Spring Cleaning of Your Office

4 05 2017

As another semester comes to an end with campus being less crowded and bit quieter, it is a good idea to think about cleaning out your office. Make some time this summer to review your file cabinets to decide what materials should be kept in your office or can be transferred over to the University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC).


Accounting Office – New Wing of the Administration Building, 1947 (A006401)


The Records Management program that is part of UAHC is happy to accept your office’s temporary paper records and permanent paper records. We also accept electronic permanent digital records. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot accept temporary digital records. To learn more about the transfer process for both paper and digital materials, please refer to our website’s Records Transfer, Retrieval, and Destruction page.

The types of materials that should be kept permanently and transferred over to the Archives are:

  • Official correspondence, annual reports, policy and procedure statements
  • Speeches, presentations, and records of university performances/events
  • Minutes and agendas for official university meetings
  • Course syllabi
  • University publications, including newspapers, magazines, yearbooks, newsletters, brochures, posters, and pamphlets
  • Films, tapes, and photographs
  • Student organization records, including minutes, publications, and photographs
  • Faculty papers

All of these materials help tell the history and story of Michigan State University. Once the materials are transferred over to the Archives, they will be processed, arranged, and made publicly available to researchers. If materials need to be kept permanently but not made available to the public, there is a check box on the transmittal form where you can indicate that the materials be made “restricted.”

If you have any questions about which materials need to be kept permanently or only temporary, please review the Archives website. You can also contact the Archives at archives@msu.edu or by calling 517-355-2330.


Duck swimming on the Red Cedar River, 1971 (A006390)


Enjoy summer break and a quieter campus!

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist


Closed May 8-12, 2017 for Spring Cleaning

20 04 2017

Janitor smoking a pipe places chairs on the tables in the library, 1964

The Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections will be closed to the public May 8-12 for our annual Spring Cleaning Week. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.  Please contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.  Our contact information can be found here: http://archives.msu.edu/about/contact.php?about_contact.

Spotlight: The Arno J. Erdman Collection, UA 17.231

6 04 2017

Today, April 6th, is the 100th anniversary of the United States of America’s entrance in World War I. This war introduced new technologies that forever changed how warfare and military tactics were conducted. The country joined together to help with the war effort, and it was no different on the campus of Michigan Agricultural College (M.A.C.), which would later become Michigan State University. As a land-grant institution, M.A.C. was already set up to help with the war effort because people were already being taught how to increase their crop production. Extension workers went out into the counties in Michigan to demonstrate food preservation and to teach the kids in boys’ and girls’ clubs how to participate in food programs.

Along with students and faculty members, men in uniform flooded the college in 1918. At the beginning of the year, some men took courses in radio technology. On May 15, 500 draftees arrived from Wisconsin to participate in an eight week course in auto mechanics. Local companies Reo, Oldsmobile, and Duplex loaned ten army trucks for the men to practice on.

One man that was part of the Wisconsin unit was Arno J. Erdman, whose scrapbooks and photographs are housed at the MSU Archives. Erdman was born on April 13, 1894 and lived in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. His collection is a snapshot of campus life, military training, and scenes from the capitol during that time period. Sergeant Erdman was an U.S. Army instructor teaching auto mechanics in the Student Army Training Corps at M.A.C.


The artillery shed that was built when College Hall collapsed.  Williams Hall can be seen in the background, 1918 (AA6443)


The majority of Erdman’s photographs are images he captured while on campus as an instructor. His photos include field testing of vehicles, tanks, and a caterpillar at the REO plant. There are many group photos of men in uniform and individual shots of Erdman. There are also photos of the buildings on campus, including images of College Hall when it collapsed, the infamous artillery shed, and views from the top of the water tower on campus.

Even though Erdman arrived originally to teach the eight week course, it appears that he ended up staying on campus for the rest of the year. The reason might be because the War Department established a Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) unit on campus. Eight temporary barracks and two mess halls were built east of the Horticultural Laboratory. The men were broken up into two different classes. 500 men were part of “Class A” and they qualified as regular college students and studied disciplines that would be useful for war. “Class A” lived in the men’s dormitories and on the top floors of Agricultural Hall and Olds Hall of Engineering. Another 500 men that were part of “Class B” were enrolled in the auto mechanics course and housed in the barracks. In some of Erdman’s photographs, he identified the different classes.  A small class of navy men also joined the other ranks on campus. The S.A.T.C. was officially created on October 3, 1918.


Soldiers in a line, circa 1918 (A006440)

Unfortunately, all the best preparations fell to the wayside. Two weeks after the camp opened on campus, an outbreak of Spanish influenza grounded the men. Eighteen people died – seventeen male students and one male faculty member. The women were segregated from the men for six weeks. The barracks were quarantined and classes suspended until the flu passed. By the time the men recovered, the war was over. As reported in the M.A.C. Record, November 29, 1918, the S.A.T.C. unit was disbanded and the men were mustered out throughout the month of December. Most of the men headed home without seeing any war action or finishing their degrees.

Not much is known about Arno Erdman after he left campus, which might have been after the beginning of 1919 because he has a postcard photograph of Williams Hall when it burned down on January 1, 1919. We do know he returned home to Wisconsin and married Esther Peters on May 20, 1920 (her photos can be seen in the background of Arno’s bedroom.) Together, they had a daughter and a son, and Arno worked as a laborer with cement contractors. He died on July 7, 1971.

The Arno J. Erdman collection captures a very brief and unique period on campus. Many of the buildings that are observed in the photographs are no longer standing. Like the rest of the nation, M.A.C. took up the call to prepare soldiers.

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist

View the inventory for the Arno J. Erdman collection: http://archives.msu.edu/findaid/ua17-231.html.

The University Reporter-Intelligencer and Other Alternative Campus Newspapers

16 03 2017

The Bubble (1868) was the first student publication at Michigan State

At Michigan State University, there have been campus newspapers published almost as long as the university has existed. The Bubble (UA.12.7.16) was published in 1868 by Frank S. Burton  (Class of 1868) and was intended to be a humorous look at campus life. Another early campus publication was The Holcad (UA.12.7.2), a magazine-like publication with fiction, news, editorial comment, and gossip. It was first published on March 10, 1909.  In 1925, The Holcad became Michigan State News (later shortened to The State News) and was responsible to the College Press and paid for by student fees.

Nearly as long as there has been a campus newspaper, there have been alternative newspapers. These “alternatives” have generally arisen over differences in opinion between the news staff and students at large but occasionally have come about due to differences internally over personnel or ideology. Often, the papers were created just as an outlet for humor. These publications generally only lasted a year or so; the creators either graduated or moved on and the publication lost its momentum.

One alternative newspaper, The Spectre (UA.12.7.6), was published in 1957 by students Thomas Payne, Peter Zenger, Samuel Adams and John Fenno. Its November 18 issue discussed the student privilege of wearing clothes. Another parody newspaper was The Eczema (UA.12.7.23) begun by R. J. McCarthy in 1913 and continued into 1937 by the fraternity, Pi Delta Epsilon. This paper was similar to today’s The Onion. Much of the parody was related to events occurring on campus.

On a more serious note, The Paper (UA.12.7.7) was started by disillusioned State News staffer and journalism student Michael Kindman in late 1965. The Paper focused on the Vietnam War and the growing counter culture. Less than a decade later, The Grapevine Journal (UA.12.7.3) was created on a typewriter and pasted together by students Abdul M. Jamal and Karen L. Fitzgerald in June 1971. Two thousand copies were printed of the first issue. The newspaper continued to grow and by September 1972 had become the largest African-American student paper in the United States. Publication of The Grapevine Journal ended in 1975.


The Paper, 1965

During 1984-1985, The Michigan State Times was published by Editor Robert Gardella, a journalism student in the class of 1986. Politically to the right of The State News, it was an independent, student-run “non-partisan news and opinion” newspaper.


The Michigan State Times, 1985

In 1989, M. L. Elrick (Class of 1990, State News Staff 1987-1989)1, started the University Reporter-Intelligencer (uR-I) newspaper (UA.12.7.44) with encouragement from a friend (Angie Carozzo) after being overlooked by the State News Board of Trustees for the editor position even though fully supported by the SN staff. In his Spartan Saga interview, M. L. Elrick said, “a lot of people could have said, “What a drag,” but I went out and started my own paper with some friends of mine. And we had people who volunteered their time and effort to work for us, to sell ads, to write stories, to make art, to take photographs.” The uR-I was a free weekly newspaper that reached a circulation of 10,000 and was “intended as a weekly forum for the discussion of topics crucial to ensuring MSU’s position as an incubator of new and revolutionary ideas, dreamt up by the minds giving our community its character and verve.” M. L. Elrick was joined by Tresa Baldas (Class of 1990 and now a reporter at Detroit Free Press ), David Stearns (Class of 1989 and now Director of Communications at The B Team) and others to provide edgy reporting on topics still relevant today on campus: cost of education; abortion; LGBTQ issues; race relations; campus crime and more. The paper also was a great source for reviews of recently released music and movies as well as local entertainers. Local entertainer reviews included The Doe Boys; The Deans; Wayouts; Elvis Hitler; The Lime Giants; The Front; and many others.


uR-I, 1989

After Elrick’s graduation, Tim Silverthorn took over as uR-I editor for the fall 1990 semester but was unable to sustain the papers publishing. He’s now an Academic Technology Consultant at the University of St. Thomas.

Thanks to financial support from Mike Johnston (Class of 1993), the complete run of the uR-I is now online at the MSU Archives On the Banks of the Red Cedar website. Mike wrote us, “It (the uR-I) was distributed in the dorms, but wasn’t officially sanctioned by the university and was a hilarious thorn in the side of The State News for one entertaining year.”

To learn more about these alternative newspapers, visit the MSU Archives in Conrad Hall.

Written by Ed Busch, electronic records archivist

  1. L. Elrick later worked for the Detroit Free Press and was one of the two reporters who broke the text message scandal that brought down Kwame Kilpatrick, which led to his 2008 resignation from office and criminal conviction. This work was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. He is also co-author of “The Kwame Sutra: Musings on Lust, Life and Leadership from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.” Elrick now reports for Fox 2 TV in Detroit.



Announcing the Revised Human Resources Records Retention Schedule!

27 02 2017

The University Archives is excited to announce the publication of the revised Human Resources Records Retention Schedule!


The University’s records retention schedules are the official university policies governing records retention and must be followed by all employees to ensure compliance with institutional, state, and federal regulations. The new Human Resources Records Retention Schedule is the official policy and supersedes any previous Human Resources records retention schedules issued by the University Archives.

All units/offices should review the new schedule and implement it as appropriate. The schedule can be viewed and downloaded online at the University Archives website.

The university’s previous records retention schedules were last revised in the early 1990s, and as such, this newest revision represents a major update to the University’s previous records retention policies.

Major changes in the new Human Resources Records Retention Schedule include:

  • Expansion of records series to reflect current business environments
    • New record series for SIRS Evaluations, Time Records, Employee Personnel Files, and much, much more!
  • Identification of data sources and offices of record
  • Alignment of retention schedules with federal and state regulations
  • Clearer descriptions of record types for consistent implementation
  • New searchable, pdf format- easy to read and use!

Because this new records retention schedule represents a major change for the university, University Archives staff will be available to present on the new HR Records Retention Schedule upon request. A presentation is already scheduled for March 22, 2017 as part of the ADUC program. Additionally, the University Archives is designing video tutorials to discuss the new schedule format and provide campus users with information on the most common record series and retention periods. Those video tutorials will be online soon!

To request a presentation or additional information about the new retention schedule, please contact the University Archives at 517-355-2330 or archives@msu.edu.

Written by Hillary Gatlin, University Records Manager

For those enjoying VICTORIA on Masterpiece™ Sunday nights, here’s our own link to the Queen

15 02 2017

Patent issued August 5, 1875

This Great Seal of the Realm was part of a donation from a relative of George W. Harrison.  The seal was attached by cord to a patent issued to William Robert Lake of the firm Anseltine Lake and Co., Southampton Building, London of an invention for “improvement in pitman or connecting rod bearings for harvesting and other machines . . . the said invention has been communicated from abroad by George W. Harrison of Lansing, Michigan, United States of America.”  The patent is dated August 5th, 1875.

According to the official website of the British Royal Family (www.royal.uk), “the Great Seal of the Realm is the chief seal of the Crown, used to show the monarch’s approval of important State documents.” Queen Victoria had more than one seal due to the long length of her reign.


Close up of another wax seal in better condition (from http://www.antiques-delaval.com)


Written by Susan O’Brien, cataloger

Don Coleman, 1928-2017

1 02 2017

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