Don Coleman, 1928-2017

1 02 2017
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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





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.

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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





Anthony Koo: From Chinese Diplomat to MSU Professor

17 11 2015

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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