Elizabeth (Betty) Sparks Adams was born on December 12, 1911 in Romeo, Michigan. She graduated from Pontiac High School (as valedictorian) in 1930 and received an A.B. from Eastern Michigan University in 1934. She went on to receive an M.A. in history from the University of Michigan in 1935, through a State College Fellowship. While a Research Assistant in 1935, she assisted Professor Lewis G. Vander Velde in establishing a home for the archives of the University of Michigan. She subsequently became the first curator of the Michigan Historical Collections working in that position from 1938 to 1939.
Elizabeth Sparks married Donald E. Adams, an Oakland County attorney and later Judge of Probate, in 1936. Together they have been very active in the Democratic Party on the local and state level. Mrs. Adams was elected Justice of the Peace in Waterford Township in 1943 and was elected to the Waterford Township Board of Education for two terms beginning in 1954, where she served as President for two years.
Mrs. Adams has served on the Michigan Historical Commission since her appointment by Governor Murray D. Van Wagoner on March 20, 1941. During her service there, she was President for 14 years and Vice President for 2 years, and was reappointed every 6 years by succeeding governors. She stepped down in 1995 (but remained active until her successor was appointed in 1996), completing 54 years of volunteer service to the people of Michigan.
Mrs. Adams has also served as president of the Historical Society of Michigan, Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society, and the Pontiac Y.W.C.A. She has also been an active member of the Oakland County Historical Society, Pontiac Historical Commission, Waterford Township Recreation Board, Commins Restoration Association, Oakland County Chapter of the Michigan Society for Mental Health, Lawyers Wives of Michigan, Oakland County Bar Association Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Navy League.
During the Bicentennial, Mrs. Adams served on the Oakland County Bicentennial Commission and as chairperson of the subcommittee which published Out of Small Beginnings, a Bicentennial Historical Sketch of Oakland County, MI, 1815-1976. She is listed as a contributor to entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States and The University of Michigan, an Encyclopedic Survey.
While she served publicly for many years on the Michigan Historical Commission and in other capacities, Mrs. Adams also privately researched and collected her own family's history. Both she and her husband were born and raised in Michigan and their family histories here dated to the 1800s.