Emerson R. Smith papers: 1859-1964 (bulk 1956-1962)
Summary Information
Title: Emerson R. Smith papers
Creator: Smith, Emerson R.
Dates: 1859-1964 (Majority of material found within 1956-1962)
Extent: 3 linear feet
St. Ignace, Michigan local historian; correspondence, genealogical and historical materials concerning Native Americans and the French in and around the Straits of Mackinac, particularly in St. Ignace and on Mackinac Island.
Call number: 8627 Aa 2
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 Thomas E. Powers (1968); Philip J. Deloria (2006 reprocessing)

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was the gift of Emerson R. Smith (donor no. 3421) and came to the library in 1968.

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 is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Emerson R. Smith papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Emerson R. Smith was born and raised in St. Ignace, Michigan in 1892. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1913. Mr. Smith worked for the Eastern Branch of the National Underwriter Company in New York until 1931, when he took a position as supervisor of the Ordinary Department of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York. While in New York, he served two years as the Editor of the Gothamite, a publication of the University of Michigan Club of New York. He retired to his hometown of St. Ignace in the Year 1954, spending his retirement years as the president of the Michilimackinac Historical Society. He was an active member of the Kiwanis Club, the Masonic Lodge, the Garden Club, and the St. Ignace Methodist Church. He died in 1963.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Emerson R. Smith papers mostly consist of correspondence and reference materials pertaining to the history of the Straits area of Michigan (St. Ignace, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island).

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.

  • Fort de Buade (Mich.)
  • Fort Mackinac (Mackinac Island, Mich.)
  • Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.)
  • Fortification -- Michigan.
  • French Americans -- Michigan.
  • Indians of North America -- Michigan.
  • Mackinac Bridge (Mich.)
  • Mackinac Island (Mich.)
  • Michigan -- Bibliography.
  • Michigan -- History.
  • Moran (Mich. : Township)
  • Names, Geographical.
  • Saint Ignace (Mich.)
  • Sault Sainte Marie (Mich.)
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Antiques -- Michigan.
  • Castle Rock (Saint Ignace, Mich.)
  • Churches -- Michigan -- Saint Ignace.
  • Ferries.
  • Historical markers.
  • Indians of North America -- Michigan -- Arts and crafts.
  • Interiors.
  • Marine accidents.
  • Monuments and memorials.
  • Saint Ignace (Mich.)
  • Saint Ignace (Mich.) -- Churches.
  • Tourism.
  • Photographs.
  • Bedell family.
  • La Salle, Robert Cavelier, sieur de, 1643-1687.
  • Marquette, Jacques, 1637-1675.
  • Methodist Church (Saint Ignace, Mich.)
  • Michigan. Civil War Centennial Observance Commission.
  • Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864.
  • Graveraet family.
  • Smith, Emerson R.
  • Baird, Elizabeth Therese Fisher, 1810-1890.
  • Dever, Harry.
  • Greenlees, Orr.
  • Michilimackinac Historical Society.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence [series]

Much of the Correspondence revolves around the discussion of historic controversies concerning the Straits region. Smith's historical investigations often brought him into conflict with the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, headed by W. S. Woodfill, owner of the Grand Hotel, who he believed to be fabricating history to serve the economic interests of Mackinac Island.

Also included in the Correspondence series are communications with Harry Dever, a self-proclaimed authority on native languages and customs, who served as an ally in Mr. Smith's fight for accurate portrayal of local history.

Box   1  
1937, 1938
Box   1  
1956-1963 (26 folders)
Box   1  
Dever, Harry 1960-1962
Research Files and Collected Historical Materials [series]

The Research Files and Collected Historical Materials series contains topical files pertaining to local history, largely regarding the Indians and French in the area of the Straits of Mackinac, particularly St. Ignace and Mackinac Island. The establishment of historical markers in the region, research materials and information regarding various controversies form the bulk of the material. Also included are materials gathered to support the celebration of the Civil War centennial and to support the publication of the book "Before the Bridge" and the Kiwanis Publication "Our Local History".

Box   1  
Baird, Elizabeth T., Manuscript and Correspondence Regarding 1898, 1958
Box   1  
Bibliographic Information Including Extracts Concerning Area History (2 folders)
Box   1  
Box   1  
Brevort 1961
Civil War
Box   1  
Civil War letters 1861-1864
Box   1  
Michigan Civil War Centennial Celebration Commission 1958-1962
Box   2  
Biddle Family 1958-1959
Box   2  
Origin and Meaning of Michilimackinac 1957-1960
Box   2  
Origin of Michigan Names 1957-1960
Box   2  
St. Ignace as Ile de Michilimackinac 1959-1960
Box   2  
Ft. De Baude 1957-1961
Box   2  
Ft. Michilimackinac 1956-1959
Box   2  
Greenlees, Orr 1913-1916
Box   2  
Great Lakes Research Project, University of Michigan
Box   2  
Gros Cap 1956-1959
Box   2  
Historical Markers 1958
Historical Personalities
Box   2  
Henry, Alexander
Box   2  
LaSalle and the Griffon 1956-1961
Box   2  
Father Marquette 1958-1961
Box   2  
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe 1958-1959
Box   2  
Box   2  
Mackinac Bridge
Box   2  
Mackinaw Is 1950-1960
Box   2  
Mackinaw Island Park Commission 1958-1960
Box   2  
Michilimackinac Historic Society 1958-1962
Native Americans
Box   2  
Native American Burial Ground 1958-1962
Box   2  
Native American History 1957-1962
Box   2  
Native American Languages 1958-1962
Box   2  
Native American Use of Plants 1960
Box   2  
Poetry and Music
St. Ignace
Box   2  
Genealogical information for St. Ignace Residents 1955-1962
Box   2  
General 1956-1960 (2 folders)
Box   2  
Methodist Church
Box   2  
Sault Ste. Marie (petitions to Governor Moses Wisner) 1859-1860 (photostats of original and typescript)
Smith, Emerson
Box   3  
Awards and Citations
Box   3  
"Before the Bridge"
Box   3  
Handwritten Notes and Outlines
Box   3  
Radio Talk, WCBY 1960
Box   3  
Essays 1961, undated
Visual Materials [series]

The Visual Materials series contains local maps and photographs documenting historic events, sites and artifacts in and from the region.

Box   3  
Maps 1958, undated
Box   3  
Publications [series]

The Publications series contains newspaper clippings documenting the effort to develop an historical identity for the region, as well as a local column entitled "Bird Corner", to which Mr. Smith was a regular contributor. The series also contains materials published by local historic sites and organizations interested in the history of the region.

Newspaper clippings
Box   3  
Loose, unsorted (2 folders)
Box   3  
Mackinaw Bridge 1957-1960
Box   3  
Box   3  
Notebooks with Newspaper Clippings
Box   3  
Publication Extracts