Sebastian Spering Kresge papers (microfilm): 1923-1966
Summary Information
Title: Sebastian Spering Kresge papers (microfilm)
Creator: Kresge, Sebastian Spering, 1867-1966
Dates: 1923-1966
Extent: 8 microfilms (7 linear feet)
Abstract:
Founder of the S.S. Kresge Company. Business and personal files relating to his financial dealings and to his involvement with various churches and educational institutions; also photographs.
Call number: 9565 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 Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The Kresge papers came to the library in 1983 and 1985 as the gift of Stanley S. Kresge (Donor No. 6888).

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, Sebastian Spering Kresge papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

Sebastian S. Kresge, founder of the S.S. Kresge Company with more than 850 retail outlets in North America by the end of his life, was born in 1867 at Bald Mount, Pennsylvania.

The son of Pennsylvania Dutch farmers, he attended rural schools and later - by teaching school, working for a grocer, and working on his father's farm - the Fairview Academy and Polytechnic Institute. With earnings from his bee-keeping enterprise, he later attended and graduated from Eastman's Business College at Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1889.

After graduation, Kresge worked as a bookkeeper for three years and a traveling salesman for five years. Not only was he successful in his travels selling hardware and tinware (he saved more than $8000 during those years), but he also became well acquainted with the leading entrepreneurs in the field of five and ten cent retail stores, including Frank W. Woolworth, S.H. Kress, J.J. Newberry and W.T. Grant. He was impressed with the industry, and in 1897 approached one of his customers about forming a partnership. John G. McCrory, who owned several five and ten cent stores, agreed to the deal, and Kresge spent several months learning the business first-hand from the manager of McCrory's Jamestown, New York, store, G.C. Murphy. Shortly thereafter, McCrory and Kresge opened two additional stores, one in Memphis, Tennessee, which was managed by Kresge, and the other in Detroit, Michigan, managed by Murphy for McCrory. When Murphy decided to branch off on his own in 1899, Kresge assumed control of the Detroit store and later that year traded his half interest in the Memphis store to McCrory for complete ownership of the Detroit outlet. A year later, Kresge and his brother-in-law, Charles J. Wilson, formed the firm of Kresge and Wilson and opened a second store in Port Huron, Michigan. By 1907, when Kresge bought out his partner and changed the name of the firm to S.S. Kresge, there was a total of eight stores located in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Over the next five years, Kresge expanded his chain to 85 stores by buying out smaller chains or opening new outlets, and in 1912 incorporated the business in Delaware as the S.S. Kresge Company. Four years later, with 150 stores, the company was reincorporated in Michigan. Kresge remained president of the firm until 1925, and thereafter served as Chairman of the Board until his death. The company continued its phenomenal growth and expanded into Canada (the S.S. Kresge Company, Ltd., in 1929) and Puerto Rico.

In addition to his business involvement with S.S. Kresge Company, Kresge was the sole owner of Kresge Department Store in Newark, New Jersey, which he established in 1923. He became involved in the field of the full-range department stores when he served as president of Kresge Department Stores, Inc., which owned the Palais Royal department store in Washington, D.C., and controlling interest in The Fair from 1925-1957. In 1920, Mount Clemens (Michigan) Pottery Company was acquired and, as a subsidiary of S.S. Kresge Company, made the dinnerware that was sold in Kresge stores.

Throughout his life, Kresge was concerned with improving the lot of his fellow man and in 1924 established the Kresge Foundation with an endowment of $2 million. Over the next thirty-five years he gave an additional $60 million to the Foundation, which provided assistance to religious, medical, educational, and youth organizations and institutions. As trustee and treasurer, Kresge devoted a good deal of his time to Foundation work.

In addition to his Foundation work, Kresge was a supporter of the prohibition movement. He donated many funds to church organizations (he was a Methodist). Furthermore, he was a member of the Republican party.

Sebastian Kresge was thrice married: in 1897 to Anna E. Harvey, by whom he had five children: Stanley Sebastian, Ruth Harvey, Howard Carrington, Catherine Harriet, and Ann Elizabeth; in 1924 to Doris (Mercer) Harden, and in 1928 to Clara Katherine (Zitz) Swaine. He died at the age of 99 in East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, in 1966. Clara survived him.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Sebastian S. Kresge Papers are divided into two series: Business Records, and Personal Records. The papers were microfilmed in 1994 and are available for inter-library loan. The collection was filmed in its entirety except for a few folders of financial data, such as stock and business receipts.

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.


  • Business records.
  • Philanthropists -- Michigan.
  • Retail trade.
  • Buildings -- Michigan -- Detroit.
  • Business enterprises.
  • Chelsea (Mich.) -- Rest homes.
  • Detroit (Mich.) -- Buildings.
  • Hospitals -- Michigan -- Kalamazoo.
  • Kalamazoo (Mich.) -- Hospitals.
  • Offices -- 1921-1930.
  • Rest homes -- Michigan -- Chelsea.
  • Photographs.
  • Kresge, Sebastian Spering, 1867-1966.
  • Kresge Foundation.
  • S.S. Kresge Company.
  • Bronson Methodist Hospital (Kalamazoo, Mich)
  • Chelsea Methodist Home.
  • Kresge, Sebastian Spering, 1867-1966.
  • Kresge family.
  • S.S. Kresge Company.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Business Records [series]

The Business Records (1937-1966) series is comprised of two subseries, the Chronological Files and the Topical Files, and pertains to Mr. Kresge's tenure as chairman of the board of S.S. Kresge Company, and his involvement with Kresge Department Store, Newark, New Jersey, and Kresge Department Stores Incorporated. The series consists almost entirely of the records of Kresge's nephew and personal secretary, Amos F. Gregory. When Gregory wrote to Kresge, he sent along a carbon copy of each letter so that Kresge could make notes on the copy and return it to him. Incoming correspondence to Gregory includes letters from Kresge and his wife Clara.

 
Chronological Files [subseries]

The Chronological Files subseries (5.5 linear feet) is arranged by year, and within each year by topic. Financial records and correspondence, the majority of which concern loans and securities transactions, predominate in these files. Matters pertaining to real estate, investments, incorporations, and capitalizations are also documented, and there are scattered materials related to the Kresge Foundation. (For specific locations of these types of materials, see the line entries in the contents list.) Of particular interest are the 1937 S.S. Kresge Company, C.B. Tuttle files which contain enlightening materials on the attempts by Kresge to keep the price of the company's stock at $26 during the early years of the depression. In addition, the Howard Baldwin files from the 1950s contain correspondence from Baldwin to Kresge regarding a wide variety of important business concerns of The Fair, Kresge-Newark, and the Kresge Foundation. The researcher should also note the Kresge Correspondence files which contain letters to and from Kresge and Gregory. Much of their content concerns financial matters, and on occasion the researcher will find Kresge reflecting on other topics, including politics, causes in which he was interested, and his home life.

 
1937
Roll   1  
Baker Land Company: Stockholders Reports, and correspondence concerning company land sales, dividends, and dividend related taxes 1936-1939
Roll   1  
Baldwin, Howard

(mostly routine correspondence, but includes interesting 1935 letter explaining mechanics of securing a $2 million loan for S.S. Kresge Company)

Roll   1  
Banker's Trust Company: materials related to loans; includes 1935, 1936 correspondence 1935-1936
Roll   1  
Chambers of Commerce: re: Kresge's memberships, includes materials 1936
Roll   1  
Chase National Bank (mostly regarding loans) 1936-1937
Roll   1  
Fair, The (quarterly and annual stockholders reports and correspondence with President D.F. Kelly) 1935-1937
Roll   1  
Fidelity Union Trust Company (re: loans and Kresge Foundation contribution to the Association to Provide and Maintain a Home for the Friendless)
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.
Roll   1  
Correspondence 1927-1937
Roll   1  
Real Estate (re: Miami Beach properties, including assessed values, construction permits and plat, and correspondence on taxes)
Roll   1  
Refusals (of invitations and requests) 1934-1938
Roll   1  
Kresge Company, S.S. General ( annual report) 1936
Roll   1  
Tuttle, C.B., Treasurer (re: dividends, loans, and certificates of indebtedness, stock information, one letter from ) 1938
Roll   1  
Richmond, Virginia (re: rent payments, lease) 1917
Roll   1  
Securities and Exchange Commission (reports and correspondence) 1934-1938
Roll   1  
Slatington, Pennsylvania (re: occupancy by Kresge's relatives, real estate parcels) 1931-1937
Roll   1  
Thomson & McKinnon, Brokers (buy and sell confirmations, account summary reports, correspondence)
Roll   1  
Van Deusen, C.B. (brief notes to/from Gregory) 1932-1936
 
1938
Roll   1  
Baldwin, Howard (re: financial transactions, services rendered, etc.)
Roll   1  
Banker's Trust Company (re: loans)
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.
Roll   1  
Correspondence (2 folders)
Roll   2  
5625 Pine Tree Drive (appraisal, maintenance records, rental and sale) 1937-1940
Roll   2  
Real Estate (assessment and taxes for Miami Beach property, 1923 sale of Detroit property)
Roll   2  
Kresge Company, S.S. (dividend statement, pamphlet)
Roll   2  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: bills, stock, incorporation matters)
Roll   2  
Richmond, Virginia (rental matters)
 
1939
Roll   2  
Goodenough, Voorhies, Long & Ryan (re: legal matters)
Roll   2  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   2  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: loans, property taxes, net worth balance sheet)
Roll   2  
Price, Waterhouse & Co. (re: loans, profits, journal entries, services rendered)
Roll   2  
Springfield, Massachusetts (rental/real estate transactions) 1935-1939
Roll   2  
Steiger, Albert (re: Springfield, Mass.) 1935-1939
 
1940
Roll   2  
Fair, The (stock information, incorporation materials, information about a damaged garage)
Roll   2  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   2  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: loans to store from Kresge, Federal Unemployment Tax filings)
 
1941
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.
Roll   2  
Correspondence
Roll   2  
Real Estate (sale of property, taxes) 1939-1942
Roll   2  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: interest on loans, rent, social security taxes)
Roll   2  
Voorhies, Long, Ryan and McNair (service statements)
Roll   2  
Fair, The (annual report, stock purchases and transfers)
Roll   2  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
 
1942
Roll   2  
Fair, The (annual report, stock purchases and transfers)
Roll   2  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   3  
Kresge Company, S.S. (stockholders meeting announcement)
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: interest on loans, sale of property, dividends)
 
1943
Roll   3  
Baker Land Company (stockholders report, sale of stock)
Roll   3  
Fair, The (re: stock, proposal for recapitalization)
Roll   3  
Fidelity Union Trust Company (money transfer receipt)
Roll   3  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: loans, profits and losses, property sales, stock transfers, sale of Steinbach Kresge Company stock)

(see also Steinbach Kresge Company)

Roll   3  
Steinbach Kresge Company

(see Kresge Department Store, Newark)

 
1944
Roll   3  
Fair, The (purchases and exchanges of stock)
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.
Roll   3  
Correspondence
Roll   3  
Real Estate (re: contested real estate commission in connection with Miami Beach property sale)
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Stores, Inc. (includes Kresge Department Store, Newark; loans, profits, lease renewal, social security taxes; the Steinbach Company; stock)
Roll   3  
Voorhies, Long, Ryan and McNair (re: The Fair capitalization and stock transfer; reincorporation of Kresge, Newark; the Kresge Foundation; and dissolution of Kresge Department Stores Inc.) 1944-1945
 
1945
Roll   3  
Bankers Trust Company (re: loans)
Roll   3  
Chase National Bank (re: loans)
Roll   3  
Fair, The (re: dividends, stock)
Roll   3  
First Stroudsburg National Bank (re: deposits and tax receipts)
Roll   3  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: loans, employee compensation, taxes, war bonds, and the Steinbach Company)
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Stores, Inc. (correspondence)
Roll   3  
Steinbach Company (re: final payment to Kresge)
 
1946
Roll   3  
Dividends (G.C. Murphy Company dividend notice)
Roll   3  
Fair, The (stock)
Roll   3  
Guaranty Trust Company (redemption of Fair preferred stock)
Roll   3  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   3  
Kresge Company, S.S. (stockholders meeting announcement)
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Store, Newark (re: loans, Fair stock, financial audits)
Roll   3  
Kresge Department Stores, Inc. (re: stock, annual report)
Roll   3  
Voorhies, Long, Ryan and McNair (re: Kresge Foundation, Liquidation of Kresge's holdings of Kresge Department Stores, Inc., stock)
 
1947
Roll   3  
Dividends (notices from G.C. Murphy Company, The Fair, Montgomery Ward)
Roll   3  
Fair, The (re: stock)
Roll   3  
Gimbel Brothers, Inc. (re: stock, a four-for-three split)
Roll   4  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   4  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (formerly Kresge Department Store, Newark; re: The Fair stock, agreement re: corporate changes to facilitate the issuance of common and preferred stock) 1946-1947
Roll   4  
Kresge Department Stores, Inc. (re: stock)
Roll   4  
Savings Bonds (applications for)
 
1948
Roll   4  
Attorney's Fee Statement (for rewriting will and other services)
Roll   4  
Chase National Bank (re: dividend check)
Roll   4  
Fair, The (re: Kresge Foundation holdings of stock market transaction of stock) December 27, 1948
Roll   4  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   4  
Kresge Company, S.S. (misc.)
Roll   4  
Kresge Department Stores, Inc. (re: dissolution and liquidation)
Roll   4  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (re: The Fair stock)
 
1949
Roll   4  
Contributions (to Red Cross and Community Chest) 1945-1949
Roll   4  
Kresge Foundation (re: gifts)
Roll   4  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   4  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (re: The Fair stock, liquidation of Kresge Department Stores, Inc., etc.)
 
1950
Roll   4  
Baldwin, Howard C. (correspondence) 1950-1951
Roll   4  
Howlett, Thomas F.J. (re: Kresge loan to Howlett)
Roll   4  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   4  
Kresge-Newark, Inc,. (correspondence)
 
1951
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.
Roll   4  
Correspondence
Roll   4  
Investments
Roll   4  
Kresge Company, S.S. (annual report)
Roll   4  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (re: loans from Kresge to pay for spring and summer merchandise, etc.)
 
1952
Roll   4  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   4  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (re: loans from Kresge)
Roll   5  
Social Security (Kresge's benefits)
 
1953
Roll   5  
Baldwin, Howard (correspondence)
Roll   5  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   5  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (loans, pension payroll)
 
1954
Roll   5  
Dividends (notices from various companies, request from Kresge for copies of annual reports)
Roll   5  
Kresge, Clara K.: Correspondence (requesting Gregory to assist a relative)
Roll   5  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   5  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (re: loans, correspondence)
Roll   5  
Voorhies, Long, Ryan and McNair (services rendered)
 
1955
Roll   5  
Babson, Roger W. 1954-1955
Roll   5  
Baldwin, Howard C.
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   5  
General
Roll   5  
While in Hospital
Roll   5  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (loans, correspondence)
 
1956
Roll   5  
Baldwin, Howard C. (correspondence)
Roll   5  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   5  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (loans)
 
1957
Roll   5  
Baldwin, Howard C. (correspondence)
Roll   5  
Hansen, J.P. ("The Fair", Chicago). 1955-1957
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
 
1958
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
 
1959
Roll   6  
Baldwin, Howard C. (correspondence)
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
 
1960
Roll   6  
Baldwin, Howard C. (correspondence)
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   6  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (correspondence)
 
1961
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   6  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (Correspondence)
 
1962
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence (birthday letters)
Roll   6  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (correspondence, letters from Howard Baldwin)
 
1963
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   6  
Kresge Foundation (list of unpaid grants, grants authorized, grants paid)
Roll   6  
Kresge-Newark, Inc. (correspondence, list of rental property incomes)
 
1964
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
 
1965
Roll   6  
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
 
1966
 
Kresge, Sebastian S.: Correspondence
Roll   6  
General
Roll   7  
Retirement
Roll   7  
Kresge Company, S.S. (re: stock)
Roll   7  
Securities and Exchange Commission (report)
 
Topical Files [subseries]

The Topical Files subseries (one-half linear foot) is also primarily concerned with financial matters. In the Biographical folders, the researcher will find a number of interesting biographical sketches of Kresge which focus on his business career. There are fairly extensive records documenting his stock (Kresge and non-Kresge companies) and bond holdings during given periods of his life.

 
Biographical (re: Kresge's business career)
Roll   7  
General (3 folders)
Roll   7  
Kresge, Doris Mercer (divorce file)
Roll   7  
Personal (The Fair, Kresge Department Stores, Inc., Annual Reports, 1932-1933 S.S. Kresge Statement of Assets and Liabilities) 1932-1933
Roll   7  
Portrait ( correspondence re: portrait of Kresge by Marris & Ewing of Washington D.C.) 1927-1928
 
Personal Records [series]

The Personal Records series (1948-1959; one linear foot) is also divided into two subseries: Correspondence and Topical Files.

 
Correspondence [subseries]

The Correspondence subseries is comprised of letters to relatives and friends and responses to various invitations and requests; the content primarily reflects upon Kresge's home life. There is quite a bit of overlap between the business and personal correspondence.

 
1st Subseries, A-Z 1955-1957
Roll   7  
A-C 1956-1957
Roll   7  
D-E , F 1957, 1956-1957
Roll   7  
First Miami Beach Methodist Church
Roll   7  
Foundation, The First 30 Years 1954-1956
Roll   7  
G-H 1956-1957
Roll   7  
Howell, Mary 1956-1957
Roll   7  
I-J , K , L 1955-1956, 1953-1957, 1955
Roll   7  
M-O 1957
Roll   7  
P-Q , R 1955-1957, 1957
Roll   7  
S , T 1956-1957, 1952-1957
Roll   7  
U-W , X-Z 1957, 1948-1957
 
Correspondence [subseries]

The Topical Files subseries relates to Kresge's activities with industry, educational institutions, and various churches. There is one scrapbook with newspaper articles concerning gifts given by the Kresge Foundation. In addition, there are clippings (primarily from the 1950s), and photographs. The photographs pertain to both business and personal aspects of Kresge's life.

 
2nd Subseries, A-Z
Roll   8  
[A never received]
Roll   8  
B , C 1952-1958, 1955-1958
Roll   8  
D-F , G 1958, 1957-1958
Roll   8  
H , I-J 1956-1958, 1956-1957
Roll   8  
K , L 1957-1958, 1956-1958
Roll   8  
M , N-O , P-Q 1956-1959, 1958, 1957-1958
Roll   8  
R-S , T 1958, 1957-1958
Roll   8  
U-V , W , X-Z 1957-1958, 1958
 
Topical Files
Roll   8  
Estate of Sebastian S. Kresge
Roll   8  
Citations and Certificates
Roll   8  
Scrapbook
Roll   8  
Clippings (4 folders)
 
Photographs (includes Stanley Kresge)
 
Personal
Roll   8  
Awards and Honors
Roll   8  
Dedications and Corner Stone Layings
Roll   8  
Friends
Roll   8  
Home: Miami Beach, Florida
 
Portraits: Formal and Informal
Roll   8  
Kresge, Sebastian S. (2 folders)
Roll   8  
Kresge, Sebastian S. and Clara
Roll   8  
Buildings (Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Spear Building, Springfield, Massachusetts; YMCA in Detroit)
 
Business
Roll   8  
Kresge-Wilson Store, Toledo, Ohio circa 1906
Roll   8  
London, Ontario Store
Roll   8  
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Store Opening
Roll   8  
Kresge Foundation: Methodist Home, Chelsea, Michigan
Roll   8  
Miscellaneous: includes photo of Kresge with Calvin Coolidge and others, photo of Stanley Kresge
Additional Descriptive Data
Related Material

The Bentley Historical Library also has on deposit S.S. Kresge Company Corporate Records and the Stanley Sebastian Kresge Papers. These records are an important supplement to the Sebastian S. Kresge Papers.