Special Collections & University Archives

Regional Historical Collections

Click on Title link for Collection description (PDF) and on Digital Collections link for images

Jim Harrison Papers

The papers of Michigan-born writer Jim Harrison (1938-present) includes correspondence to family, friends, and fellow writers; handwritten drafts and typescripts of published and unpublished writings; photographs; interviews; and reviews. Mary Harrison Dumsch's papers and Robert DeMott's research collection also contain materials by and about Harrison.

Veterans History Project Collection

The GVSU History Department and University Library Special Collections is a collecting partner with the Library of Congress to collect memories, accounts and documents of US war veterans from WWII and the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf wars and preserve these stories for future generations. Video interviews and/or summaries are included in the Digital Collections database.

Mathias J. Alten Papers

West Michigan painter, Mathias J. Alten (1871 – 1938) Alten, was a German native who came to Grand Rapids as a youth. He is a celebrated American regionalist often referred to as Dean of Michigan Painters. Photographs and papers document his family life and career and support the collection of Alten paintings owned by the University. Photos and images of paintings are included in Digital Collections.

D.J. Angus Photographs

From 1903-1966, D. J. Angus produced an extensive photographic record of his travels, work experiences, and vacations. The images of manmade and natural phenomenon often reflect his interest in engineering projects that include dams, bridges, mines, power plants, cliff dwellings, and quarries. throughout the U.S. and Mexico. A selection of images are included in Digital Collections.

Johnson Center Philanthropy Archives

Individual and organizational leaders in the field of philanthropy in the State of Michigan include the papers of pioneer Russell G. Mawby, and records of selected programs of the Council of Michigan Foundations. Digitized speeches and testimony and digital interviews from the Michigan Philanthropy Oral History Project are included in the Digital Collections database.

Cass County Underground Railroad Papers

Research collection compiled by Sondra Mose-Ursery to document the significance of Cass County, Michigan on the Underground Railroad. Vandalia, Michigan was a stop at the crossroads of two routes on the Underground Railroad leading freedom seekers from the South to the northern United States and Canada. Collection includes copies of original documents, articles, newsclippings, and genealogies.

Francis (Frank) W. Beasecker Papers

Military records and personal papers of Lt. (later Capt.) F.W. Beasecker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Diaries, correspondence, orders, and photographs concerning his active duty with the 411th Engineer Battalion during WWII in Australia and New Guinea; also scrapbooks and other materials assembled by his wife Helen Starr Beasecker.

National Poetry Festival Collection

The National Poetry Festival, organized by Grand Valley's Thomas Jefferson College, was a "10-day experience of art, poetry, and engagement with artistic personalities." Workshops, disucssions, readings, related performances, and exhibits were held during the summer on the Allendale campus in 1971, 1973, and 1975. Collection includes posters, broadsides, photographs, and taped readings by nationally known poets.

Michigan Political Papers

Papers of Congressman Hal Sawyer; Congressman Guy VanderJagt, relating to his chairmanship of the RNC, State Sen. Phil Arthurhulz, and L. William Seidman, chair of the FDIC. Also papers of A. Robert Kleiner re apportionment, 1964/1972; Frank J. Schulte re Civil Service; William Nicholson, secretary for Pres. Gerald Ford; and Robert H. Phinny, former Ambassador re South Africa and Apartheid.

Grand Valley Board of Trustees Papers

Personal and business papers of Grand Valley State College founding Board of Control (now Trustees) members. L. William Seidman, Icie Macy Hoobler, Ella K. Weed, Arnold C. Ott, William Kirkpatrick, and Paul I. Phillips. Board of Control records and earlier foundation documentation of Grand Valley State College are included in these papers.

Ralph Baldwin Papers

Correspondence and writings of Grand Rapids-born businessman, physicist, and amateur astronomer turned expert who formulated the principles of current lunar geology. He was the generating force behind modern research in both terrestrial impact craters and lunar surface features. His publications include The Face of the Moon, The Deadly Fuze and the unpublished The Life of Ralph Baldwin,

Michigan and the Great Lakes Region

The Michigan and Great Lakes Region collection contains general and local histories, biographies, political, cultural, and educational studies and business, transportation, and industrial commentaries that deal with Michigan, the Old Northwest, the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions. Books, reports, periodicals, magazines, government documents, Michigan Place Name Index and maps.

Regional Oral Histories and Biographies

Oral history interviews of Grand Rapids, Michigan residents conducted between 1971 and 1975, and interviews conducted in 1976 compiled on various topics for the Grand Rapids Sesquecentennial. Collections also include interviews of GVSC faculty and research materials gathered by Gordon Olson in writing a series of biographies of local industrial leaders.

Morton Manufacturing Company

Business records of a Michigan-based manufacturer, established around 1870 to build steam engines, and later of machine tools for manufacturers of heavy machinery, steel and tin mills, railroad shops, and for the military during WWII. Records, documents, plans, and contracts between 1940 and 1950 concerning work contracted by General Electric and the U.S. Navy.

Other collections of interest

Russel Kirkhof Papers -- Businessman and GVSU supporter; Roy K. Cronkhite Diaries, 1906-1957 -- Draftsman and mechanical engineer; Edward V. Gillis Native American publication collection; Elizabeth Cecil Papers, 1891-1929 -- writer of short stories, plays, essays, poetry, and movie treatments; Nicholas Prusky Belarus publication collection; and Karla V. Parker Papers, 1944-1968 -- Grand Rapids educator and activist.


Page last modified October 21, 2014