the first time the reading was performed on campus. On March 1, 1951, Don Juan in Hell performed but with one difference. Instead of Vincent Price playing the role of the Devil, it was Charles Laughton. It is unknown why Laughton stepped down from playing the Devil, but he continued to be director of the play. At the 1951 event, 3,500 people came out to the Auditorium to witness the performance. According to the State News, Laughton said the bare stage with only the functional equipment was the best possible setting for this reading. Hardwicke, a long-time friend of George Bernard Shaw said, “I believe he would have liked it this way” in reference to the staging of the play.



Charles Boyer as “Don Juan”, 1952. (A006669)

The programs and wonderful publicity photos of the cast are part of a small collection located in the Archives, the Barbara Van Baalen Papers, UA 17.246. In this collection are dozens of publicity photos, some signed by the performer him or herself. Van Baalen was secretary to Stanley Crowe, Dean of Students at Michigan State College. Crowe was also the Director of the Summer School and Director of the Lecture-Concert Series, which brought national acts to MSC for performances. Because of her association with Crowe, Van Baalen was able to get autographs from many of the performers. Included in this collection are programs related to the Lecture-Concert Series, souvenir programs, campus related documents, and musical related magazines. The photo of Charles Laughton is from the 1954 Wolverine yearbook, when Laughton and Gregory once again visited campus to offer a chance to see a pre-Broadway opening of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial staring Henry Fonda, John Hodiak, and Lloyd Nolan.



Sir Cedric Hardwicke as “The Statue”, 1952. (A006670)

Looking back, it now almost seems serendipitous for those actors to be performing a play that takes place in Hell on Halloween night. While already famous, the actors played or would later appear in horror films or play a role that is associated with characters of Halloween. Vincent Price appeared in the House of Wax, The Fly, adaptation movies of Edgar Allen Poe stories, Edward Scissorhands, and was the voice over for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Charles Boyer appeared in the mystery-thriller Gaslight, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar in 1934. Sir Cedric Hardwicke played Judge Jean Frollo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame and starred in the Ghost of Frankenstein as Ludwig von Frankenstein. Agnes Moorehead appeared in the Bat (alongside with Vincent Price), Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and played Endora, Samantha’s witch mother on Bewitched. Charles Laughton played Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Dr. Moreau in the Island of Lost Souls.



Charles Laughton was the director of “Don Juan in Hell” and originally played “The Devil”, 1954. (People 1743)

While this blog didn’t tell of a ghost story or of a sinister murder that happened on campus some past Halloween’s ago, it does tell how for one Halloween night, the people that portrayed such witches, misunderstood creatures, and evil souls brought those characters to life on campus!


Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Those who would like to view Barbara Van Baalen papers are welcome to visit the MSU Archives’ Reading Room during our research hours: http://archives.msu.edu/about/contact.php. The inventory for the Van Baalen Papers is available online: http://archives.msu.edu/findaid/ua17-246.html.

For more Halloween related stories see:





To hear a recording of Don Juan in Hell performed by Charles Laughton, Charles Boyer, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and Agnes Moorehead, visit this YouTube channel provided by Orchard Enterprises, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymDBP9LiATo.


“’Don Juan’ Crackles with Shaw’s Wit,” The State News, November 3, 1952. East Lansing, Michigan.


Laughton, Charles. #1743, People Photograph Collection. Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

Lecture Concert Series Programs, 1948-1952, Box 1991, Folder 4, Barbara Van Baalen Papers, UA 17.246, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

Michigan State College/University Lecture Concert Series Programs, 1949-1957, F.D., Box 1, Norman Penlington Papers, UA 17.85, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

Photographs, Box 1919, Folders 96, 99, and 102, Barbara Van Baalen Papers, UA 17.246, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

“Quartette Stirs Audience by Voice Quality Alone,” The State News, March 2, 1951. East Lansing, Michigan.

Wikipedia. Don Juan in Hell. Man and Superman. Charles Laughton. Agnes Moorehead. Cedric Hardwicke. Charles Boyer. Vincent Price. Paul Gregory.

Wolverine Yearbook, 1954. Pg. 178-179. Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan.

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist

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.