Elizabeth Sparks Adams papers: 1861-2001 (bulk 1930-1970s)
Summary Information
Title: Elizabeth Sparks Adams papers
Creator: Adams, Elizabeth S.
Inclusive dates: 1861-2001
Bulk dates: 1930-1970s
Extent: 9.25 linear feet
Extent: 1 oversize folder
Abstract:
Elizabeth Sparks Adams was a member of the Michigan Historical Commission from 1941 (when she was appointed as the first woman commissioner by Governor Murray D. Van Wagoner) until 1996. She and her husband, Judge Donald E. Adams, were also active in the Democratic Party, specifically in Oakland County and Waterford Township. Mrs. Adams also actively researched and collected materials on family and local history. The collection consists of files accumulated throughout her life, particularly during her service with the Michigan Historical Commission and the Michigan Democratic Party. Also included are clippings, correspondence, legal documents, and photographs related to family and local history.
Call number: 0344 Aa 2; Ac
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Barbara Scanlon (2005) and Courtney Egan (2008)

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of Elizabeth S. Adams (donor no. 857) and came to the library in multiple accessions, mainly in 2002 and 2004.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Elizabeth Sparks Adams papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

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.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The papers are divided into seven series: Personal Papers, Michigan Historical Commission, Michigan Historical Collections, Miscellaneous, Democratic Party, Compiled Information, and Collected Materials.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Michigan -- Politics and government -- 1837-1950.
  • Oakland County (Mich.) -- History.
  • Waterford (Mich. : Township)
  • Women in politics -- Michigan.
  • Diaries.
  • Photographs.
  • Adams, Elizabeth S.
  • Adams family.
  • Adams, Jayno W.
  • Michigan Historical Collections.
  • Michigan Historical Commission.
  • Democratic Party (Mich.)
  • Sparks family.
  • Van Wagoner, Murray Delos, 1898-
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Personal Papers [series]

The Personal Papers (1 linear foot) include Mrs. Adams biographic information, her awards and appointments, and articles that she wrote. Also included is a set of correspondence with Donald Adams and memorabilia related to their wedding.

Box   1  
Articles by ESA
Box   1  
Awards, Appointments
Box   1  
Biographical
Box   1  
Clippings, Advice on Writing
 
Correspondence
Box   1  
Donald to Elizabeth (Don to Betty) (4 folders)
Box   1  
Elizabeth to Donald (Betty to Don)
Box   1  
Various
Box   1  
Diary 1939

(includes some notes about activities at the Michigan Historical Collections)

Box   1  
Eastern Michigan University
Box   1  
University of Michigan
Box   1  
Wedding (2 folders)
 
Michigan Historical Commission [series]

Papers from the Michigan Historical Commission (1 linear foot) span almost the length of her tenure there and date from 1942 to 1991. They comprise mostly her correspondence. Notable are the sections on the Munson Fund, Historical Markers, and Governors' Papers.

Box   2  
Reappointments 1942-1995
Box   2  
1942-1944
Box   2  
1945
Box   2  
1946-1951
Box   2  
1952-1955
Box   2  
1956-1957
Box   2  
1958-1959
Box   2  
1950-1971

(includes letters regarding: Knights of Pythias at Eagle Harbor)

Box   2  
1956-1957

(staff problems)

Box   2  
1979-1980

(regarding: Berkowitz)

Box   2  
1981-1989
Box   2  
1990-1995
Box   2  
Munson Fund 1950-1979
Box   2  
Historical Markers 1957-1991
Box   2  
Governors' Papers 1961-1991
 
Michigan Historical Collections [series]

Correspondence and Mrs. Adams' writings are included in the Michigan Historical Collections (0.4 linear feet) papers. These date from 1935 to 1975.

Box   3  
Correspondence undated
Box   3  
Correspondence 1935-1936
Box   3  
Correspondence 1937
Box   3  
Correspondence 1938
Box   3  
Correspondence 1939
Box   3  
Correspondence 1940
Box   3  
Correspondence 1941
Box   3  
Correspondence 1942-1948
Box   3  
Correspondence 1961-1987
Box   3  
Writing, Drafts
Box   3  
Writings, Printed Material 1936-1974
Box   3  
Writings, Frieze, Haven, Crary, and the Women's Research Club
Box   3  
Writings, Tappan
Box   3  
Douglas Papers, Correspondence 1941
Box   3  
Douglas Papers, Writings 1941
Box   3  
Miscellaneous, Other Projects and Activities 1938-1975
 
Miscellaneous [series]

The Miscellaneous (0.6 linear feet) section is drawn from Mrs. Adam's many activities with other historical societies and her elected duties. These date from 1929 - 1988. Her collection of G. Mennen Williams memorabilia is very personal and moving.

Box   3  
Historical Society of Michigan 1964-1966
Box   3  
Oakland County Sesquicentennial 1969-1970
Box   3  
Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society; Michigan Historical Collections 1935-1940
Box   3  
Oakland County Pioneer and Historical Society 1929-1976
Box   3  
Oakland County Records 1945
Box   3  
Waterford Township Board and justice of the peace 1943
Box   3  
Waterford Board of Education 1959-1967
Box   3  
Truman Library Committee 1955
 
Collected Historical Materials
Box   3  
Newsletters, bulletins and clippings 1936-1968
Box   3  
Northwest Territory Celebration Committee 1937-1938
Box   3  
G. Mennen Williams career 1940s-1988

(includes memorabilia and photograph)

 
Democratic Party [series]

The Democratic Party papers (1 linear foot) are a mixture of both Judge and Mrs. Adams political activities. They date from 1938 to the end of the 1950s. Oakland County and Waterford Township materials dominate. The collection has many original paper ballots and other party memorabilia as well as correspondence.

Box   4  
1938-1939
Box   4  
Young Roosevelt Democrats and misc. party material 1939-1943
Box   4  
1940
Box   4  
1941 (2 folders)
Box   4  
1942
Box   4  
1943-1944
Box   4  
Election (Donald Adams) 1946
Box   4  
1951-1953
Box   4  
Conventions 1940s-1950s
Box   4  
Oakland County Democratic Commission 1939-1950s
Box   4  
Oakland County Democratic Women 1940
Box   4  
Oakland County Democratic Women's Division 1940-1951
Box   4  
Waterford Township 1939-1951
Box   4  
Waterford Township 1948-1950
Box   4  
Waterford Township 1952-1957
 
Compiled Information (bound volumes) [series]

The Compiled Information (2 linear feet) series is comprised of a set of albums that Mrs. Adams assembled. Those related to Mrs. Adams contain biographical information in the form of clippings, correspondence, and photographs. Some also provide useful documentation of the development of the Michigan Historical Collections and Mrs. Adams' service with the department. Those related to family and local history also include clippings, correspondence, and photographs. The Various Families volume contains good information on the history of the Windiate, Earl, and Adams families and how they relate to one another. Historical photographs of family members and family homes are included throughout the volumes.

 
Elizabeth S. Adams
Box   5  
Biographical (including awards and interviews)
Box   5  
Biographical (including Donald and David Adams)
Box   5  
Biographical (including the Michigan Historical Collections and the Michigan Historical Commission)
Box   5  
Miscellaneous (including clippings and journal entries)
 
Family and Local History
Box   6  
History of Oakland County Courts

(clippings, correspondence, and some photographs)

Box   6  
Adams Family History

(clippings, correspondence photographs and important documents)

Box   6  
Sparks Family History

(clippings, correspondence photographs, and narrative family histories)

Box   6  
Various Families

(clippings, correspondence photographs, and family history lists and charts)

 
Collected Materials [series]

The Collected Materials (3.25 linear feet) series represents the family and local history materials that Mrs. Adams collected throughout her life. The majority of the papers relate to Mrs. Adams' family history, a small quantity of papers related to local and state history are also included. The series is divided into three subseries: Family History, Local and State History, and Photographs.

 
Family History

The Family History subseries (3 linear feet) contains materials about multiple generations of the Adams family and families related to the Adams' through marriage. Within the Adams family materials, clippings and correspondence provide documentation of family relations and important events, such as weddings and promotions. Portions of Jayno Whitmore Adams' (Donald Adams' father) life are highlighted, including his trip to Europe in 1926 and his service as Supervisor of Waterford Township in the early 1900s. The materials on additional families also contain clippings and correspondence that document family relations and important events in individual's lives. The Windiate family, the first of the related families to settle in Michigan, is fairly well documented. Some correspondence of early Michigan and California residents is included.

 
Adams Family
Box   7  
Clark, Adeline, Donald, and Elizabeth Adams, Clippings and Correspondence
Box   7  
Education
Box   7  
Helen Adams (Helen M. Ellis)
Box   7  
James Adams
Box   7  
Jayno Charles Adams, Sale of Farm
Box   7  
Jayno Charles and Helen Adams (Oakland Gazette article)
 
Jayno Whitmore and Blanche Adams
Box   7  
Correspondence 1890s
Box   7  
Correspondence 1901-1960s

(Clintonville postmarks included)

Box   7  
Correspondence, Various (2 folders)
Box   7  
Legal Documents
Box   7  
Research
 
Jayno Whitmore Adams
Box   7  
Correspondence from Donald and Elizabeth Adams 1940s
Box   7  
European Trip, Correspondence
Box   7  
European Trip, General (3 folders)

(see also oversize folder)

Box   7  
European Trip Photographs
Box   7  
European Trip, Postcards
Box   8  
Investment Records
Box   8  
Research
Box   8  
Supervisor of Waterford Township, Construction Contracts
Box   8  
Supervisor of Waterford Township, General
Box   8  
Supervisor of Waterford Township, Liberty Loan Campaign
Box   8  
Waterford Township (District 7) Schools
Box   8  
Litigation
 
Various Families
Box   8  
Booklets and Pamphlets
Box   8  
Diaries (2 folders)
Box   8  
Earl and Windiate, General
Box   8  
Oliver Earl, General
Box   8  
Ellis and Kennedy, General
Box   8  
Ellis and Windiate, General (2 folders)
Box   8  
Goodale and Riker, Clippings
Box   9  
Abbie Harvey (3 folders)
 
Heidt
Box   9  
Correspondence from Oliver Heidt
Box   9  
Letters of Sympathy (2 folders)
Box   9  
Riker, General
Box   9  
Shot Bag from Phoenix Shot Tower Co., Baltimore
Box   9  
Wedding Invitations Received (2 folders)
 
Windiate
Box   9  
Correspondence 1860s
Box   9  
General
 
Local and State History

The Local and State History subseries (0.25 linear feet) focuses on select local organizations in Pontiac. Also included is an original 1875 contract specifying an agreement to fund the construction of the Silver Lake Canal between Silver Lake and Loon Lake, Michigan.

Box   9  
Catalogs and Pamphlets
Box   9  
Christian Endeavor
Box   9  
First Presbyterian Church (Pontiac, Mich.)
Box   9  
Oakland County
Box   9  
Pontiac Recreation Department, Game Bulletins
 
Pontiac Schools
Box   9  
History
Box   9  
The Tomahawk (Pontiac Senior High School student publication)
Box   9  
Silver Lake Canal Contract (Waterford, Mich.) August 30, 1875
 
Photographs

The Photographs subseries (.25 linear feet) contains images related to family, local, and state history. Some photographs include information about the locations and individuals depicted, but many are unlabeled.

Box   10  
Adams Family (2 folders)
Box   10  
Local and State History
Box   10  
Unknown
Box   10  
Windiate Family