Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
Fred Dustin Papers

Finding aid created by
D. Strom, Marian Matyn

Summary Information
Title: Fred Dustin Papers,
Creator: Dustin, Fred, 1866-
Inclusive dates: 1807-1957, and undated
Extent: 2.5 cubic feet (in 5 boxes, 1 Oversized folder)
The papers include mostly correspondence, reports, and notes on Isle Royale, notebooks, biographical information, an autograph album, and family correspondence.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Acc# none

Access Restrictions:

Fred Dustin Papers are open for research.


Copyright is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Fred Dustin Papers, Folder # , Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is alphabetical and chronological.



Fred Dustin, noted historian of Saginaw, Michigan, was born at Glen Falls, New York (State), as Frederick Greene O’Donnell, the son of Jennie Greene and James O’Donnell, on October 12, 1865. Because his mother died when he was 17 months old, he was raised by his aunt and uncle, Sarah and Ira M.W. Dustin. Fred moved with them to various parts of New York (State). In 1882, after being educated through the eighth grade in Gloversville, he went to work at the age of 15 in a sawmill for $1/day.

On April 9, 1887, Dustin moved to Saginaw. He worked at Kimball and Merriam’s Lumber. After a year, he worked at N. and A. Barnard Co., and began a retail lumber business that became part of Bliss and Van Auken Lumber Co. Until the spring of 1890, Dustin stayed with Barnard as foreman in charge of the retail department. He then began to work as a contract builder of small houses. Soon, Dustin quit contracting work to manufacture the Florin Washer (a washing machine). This business venture was successful until the panic of 1893. By 1897 he was in debt. Between 1897 and 1900, Dustin’s washing machine contract expired and he eventually closed his business. Dustin then worked as his ward enumerator for the 1900 census. His next job was working as one of the first route postal carriers of a 29 mile route from the Old Saginaw Post Office through Saginaw, James, Swan Creek, and Thomas Townships.

After 15 months of delivering mail, Dustin worked as a weigh-boss at the Chappel and Fordney Mine for a winter. He then contracted to build houses. Around 1905 Dustin was appointed as a part-time deputy state oil inspector.

In 1917, a surgical operation for a serious medical problem occurred, causing him permanent problems. In September of the same year, Dustin became the employment manager of a large shipbuilding plant in Saginaw. In December 1917, he contracted typhoid fever, from which he suffered over five years of pain and the permanent crippling of his right leg. The illness also left Dustin in heavy debt.

To pay his debts, Dustin worked as the custodian of the West Side Masonic Temple from early 1920 to early 1929. In 1925, he suffered an attack of facial erysipelas which resulted in more debt and the loss of an eye. From 1929 to 1944, Dustin sold used books.

In 1929 and 1930, he served as a special agent for the University of Michigan (UM) to create archaeological surveys and reports of Isle Royale, Michigan. Afterwards, the Cranbrook Institute of Science, in Bloomfield, Michigan, employed Dustin to examine and report on prehistoric earthworks in Ogemaw County, Michigan.

Dustin researched and wrote many books about Saginaw history, Native Americans, and Gen. George Armstrong Custer, as well as Michigan’s prehistory and archeology. His collection of prehistoric artifacts is housed at the UM. For Dustin’s outstanding work as a historian and an archaeologist, he received the UM Regents’ Citation of Honor in 1955.

Dustin married Mary A. Stoker in November 1888. Politically, he was an active Republican. Dustin died a month after suffering a stroke, at the age of 90, on May 15, 1957, in Saginaw. (This information from the collection.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection includes Dustin’s articles, correspondence, reports and notes on Isle Royale, notebooks, and personal items, such as biographical information, newspaper clippings (copies) by/about him, an autograph album, and family correspondence. A number of his publications and another collection on George A. Custer are also housed in the Clarke Historical Library.

Subject Terms

    • Dustin, Fred, 1866-
    • Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1838-1876.
    • Saginaw (Mich.)--History.
    • Isle Royale (Mich.)--History.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Fred Dustin Papers. [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Biographical Materials, 1929, 1944, undated
    Box   1 F   2
    Article by Dustin, Arranged alphabetically by title, 1912-1932
    Box   1 F   3
    Article by Dustin, Arranged alphabetically by title, 1912-1936
    Box   1 F   4
    Article by Dustin, Arranged alphabetically by title, circa 1942-1945, undated
    Box   1 F   5
    Article by Dustin, Arranged alphabetically by title (folder 1 of 2), undated
    Box   1 F   6
    Article by Dustin, Arranged alphabetically by title (folder 2 of 2), undated
    Box   1 F   7
    Article by Dustin, Arranged alphabetically by title, Miscellaneous, 1941-1942, undated
    Box   1 F   8
    Article by Walter L. Schmidt, 1936
    Box   1 F   9
    Autograph Album, 1880s
    Box   1 F   10
    Certificates and Letters of Appointment (See also Oversized Folder), 1903-1951, undated
    Box   2 F   1
    Correspondence, Family, 1894-1938, undated
    Box   2 F   2
    Correspondence on archaeological display, 1919-1956
    Box   2 F   3
    Correspondence on archeology, University of Michigan publications, 1929-1950, undated
    Box   2 F   4
    Correspondence with Bureau of American Ethnology for reports, 1900-1902
    Box   2 F   5
    Correspondence with Government Officials for reports, 1898-1931
    Box   2 F   6
    Correspondence with McKinley Club, 1896
    Box   2 F   7
    Correspondence with Saginaw 5th Ward, 1884-1896
    Box   2 F   8
    Correspondence with Bagley, George F., 1942
    Box   2 F   9
    Correspondence with Collins, Newell, 1939-1946
    Box   2 F   10
    Correspondence with Cooper, Dennis, 1941-1945
    Box   2 F   11
    Correspondence with Frann, Harvey, 1939-1947
    Box   2 F   12
    Correspondence with Gilmore, M. R., 1936, 1938, 1940
    Box   2 F   13
    Correspondence with Green, Amos, 1943
    Box   2 F   14
    Correspondence with Greenman, E. F., 1935-1944
    Box   2 F   15
    Correspondence with Gunthe, Carl, 1935-1946
    Box   2 F   16
    Correspondence with Hate, R. T., 1938-1947
    Box   2 F   17
    Correspondence with Hinsdale, Web, 1936-1944
    Box   2 F   18
    Correspondence with Kivi, Annetta (Mrs. Pete), 1935-1944
    Box   2 F   19
    Correspondence with McCartney, E. S., 1933
    Box   2 F   20
    Correspondence with Prokes, Joseph, 1931-1940
    Box   2 F   21
    Correspondence with Schmidt, Walter L., 1924-1946
    Box   2 F   22
    Correspondence with Schneider, Robert, 1939-1941
    Box   3 F   1
    Correspondence, Miscellaneous, 1902-1938
    Box   3 F   2
    Correspondence, Miscellaneous, 1939-1942
    Box   3 F   3
    Correspondence, Miscellaneous, 1943-1946
    Box   3 F   4
    Correspondence, Miscellaneous, 1947-1957
    Box   3 F   5
    Diaries, January 1951-July 1954, August 1954-November 1956
    Box   3 F   6
    Diary, “Isle Royale Life,” (Includes Saginaw music committee meeting minutes, September 2, 1896), 1896, July 1941
    Box   3 F   7
    Diary, “Trip from Bay City to a Camp”, 1913
    Box   3 F   8
    Diary, “Trip to Isle Royale”, 1929
    Box   3 F   9
    Diary, “Trip to Isle Royale”, 1930
    Box   3 F   10
    Field Notebook / Diary on a survey to Rifle River Forts, Ogemaw County, Michigan, 1931
    Box   4 F   1
    Isle Royale articles, 1933, undated
    Box   4 F   2
    Isle Royale article and birchbark, undated
    Box   4 F   3
    Isle Royale Report (See also Box 5), undated
    Box   4 F   4
    Kimball and Merriam Price List, 1888
    Box   4 F   5
    Lists of maps of Michigan, Isle Royale, 1956, undated
    Box   4 F   6
    Michigan Button Society Bulletin (newsletter), 1953
    Box   4 F   7
    Mussel shell with pearl (photograph and negative), undated
    Box   4 F   8
    Newspaper clipping (copies) of article by / about Dustin, 1896-1938 (Scattered), undated
    Box   4 F   9
    1900 census enumerator papers (see also Oversized folder), 1900
    Box   4 F   10
    Notebook of the Society for American Archaeology (newsletter), 1939-1942
    Box   4 F   11
    Notes on "Au Gres River Production Reviewed", 1888
    Box   4 F   12
    Notes on Indians, 1912, 1920
    Box   4 F   13
    Publications: A Study of the Bay Port Chest, 1935; Prehistoric storage pits in Saginaw County, Michigan, 1936, 1935-1936
    Box   5 F   1
    Legal-size, Contracts (with Dustin) to build houses, 1911-1927
    Box   5 F   2
    Legal-size, Isle Royale Reports, 1929
    Box   5 F   3
    Legal-size, Michigan Indian treaties (copies), 1807, 1848, 1910
    Box   5 F   4
    Legal-size, Michigan Land Purchase Index (copy, Mostly for Saginaw County), 1836-1864
    Box   5 F   5
    Legal-size, Sales of goods manufactured by Dustin, 1891-1897
    F   1  
    Oversized Folder, Certificates of appointment, 1904-1920, undated
    F   2  
    Oversized Folder, 1900 census related papers, 1900