Morehouse & Townsend Love Letters

11 02 2016

Valentine 1

A new collection available at the MSU Archives is the love letters of Frances Morehouse and Milton Townsend. The letters between Milton and Frances began in December 1921 and continue through June 1923.

Milton Townsend was born in 1897, attended Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University), and graduated in 1920 with a degree in agriculture science. He then took a teaching job in Hastings, Michigan where he met his future wife, Frances Morehouse. Frances was born in 1903 and after graduating from high school, she attended Michigan Agricultural College in 1922. While at college, she lived in the Women’s Building (Morrill Hall). During her freshman year of college, her relationship with Milton became serious. By January 1923, they were engaged, and were married March 25, 1923. Frances did not return to school after completing her first year.


morehouse and townsend

Frances Morehouse and Milton Townsend

The best part of this collection is seeing the progression of Frances and Milton’s relationship. In the beginning, they addressed their letters from “your friend”. As time passed, they called each other by their pet names, later “sweetheart”, and then “husband” and “wife”. Most of Frances’ letters are signed with S.W.A.K. (sealed with a kiss) and many “xxx” for kisses.

While professing their love for each other, they also talked about their day to day activities. Frances talked about her Home Economic classes, working on campus, and events she attended. She also mentioned someone preaching about prohibition during church and how several students on campus came down with scarlet fever and the flu. Milton talked about his teaching job, projects he was involved in, and people he interacted with.

Valentine 2

Included with some of the letters are extra items, such as newspaper clippings of poems, drawings, photos and negatives, valentines, swatches of fabric for dresses, an old stick of gum, letters from other people they wanted to share, extra stamps, and a piece of birch bark that Milton wrote on declaring his love for Frances.

Together, Frances and Milton had four children. After Milton quit his teaching job in 1926, the couple purchased a floral business in St. Louis, Michigan that they operated together until 1963. Frances died in 1984 and Milton in 1993.

Written by Jennie Russell

Assistant Records Archivist

Records Management Update: New Services for the New Year

2 02 2016

2016 is moving right along, and the Records Management Program is happy to announce two new services to assist your office and department with managing your records: Inventory Completion and Full-Service Boxing.

These services are offered at a cost to departments who may not have adequate staffing or resources to complete the records management transfer process on their own. However, offices and departments DO NOT have to use these services; they may complete the transfer process on their own for no charge. Details on the records transfer process can be found here.


Inventory Completion:

Cost:      $10 per box


Users who purchase the correct records boxes and box up their records, but do not have the time to complete an inventory, may have Archives staff complete the records inventory portion of the transmittal form for them.


Office/Unit will:

  • Purchase records boxes.
  • Ensure all files are adequately labeled before they are boxed.
  • Box their records appropriately.
    • Do not include hanging file folders.
    • Do not include binders.
  • Complete and submit the first page of the transmittal form.
  • Label boxes for transfer.
  • Arrange for transfer of boxes to the Archives.


Archives will:

  • Assign tracking number upon receipt of the transmittal form.
  • Inventory the boxes when they arrive at the Archives.
  • Send a copy of the completed inventory to the office.






Full Service Boxing (includes) Inventory Completion:

Cost:      $20 per box


Archives staff will work with users who are interested in having Archives staff come to their office, box their records, and assist them with completing the transmittal form and inventory. This service is offered depending on staff schedules and will require a pre-arranged appointment.


Office/Unit will:

  • Ensure all files are adequately labeled before they are boxed.
  • Submit the first page of the transmittal form to Archives.
  • Arrange for transfer of boxes to Archives.


Archives will:

  • Travel to Office/Department.
  • Provide records boxes and box records.
  • Assist with completing the first page of the transmittal form if needed.
  • Assign tracking number for boxes upon receipt of transmittal form.
  • Label boxes for transfer.
  • Inventory the boxes once they arrive at the Archives.
  • Send copy of the completed inventory to the office.


The Records Management Program hopes these new services will provide departments and offices with more options for completing records management tasks.


For more information about these services and fees, contact University Archives at 5-2330 or


Figure Skating at MSU

30 12 2015

Every four years, the Winter Olympics bring figure skating to a world-wide audience. At the University Archives, figure skating fans can learn about our local ties to this graceful, artistic sport. The Archives are fortunate to hold the Beryl Williamson Papers and the Paul Dressel and Family Collection, both of which provide an insider’s view of the world of figure skating.

MSU Library and Archives

Beryl Williamson’s scrapbook.  Photo: Harley J. Seeley

Beryl Williamson taught figure skating at MSU from 1957 to her retirement in 1996. Williamson grew up in London, Ontario and learned to skate from her father, a referee with the National Hockey League. She came to MSU in the summer of 1957 to teach a student, was offered a job, and never left East Lansing. Her dream to train somebody bound for the Olympics was achieved, both for the U.S. and Canadian Olympic teams. Williamson coached Alice Cook as a child, right here on campus, who would later attend the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics. Her collection includes programs, newspaper clippings, photographs, photo albums, and film. Included is a photo of a young fashion designer, Vera Wang, participating in a figure skating show.

MSU Library and Archives

One of Wilma Dressel’s ice skating patches. Photo: Harley J. Seeley

The Paul Dressel and Family Collection includes mementos from Wilma and Jenna Dressel, both long-time members of the Lansing Skating Club. Members used to skate at Demonstration Hall and Munn Arena, where numerous shows and competitions took place. Within the collection are programs from various figure skating shows, which again include a young Vera Wang, Carol Heiss who was a world and Olympic champion, and Bradley Lord and Douglas Ramsey who were both killed in the 1961 Sabena Flight 548. Included in the collection are programs, directories, newspaper clippings, magazines, photographs, and Wilma’s hat and patches she wore when judging figure skating competitions.

Wilma Dressel's hat.jpg

Hat worn by Wilma Dressel when judging figure skating.  Photo: Harley J. Seeley

Figure skating enthusiasts, both new and old, will enjoy these two fascinating collections!

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist

Where were you on September 9, 1994?

8 12 2015

At the Rolling Stones concert at Spartan Stadium, of course!


That night, 46,000 MSU students, alumni and community members attended the first ever rock concert at Spartan Stadium – the Rolling Stones on their Voodoo Lounge tour, with Lenny Kravitz opening. The only other concert held in Spartan Stadium was seven years later when U2 performed for more than 65,000 fans on June 26, 2011.

Renovations to the stadium were completed just in time for Stones concert and included a new tunnel large enough for trucks to haul in the stage and lighting. When assembled, the stage was 92 feet tall and 220 feet wide, stretching across the entire north end zone.

“The set was pretty amazing. There were massive balloons that dwarfed the stage. The Rolling Stones, and their backup singers, were phenomenal,” remembers University Archives cataloger Susan O’Brien. Fireworks accompanied the final song, and the Stones sang their classic Jumpin’ Jack Flash as an encore.


Video footage from the Rolling Stones concert was recently discovered among the Archives’ film and video holdings, which we’re digitizing with help from our many supporters. Your gift to the MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund will preserve valuable footage like the Rolling Stones concert and our treasured history of Spartan athletics and campus events.

To contribute to the MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund visit

Photographs of the concert and a set list can be viewed on our On the Banks of the Red Cedar website.

Written by Ed Busch, Electronic Records Archivist

Upcoming Closings & Holiday Hours

2 12 2015

Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections will be closed the morning of Wednesday, December 9, 2015.  We will reopen at 1:30 pm that day.  Due to an all day staff meeting, we will be closed Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

The following changes will also be made due to the fast approaching holidays:

December 21-23, 2015                              By appointment only

December 24-25, 2015                              Closed

December 28-30, 2015                              By appointment only

December 31, 2015-January 1, 2016         Closed

Please contact the University 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.

We will resume our normal reading room hours on January 4, 2016.

Happy Holidays!

Anthony Koo: From Chinese Diplomat to MSU Professor

17 11 2015


Thanks to the MSU Department of Economics, the papers of Anthony Y. C. Koo are now available to researchers in the University Archives & Historical Collections.

Professor Koo, a native of Shanghai, grew up in a family that was open to Western ideas, unusual in China at the time. He graduated from St. John’s University, a highly-respected institution in Shanghai which had both Chinese and Western students. He then came to the United States, earning a master’s degree at the University of Illinois before completing a doctorate in economics at Harvard.

The majority of Professor Koo’s papers concern his appointment as an advisor to the Chinese delegation of the Far Eastern Commission, which was formed by the Allied Powers in 1946 to develop the policies and principles which would guide the post-war occupation of Japan. The Commission included representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand; India, the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the Republic of China.

The Far Eastern Commission papers provide a little-known perspective on the complex regional and global politics of the late 1940s, and the economic challenges facing Japan after the war. The material will be a valuable resource for students and researchers in history, international relations, and Asian studies.

Professor Koo worked with the Far Eastern Commission until 1950, when he joined the economics faculty at MSU. He was honored with the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1956 and the Distinguished Faculty Award in 1976. Both Professor Koo and his wife, Dr. Delia Koo, were enthusiastic supporters of MSU, and the academic wing of MSU’s International Center is named in her honor. Professor Koo died in 2011.

Written by Sarah Roberts, Acquisitions Archivist

Electronic Records Processing

26 10 2015

When most people think of an archive, they naturally gravitate to images of faded photographs, journals of soldiers from past wars, silent film reels, and the like. And it’s true – the Archives here at Michigan State University is full of such vital remnants of our cultural legacy.

However, our society is now generating another type of legacy – a digital one. One made up of computer files and digital media. What’s surprising to most people is that this legacy and these digital items are actually in danger of disappearing far sooner than your grandmother’s photographs from the 1930s.

How is that possible?

One of the biggest reasons, and the one that I am going to explain here, is obsolescence. This is a subject familiar to anyone over the age of 30 who grew up playing video games and waxes nostalgic over the old Nintendo cartridges, or even Dreamcast discs, that can no longer be readily played. Obsolescence occurs when new technologies are developed, making the older ones, well, obsolete.

As the rate of changeover between newer technologies increases, as we have seen it do over the past few decades, digital materials created on older technologies can become lost when their media can no longer be accessed or if the software they were created with is no longer supported.

I’ll give you two examples in one. Your father wrote a book on his Mac twenty years ago and saved it to a floppy disk. If you wanted to scrounge up that book and launch your father to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, you’d have a bit of work ahead of you. First of all, you’d have to find a machine or use an adapter to read that disk. Computers nowadays don’t even have floppy drives. Second, the program that he used to write that book was probably discontinued fifteen years ago. The file will need to be converted if a newer program cannot read it.


Examples of older media that we work with at the Archives. The most iconic is probably the 3 ½ inch floppy disk

This is where Electronic Records Processing comes into play. A lot of what we do at the University Archives is to rescue old files from media, and take steps to make them accessible in today’s technological environment.

These are some of the tools used to “rescue” files from obsolete media. The Mac laptop has an old OS on it to help us access files on older disks, usually using the blue floppy reader beside it

These are some of the tools used to “rescue” files from obsolete media. The Mac laptop has an old OS on it to help us access files on older disks, usually using the blue floppy reader beside it

In addition to saving old files from old media, we also proactively take current files and, if necessary, put them into formats that industry professionals believe will be usable for some time. Once that is done, we store them in accordance with established preservation standards. Consequently, we also work with files from CDs, DVDs, downloads from the web, and flash drives. Because of the ephemeral nature of digital formats and platforms, taking steps to safeguard files created today is just as important.

Some potentially more familiar media. We work with files from these types of objects frequently. Increasingly, we are receiving downloaded or transferred files and sometimes do not have any physical object at all

Some potentially more familiar media. We work with files from these types of objects frequently. Increasingly, we are receiving downloaded or transferred files and sometimes do not have any physical object at all

So what can you do to preserve your information, thereby aiding in the safeguarding of our own cultural history? (It’s not bombastic; our photos, files, letters, papers, etc., are the stuff that history is made of!)

There are a few simple actions anyone can take. The first is to back up your files! One threat not mentioned so far is us – our own mistakes; things just sort of get deleted and then that’s it. They often cannot be saved. Accidentally deleting your one and only hard drive (if you aren’t a forensics whiz kid), is the equivalent of burning down your file cabinet in the “old days”. Take care!

Second, proactively labeling, dating, and organizing your files makes keeping track of, and migrating them, much easier. Going in, checking on your files, and copying/moving them to updated media every few years will also help to protect them from degrading over time.

For more information on protecting the longevity of your files, you can refer to our 8 Good Practices in Creating & Maintaining Electronic Records guide (

For more general information on Electronic Records Management at UAHC, check out our website, Electronic Records Management (

Written by Courtney Whitmore


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