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

Audiovisual Collections: 1960s College of Veterinary Medicine films

2 11 2016

Rainstorms can provide needed nourishment to dried-out grass and plants.  They can also promote an increase in the population of mosquitoes.  Water can be welcomed or cursed, depending on the situation.  During the end of August 2016, rain water and condensation leaking through indoor pipes caused concern for the safety of some archival materials.  Among some documents that were addressed for potential water damage were a set of nine 16mm film reels from the College of Veterinary Medicine.


Upon initial inspection at least a couple of reels showed slight signs of warping, which may or may not have been caused by the recent rainfall.  One of the films was sticking to itself along the first few frames, so great care had to be taken to unspool the film and ensure that the emulsion was not being removed.  While some of the boxes housing the films experienced noticeable water damage, the movies were still in good condition overall.  Inspecting the films also generated interest in some of the titles (“Campus Scenes, Summer 1969”, “MSU Farms, 1966”, “Outside Lepto Barn, 1966”, etc.).

If you would like to help preserve Spartan history by getting this footage digitized for online access, please consider donating to the MSU Film and Video Preservation Fund ( More information about the Film Fund can be found here:

Written by Matthew Wilcox, Audiovisual Archivist

W.K. Kellogg Biological Station

9 07 2013

Shown here is the main manor of the W.K. Kellogg estate. The house is now a conference center.

Michigan State University has an extensive history of agricultural excellence, which makes sense for a school that was founded as the Michigan Agricultural College. The men and women of the various horticulture, natural resources, agriculture, entomology, and dairying departments at MSU have long been pioneers in their respective fields and have contributed to today’s practice of agriculture in ways many of us non-farmers cannot even grasp. 

Currently, MSU has 13 off-campus research facilities spread throughout the state, studying topics ranging across a variety of fields.  The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station is one of the oldest of these programs and has been noted as one of the premier institutions of its kind.  This particular station is managed by MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and its self-stated research focus is on ecology and evolutionary biology and the applications to sustainable agriculture and conservation.  W.K. Kellogg himself was passionate about conservation, and was responsible for the Biological Station’s beginning.  In 1926, Kellogg began the construction of a large manor house on Gull Lake, near Battle Creek.  A year after the estate’s completion, he also constructed the site’s first bird sanctuary, which, as researchers would later find out, happened to be at the crossroads of three major bird migration routes.


This image shows one of the original classes held at the Kellogg Biological Station.

As early as 1930, Kellogg donated an adjoining 1500-acre land tract to MSU for the purpose of research, and so began the first ten years of summer study at the estate under the direction of the School of Biology and Joseph W. Stack from the Zoology department.  The property was briefly used as an army rehabilitation hospital for a number of years following, until Kellogg’s death in 1951.  At his death, Kellogg bequeathed to MSU the 39-room manor house, guesthouse, 6-car garage, chauffer’s lodgings, and a greenhouse, as well as $45,000 for equipment and remodeling.  MSU turned the property into a research station like none other.  Today, the area is made up of 4,065 acres of bird sanctuary, farms, biological labs, artificial ponds, a conference center, extension and outreach facilities, and other reserves. 


This image shows a young man working on fertilizer tests for the Experiment Station.


The image above is an aerial view of the 18 artificial lakes built at the Biological Station for research purposes.

The Kellogg Biological Station is considered to be so unique because of the ability researchers have to study such diverse and large-scale habitats and systems: wetlands, streams and rivers, lakes, forests and fields, geology and soils, land use and agriculture.  The site is useful because of the level of control researchers have; some of the areas range from almost wild forest to heavily managed agriculture, and the geographic area itself is interesting because of its history of glacial activity that formed the tills, plains, and lakes around the grounds.  These lakes are another source of academic research of their own, where students can study morphology, water composition, and productivity.  The more developed agricultural areas allow for the study of common crops and their sustainability.  In fact, the Kellogg Station was the first facility in the US to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification for their work in conservation and sustainability. 

The Biological Station has been a leader in agricultural education since it opened, publishing hundreds of bulletins concerning every agricultural problem imaginable: fertilizing, infectious diseases, soil types, insects, water quality, farm management… the list goes on and on, and the program shows no signs of slowing down.  Today the station has programs for graduate students, undergraduates, kid’s summer camps, internships, research apprenticeships, guest lecturers, and seminars, and the grounds are available for nonacademic purposes as well.  Check out their website here for more information.

It’s Preservation Week! — Be your family’s archivist

26 04 2011

You know those dirty boxes in your attic — the ones that have the old family pictures?

What about grandma’s diary in the dusty shoebox?

Or how about that old scrapbook that is lying on your living room coffee table?

These items are all part of a rich history that contributes to our knowledge of the past. Have you ever thought of how to preserve these pieces?

This week, April 24-30, archivists as well as people around the nation are celebrating National Preservation Week.  This week is dedicated to raising awareness about the preservation of personal and shared collections. Anyone can become involved and anyone can help! Take a few moments to become your family’s archivist and search for those hidden gems in mom and dad’s basement or grandma and grandpa’s attic. Your family papers are unique. No one else has those same exact letters, diaries, or photographs.  Even if your relatives are not rich and famous, your family documents and photos are your own personal treasures and should be treated as such. A little bit of preservation effort now can allow these materials to be around for future generations to enjoy.

Here are some general guidelines for storing and handling family treasures:

  • Store all treasures in a stable, cool, and dry environment – Attics and basements are two of the worst areas of the house to store documents because the relative humidity fluctuates greatly. If you have to store them in attics or basements place them in plastic tubs or bins and ensure that lids are secured tightly.
  • Try not to place any family treasures in direct sunlight – Sunlight and Fluorescent lights emit high amounts of UV radiation which causes fading


  • Shelve upright and support by book ends if needed, so the volumes aren’t leaning at an angle
  • Store large volumes lying flat – if you don’t have room to lay them flat shelve them on their spine, not on the front edge
  • Don’t pull on the top of the spine to remove the book from the shelf, instead push in the book son either side to remove the book in the middle
  • Don’t press the pages of a book down to make the book lie flat if there is resistance by the spine

Paper Documents:

  • Store paper items as flat as possible, not folded up
  • Acid-free file folders are best for storage
  • Avoid pressure-sensitive tapes, such as Scotch-tape as they can cause irreversible disfigurement of paper and alteration of inks
  • Do not laminate. This process is not reversible.


  • Do not store newspaper next to other types of documents or photographs. The paper is very acidic and will cause other documents to become yellow as the newspaper ages
  • If you need to store newspapers among other objects, put an acid-free buffer sheet between the newspaper and other materials.


  • Avoid touching prints with your fingers as the oils in your hands can cause damage. Use gloves, or handle prints along the edges.
  • Store photos in protective enclosures to keep out gritty dirt and dust that can scratch images
  • Avoid pressure-sensitive tapes and rubber cement
  • Use soft pencil to write on the backs of photos. Avoid ink.
  • Store all prints and negatives in acid free boxes. If possible, keep negatives separate from print materials.
  • Storage for family photographs in albums is often desirable, and many commercially available albums utilize archival-quality materials. Never use commercially available magnetic or “no stick” albums for the storage of contemporary or historic photographic prints in black-and-white or color. These materials will deteriorate quickly over time and could damage photographs.

Are you interested in scrapbooking? Check out these tips:

  • Do not cut up original photographs for scrapbooks – if you want to cut out pictures, make a color copy.
  • Identify people, places and dates in visible areas. A scrapbook loses its historical value if no one has any idea what events and people are captured within it.
  • Don’t use magnetic or no-stick pages for your scrapbook. Photo corners are the archivists’ preferred method for attaching photos to scrapbook pages.
  • Don’t use original newspaper in scrapbooks. Newspaper is extremely acidic and will stain materials that touch it.
  • Consider using page protectors, especially if you like to sue different kinds of material together.

Want more information on how to conserve objects?

Visit the American Institution for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works’ guide here!

Good luck!