Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Walter P. Nickell Papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Walter P. Nickell Papers,
Creator: Nickell, Walter P., 1910-1973.
Inclusive dates: 1922-1995, and undated
Extent: Approximately 13 cubic feet (in 9 boxes, 2 Oversized folders, 3 Slide Cabinets, 2 Slide Boxes)
Abstract:
The collection includes correspondence with George Washington Carver, an autobiography, correspondence, scrapbooks, artifacts, biographical materials, certificates, photographs, and slides of Michigan plants, views, and ornithology.

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
Email: clarke@cmich.edu
Website: http://clarke.cmich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Acc# none

Access Restrictions:

Walter P. Nickell Papers are open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright has been transferred to the Clarke.

Preferred Citation:

Walter P. Nickell Papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement

Arrangement is by format, then alphabetical and chronological.


History

Biography:

Walter Prine Nickell (WPN) was born in 1910 and died in 1973. He grew up mostly in Kentucky, spending some time in Oklahoma and Tennessee. WPN attended Morton Elliot Junior College, 1923-1924, and Kentucky Wesleyan College, 1925-1927. He attended Southern YMCA Graduate School off and on from 1928 to 1930. During visits to Tuskegee Institute, WPN was greatly influenced by George Washington Carver (GWC), and they corresponded throughout the 1930s.

He married the former Billie York in January 1932. Their son, John Carver, was born November 1932 and their daughter, Rima Jean, in 1936.

WPN joined the staff of Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS) in 1935, where he worked until his retirement in 1968. At CIS, he worked as a naturalist, leading adult and youth nature groups, preparing exhibits, etc. His professional work included numerous trips around the country and abroad, focusing primarily on geology during the 1940s and ornithology during the 1950s and 1960s. WPN was a charter member of the Detroit Audubon Society and gave frequent lectures on nature and ornithology, including those to clubs and organizations, public lectures, and radio broadcasts. (This information is from the collection.)


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Walter P. Nickell Collection (WPN) Manuscript Collection consists of 9 cubic foot boxes of materials, 2 oversized folders, and 3 slide cabinets. The majority of the collection is personal, including extensive correspondence and scrapbooks, mostly of poetry. A summary of the content of the boxes is found below.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Nickell, Walter P., 1910-1973.
    • Carver, George Washington, 1864?-1943.
    • Cranbrook Institute of Science.
    • Detroit Audubon Society.
    • Geology--Michigan.
    • Archeology--Michigan.
    • Indians of North America--Michigan.
    • Arrowheads.
    • Archaeological museums and collections.
    • Ornithology--History.
    • Ornithology--Michigan.
    • Birds--Michigan.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Walter P. Nickell Papers. [series]:
    Box   1  
    Material related to George Washington Carver. This includes copies of letters or letter fragments from WPN to GWC, and about three dozen letters from GWC to WPN, 1930-1939, written in GWC’s own hand. There are also incidental materials, including copies of many newspaper and magazine articles. It contains newspaper and magazine clippings, manuscripts other than correspondence, photographs, and scholarly papers, 1930-1948. Also included in this box is the autobiography of WPN, “From There to Here, the Autobiography of a Naturalist,” copyrighted by Rima Nickell in 1988, 1930-1948, 1988
    Box   2  
    Correspondence arranged by subject, rather than by the name of the correspondent, 1937-1974
    Box   3  
    Correspondence filed by the name of the correspondent, alphabetically by last name. The first three files are close family (Claire, Jessie, and Sister); the remainder of the box is files from Richard Albert to John M. Judy, 1932-1975
    Box   4  
    Correspondence filed by the name of the correspondent, alphabetically by last name, from J. Lee Kavanau to Dale Zimmerman, 1952-1973
    Box   5  
    Scrapbooks S1 through S5, consisting of a variety of materials, most of which were not compiled by WPN, 1922-1958
    Box   6  
    Scrapbooks S6 through S8, consisting of newspaper and magazine clippings, reprints of articles by WPN and others, manuscripts of articles and papers by WPN, and radio, television, and motion picture scripts, 1933-1958
    Box   7  
    Scrapbooks S9 through S11, consisting of photographs of a CIS display on the migration of birds, a lot of poetry written by WPN, and reviews of books and articles written by or collected by WPN, 1928-1969
    Box   8  
    Non-manuscript articles, 1941: a caricature of WPN as a bird-watcher; headdress; collar; and necklace made by WPN at Camp Ohiyesa; audiodisk (wax record?) Of WPN broadcast December 12, 1941 on WWJ radio, Detroit; black and white negatives and pictures; an academic hood presented to WPN as he received honorary LL. D. from CMU; a cloth map of WPN’s “migrations” received as a gift upon his retirement from CIS, 1941
    Box   9  
    Miscellaneous (Addition added April 1992), 1. Bird Banding, Presentation by WPN given to Tennessee Ornithological Society, 1971; 2. Botany By Billie Nickell, 1948; 3. Cranbrook Institute of Science Newsletter (4 folders), 1944-1969; 4. Letters, 1967-1972; 5. Newspaper Articles, 1935-1968; 6. Nickell Cemetery Map, Undated; 7. Nickell, Walter P., Thesis Material (3 folders), 1926; 8. Pictures, Undated; 9. Publications by WPN; 10. Scrapbook, WPN (4 folders), 1930-1949; 11. WPN, Journalism (Course) 108E (4 folders), 1933, 1927-1972
    F   1  
    Oversized Folder 1), 1. Certificates of membership WPN, 1969-1970; 2. Photographs of WPN, undated, 1969-1970; undated
    F   2  
    Oversized Folder 2), 2) 1. Certificate of Memberships, Walter P. Nickell, 1969-1970; 2. Photographs of Walter P. Nickell, Undated, 1969-1970; undated
    B   1  
    Slide Box 1), Color slides (Nickell collected) of North American and other Indian peoples or cultures, pre-European contact archaeological excavations, and artifacts, such as arrowheads and temples. Most are unidentified, undated
    B   2  
    Slide Box 2), Color slides (Nickell collected) of North American and other Indian peoples or cultures, pre-European contact archaeological excavations, and artifacts, such as arrowheads and temples. Most are unidentified, undated
    B   1  
    Slide Cabinet 1), Color slides (Nickell collected) of North American and other Indian peoples or cultures, pre-European contact archaeological excavations, and artifacts, such as arrowheads and temples. Most are unidentified, undated
    B   2  
    Slide Cabinet 2), Color slides (Nickell collected) of North American and other Indian peoples or cultures, pre-European contact archaeological excavations, and artifacts, such as arrowheads and temples. Most are unidentified, undated
    B   3  
    Slide Cabinet 3), Color slides (Nickell collected) of North American and other Indian peoples or cultures, pre-European contact archaeological excavations, and artifacts, such as arrowheads and temples. Most are unidentified, undated