Fred Dustin papers: 1884-1975
Summary Information
Title: Fred Dustin papers
Creator: Dustin, Fred, 1866-
Inclusive dates: 1884-1975
Extent: 4.5 linear feet
Extent: 1 oversize volume
Fred Dustin was a Saginaw, Michigan, building contractor, deputy state oil inspector, 1903-1905, and archaeological surveyor and writer on Michigan archaeology and history. The papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, sketches, diaries, and record books concerning his interest in the archaeology of Michigan, including the archaeological survey of Isle Royale, 1929-1930, and the survey and mapping of the Ogemaw County Earthworks in 1931; also material relating to the history of Saginaw and to Dustin's interest in the archaeology of the Michigan Indian; and photographs. Correspondents include Wilber M. Brucker, Fred L. Crawford, Woodbridge N. Ferris, William B. Mershon, William A. Smith, Albert W. Tausend, Charles E. Townsend, Arthur J. Tuttle, Arthur H. Vandenberg, and Murray D. Van Wagoner.
Call number: 851146 AC Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid prepared by: Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The papers were received in several accessions from Ralph Stroebel (donor no. 3977) and Geneva Kebler (donor no. 3199).

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for 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:


Copyright status is unknown. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Fred Dustin Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Fred Dustin was born Frederick Greene O'Donnell on October 12, 1866, in Glens Falls, New York. After his mother died while he was still an infant, he was raised by his aunt and uncle, Sarah and Ira Dustin, and took their last name. He attended school through the eighth grade, then began working, taking jobs in sawmills and lumberyards.

In 1887, Dustin moved to Saginaw, Michigan. After several years working in various jobs in the lumber industry, Dustin started his own carpentry business in 1890, building small items such as a hand washing machine called the Florin Washer. This business lasted until about 1900. From then on, Dustin tried his hand at a number of different types of employment, including stints as a census taker, mail carrier, weigh boss at a coal mine, building contractor, deputy state oil inspector, employment manager for a shipping plant, and Masonic Temple custodian. In his later years he ran a small bookshop out of his home and authored a book on General George Custer The Custer Tragedy, that was published in 1939. Health problems made regular employment difficult, but Dustin remained active most of his life.

Dustin had a great interest in the archaeology of Michigan. He began collecting Native American artifacts around 1903 and continued for the rest of his life, amassing over 10,000 pieces. Most of his collection was eventually donated to the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology. In 1929, he was appointed by the university to make an archaeological survey of Isle Royale; the work lasted about seven weeks, followed up with a four-week return visit in 1930. In 1931, the Cranbrook Institute hired Dustin to survey the prehistoric earthworks in Ogemaw County, Michigan. He also served as W.B. Hinsdale's assistant in the compilation of the Archaeological Atlas of Michigan, published in 1931.

Dustin was a charter member of the Michigan Archaeological Society and served a term as its vice president. He also published a number of articles on Saginaw archaeology and history in local newspapers in the hopes of generating interest in establishing a historical museum. In 1955, the Regents of the University of Michigan conferred a Citation of Honor upon Dustin for his contributions to the archaeology and history of the state.

Dustin married Mary Stoker in 1888. Dustin died on May 15, 1957, in Saginaw, Michigan.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Fred Dustin Papers contain correspondence, diaries, record books, writings, field notes, photographs, and other materials that document Dustin's life and interests in Michigan archaeology and history. The papers consist of seven series: Autobiographical and Biographical, Correspondence, Archaeology, Papers and Miscellaneous, Diaries, Record Books and Ledgers, and Photographs and Scrapbook.

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.

  • Archaeology.
  • Indians of North America -- Michigan.
  • Isle Royale (Mich.)
  • Lumbering -- Michigan.
  • Ogemaw County (Mich.)
  • Saginaw (Mich.)
  • Saginaw County (Mich.)
  • Logging -- Michigan.
  • Business enterprises -- Michigan -- Saginaw.
  • Dwellings -- Michigan -- Saginaw.
  • Living rooms.
  • Photographs.
  • Saginaw (Mich.) -- Business enterprises.
  • Saginaw (Mich.) -- Dwellings.
  • Diaries.
  • Dustin, Fred, 1866-
  • Custer, George Armstrong, 1839-1876.
  • Dustin, Fred, 1866-
  • Brucker, Wilber Marion, 1894-1968.
  • Crawford, Fred L., 1888-1957.
  • Ferris, Woodbridge N., 1853-1928.
  • Mershon, Wm. B. (William Butts), 1856-1943.
  • Smith, William Alden, 1859-1932.
  • Tausend, Albert William, 1873-
  • Townsend, Charles E. (Charles Elroy), 1856-1924.
  • Tuttle, Arthur J., 1868-1944.
  • Vandenberg, Arthur H. (Arthur Hendrick), 1884-1951.
  • Van Wagoner, Murray Delos, 1898-
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Autobiographical and Biographical Material [series]

The Autobiographical and Biographical series, 1944-1975 (1 folder), contains autobiographical accounts of Dustin's life and biographical information provided by others.

Box   1  
General 1944-1975
Correspondence [series]

The Correspondence series, 1886-1957 and undated (1.75 linear feet), contains Dustin's incoming and outgoing correspondence. The series is arranged chronologically, with one folder of undated correspondence at the front. Correspondents include Wilber M. Brucker, Fred L. Crawford, Woodbridge N. Ferris, William B. Mershon, William A. Smith, Albert W. Tausend, Charles E. Townsend, Arthur J. Tuttle, Arthur H. Vandenberg, and Murray D. Van Wagoner (an index for these correspondents is listed at the end of this finding aid).

Box   1  
undated, 1886-December 1934 (17 folders)
Box   2  
January 1935-1957 (23 folders)
Archaeology [series]

The Archaeology series, 1915-1956 and undated (0.5 linear feet), contains manuscripts, field notes, artifact lists and miscellaneous material related to Dustin's interest in the archaeology of Michigan. Of particular note are collections of manuscripts and notes related to Isle Royale and Saginaw, as well as sketches from Dustin's survey of the Ogemaw Earthworks. The series also includes field notes and manuscripts that were to be microfilmed as part of a Michigan Archaeological Society project.

Box   2  
Indian relic collections 1919-1934
Box   2  
Isle Royale 1929-1941 (2 folders)
Box   3  
Michigan Archaeological Society Microfilm Project papers 1898-1957
Box   3  
Notes 1920s-1930s
Box   3  
Papers 1915-1954, undated (2 folders)
Box   3  
Saginaw archaeology undated
Box   3  
Sketches of the Ogemaw Earthworks and Saginaw sites circa 1931-1934
Box   3  
The Totem Pole 1955-1956
Box   3  
Miscellaneous 1956, undated
Papers and Miscellaneous [series]

The Papers and Miscellaneous series, 1886-1960 and undated (1 linear foot), is comprised of Dustin's writings on various historical, social and personal topics, as well as clippings and ephemera related to his areas of interest. Miscellaneous materials are held in chronologically arranged folders, while individual items of note are arranged alphabetically. Miscellaneous items include historical articles and book lists from Dustin's bookshop. Individual items of particular interest include a three-part history of Saginaw, Michigan, and several versions of autobiographical works on Dustin's childhood.

Box   3  
undated, 1886-1960 (12 folders)
Box   3  
Clippings on miscellaneous topics 1891-1960
History of Saginaw 1949
Box   3  
Parts I and II (2 folders)
Box   4  
Part III
Box   4  
Notes and clippings concerning Saginaw, Michigan 1895-1950
Recollections of Boyhood
Box   4  
Rough draft 1936
Box   4  
Final copy 1936
Box   4  
Recollections of Youth and Young Manhood circa 1942-1945
Box   4  
Travels in Michigan 1913-1953
Diaries [series]

The Diaries series, 1884-1948 (0.25 linear feet), contains Dustin's personal diaries, which detail his activities, interests, and reflections for the dates indicated. The entries range from brief descriptions of the weather on a particular day to fuller accounts of Dustin's thoughts and plans.

Box   4  
Box   4  
Box   4  
circa 1917
Box   4  
Box   4  
Box   4  
Box   4  
Box   4  
Record Books and Ledgers [series]

The volumes in the Record Books and Ledgers series, 1887-1910 (0.5 linear feet), include Dustin's notations of financial and business transactions, but also contain his personal reflections on various topics, along with clippings and mementos.

Box   4  
Box   4  
Box   4  
Box   5  

(concerning oil inspection)

Box   5  
Business account and cash books 1892-1910 (5 volumes)
Photographs and Scrapbook 1890s-1950s [series]

The Photographs and Scrapbook series, 1890s-1950s (0.25 linear feet), consists of one envelope of photographs and a scrapbook. The photographs include portraits and candid photos of Dustin, and photos of a storefront and the interior of a Saginaw home. The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings related to Isle Royale.

Box   5  
Photographs 1890s-1950s
Oversize Volume   1  
Isle Royale scrapbook 1928-1953
Additional Descriptive Data
Index of Selected Correspondents
Brucker, Wilber Marion, 1894-1968
  • 1930-1932, 1935-1936, Nov. 21, 1939, Nov. 19, 1940, Nov. 21, 1946, Nov. 26, 1946, Nov. 17, 1948
Crawford, Fred L., 1888-1957
  • Jan. 20, 1946, Jan. 30, 1946, Feb. 7, 1947, Feb. 12, 1947
Ferris, Woodbridge N., 1853-1928
  • Jan. 11, 1924
Mershon, William Butts, 1856-1943
  • Nov. 25, 1919, Jan. 8, 1924
Smith, William Alden, 1859-1932
  • Jan. 18, 1911, Dec. 27, 1911, Jan. 11, 1912, July 12, 1912, July 22, 1912
Tausend, Albert William, 1873-
  • Jan. 25, 1929, May 20, 1930
Townsend, Charles Elroy, 1856-1924
  • Oct. 15, 1913, Oct. 18, 1913, Nov. 3, 1913, Jan. 4, 1914, Apr. 6, 1915, Apr. 19, 1915, Sept. 7, 1921
Tuttle, Arthur J., 1868-1944
  • Aug. 12, 1936, Aug. 17, 1936
Vandenberg, Arthur H. (Arthur Hendrick), 1884-1951
  • May 9, 1930, May 12, 1930, Feb. 14, 1936, Feb. 17, 1936, Mar. 13, 1937, Jan. 6, 1938, Jan. 10, 1938, May 20, 1939, May 22, 1939, Feb. 19, 1940
Van Wagoner, Murray Delos, 1898-
  • Sept. 16, 1941