Audiovisual Collections: Spring 1957 Commencement Film

19 08 2016



Michigan State University President John A. Hannah (left) with U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon (right) at MSU’s 1957 commencement (resource identifier A001832)

 On June 9, 1957, Vice President of the United States Richard M. Nixon gave the commencement address at Macklin Stadium (now Spartan Stadium) to Michigan State’s graduating class.  In a photograph from the Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, Nixon can be seen standing next to MSU President John A. Hannah after the ceremony.


1957 Commencement film reel

Additionally, a 16mm reel of motion picture film of this event is also in the University Archives’ collections. The film, approximately 800’ in length (roughly twenty-two minutes long), contains moving image and optical sound elements from the Spring 1957 commencement.  A :30 silent clip of the commencement can be viewed on YouTube.

If you would like to help preserve Spartan history and get this footage preserved and 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

Note: Commencement programs are available on the On the Banks of the Red Cedar website (, including the 1957 commencement program.

Additional information about Vice President Nixon’s visit can be found in the Commencement Records (UA 13.1).

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

Spartans Marching

18 06 2012

The first Cadet Band, photographed here in 1884.

In the early months of every fall semester, the familiar sounds return of the MSU marching band’s daily practice, and our walks around campus double in length as we avoid Adams Field or risk being run down by a rogue tuba player.  The college has had to work diligently, however, in order to build our band to its present admirable institution.  When the first attempt was made to organize a music group in 1875, there was only enough money for seven instruments.  The students played for events on campus, but they also worked as a for-hire group around the area, which enabled them to expand and be able to purchase further music and instruments.

Faculty, students, and surrounding community members supported the band and its efforts, and so when the Military Department was

The Military Band posing in 1931.

formed in 1884, the band officially fell under its jurisdiction.  That year, the first Cadet Band was organized.  They provided martial music for the military students to march to, and they also played at parades and dances around East Lansing.  By 1913 their numbers had grown from seven to fifty-one, including the first African-American member who joined the previous year – Everett Claudius Yates, a percussion player.  The establishment also grew large enough to warrant the construction of an outdoor playing venue, which was created in the form of the Band Shell in 1938.

The marching band forms a stick-man during a half-time performance in 1955.

With the onslaught of World War II, the nature of the Michigan State Marching Band changed.  The uniforms themselves even reflected the atmosphere, bearing a rather military air about them in the early part of the 1940s.  Declining numbers due to military inscription at this time were detrimental to the band’s survival, so for the first time the organization’s director, Leonard Falcone, admitted women.  Falcone himself enlisted and had to spend a few years going to and from campus, fulfilling his duties around the country.  MSU saw the benefits of female members: all-female bands were organized to travel around the state and provide entertainment for soldiers, and the women were allowed to remain in the music groups after the end of the war.

MSU’s students at the World’s Fair in 1964, performing in Rockefeller Center.

The band has also been involved in a number of important events since that time.  They were the only group from Michigan to play at

the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson in Washington, D.C.  They also performed at the Rose Bowl in 1954, 1956, and 1966.  In addition to this, they played at the World’s Fair in New York City during the year of 1964.  These facts are only one testament to the MSU Marching Band’s skill, the real proof comes from seeing these dedicated musicians enter Spartan Stadium before thousands of fans.  Their commitment to excellence only serves to add to the incredible MSU spirit and pride of all students and alumni in the venue.