American Archives Month 2016

3 10 2016


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.

UAHC is celebrating American Archives Month with several special events throughout October.

#AskanArchivist – October 5th

We’re kicking off American Archives Month with #AskanArchivist on Twitter.  This “day-long event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, will give you the opportunity to connect directly with archivists in your community — and around the country — to ask questions, get information, or just satisfy your curiosity.” [Read SAA’s full news release here].  If you have any questions for MSU’s archivists, simply tweet at @MSUArchives with the hashtag #AskAnArchivist.

MSU History presentation at CADL Mason – October 5th

Megan Badgley Malone, collections & outreach archivist, will take you through 160 years of MSU history in 60 minutes at the Mason branch of Capital Area District Libraries on Wednesday, October 5th from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  Learn about the fascinating history of everyone’s favorite land grant university in this presentation featuring beautiful historic photographs from UAHC’s collections.  Registration is required. Call 517-676-9088 or register online.

1966 Game of the Century 50th Anniversary Celebration – October 12th

On October 12th, MSU Archives is hosting a 1966 Game of the Century 50th Anniversary Celebration.  The event will feature a discussion of the game by 1966 MSU Spartan football players, including Jimmy Raye, Clinton Jones, Regis Cavender, Bob Apisa, Jerry West, Sterling Armstrong, and defensive coordinator Hank Bullough, as well as George Goeddeke of Notre Dame (link: bios).  Sports radio broadcaster and author Jack Ebling will serve as moderator. Archival materials from our collections, including those related to the game, will be on display in the UAHC Reading Room.

Starting at 6:00 pm, Jimmy Raye and Tom Shanahan will be signing copies of Tom’s book Raye of Light.  Author David J. Young will also be available to sign copies of his book The Student and His Professor: John Hannah, Ralph Aigler, and the Origin of the Michigan State-Michigan Rivalry.  Light refreshments will be provided.

The 1966 Game of the Century 50th Anniversary Celebration will be held at Conrad Hall from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  This event is free and open to the public.  We are asking people to RSVP so we can monitor the capacity of Conrad Hall. RSVP by calling 517-355-2330 or online


This event is hosted by Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, with sponsorship provided by the Office for Inclusion & Intercultural Initiatives.

Genealogy Research in Archives at CADL South Lansing – October 15thnk5yb

UAHC cataloger Susan O’Brien will present an informative session on Genealogical Research in Archives at CADL’s South Lansing branch from 2:00 to 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 15th.  Learn techniques for researching your families’ history, and about UAHC’s collections.

7-1d-200-31-a002743The Civil War in Michigan at CADL Leslie – October 20th

On Thursday October 20, from 6:15pm to 7:15pm at the CADL Leslie branch, Ed Busch and Ryan Huey will discuss UAHC’s Civil War website and some of the most interesting collection highlights, including diaries, letters, and photographs from the American Civil War period.

Alumni LENS Coffee with the Profs – October 24th

Have you ever wondered where the Rock came from?  How did the idea of having a Sacred Space develop?  What’s the story behind the MSU fight song?  Take a trip through MSU’s rich history in this session presented by the University Archives & Historical Collections.  Hear fascinating facts about MSU history, campus traditions, and things every Spartan should know!  This presentation by archivist Megan Badgley Malone is hosted by MSU Alumni Association, and will be held at the Kellogg Center on Monday, October 24th from 10:00 to 11:30 am.  Registration to attend in person is available online.  There will be a livestream for those who are not able to attend –

Twelve Twenty-Five book signing and talk – October 26th


Image: MSU Press

On October 26th, MSU Press is presenting a lecture by Kevin P. Keefe at Conrad Hall to mark the release of his book Twelve Twenty-Five. The book chronicles the Pere Marquette 1225 train, which once resided at MSU and later became the inspiration for The Polar Express children’s book and movie.  We will host an open house of the MSU Archives as part of the event.  The event runs from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.  The author will be available for a book signing prior to the lecture.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase. R.S.V.P. online at

The Civil War in Michigan at CADL Downtown Lansing – October 27th

To wrap up American Archives Month, Ed Busch and Ryan Huey will have a repeat performance of their Civil War in Michigan presentation at CADL’s Downtown Lansing branch.  It will be held on Thursday, October 27th from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

Help us celebrate American Archives Month by joining us for some (or all!) of our fun events throughout October.

Written by Megan Badgley Malone, collections and outreach archivist

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

Civil War Collections website opens

24 10 2012

The War Memorial at MSU is housed in the Union, and it was presented by the Washington M.A.C. Alumni Association in 1925.

As part of MSU’s effort to commemorate the 150thanniversary of the US Civil War, an immense project has been underway at the Archives for the last two years and has finally been revealed to the public.   Tributes for the Sesquicentennial began around the country in 2011, but just recently in early October 2012 the new Civil War Collections website for the University Archives went online, showcasing hundreds of pages of the correspondence, diaries, musters, reminiscences, and photographs that have survived one of the most hard-fought wars on American soil.

In all, the various records range from being only a few pages long to multiple boxes in size, and they are contained in over 120 collections.  The process to digitize these materials has been a long-running and painstaking one, and it’s not over.  Every document on the site has to be transcribed word for word so that researchers or enthusiasts can read perfect text copies of the image they are viewing, which were often written in nearly illegible cursive.   In addition, each photograph has to be scanned and catalogued, often involving the complete disassembly of a scrapbook, or in-depth research to place an item in context.  The result is an ever-evolving website which offers academics ample access to, and a clear view of, many primary Civil War resources.   Two news articles have been written about the archival process itself as well as the opening of the website, one of which was published by MSU news and one by the Flint-area station, ABC-12.

This photograph shows the original seven graduates from MAC, who left before their commencement to fight in the war. From left to right are: (top) Larned Vernal Beebe, Gilbert A. Dickey, Adams Bayley (bottom) Henry D. Benham, Albert Nelson Prentiss, Albert Fuller Allen, and Charles Edward Hollister.

Despite no actual battles occurring in this state, Michigan and her soldiers were crucial to the Union war effort—President Abraham Lincoln is known to have yelled, “Thank God for Michigan!” when the state’s soldiers reported for duty.  They served in the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and as engineers for more than 50 regiments, and more than a few Michigan women also joined the effort, including the well-known nurse Annie Etheridge.   MAC itself was directly involved: the first student to volunteer was a junior by the name of Samuel Alexander in spring 1861, followed the next autumn by the entire first graduating class of seven young men.  The remaining students began to be formally instructed on various aspects of military training, even receiving sixty muskets from the state for further training.

To see additional information and a detailed list of MSU’s collections pertaining to the Civil War, click here.

A Brief History of Military at MSU

1 06 2012

The military of M.A.C. in the 1890s

Michigan State University has a history of being involved—whether we want it or not—in nearly every area of social and political life and this includes military service.  M.A.C. had only existed for six years before the onset of America’s next big conflict, the Civil War, and the faculty and students responded dutifully.  In fact, the first seven graduates of the college were not even present at the awarding of their degrees, having already been allowed to leave to serve in Missouri.  Two of these courageous men gave their lives by the end of the war.

The cadets of 1915 have a wall scaling contest.

For its duration, the First World War was not as widely discussed across campus.  Certainly faculty and students participated in the war effort, but there was a restraint in discussions and support that persisted until World War II. And while World War I was no less devastating to the family and friends of M.A.C. than the Civil War in terms of casualties, stories of bravery and commitment, and, occasionally, comical coincidences did float back to campus.  One such story arose from two men named Ralph Johnson and Paul Ginter.  These soldiers met in an aid hospital in France shortly after the outbreak of war, and found quickly that not only were they both graduates of M.A.C., but that both were forestry majors!  Comforting how our college can form bonds between men and women in the most unusual of circumstances.

Two men train on campus in the 1920s.

With the arrival of World War II came a new community spirit the likes of which M.S.C. had never seen before.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the beginning of U.S. involvement, M.S.C. president Hannah was instrumental in adapting the ways of Michigan State.  The college created a new summer school program so that students could finish their degrees within two years and move on to serve.  New interdisciplinary classes and training programs were imposed in order to ready the enlisted youth and faculty—nearly 6,200 of them, just at the start—at M.S.C. for service.  Professors believed the soldiers of M.S.C. needed a rounded education to be entirely prepared-after physical training the students were taught foreign languages, map making and aerial photography skills, and the benefits of geopolitics.

At some points, up to 50% of the population on campus were soldiers assigned for training at MSU by the US War Department.  These great numbers of people, in addition to the usual crowds of students, strained resources in the area, but this was a challenge the students and residents of East Lansing were willing to take.  Civilians in the area learned first aid training and fire fighting skills, they threw parties and sold produce grown in their Victory Gardens to buy war bonds, they entertained veterans around the state, and they researched ways to improve the war.  This included food production as well as penicillin and rubber manufacturing.  M.S.C. also supplied laborers to help on farms that were struggling to meet their quotas.  Radio stations, newspapers, and every college department pitched in to help the effort.  Michigan State experienced camaraderie unlike any before.

Three girls in the Women’s Land Army help out on a farm in 1944.

New Civil War 150th Exhibit in Library

12 09 2011

The University Archives & Historical Collections teamed up with the MSU Library and the MSU Museum for a joint exhibit to commemorate Michigan’s role in the Civil War.  The exhibit is located on the 4th West floor of the MSU Library and was arranged by Portia Vescio and Anita Ezzo.  The exhibit contains books from the library collections, letters and photographs from the University Archives, and artifacts from the Museum.  Some topics covered in the exhibit include recruiting and training, the hard life of a soldier, medicine, and battles.  The exhibit will be up through most of the fall semester.

In 2011, the nation began commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  As part of this sesquicentennial commemoration, University Archives & Historical Collections staff are transcribing and digitizing its collections relating to the Civil War. These materials—including hundreds of pages of correspondence, diaries, musters, reminiscences, and photographs—will be made available online for public use.   To find out more about these collections and other online exhibits, please visit our Civil War page.