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Jenison family papers

Identifier: UA-10.3.446

Scope and Contents

The bulk of the collection consists of Frederick C. Jenison's papers for the period 1907-1939. Included are personal and business records, primarily expenditure reports. The personal correspondence includes copies of letters that Jenison sent. The papers are most complete for the 1930s, less complete for the 1920s, and rather incomplete for the period 1910-1920. One significant portion of the collection consists of check stubs, both personal and business, for most of the period 1907-1939. These check stubs include the recipient of the check, the amount of the check and the reason for which the check was written. Additionally, extensive personal bills for the 1930s are found in the collection which include some detailed, weekly grocery bills, as well as utility bills and various other household expenditures. Also, Jenison kept a record of all expenditures for his automobiles (several during the 1930s). His business papers include correspondence with the insurance companies that he represented, as well as his account records with those companies.

The Nelson F. Jenison papers document his financial activities for the period, 1877-1907. These papers include deeds, mortgages and investment records.


  • Creation: 1877 - 1939


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives and Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

The Jenison family resided in Lansing, Michigan and included Nelson F. Jenison (born December 18, 1855; died November 3, 1907), his wife Alice Cowles Jenison (born October 4, 1860; died November 12, 1915), their son Frederick Cowles Jenison (born November 26, 1881; died February 12, 1939), and Frederick's second wife, Edith T. Jenison (nee Thompson) (born October 5, 1881; died April 21, 1938).

Nelson and Alice Jenison operated the Lansing Dry Goods Store at 121-123 N. Washington Ave. The Jenisons supplemented their income by means of investments, primarily in municipal bonds and some stocks. Frederick Cowles Jenison attended Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) from 1902 to 1907, majoring in engineering. He maintained a lifelong interest in the college, which manifested in several ways, primarily by his financial support of the athletics program.

On January 2, 1909, Frederick married Amy Prudden of Indianapolis, Indiana. They resided at 800 N. Washington Avenue, Lansing, Michigan until 1917, when they moved to 403 Seymour. Frederick lived at this address until his death in 1939. In 1918, Frederick and Amy divorced. Two months after the divorce, Frederick married Edith J. Thompson.

A successful businessman, Frederick owned and operated the Frederick C. Jenison Insurance Agency of Lansing. The agency, staffed by Jenison and a secretary, sold general insurance and surety bonds, and was located in the Capitol National Bank Building (later called the Hollister Building). Jenison also managed the family property, the Jenison Building located at the corner of N. Washington Ave. and Ottawa St. The building was leased to the F.W. Woolworth Co. during the 1920s and 1930s. Both of these ventures proved profitable.

Following his death in 1939, Frederick C. Jenison, having no heirs, bequeathed his entire half-million dollar estate to Michigan State College. A portion of the legacy was used to pay for the building of the Jenison Fieldhouse. Another large portion of the estate was used to pay for the extensive remodeling of the President's House. Since the entire estate was presented in Jenison's mother's name, Alice Cowles Jenison, the President's home was named the Cowles House in her memory.

(Sources: Kuhn, Madison. Michigan State, The First Hundred Years; The MSU Press, 1957. East Lansing, Michigan; Lansing City Directory, 1938; This is Michigan State University 1975 Facts Book; Plaque in the Jenison Fieldhouse; Course Catalogs, Archival Documents.)


7 Cubic Feet (and one oversized volume)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Gift of the Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance, MSU, 1976-10-29.

Legal Status

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to Michigan State University but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright restrictions may apply. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Processing Information

Changed record group from 00125 to UA 10.3.446 to reflect Frederick C. Jenison's connection to Michigan State University. M. Badgley Malone, November 2019.

Jenison Family Papers
3 Ready For Cataloging
R. Harms
December 1977
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US