Roscoe O. Bonisteel Papers: 1903-1972
Summary Information
Title: Roscoe O. Bonisteel Papers
Creator: Bonisteel, Roscoe O. (Roscoe Osmond), 1888-
Inclusive dates: 1903-1972
Extent: 13 linear feet (in 14 boxes)
Abstract:
Ann Arbor, Michigan, attorney, Republican regent of the University of Michigan. Correspondence and other materials relating to state and local Republican party affairs, particularly the election of 1944 and the Constitutional Convention, 1961-1962; organizational files, primarily concerning activities with the Rotary Club, the Free and Accepted Order of Masons, the National Music Camp at Interlochen, the American Bar Association, the First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, the Historical Society of Michigan, Cleary College, Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Wayne State University Board of Governors; and photographs.
Call number: 85518 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
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Frank Boles

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was donated in many installments beginning in 1944 by Roscoe O. Bonisteel (donor no. 2035) and later by Roscoe O. Bonisteel, Jr.

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: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Donor(s) have not transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Roscoe O. Bonisteel Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

Roscoe Osmond Bonisteel was born November 23, 1888 at Sidney Cross, Ontario. In 1891 he moved with his family to the United States. Following the retirement in 1913 of his father Milton F. Bonisteel from International Harvester the family moved to Ann Arbor, where Milton became active in both the real estate and the insurance business.

Roscoe Bonisteel received most of his early education in Pennsylvania, graduating from Harrisburg high school and receiving most of his undergraduate education at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Bonisteel received his college diploma, however, from the University of Michigan, which conferred upon him a bachelor of laws degree in 1912.

For the next half century Bonisteel practiced law in Ann Arbor. In addition to his practice, he was active in numerous professional organizations. He was president of the State Bar of Michigan (1936-1937), an organization he helped to create. He also served as a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates (1936-1940).

Bonisteel's scope of activities, however, was far broader than his legal interests. He actively involved himself in politics, education, business, religion and community betterment.

Politically, Bonisteel was a conservative Republican. He served as an active party worker throughout his life. He was elected chairman of the Washtenaw County Republican organization and was appointed to numerous state boards and commissions. In both 1928 and 1944 he was selected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Bonisteel remained politically active throughout the 1950s. In 1961 he was elected as a Republican delegate to the state constitutional convention. At the convention he served on several committees, but was most influential in his posts as chairman of the education committee's sub-committee on higher education, and as vice-chairman of the committee on emerging problems. Education was a continuing concern of Bonisteel. He was a trustee of Dickinson College, a member of the Board of Trustees, Cleary College, the Board of Governors, Wayne State University (1956-1959) and the Board of Regents, the University of Michigan (1946-1959). In addition he served on the Board of Directors and was chairman of the executive committee of the National Music Camp at Interlochen.

In the business community, Bonisteel served as legal counsel for numerous corporate clients. Personally, he was a member of several Michigan firms' board of directors, including Ann Arbor Bank, Information Industry Associates, Michigan Life Insurance, and the State Bank of Frankfort.

Bonisteel worshipped at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. He was an active member of the congregation. He served both as an elder and a trustee of the church. In addition to all his other activities, Bonisteel was involved in a host of community organizations. He was a Mason, an active 33rd degree member, and a Michigan grand master (1929-1930). He was a Rotarian, serving that organization as president of the Ann Arbor chapter (1932-1933) and as International District governor (1934-1935). He was a member of the American Legion, having been a captain in the U.S. Air Service (area intelligence) during World War I. He was elected commander of Legion post 46 (1925) and served as judge advocate for Michigan (1934-1935). He was also active in historical organizations, most prominently as president of the Historical Society of Michigan (1961-1962).

Roscoe Bonisteel died on February 25, 1972.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Roscoe Bonisteel collection dates largely after 1950, when Bonisteel had already reached an age at which most men retire. Because of this, many of Bonisteel's activities are either poorly documented or altogether absent from his papers. Despite this, the papers do contain some illuminating material.

The collection is divided into ten series: biographical and personal, colleges and universities, financial, historical organizations, legal, Masons, political, Presbyterian Church, Rotary, and Photographs.

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.


  • Ann Arbor (Mich.)
  • Elections -- Michigan -- 1944.
  • Freemasonry -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Families.
  • Freemasonry -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Leisure.
  • Rites and ceremonies.
  • Travel.
  • Photographs.
  • American Bar Association.
  • Bonisteel, Roscoe O. (Roscoe Osmond), 1888-
  • Cleary College (Ypsilanti, Mich.)
  • Dickinson College.
  • First Presbyterian Church (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
  • Historical Society of Michigan (1874-)
  • Michigan. Constitutional Convention (1961-1962)
  • National Music Camp.
  • Presbyterian Church -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Republican Party (Mich.)
  • University of Michigan. Board of Regents.
  • Wayne State University.
  • Angell, James Burrill, 1829-1916.
  • Bonisteel family.
  • Bonisteel, Roscoe O. (Roscoe Osmond), 1888-
  • Burton, Marion Le Roy, 1874-1925.
  • Cleary College (Ypsilanti, Mich.)
  • Dickinson College.
  • Hutchins, Harry B. (Harry Burns), 1847-1930.
  • National Music Camp.
  • University of Michigan. Board of Regents.
  • University of Michigan -- Commencements -- 1964.
  • University of Michigan. Law School -- Alumni.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Biographical and personal [series]

The biographical and personal material within the collection includes biographical and genealogical material, personal correspondence and a few items of sentimental value. The correspondence is truly personal, often with family members or close friends reporting on matters of family interest. A bound set of Bonisteel's diary, "From Day to Day," covering the years 1918 to 1971, is located in Box 14.

Box   1  
Biographical
Box   1  
Awards and citations

(see also oversize folder)

Box   1  
Newspaper clippings
 
Diaries
Box   1  
Handwritten 1970-1971
Box   14  
Bound 1918-1971
Box   1  
Annotated appointment calendars 1931, 1933, 1938, 1946
Box   1  
Autograph book
Box   1  
"The Bonisink Saga," 1950
Box   1  
Genealogical information
Box   1  
Correspondence 1938-1971 (21 folders)
Box   1  
American Legion
 
Colleges and universities [series]

Material about Cleary and Dickinson colleges, Wayne State University and the University of Michigan are all found under the heading, "Colleges and Universities". Material about either Wayne State or Cleary is thin. Because of his generous financial support of Dickinson, Bonisteel's correspondence with that school's officials is large. Most of it, however, tends to be progress reports on projects Bonisteel funded or gracious acknowledgments of his gifts. Some scattered minutes of the Dickinson Board of Trustees survive. The largest group of college material in the papers relates to the University of Michigan. The material is arranged alphabetically. Most of it dates from Bonisteel's appointment as a university regent to his death. While it is frequently said that Bonisteel was the "father" of U-M's North Campus, the papers are silent on the subject.

 
Cleary College
Box   2  
Newspaper clippings
Box   2  
Undated, 1946-1972 (11 folders)
 
Dickinson College
Box   2  
Newspaper clippings
Box   2  
Correspondence (general) 1940-1971 (20 folders)
Box   2  
Minutes, Board of Trustees 1959-1972 (4 folders)
Box   2  
Planetarium (donation of)
Box   2  
Portrait of Robert J. McClelland
Box   2  
Sandburg collection (donation of)
 
University of Michigan
Box   2  
Alumni Fund
Box   2  
Appointment of Bonisteel to Board of Regents
Box   2  
Association of Governing Boards
Box   2  
Class Reunions (Law 1912)
Box   2  
Commencement (honorary LLD, Bonisteel) 1964
Box   2  
Correspondence 1961-1971
Box   2  
Decision not to seek re-election to Board of Regents
Box   2  
Fairlane Festival, U-M Dearborn
Box   2  
Fundraising ($55 million program)
Box   3  
Harlan Hatcher, selection of
Box   3  
Inglis Estate
 
Investment/Endowments
Box   3  
1952-1956
Box   3  
1958
Box   3  
Butterfield Theatres (2 folders)
Box   3  
Labor relations
Box   3  
Law School
Box   3  
Miscellaneous (2 folders)
Box   3  
Monteith, John
 
National Music Camp (Interlochen)
Box   3  
History/Program
Box   3  
1955-1967 (11 folders)
Box   4  
1968-1972 (5 folders)
Box   4  
Unidentified tape recording
Box   4  
Off-campus programs
Box   4  
Phoenix Project
Box   4  
Michigan State College name change
Box   4  
President
Box   4  
Rackham fund
Box   4  
Regent's correspondence 1947-1960 (14 folders)
Box   4  
Scholarship Fund for Oriental Men
Box   4  
Speeches
Box   4  
Ten Hoor, Martin
Box   4  
University of Michigan Club
Box   4  
University Musical Society
Box   4  
Veterans Hospital
Box   4  
Wayne State University
Box   4  
Workers Extension Service
 
Financial [series]
Box   5  
Ann Arbor Bank
Box   5  
Information Industry Associates
Box   5  
Michigan Life Insurance
Box   5  
State Bank of Frankfort
 
Historical Organizations [series]

Historical organizations represented in the collection include the Ann Arbor Historical Commission, Ann Arbor Lincoln Sesquicentennial Committee, Clements Library, the Historical Society of Michigan, the Michigan Historical Collections and the Washtenaw Historical Society. There are also folders relating to biographical research on John Monteith and Gabriel Richard. Most extensive are papers relating to the Historical Society of Michigan. Also of interest is material relating to the Michigan Historical Collections, dealing primarily with the fund raising effort climaxed by the construction of the Bentley Historical Library.

Box   5  
Ann Arbor Historical Commission 1964-1969 (6 folders)
Box   5  
Ann Arbor Lincoln Sesquicentennial Committee
Box   5  
Clements Library 1953-1972 (4 folders)
Box   5  
Historical Society of Michigan 1955-1971 (20 folders)
Box   5  
Michigan Historical Collection 1946-1971 (4 folders)
 
Research Subjects
Box   6  
John Monteith (4 folders)
Box   6  
Gabriel Richard (3 folders)
Box   6  
Washtenaw Historical Society
 
Legal [series]

Under the heading of "legal" are papers relating to Bonisteel's professional affiliations. Primarily, the material discusses the American Bar Association. There are only scattered documents regarding the Michigan Bar, or its predecessor organization.

 
American Bar Association
Box   6  
General
Box   6  
Committee on Admission to American Bar Association
Box   6  
Committee on Integrated State Bar Administration 1937-1946 (3 folders)
Box   6  
Committee on State Legislation
Box   6  
Section on Bar Organization Activities
Box   6  
Housing of Delegates
Box   6  
American Judicature Society
Box   6  
Michigan State Bar (2 folders)
Box   6  
Miscellaneous
Box   6  
Uniform Laws Conference (2 folders)
Box   6  
Washtenaw County Bar
 
Masons [series]

Bonisteel's Masonic material is extensive. It is arranged into two groups, a general series and a second set of papers arranged alphabetically by committee. Among the committees Bonisteel served on are Constitutional, Education, Emerging Problems, Fead Memorial Fund, Jurisprudence, and Library and Museum. Also included is information regarding a controversy over the Prince Hall Lodge, a black Masonic affiliate.

 
General
Box   6  
Newspaper clippings
Box   6  
Undated
Box   6  
"Michigan Masonic Monitor and Ceremonies" circa 1877
Box   6  
1923-1953 (21 folders)
Box   7  
1954-1972 (17 folders)
Box   7  
Constitutional Committee 1966-1971 (6 folders)
Box   7  
Education Commission 1924-1930
Box   7  
Emerging problems
Box   7  
Fead Memorial Fund
Box   7  
Jurisprudence Committee 1940-1965 (15 folders)
Box   8  
Jurisprudence Committee 1966-1970 (4 folders)
Box   8  
Library and Museum 1969-1971 (3 folders)
Box   8  
William D. Greene/Prince Hall Lodge (black affiliate)
 
Political [series]

The political material is also extensive. Included are the papers relating to Bonisteel's service at the state constitutional convention. In addition to the constitutional convention, the political papers are particularly informative regarding the 1944 National Republican convention and campaign and the unsuccessful effort of Frederick Matthei to win election to Bonisteel's seat on the University of Michigan Board of Regents in 1959.

 
General
Box   8  
Undated
Box   8  
Newspaper clippings
Box   8  
1913-1929
Box   8  
1930-1933
Box   8  
1934
Box   8  
1935-1939
 
1940
Box   8  
Correspondence
Box   8  
Vandenberg for president
Box   8  
1941-1942
Box   8  
1943
 
1944
Box   8  
Correspondence (3 folders)
Box   8  
Bricker for president
Box   8  
Dewey for president
Box   8  
Stassen for president
Box   8  
Martin/Taft for president
Box   8  
Presidential miscellaneous
Box   8  
Michigan campaign material
Box   8  
Michigan Republican State Central Committees Speakers' Manual
Box   8  
1945
Box   8  
1946
Box   8  
1947
 
1948
Box   8  
Dewey for president
Box   8  
Stassen for president
Box   8  
Taft for president
Box   8  
Presidential miscellaneous
Box   8  
Michigan
Box   8  
1949-1950
Box   8  
1951-1958
 
1959
Box   8  
Correspondence
Box   8  
Frederick Matthei (candidate for U-M Board of Regents)
Box   8  
1960-1967 (3 folders)
 
Michigan Constitutional Convention Campaign
Box   8  
Correspondence February-September 1961, undated (3 folders)
Box   8  
Lists of supporters
Box   8  
Campaign material (2 folders)
Box   8  
Election results
 
Michigan Constitutional Convention
Box   8  
Newspaper clippings
Box   8  
Notes (handwritten)
 
Correspondence
Box   8  
September-December 1961 (4 folders)
Box   9  
January 1962-1964 (12 folders)
Box   9  
Re: education
Box   9  
Civil Rights
Box   9  
Education Committee
Box   9  
Higher Education sub-committee (3 folders)
Box   9  
School revenues
Box   9  
Emerging problems (committee on)
Box   9  
Miscellaneous
 
Presbyterian Church (primarily First Presbyterian of Ann Arbor) [series]

As an active member of First Presbyterian church of Ann Arbor, Bonisteel retained a great number of church related documents. Most interesting are four folders from 1933 and 1934 regarding the selection of a new pastor to lead the congregation.

Box   9  
Undated
Box   9  
1903-1932
Box   9  
1933 (2 folders)

(largely re. selection of new pastor)

Box   9  
1934 (2 folders)

(largely re. selection of new pastor)

Box   9  
1938-1959 (13 folders)
Box   10  
1960-1969
Box   11  
1960-1969

(continued)

Box   10  
Sermons and lectures (4 folders)
Box   11  
Sermons and lectures (4 folders)

(continued)

 
Rotary [series]

The Rotary papers are most extensive for the years of Bonisteel's peak involvement.

Box   10  
Newspaper clippings
Box   11  
Newspaper clippings

(continued)

Box   10  
Undated, 1916-1970, 1934-1935 (55 folders)
Box   11  
Undated, 1916-1970, 1934-1935 (55 folders)

(continued)

Box   10  
Speeches (4 folders)
Box   11  
Speeches (4 folders)

(continued)

 
Photographs [series]

The Bonisteel photographs fall into three main series: Personal Photographs, College and University Photographs, and Topical File Photographs. Personal Photographs include several portraits, photos of family members, and photographs of friends and associates. College and University Photographs contain material from ceremonies and commencements at Cleary College, Dickinson College, and the University of Michigan. Two albums, one within the collection and another oversized album stored elsewhere, pertain to ceremonies at Dickinson College. In the Topical File subseries are photographs relating to various interests including: American Legion, Masons, and Bonisteel's many travels abroad.

The Bonisteel photographs are most extensive for his involvement with educational concerns. Personal material is limited, yet this collection illustrates the many interests and activities of a prominent Michigan figure.

 
Personal Photographs
Box   12  
Portraits (2 folders)
Box   12  
Early years

(see also oversize photographs in box 13)

Box   12  
Law School graduation 1912
Box   12  
Bonisteel (Mrs.)
Box   12  
Foster children (?)
 
Family
Box   12  
Groups (some color)
Box   12  
Individuals (female)
Box   12  
Individuals (male) and infants, some color)
Box   12  
Snapshots
Box   12  
Friends and relatives
Box   12  
Associates (2 folders)

(see also oversize photographs in box 13)

 
College and University photographs
 
Cleary College
Box   12  
Commencement June 18, 1960
Box   12  
Ceremonies 1961, 1969
Box   12  
Building dedication May 1970
 
Dickinson College
Box   12  
Commencements and reunions (with Mrs. Bonisteel and Professor Henry Yeagley)
Box   12  
Dedication of Roscoe O. Bonisteel, Planetarium November 11, 1958 (album)
 
University of Michigan
Box   12  
Ceremonies
Box   12  
Commencement 1964
Box   12  
Commencements (2 folders)

(includes President Johnson and George Romney photographs)

Box   12  
Honorary degrees
Box   12  
Interlochen (2 folders)
Box   12  
Monteith, John (marker dedication)
Box   12  
Phoenix Memorial
Box   12  
Reunion
Box   12  
Travels
Box   12  
William L. Clements Library
Box   12  
Miscellaneous (2 folders)

(includes Hutchins, Button, and Angell photographs)

(see also oversize photographs in box 13)

 
Topical
Box   12  
American Legion
Box   12  
Legal profession

(see also oversize in box 13)

 
Masons
Box   12  
Ceremonies 1930
Box   12  
Miscellaneous

(see also oversize in box 13)

Box   12  
Military ceremonies
Box   12  
Ten Hoor, Dan Martin (dinner in Tuscaloosa, Alabama) May 12, 1960
 
Travels
Box   12  
Hong Kong
Box   12  
Philippines
Box   12  
Waseda University, Japan
Box   12  
Miscellaneous
Box   12  
Miscellaneous