SOURCE MATERIALS FOR THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
CONCERN for proper care and preservation of University records was early manifested by the Board of Regents. Eight months after their organization meeting a committee was appointed, in February, 1838, "to examine the Journal of the Secretary with a view to ascertain whether it had been properly kept" (R.P., 1837-64, p. 35). At the following meeting they reported that "all the proceedings of the Board from its first meeting to the present time are correctly and handsomely entered and are highly satisfactory. The files of resolutions and measures of the Board are safely and regularly kept…" It is to be regretted that succeeding custodians have not also safely and regularly kept the files of all resolutions and measures of the Board.
Twenty years elapsed before the problem of keeping records again became a matter for consideration. In the Regents' meeting of March, 1858, the committee on University property in Detroit "presented to the Board the original records of the University of the Territory of Michigan received from the Comptroller of the City of Detroit," and interest was further manifested by the following resolution:
Resolved: That the Librarian be authorized to receive and place in the library the manuscript volume of Field Notes and Observations made by the late Professor Douglas Houghton, State Geologist of Michigan, and to procure a suitable case to enclose the same under lock and key, and that the same shall be subject to examination only by the regents, the President, and the several members of the respective faculties, and such other persons as shall receive written permission from the President; but that the same shall not be removed from the library without the direction of the Board.
(R.P., 1837-64, p. 735.)
In 1880, the secretary and steward was instructed that all the books, papers, and memoranda connected with his business and duties should be carefully preserved by him as the property of the University, and be delivered to his successor in office (R.P., 1876-81, p. 605). Such actions taken by the Board of Regents during the first fifty years reflect an interest in the problem, but failed to impress effectively the various officials concerned, for at some time during the past century a significant part of the records has been lost or discarded. Many of the valuable materials that still survive were saved only through the thoughtful concern of certain individuals, who exerted considerable effort in the task of collecting them.
Andrew Ten Brook was one of these. He was associated with the University as Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy from 1844 to 1851, and as Librarian from 1864 to 1877, as well as in the year 1850-51. This concern is reflected in his book on American state universities, actually the first history of the University, which drew heavily on the source materials known at the time of its publication, 1875. As Librarian, he undoubtedly made a careful check to learn the whereabouts of printed and manuscript records to document his book.
Another such person was Miss Elizabeth Page 220M. Farrand ('87m), who was Assistant Librarian for fourteen years and author of the second history of the University, published in 1885. She suggested in the Preface (p. v) that former classes "should each have a historian, and that a determined effort should be made to collect reminiscences of college life in Ann Arbor." It is encouraging to report that this suggestion was heeded and that the records gathered by a considerable number of these early classes are at present available.
Burke A. Hinsdale's history, edited by Isaac N. Demmon and published in 1906, exhibits a scholarly use of many printed sources unused by previous writers. Some two hundred pages of biographical sketches by the editor, generously illustrated by photographs, give evidence of his systematic collection of information by sending questionnaires to the living and to relatives of the deceased. In addition, he examined newspaper files, court records, and county files for the needed information.
Wilfred B. Shaw, in the Preface to The University of Michigan (1920), was the first writer on the history of the University to point out the value of the original papers of its earliest officers and graduates and to appeal to interested alumni and friends of the University to make such papers available.
An increasing awareness on the part of many University officials that positive steps were desirable and should be taken to assure the preservation of University records resulted in the creation, in 1935, of a committee on University archives, which, among other responsibilities, was to foster the collection and preservation of materials on University history.
Types of records. — The University's records can be classified roughly into two major divisions, printed records (including pictures) and manuscript materials. Printed records are located in various offices on the campus, in the General Library and departmental libraries, and also in several libraries and repositories outside the University. Manuscript records are usually found in University offices and repositories, occasionally supplemented by materials from public and private collections elsewhere.
Manuscript records, and, to a certain extent, printed records, may be classified as archival or nonarchival in character. Records of the regular University routine or official functions, such as minutes of meetings, official correspondence, petitions, reports, and similar materials, were originally intended to constitute a part of a permanent record. Successive housecleanings by officials later placed in charge of these records has resulted in serious and irreparable loss, particularly among unbound materials. Nonarchival manuscripts often portray much of significance in the development of the University; they include such items as student and faculty correspondence, lecture and class notes, diaries, class albums, and similar memorabilia. Also of this general type are printed items, including newspaper articles and editorials, broadsides, programs, pictures, books, and those items which reflect student and University life and activities not recognized in the more official account.
University depositories. — A large part of the University's manuscript records are still to be found in the keeping of the officers of the divisions, schools, and departments directly concerned with their origin and use. Michigan has been exceedingly fortunate in that its records have not been lost through fire — a calamity suffered by many institutions.
There are three general University depositories where inactive materials relating to the history of the institution are preserved. In the Rare Book Room of the University Library are housed those records which were early entrusted to the Page 221librarian's care. It is a tribute to the University librarians that documents which are known to have been deposited with them are still available. The Library has also assembled the special University of Michigan Collection, composed largely of printed materials such as books, pamphlets, student publications, programs, histories, and similar imprints. This collection forms a special section of the General Library, and access to it may be obtained at the reference desk of the main reading room, where a complete catalogue of its contents is on file.
The University archives, established in 1935, now a section of the Michigan Historical Collections, has been an active agency in collecting manuscript materials relating to University history. It is situated in the Rackham Building (see Part I: Michigan Historical Collections). Archival materials from the Registrar's Office, the office of the Summer Session, and the Department of English, for example, are available in this collection, as is also a check list of materials concerning the University in the Burton Historical Collection of Detroit. As the facilities for the archives are increased to assimilate more materials, it is expected that the records of other University units will be placed there. Unless another repository is named, the manuscript materials mentioned in this article are housed in the archives and the printed materials in the University of Michigan Collection or elsewhere in the General Library.
Basic documents. — Of primary importance among the sources of the history of the University are the legal instruments which gave it birth and title to property and prescribed the powers and duties of its administrators. The act of the territorial legislative council, dated August 26, 1817, which created the Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania, is in the Department of State in Lansing, with photostatic copies in the Rare Book Room of the University Library. Other University acts and resolutions passed by the territorial legislature are to be found in Laws of the Territory of Michigan, as well as in contemporary imprints. One of the first pieces of property controlled by the Regents is attested to by a certificate dated 1824, by which the Regents located three sections of land under the treaty grant from the Indians made in 1817. In Ann Arbor the first certificate for University property was delivered to the Regents on March 20, 1839. These documents are to be found in the archives. The secretary of the University has the custody of all deeds, abstracts, and other instruments giving the University title to property. Because of their obvious value, such legal documents have been carefully preserved from the beginning.
The journals and debates of the constitutional conventions of 1835, 1850, 1867 (not adopted), and 1907-8 give organic laws affecting the University and the discussions which produced these fundamental provisions. The journals of the state House of Representatives and Senate and their separate and joint Documents also present basic laws and facts concerning the University.
Records of the Detroit period, 1817-37. — The more significant records concerning the University during its Detroit period, edited by Dr. Frank E. Robbins, were published by the University in 1937 under the title, Records of the University of Michigan, 1817-1837. The original materials of this book are to be found chiefly in the Rare Book Room. The diary of the Reverend John Monteith, the first President (in Detroit), is of special interest because it reflects the actual functioning of the embryonic University. Pertinent passages from his diary are quoted in the Records.… Other Monteith papers have recently been discovered in Ohio and are now deposited Page 222in the Michigan Historical Collections on loan. The Charles C. Trowbridge Papers and scattered papers of Father Gabriel Richard, cofounder of the University, are in the Burton Historical Collection in Detroit.
Administrative records. — The most significant of those materials which may be classed as administrative archives is the "Journal of the Proceedings of the Board of Regents." The two original manuscript volumes (1837-70) are in the Rare Book Room, and complete sets of the printed record — the University of Michigan Regents' Proceedings …, 1837-1864, and the Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1864 to date — are in the Library, the president's office, and the office of the secretary, while broken sets are found in other depositories and offices. Existing petitions, reports, and correspondence directed to the Board constitute only a small fraction of those alluded to in the Proceedings.… Among the most significant of the early records which portray the functioning of the new institution is the manuscript, "Executive Committee Records, 1845-1851," which is in the archives. This item also was edited by Dr. Frank E. Robbins and published by the University in 1937 under the original title.
The Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction … was extensively used each year for more than half a century as one of the most effective means of publishing the aims and progress of the University. A complete file of this series is available.
Official correspondence reflecting the labors of early University presidents is meager. Only a few scattered letters from the pen of President Henry Philip Tappan (1852-63) are extant, and only one letter-press book relating to the administration of President Erastus Otis Haven (1863-69) has come to light. This is a recent gift to the University from President Haven's grandson. Fortunately for the chronicling of University history, much of the correspondence addressed to President James B. Angell was preserved and some of it is now in published form (Vermont to Michigan), although there is little evidence of letters sent. The correspondence files of the more recent presidents, Harry B. Hutchins, Marion LeRoy Burton, and Clarence Cook Little, are under the custody of the secretary of the University. Such correspondence affords a very broad and detailed foundation for the study of University development.
From 1841 until the establishment of the Department of Medicine and Surgery in 1850, the faculty of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts constituted the entire University staff, and its minutes, which were begun in the year 1846, are therefore of particular significance. At that time the faculty and its officers were obliged to assume executive duties, as there was no president of the University on the usually accepted basis until after the appointment of President Tappan in 1852. Literary faculty records deposited in the archives cover the years 1846-1908; the current records and those of the intervening period are in the hands of the secretary of the College faculty.
The manuscript "Minutes …" and the memorials of the University Senate, 1880 to date, are in the care of the secretary of the Senate. The University Council records begin with the establishment of that organization in 1929 and continue to the present. Professor Louis A. Hopkins, the secretary of both organizations, has edited the records of these bodies from 1929 to 1936, and they have been published by the University.
The oldest professional school, the Medical School, some time ago deposited in the Rare Book Room its faculty minutes for the period 1850-70. The minutes Page 223from 1878 to 1903 are found in the archives, as are reports of committees, student record lists, the theses written by each graduate from the school from 1851 to 1878, official correspondence for the years 1915-29, and similar materials.
The records of the Law Department, the second professional school, which was established in 1859, are exceedingly meager for the early period, as faculty minutes do not appear until 1891. Four record volumes, 1859-97, include lists of students, titles of lectures given by the professors, and commencement programs. The records of the Webster and Jeffersonian societies (1868-1917 and 1866-1915 respectively) reflect the political and social activities of the law students. These records are to be found in the vault of the Law School office.
The active and inactive records of University units established subsequently are still housed in their respective offices, insofar as these records still exist. The records of one of the older departments in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts were burned only a short time ago, before any representative of the archives had an opportunity to examine them. It is an interesting commentary on the preservation of University records that the minutes and files of the Homeopathic Medical College, which functioned from 1875 to 1922, have not as yet been located, despite extensive search in seemingly logical quarters.
Miscellaneous printed official records. — In addition to the Proceedings of the Board of Regents and printed collections of early records there has been a steady stream of publications by the University reflecting its program and procedure. Catalogues are among the most commonly consulted sources for the study of various phases of the University's history. A set of the catalogues of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts is to be found in the Rare Book Room, and a nearly complete set is in the archives. Annual announcements, bulletins, and catalogues of the Department of Medicine and Surgery, the Law Department, and other schools and their subdivisions later established, give much basic information. Complete sets of these have not been located, and because of the irregularity of their issuance it is difficult to determine what would constitute a complete collection. Existing copies are to be found in the University of Michigan Collection and in the archives division of the Michigan Historical Collections. A more complete description of official University publications is given elsewhere (see Part VIII: Official Publications).
President Tappan in 1853 made the first annual President's Report to the Board of Regents. It was included in the Proceedings … and also was separately printed. Copies of the President's Report were regularly forwarded to the state superintendent of public instruction for inclusion in his annual report. At least some of the reports during the presidencies of Henry P. Tappan and Erastus O. Haven appeared as separate pamphlets as well as in the other two publications, and with the report of Acting President Frieze for 1869-70 the practice of issuing a separate pamphlet became customary. Sets of these documents are to be found in the two regular depositories and in several campus offices.
The University and its several units have issued a long series of programs for academic and other student events. The most regular in appearance was the annual Commencement program, of which there is a full set. There is also a large group of unofficial or quasi-official programs, pamphlets, and articles written about the University — specific events, individuals, and its progress and aims. Among such items is an interesting group Page 224of materials dealing with the removal of President Henry Philip Tappan and a still larger group of items relating to the Douglas-Rose controversy. There have been various articles, speeches, recollections, and histories concerning the University, the most significant and comprehensive of which have already been mentioned.
Pictures. — A sketch of the proposed University building, by the architect, Alexander Davis, was submitted to the Regents in December, 1838. This is no doubt the first picture directly relating to the University. A copy is to be found in the archives, together with plans for the building. Many of his sketch-plans for the University are in the Alexander Davis Collection in the Metropolitan Museum, New York City.
In 1855 the Regents commissioned J. F. Cropsey to paint two pictures, a view of the campus and the Detroit Observatory. From these paintings, now in the archives, the engravings in early University catalogues were made. What is probably the first photograph of the University appears in the album of the class of 1849. Subsequent class albums and student publications contain many photographs of individuals and campus scenes. A collection including every type of picture is being made by the archives, and the University of Michigan Collection includes a fine set of class albums. The Department of Fine Arts has compiled a list of the paintings and pictures in University buildings. This list is particularly useful in locating portraits of Regents and other University officials.
Student activity. — Items reflecting student activity and social life are one of the most interesting, yet particularly elusive, types of materials. The tendency of Americans to form and join organizations is well displayed in the activities of the students from the opening years of the University until the present time. Unfortunately, the records of student organizations have largely disappeared, and only chance references in student diaries tell of the important place these groups filled in campus life. The papers of James O. Whittemore ('46) include brief records of three of the earliest University societies: "Record of the Proceedings of the Band of Broken Pipes — 1845," "Record of the College of Natural History in the University of Michigan — 1845," and "Record of the College Temperance Society, 1844-1845." It is sincerely hoped that a continued search for materials such as these will result in the discovery of other student records, the existence of which is now unknown.
The Student Christian Association was active in promoting the social and cultural as well as the religious life of the students. The records have been preserved almost intact from 1860 until its recent merging with the Student Religious Association. Unfortunately, the records of the Student Lecture Association, with the exception of a few early letters, and those of the Oratorical Association are not available in any repository, and their extent and whereabouts are unknown.
Despite the appearance of fraternities on the campus during the first decade of the University's history, few of their early records are available. A most encouraging beginning has been made, however, with the depositing of the inactive records of Beta Theta Pi, one of the first fraternal groups at the University of Michigan. These records are subject to restrictions as to use, but are assured adequate preservation. The records of Phi Delta Theta have also been deposited, and it is hoped that other fraternities and sororities will avail themselves of the opportunity to preserve their inactive records in the University archives.
With the expansion of the University in size and interests, various student customs Page 225and activities have languished and fallen into disuse, or have been replaced by other activities and organizations. Programs, broadsides, and recollections all give evidence of the enthusiasm displayed in hazing and other interclass struggles, in "cap night," in the "Burning of Mechanics," at the completion of the course in physics, and in similar events which the size of the institution now precludes. The mock programs, covertly produced at the time of the Annual Junior Exhibition, became so objectionable in form that the event was finally omitted to halt their appearance. The programs for class activities portray the close association of the student body during the early years.
Most voluminous of undergraduate materials are the literary efforts in magazines, annuals, newspapers, and occasional publications. The earliest known student publication, the Peninsular Phoenix, appeared in 1857-58. Since that time literary, humorous, and pictorial publications representing special interest groups and class, professional, political, fraternal, and independent organizations have appeared in great profusion. A check list of these publications is to be found in the library continuation catalogue. Two student publications of particular value in obtaining University historical source materials are the Chronicle (later, Chronicle-Argonaut), 1867-90, and the U. of M. Daily (now, Michigan Daily), 1890 to date (see also Part IX: Student Newspapers).
Organized sports and a program of physical education have been of major significance in the life of the student body only for a little more than the past half century. An extensive series of scrapbooks has been preserved, covering all phases of the University's athletic program from 1901 to the present. These are to be found in the publicity office, Athletic Administration Building. Newspapers and student publications also reflect this interest in athletics, as do the personal papers of students and alumni. Materials relating to the direction and organization of the athletic program are in the custody of the Board in Control of Physical Education. Collections of programs and similar materials are to be found in the University of Michigan Collection and in the archives.
Alumni. — The Michigan tradition of maintaining effective relations with alumni has resulted in the preservation of much information relative to former students. The Alumni Catalog Office has attempted to gather materials concerning each student. The basis for the individual's folder is information transferred from the Registrar's Office. Also included are miscellaneous correspondence, clippings, and other materials pertaining to the alumnus' life. The Michigan Alumnus (1894 to date) and the Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review are also sources of information concerning the University's early days, as well as former Michigan students and their achievements. As the years go by and old class organizations are given up because of diminishing numbers, their records are deposited in the archives, as are the inactive records of the Alumni Association.
Newspapers. — Among the most constant reflectors of University life were the Ann Arbor and Detroit newspapers. Here was recorded much factual information relative to the events of University life, highly interesting material that often never found its way into the more formal University records. In editorials and letters to the editor many issues affecting the University were discussed. The files of Detroit papers are situated in the Detroit Public Library. The University Library has a rather complete file of Ann Arbor newspapers. Particularly important is the Ann Arbor Argus, 1854-79, which was edited by Elihu B. Pond; Page 226and reflected his active interest in the progress of the University. Included in the Junius E. Beal Papers in the archives is the Ann Arbor Courier, 1869-99, edited by Rice A. Beal. A card index of references to the University in the Argus from 1837 to 1879 is available in the archives.
Personal papers. — The personal papers of University Regents, officials, faculty members, and former students are being collected in the University archives. This type of material includes letters describing events at the University and countless references to items which constitute the background for events that occurred within, or otherwise affected, the University. Among the particularly significant Regents' collections are the papers of Frank W. Fletcher, James O. Murfin, Oliver L. Spaulding, Walter H. Sawyer, and Charles I. Walker, as well as a number of smaller collections. The Burton Historical Collection in Detroit contains collections of the papers of Regents Byron M. Cutcheon, George Duffield, and Charles C. Trowbridge, and in the Rare Book Room of the University Library are the Lucius Lyon Papers.
Equally as interesting and valuable as the official correspondence of President Haven and President Angell already mentioned is their private correspondence. That of President Angell is especially extensive, and collections of the private correspondence of President Haven and President Hutchins are also available.
The Alexander Winchell Papers constitute one of the most extensive collections in the archives, for Professor Winchell kept complete files of his voluminous correspondence, a series of diaries, and copies of all reports and lectures which he gave. This collection is a mine of information for one studying the history of the University from 1853 to 1891. Other large and important collections of faculty papers — to give but a few — are those of Thomas M. Cooley, Royal S. Copeland, Albert R. Crittenden, Arthur L. Cross, Alpheus Felch, George Hempl, William J. Hussey, Francis W. Kelsey, Victor Lane, Warren P. Lombard, George W. Patterson, Robert M. Wenley, and Horace L. Wilgus. This section of the archives is expanding rapidly and should serve as an increasingly valuable source for University history.
The papers of former students are diverse and extensive. A fine collection of student diaries and notebooks has been assembled. In some instances these notes constitute the only record of the nature of courses given in early decades. Student letters reflect a candid view of events and personalities. Class albums give pictorially the development of the University. Many former students have remained closely associated with the University and its progress. The Earl D. Babst Collection presents a particularly good example of this continued association with the University through alumni activities. Other available collections of this type include the Ethel Fountain Hussey Papers, the Roy Chapin Papers, and the William Comstock Papers.
Source materials for University history are numerous and diverse in character. Individuals wishing to pursue any phase of the subject should make use of the reference facilities available in the University Library and in the University archives. The task of gathering information for The University of Michigan — an Encyclopedic Survey has resulted in the discovery of neglected and long-forgotten materials, and has served as an impetus for their collection and safekeeping. It is to be hoped that the publication of these historical articles will further stimulate in officials, faculty, alumni, and other friends of the University a new appreciation of the nature and value of University of Michigan source materials.
Angell, James B. Papers, MS and printed. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
The Ann Arbor Argus (title varies), 1854-79.
The Ann Arbor Courier (title varies), 1869-99. In Junius E. Beal Papers. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Calendar, Univ. Mich., 1871-1914.
Catalogue …, Univ. Mich., 1844-71, 1914-23.
Catalogue and Register, Univ. Mich., 1923-27.
The Chronicle (title varies), 1867-91.
MS, "Executive Committee Records, 1845-1851." Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Farrand, Elizabeth M.History of the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor: Register Publ. House, 1885.
From Vermont to Michigan; Correspondence of James Burrill Angell: 1869-1871. Ed. by Wilfred B. Shaw. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1936. (Vermont to Michigan.)
General Register Issue, Univ. Mich., 1927-40.
Haven, Erastus O. Letters in MS correspondence. In Alexander Winchell Papers. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Haven, Erastus O. MSS, Papers. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Hinsdale, Burke A.History of the University of Michigan. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1906.
MS, "Journal of the Proceedings of the Board of Regents," 1837-70. Univ. Mich.
Michigan. House Documents, 1838-67.
Michigan. Joint Documents, 1838-97.
Michigan. Laws of the Territory of … Lansing, Mich.: State of Mich., 1871-84. 4 vols.
Michigan. Senate Documents, 1838-67.
The Michigan Alumnus, 1894-1940.
The Michigan Alumnus Quarterly Review, 1934-40.
The Michigan Daily (title varies), 1890-1940.
MS, "Minutes of the University Senate," 1880-1940. Univ. Mich.
Monteith, John. MS, "Diary." Univ. Mich.
Organization and Aims of the University of Michigan as Reflected in Its By-Laws …, 1922. Comp. by Lucius L. Hubbard. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1923. Pp. i-xix, 1-94.
The Peninsular Phoenix (title varies), 1857-58.
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1852-1940.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1864-1940. (R.P.)
MS, "Records of the Faculty … [Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts]," Univ. Mich., 1846-1908. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Records of the University of Michigan, 1817-1837. Ed. by Frank E. Robbins. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1935.
Records of the University of Michigan. Journal of the Executive Committee of the Regents, 1845-1851, and Proceedings of the Building Committee, 1847. Ed. by Frank E. Robbins. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1937.
Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Michigan, 1836-1940.
Richard, Gabriel. MSS, Papers. Burton Hist. Coll., Detroit Public Library.
Shaw, Wilfred B."A Bibliography of the University of Michigan."Univ. Mich. Bur. Alum. Rel., Gen. Bull. (Univ. Mich. Offic. Publ., 37, No. 49), No. 18 (1936): 1-11.
Shaw, Wilfred B.The University of Michigan. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920.
Tappan, Henry P. Letters in MS correspondence. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Ten Brook, Andrew. American State Universities: Their Origin and Progress. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke and Co., 1875.
Trowbridge, Charles C. MSS, Papers. Burton Hist. Coll., Detroit Public Library.
University of Michigan; Its Origin, Growth, and Principles of Government. Comp. by Lucius L. Hubbard. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1923. Pp. 1-50.
University of Michigan Regents' Proceedings …, 1837-1864. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1915. (R.P., 1837-64.)
Whittemore, James O. MSS, Papers. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Winchell, Alexander. Papers, MS and printed. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.