The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

FROM its earliest years the University of Michigan published occasional records of its students and alumni, although these publications were, it has been discovered, more or less incomplete. In 1849 and again in 1852 there appeared a Latin "Alumnorum Catalogus" (see Part VIII: Official Publications, for a more extended account of University publications). This first catalogue contained lists of the Regents and alumni of the University from the establishment of the Board in 1837. It also gave a list of the ninety-seven graduates up to that time, arranged according to classes. The first name of each was latinized, if possible: under the class of 1845, the name of Edmundus Fish appeared, and under 1851, Josephus Webb Bancroft and Georgius W. Perry.

Eight years later, in 1860, the University published a General Catalogue … containing lists of officers and alumni from 1837 up to that time, including the alumni of the Department of Medicine and Surgery, from which the first class had been graduated in 1851. In this book the Latin forms were dropped. A third General Catalogue …, published in 1864, contained a register of the additional classes since 1860 and a roster of the Law Department graduates beginning with the first class, that of 1860.

The first and only Triennial Catalogue …, with index, was published by the University in 1871. It listed the names of all the graduates, primarily according Page  392to the degrees received, and secondarily according to classes. The names of students who had received the degree of pharmaceutical chemist were also included for the first time, since the first class was graduated in pharmacy in 1869.

A privately printed venture, The Michigan University Book, 1844-1880, edited by Theodore R. Chase (A.M. '49), was published in Detroit in 1881. Brief biographical notes of officers and alumni appeared in this book for the first time, and the names of the graduates of the College of Dental Surgery and of the Homeopathic Medical College, both of which had been established about five years before, were included. There were also alphabetical and geographical arrangements of the names, and the book was interleaved with blank pages for later notes by purchasers. Although it was not authorized by the University, apparently some contribution was made by the Regents toward its publication.

The value of these periodical lists of alumni had by this time become obvious and led the Regents in 1889 to undertake the publication of a complete General Catalogue … of alumni and students of the University from the time of its organization, and President Angell, Regents Charles S. Draper and Charles R. Whitman, and Professors Isaac N. Demmon and William H. Pettee were appointed to take charge of the work. The results of their labors were the publication in 1891 of a General Catalogue of Officers and Students, 1837-1890, and the real beginning of the department of the University later known as the Alumni Catalog Office (and as the Alumni Catalog Office since 1933). It was several years, however, before the first steps toward systematic organization of this work were undertaken.

Professor Demmon for some time carried on the recording of the names and addresses of the alumni as a labor of love; but when the Alumni Association was reorganized in 1897, the maintenance of the catalogue of alumni was recognized as one of its duties by the Regents' action appropriating $25 for a "catalogue case"; and in 1901 the sum of $500 was granted the Association for the purpose of "keeping at all times a correct list of the alumni of the University in such a manner as to be ready for publication at any time in the General Catalogue …" (R.P., 1896-1901, p. 651).

This program was carried on in connection with the Alumni Association by Professor Demmon, and in 1901 and 1911 the second and third general catalogues were published under his editorship, a monument to his patience and painstaking care. His intimate knowledge of the University and its thousands of alumni formed a solid basis upon which the present remarkably complete records of its faculty and alumni rest.

After the publication of the third general Catalogue of Graduates … it became apparent that the appropriation was far from sufficient to maintain the catalogue satisfactorily, in view of the continually increasing size of the alumni body. Accordingly, in 1912, the University created a separate alumni catalogue organization and placed it under the general charge of Professor Demmon. This was installed in the basement of Alumni Memorial Hall, in the offices now occupied by the Alumni Association, and was adjacent to the editorial room of the Michigan Alumnus. By the same action of the Regents the general Alumni Association was relieved of further responsibility in connection with the general catalogue.

The last general alumni catalogue of the University, covering the years through 1921, was published in 1923, under the editorship of Harley L. Sensemann ('11, Page  393A.M. '15), who succeeded Demmon as Director of the Alumni Catalogue Office in 1915. This also followed the plan of the three preceding general catalogues.

Upon Sensemann's resignation in 1925, Mrs. Lunette Hadley was appointed Director.

As may be seen, it had been the custom of the University in the past to publish a general catalogue decennially. If this plan had been pursued, another catalogue would have been published in 1931, but the Regents voted in 1929 not to publish one at that time. This action was based on the expense of publication and on the fact that the alphabetical and geographical lists of alumni are on file in the Alumni Catalog Office for proper consultation.

The function of the Alumni Catalog Office is twofold: (a) to keep for the University certain official records, and (b) to maintain a directory for the purpose of serving the alumni. The office at present possesses: (1) the early registration books and student registration cards to date, (2) the diploma fee cards, (3) the corrected copies of all annual catalogues, (4) the necrology file, containing obituary data, and records of all deceased alumni, (5) bound copies of the Regents' Proceedings, (6) the files of approximately 99,000 folders containing biographical material, registration cards, correspondence, circulars, etc., (7) the alphabetical card file of full names, degrees, years of attendance if no degree, and latest address of all living former students, as well as the names and degrees (or years of attendance) of all deceased alumni, (8) the card file of complete and detailed military record of University of Michigan men and women who served in the Mexican, Civil, Spanish-American, and World wars, (9) the files of University of Michigan men who died while serving in the first World War or as a result of such service, (10) the geographical files of addressograph stencils of all living graduates and former students, and an addressograph-plate list of all graduates since 1921 by schools and colleges, (11) three addressograph machines and two electric graphotypes, (12) the folder file of all past and present administrative officers and teaching faculty members of the University, (13) complete undergraduate files from the Registrar's Office since 1937, and (14) a large collection of various directories and other miscellaneous material.

Many supplementary addressograph-plate lists are also made up and kept for addressing purposes. These include lists for many fraternities, honorary societies, local churches, nearly all campus departments, the University faculty, local clubs of the Alumni Association, the State Bar of Michigan, editors of weekly and daily newspapers, teachers within the state, and many others. Many of these groups are addressed weekly. The financial charges for such labor are added to the annual budget of the Alumni Catalog Office.

The complete alumni body is addressed many times each year by the director of alumni relations and others, and there is less than a 2 per cent return of unclaimed mail. Nearly all schools and colleges of the University address their own graduates periodically. The list is used as a basis of all alumni and alumnae club organizations and for the preparation of all such special meetings as class reunions. An address or information is not given out for any purpose that might be a source of annoyance to the alumni.

At the present time, the Alumni Catalog Office contains detailed information of a chronological nature of every alumnus from the time of his application for admission until he finally leaves the University, and all subsequent information about him or her is carefully catalogued. Page  394Thus it is made possible for those needing biographical information to obtain such data with ease and accuracy. Approximately three thousand changes of address are entered each month.

The Alumni Catalog Office prepares a necrology list which appears in alternating issues of the Michigan Alumnus, and at the end of each year the list of deaths is published in pamphlet form.

In 1930, the work of the Alumni Catalog Office had entirely outgrown the room which it had originally occupied. At this time the Alumni Association vacated its adjacent editorial rooms, and this space was added to the original quarters used for the alumni catalogue work. The long hall leading to these rooms was used for biographical files.

The number of alumni has nearly doubled since 1921. The staff has been gradually increased until it now consists of six persons in addition to the director. The space utilized by this University unit again became entirely inadequate for its efficient operation. When the University Club moved to the Michigan Union Building in 1938 (see Part II: University Club), the large, northwest, basement room formerly occupied by the club at last provided commodious quarters for the Alumni Catalog Office.

The following summary indicates the scope of the work of this office:

    Total number of degrees conferred, 1845-July 1, 1940
  • 88,287
  • Total number of persons who have received degrees, 1845-July 1, 1940
  • 76,280
  • Number of nongraduates in all schools and colleges, calculated to July 1, 1938
  • 48,510
  • Total number of former students, including graduates to July 1, 1940, and nongraduates to July 1, 1938
  • 124,790
  • Total number of former students known to be deceased (graduates, 14,518; nongraduates, 11,358)
  • 25,876
  • Total number of living alumni (graduates, 61,762; nongraduates, 37,152)
  • 98,914