Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Robert S. Oakman Papers

Finding aid created by
Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Robert S. Oakman Papers,
Creator: Oakman, Robert S., 1860-1942.
Inclusive dates: 1882-1949, and undated
Extent: 5 cubic feet (in 4 boxes, 1 Oversized folder)
Papers include biographical materials, photographs, diary, business correspondence, including a 1927 letter from Helen Keller, financial records, real estate materials, political materials, blueprints of his home, a photograph albums, and two scrapbooks.

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:

Acc# 1403, 13498, MS# OO-26, OO-27

Access Restrictions:

Robert S. Oakman Papers are open for research.


Copyright has been transferred to the Clarke Historical Library.

Preferred Citation:

Robert S. Oakman Papers, Folder #, Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is alphabetical and then chronological.



Robert S. Oakman (August 21, 1860-October 1942) was born, worked, and died in Detroit, Michigan. He married Mamie Rose Moross, of the famous northeast Detroit family, in August 1887. He was a real estate agent, dealer, broker, and seller in Detroit.

An active and powerful Republican, from 1890 to 1896 he worked as secretary for Hazen S. Pingree (1840-1901), Mayor of Detroit, while Pingree considered running as governor of Michigan. Pingree served as Governor of Michigan, 1897-1898. Oakman then advanced from city assessor to membership in the state’s first State Tax Commission. He later resigned from this position to work as a tax expert for Detroit United Railway, which to an interest in buildings and real estate. His political influence secured Detroit’s first filtration plant and the first separate Michigan women’s prison at Northville.

Believing Detroit would soon expand into the suburbs, he bought extensive real estate holdings to the northeast side of Detroit prior to 1893. He then became a wealthy man, in the first year earning over $9,000 in profits. In 1917, he donated property he owned to connect Woodward and Michigan avenues, which was named Oakman Boulevard. He planned and laid out modern residential areas of Detroit, particularly on the northeast side of the city.

Oakman was a member of many organizations including the Masons, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club with his yacht the “Mamie O.”, and the Humane Society. He was also a member of the Detroit Board of Commerce and a director of the Union Trust Company in Detroit. (This information is from the collection.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

Oakman’s financial records document land sales throughout metro-Detroit. His correspondence is mostly real estate related or regarding the Union Trust Company, although there are a few personal letters, mostly in the 1887-1921 and 1928-1944 folders. The correspondence is extremely acidic and fragile and should be handled with care. Of special note is a letter from Helen Keller (1880-1968) on behalf of the American Foundation for the Blind, Inc. (1927) and with the Dodge Bros., Inc. (1926). The correspondence was apparently kept in both alphabetical and chronological folders, resulting in this mixed arrangement.

The political materials document his Republican activities and interests. Of note here are the two letter press books which date from when he served as Pingree’s secretary when Pingree was campaigning to become Governor of Michigan. Most of this typed correspondence discusses how, where, and with whom to start Pingree Clubs in numerous Michigan towns.

The biographical information provides an interesting picture of Oakman’s career.

Two photograph albums show the Oakmans on vacation, at home, with friends, and their yacht. Among their friends were Francis, Dan, Horace, and John Dodge and Gar Wood. Two oversized scrapbooks, 1892-1944 and 1924-1946, include correspondence, greeting and holiday cards, programs, and newspaper clippings about the Oakmans.

Subject Terms

    • Oakman, Robert S., 1860-1942.
    • Oakman, Mamie Moross, 1868--1956.
    • Pingree, Hazen S., 1840-1901.
    • Keller, Helen, 1880-1968.
    • Union Trust Company (Detroit, Mich.)
    • Michigan Republican League.
    • Dodge Brothers.
    • Real estate business--Michigan--Detroit.
    • Mayors--Michigan--Detroit.
    • Michigan--Politics and government--History.
    • Detroit (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Robert S. Oakman Papers [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Address List, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Biographical Materials, Certificates, 1891, 1895, 1914, undated
    Box   1 F   3
    Biographical Materials, General, 1922, 1942, 1949, undated
    Box   1 F   4
    Biographical Materials, Photographs, undated
    Box   1 F   5
    Blueprints, and Buildings and Yacht Drawings, 1919, 1925, undated
    Box   1 F   6
    Correspondence, 1887-1921 (Scattered)
    Box   1 F   7
    Correspondence, 1924-1925
    Box   1 F   8
    Correspondence, A 1926
    Box   1 F   9
    Correspondence, A-K, 1926
    Box   1 F   10
    Correspondence, B, 1926
    Box   1 F   11
    Correspondence, C, 1926
    Box   1 F   12
    Correspondence, D, 1926
    Box   1 F   13
    Correspondence, Dodge Brothers, Inc., 1926
    Box   1 F   14
    Correspondence, January-February 1926
    Box   1 F   15
    Correspondence, March-May 1926
    Box   1 F   16
    Correspondence, June-August 1926
    Box   1 F   17
    Correspondence, September-December 1926
    Box   1 F   18
    Correspondence, A-M (includes Helen Keller letter), 1927
    Box   1 F   19
    Correspondence, January 1927
    Box   1 F   20
    Correspondence, February-March 1927
    Box   1 F   21
    Correspondence, April-May 1927
    Box   1 F   22
    Correspondence, May-June 1927
    Box   1 F   23
    Correspondence, July 1927
    Box   1 F   24
    Correspondence, August 1927
    Box   1 F   25
    Correspondence, September 1927
    Box   1 F   26
    Correspondence, October 1927
    Box   1 F   27
    Correspondence, November 1927
    Box   1 F   28
    Correspondence, December 1927
    Box   1 F   29
    Correspondence, 1928-1929, 1944, undated
    Box   1 F   30
    Dearborn City Resolution, October 9, 1942
    Box   1 F   31
    Financial Records, Cancelled Checks, Receipts, IOUs, 1883-1890
    Box   1 F   32
    Financial Records, Miscellaneous, 1886-1887
    Box   1 F   33
    Financial Records, Receipts (folder 1 of 2), 1926
    Box   1 F   34
    Financial Records, Receipts (folder 2 of 2), 1926
    Box   1 F   35
    Financial Records, Receipts, January-May 1927
    Box   1 F   36
    Financial Records, Receipts, June-December 1927
    Box   2 F   1
    Memorandums of Agreement, May 23, 1926
    Box   2 F   2
    Miscellaneous, undated
    Box   2 F   3
    Politics, Michigan Republican League Flier, 1892
    Box   2 F   4
    Politics, Speeches, undated
    Box   2 F   5
    Politics, Wayne County Delegates to Republican State Convention,1896, and Lists of Republicans, undated, 1896; undated
    Box   2 F   6
    Real Estate, Land Contracts, 1887-1891, undated
    Box   2 F   7
    Real Estate, Property Sales Lists and Map, 1887-1892, undated
    Box   2 V   1
    Volumes in Box 2, Account Book (includes some loose receipts), 1882-1893
    Box   2 V   2
    Volumes in Box 2, Account Book, 1883
    Box   2 V   3
    Volumes in Box 2, Account Book, Land Contracts, 1887-1892
    Box   2 V   4
    Volumes in Box 2, Account Book, Land Contracts (includes some correspondence), 1888
    Box   2 V   5
    Volumes in Box 2, Business Memoranda, 1884
    Box   2 V   6
    Volumes in Box 2, Check Book with Stubs (Dime Savings Bank), 1892
    Box   2 V   7
    Volumes in Box 2, Check Book, January-February 1889; Check Book of T. V. Moross (blank), undated; and Robert S. Oakman's Diary, 1908, January-February 1889; undated; 1908
    Box   2 V   8
    Volumes in Box 2, Letterpress Book 1 (typed and indexed of Robert S. Oakman while functioning as secretary for Mayor Pingree of Detroit), March 3-April 15, 1896
    Box   2 V   9
    Volumes in Box 2, Letterpress Book 2 (typed and indexed of Robert S. Oakman while functioning as secretary for Mayor Pingree of Detroit), May 15-July 25, 1896
    Box   2 V   10
    Volumes in Box 2, Photograph Album (includes photographs of Isabella, Milton, Mamie, and Robert S. Oakman, Horace and John Dodge, trip to Europe?) 1916-1922
    Box   2 V   11
    Oversized Materials, Photograph Album (includes photographs of Mamie and Robert S. Oakman, their yacht, the Mamie O. III, Dan and Francis Dodge, Mr. and Mrs. Gar Wood and son, on a trip to Florida in 1 Oversized folder), 1921-1937
    Box   3 V   1
    Oversized Materials, Scrapbook (includes photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, invitations, greeting and holiday cards, programs, in 1 flat box), 1892-1944
    Box   4 V   1
    Oversized Materials, Scrapbook (includes photographs, correspondence, newspaper clippings, invitations, greeting and holiday cards, programs, in 1 flat box), 1924-1946