Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Helen Collar Papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Helen Collar Papers,
Creator: Collar, Helen.
Inclusive dates: 1907, 1996
Extent: 5 cubic feet (in 8 boxes)
The collection consists mainly of her research notes, manuscript drafts, reference materials, photographs, papers and speeches on the Strangite Mormons, Native Americans, and Irish of Beaver Island, Michigan.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:


Access Restrictions:

Helen Collar Papers


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Helen Collar Papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is alphabetical and then chronological.



Helen Hoffman Collar, Beaver Island, Michigan, historian, researcher, and author, first summered on Beaver Island with her parents and sister in June of 1915. For 79 years thereafter, she spent her summers on the island.

The daughter of a school superintendent, Helen was born in 1902. She grew up in Springfield, Illinois. Helen studied geology at the University of Chicago, from which she graduated in 1924. In 1925 she began working in the Wisconsin oil fields.

Her husband was the victim of hit-and-run accident when Helen was in her 30s. Afterwards, Helen supported her children and herself from the income of an Indiana farm that she and her husband had purchased during the Depression, and with the sales of fine linens that Helen designed and wove on her loom in the living-room.

Each summer she returned with her children to Beaver Island. While there, in the late 1940s, Helen began researching the history of the Irish fishing families who lived on the Island after the Strangite Mormons era. Her work took her to the National Archives, the Charlevoix County courthouse, and Arranmore Island (Ireland), from which many of the Irish settlers emigrated, to verify facts gleaned from informal interviews conducted during tea time with the descendants of the early Irish settlers. Eventually her research topics came to include the Mormons, Irish, and Native Americans of the Island, their culture, genealogy, history, statistics, and personal stories, as well as crinoids (fossils) and Sugar Creek of Montgomery County, Indiana. Helen also studied art and history, traveling from Auvergne to Afghanistan.

Helen’s historical research was published in Michigan and Beaver Island historical journals. She also donated her drawings of Island pioneers, made from faded family photographs, and family genealogies that she researched to the Beaver Island Museum.

In honor of her life and research efforts, the Beaver Island Museum’s new addition was named the Helen Hoffman Collar Archival Center in 1990.

Helen died on January 9, 1996. She was survived by her son, daughter and son-in-law, and four grandchildren. A memorial fund, to help support the programs, projects, and operations of the Beaver Island Historical Society, was established in Helen’s name by her daughter, Mrs. Ann (David) Broder.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This is a well-documented research collection of Beaver Island history, concentrating on the Irish Catholics and, secondarily the Strangite Mormons, who settled there, as well as other aspects of Beaver Island history. It is divided simply by format into two series: Papers and Notecards. Topical materials (in folders) within the Papers and the topics of the Notecards are in alphabetical order.

The Papers, 1907-1996 (Scattered), and undated, consist mainly of Helen’s research notes and drafts of manuscripts, as well as collected reference materials and photographs, for her Irish Book, and papers or speeches on various aspects of Beaver Island area history, including: land [property], Native Americans, Irish, Strangite Mormons, fishing, boats, statistics, culture, and genealogy.

There are a few manuscript drafts, typed papers, and research notes on Crinoids (fossils) and the Sugar Creek of Montgomery County, Indiana.

Also included are Biographical Materials, 1990, 1996-1997, and undated (1 folder), which includes Photographs of Helen. There is Correspondence from various people asking Helen to do genealogical research for them or answer genealogy questions, and/or supplying her with genealogical information and other materials for her research (6 folders). There is also Correspondence, 1969-1974, regarding manuscripts she submitted to journals for publication (1 folder).

The 5”x8” Notecards (3 boxes) document her research on the following topics: Beaver Island Vital Statistics, Ireland, Emigration/ “Trip Over”; Beaver Island History; Boats/Fishing; [data from] the Michigan Census, 1850-1910; and Mormons. The Notecards are in the process of being transcribed by a Central Michigan University professor.

A map of Beaver Island and a book about Arranmore (Ireland), which were part of Helen Collar’s reference materials, were cataloged separately.

Subject Terms

    • Collar, Helen.
    • Strang, James Jessee,--1813-1858.
    • Beaver Island Historical Society.
    • Church of Jesus Christ (Strangite)
    • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--History.
    • Irish Americans--Michigan--Beaver Island--History.
    • Mormons--Michigan.
    • Mormon Church--Michigan.
    • Ojibwa Indians.
    • Crinoldea, Fossil.
    • Fishing villages--Michigan--Beaver Island--History.
    • Fisheries--Michigan--Beaver Island--History.
    • Fishers--Michigan--Beaver Island--History.
    • Beaver Island (Mich.)--History.
    • Beaver Island (Mich.)--Genealogy.
    • Montgomery County (Ind.)--History.
    • Arranmore Island (Ireland)--History--19th century.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Helen Collar Papers [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Biographical Materials [includes Photographs], 1990, 1996-1997, and undated
    Box   1 F   2
    “Aunt” Jane (La Joie) Goudreau Biography, undated
    Box   1 F   3
    Beaver Island Archipelago Report (and Map), November 6, 1973
    Box   1 F   4
    Beaver Island Beacon, September 1964, May 1993, November 1994
    Box   1 F   5
    Beaver Island, Bedford, Miller, Gibson Families, Materials, 1974-1975, and undated
    Box   1 F   6
    Beaver Island, Births, Notes, [pre-1800-1900 Births], undated
    Box   1 F   7
    Beaver Island, Calendar, July 1996-June 1997
    Box   1 F   8
    Beaver Island, Catholic Baptism, 1862-1920 [in chronological order], undated
    Box   1 F   9
    Beaver Island, Census, 1910 [compiled data sheets], undated
    Box   1 F   10
    Beaver Island, Census Data [1840-1870], undated
    Box   1 F   11
    Beaver Island Daughter [book], by Elanor La Frenier, and Correspondence, 1987, 1987
    Box   1 F   12
    Beaver Island, Fisherman and Lighthouses, Notes, 1946, 1948, 1978, and undated
    Box   1 F   13
    Beaver Island, Historical Society (BIHS), Miscellaneous, 1986/87, 1996, 1998, and undated
    Box   1 F   14
    Beaver Island, Land, and Military Bounties, Correspondence re:, 1974, and undated
    Box   1 F   15
    Beaver Island, Land, Notes (2 folders), undated
    Box   1 F   16
    Beaver Island, Land, Prelminary, Notes, undated
    Box   1 F   17
    Beaver Island, Maps [Hand-drawn and copies], undated
    Box   1 F   18
    Beaver Island, Ludlow Hill Family (a Mormon), Correspondence and Materials, 1992-1993
    Box   1 F   19
    Beaver Island, Mormons in Green Bay [Wis.] Globe Article, September 4, 1877 (copy), and BIHS Article, undated, undated
    Box   1 F   20
    Beaver Island, Newspaper Clippings (copies), 1907-1990 (Scattered), and undated
    Box   1 F   21
    Beaver Island, O'Donnell Family, Correspondence and Materials, undated
    Box   2 F   1
    Beaver Island, Oral History Transcripts [in alphabetical order by name], 1976-1991
    Box   2 F   2
    Beaver Island, Philip Malloy Family, Notes and Materials, 1983, and undated
    Box   2 F   3
    Beaver Island, Photographs, People, 1927, and undated
    Box   2 F   4
    Beaver Island, Postcards and Photographs, Boats, Docks, Lakes, 1963, 1978, and undated
    Box   2 F   5
    Beaver Island, Postcards and Photographs, Buildings and Nature, 1928-1929, 1984, and undated
    Box   2 F   6
    Beaver Island, School Inspectors' Reports, December 22, 1881, January 12, 1882, September 11, 1883, and Accounts, 1885-1886 (copies), 1881-1883, 1885-1886
    Box   2 F   7
    Beaver Island, Surnames, Includes Mormons, undated
    Box   2 F   7
    Correspondence and Gillespie Family Charts from Alan C. Gillespie, 1984
    Box   2 F   8
    Correspondence and Materials from Jack Edwards re: A. P. Newton and Strang, 1994
    Box   2 F   9
    Correspondence and Materials from Dr. Laurie Sommers (Folklorist) on Beaver Island Irish, 1993, 1996
    Box   2 F   10
    Correspondence, Notes, Ration Book Shoe Stamp re: World War II Exhibit [at Beaver Island Historical Society?], 1995
    Box   2 F   11
    Correspondence from Paul Connors re: Andrew Roddy, 1993-1994
    Box   2 F   12
    Correspondence re: Collar's Manuscripts Submitted for Publication, 1969-1974
    Box   2 F   13
    Crinoids (Fossils) [of Montgomery County, Indiana], Notes; Bishop Baraga, Notes (1 p.), undated
    Box   2 F   14
    Family Trees and Related Correspondence, 1983-1993
    Box   2 F   14
    Gallagher Family Materials, 1977, 1983, and undated
    Box   2 F   15
    Gallagher, Noni, Photographs and Newspaper Clippings (copies), 1975-1976, and undated
    Box   2 F   16
    Genealogy Correspondence, 1974-1992, and undated
    Box   2 F   17
    Horses /High Island (Typed Letter re:, [author unknown]), undated
    Box   3 F   1
    Index to the Journal of Beaver Island History, v. I (compiled by Dorothy Avery), [after 1976]
    Box   3 F   2
    Irish Book, Introduction (4 versions, drafts), 1992, and undated
    Box   3 F   3
    Irish Book, (pp. 1-71 draft), undated
    Box   3 F   4
    Irish Book, (pp. 1-71 another version, draft), undated
    Box   3 F   5
    Irish Book, (pp. 33-142 draft), undated
    Box   3 F   6
    Irish Book, (pp. 54-73, 363-379, copies), undated
    Box   3 F   7
    Irish Book, (pp. 68-98 draft), undated
    Box   3 F   8
    Irish Book, (pp. 1-100 draft), undated
    Box   3 F   9
    Irish Book, (pp. 101-176 draft), undated
    Box   3 F   10
    Irish Book, (pp. 152-158 draft) [George Miller], undated
    Box   3 F   11
    Irish Book, (pp. 167-173 draft), undated
    Box   3 F   12
    Irish Book, Section on Bishop Baraga (draft), undated
    Box   3 F   13
    Irish Book, “Preliminary Write Ups,” undated
    Box   3 F   14
    (the) Irish who Came to Beaver Island (Typed Paper), undated
    Box   4 F   1
    “Marine Lore” [article] by Ivan H. Walton (1941); Michigan Sailor/Marine Songs or Poems, undated, 1941, and undated
    Box   4 F   2
    McKinley Family Genealogy Correspondence, Notes, and Photographs (1 c., 1 tintype), 1975, 1981, 1984, and undated
    Box   4 F   3
    Miscellaneous Notes, 1930 (copy), 1994-1995
    Box   4 F   4
    “Montgomery County’s Sugar Creek,” (Speech Notes and Typed Article), undated
    Box   4 F   5
    Mormon Land Policy on Beaver Island (Typed Paper with Maps), undated
    Box   4 F   6
    Notebooks, Irish Book-Irish Arrival and Community on Beaver Island, undated
    Box   4 F   7
    Notebooks, Irish Book-Irish Era, undated
    Box   4 F   8
    Notebooks, Irish Book-Irish Era and Families, Bishop Baraga, undated
    Box   4 F   9
    Notebooks, Irish Book-Irish Immigration to Beaver Island; Balkans, undated
    Box   5 F   1
    Notebooks, Irish Book-Mormon-Irish Era, undated
    Box   5 F   2
    Notebooks, Irish Book-Peaine, Indians, McKinleys, undated
    Box   5 F   3
    Notes and Reference Materials, James F. Cable, undated, and Correspondence, 1975, 1998, 1975, 1998, and undated
    Box   5 F   4
    Notes, Beaver Island Land Records and Mormons; 19th c. Evictions of Irish (from the Donegal Democrat, April 30, May 7 and 14, 1965, copies), and Mormons and King Strang, undated, 1965, and undated
    Box   5 F   5
    Notes, Beaver Island Schooners and Ferries (copies), undated
    Box   5 F   6
    Notes, Irish Culture and History (copies), undated
    Box   5 F   7
    Notes, 1860 Census and Church Records of Irish Immigrants, undated
    Box   5 F   8
    (A) Picture of Arranmore Island During the Great Famine Period, 1846-1848 (Typed Paper (copy)), undated
    Box   5 F   9
    Photograph Album of Beaver Island Buildings, 1969
    Box   5 F   10
    Speech on James Jesse Strang and His Religion (Typed Speech), President’s Day [no year]
    Box   5 F   11
    Speech to Beaver Island Historical Society, Notes, re: Irish, 1983
    Box   5 F   12
    Statistics, Employment and Nationality in 1860 [Michigan] Census, undated
    Box   5 F   13
    Those Who Came from the Mines of Pennsylvania [to Beaver Island] (draft), undated
    Box   6  
    5x8 inch Notecards: Beaver Island Vital Statistics, undated
    Box   7  
    5x8 inch Notecards: Ireland, Emigration/Trip Over; Island History; Boats/Fishing, undated
    Box   8  
    5x8 inch Notecards: Michigan Census, 1850-1910; Mormons, undated