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Madison Kuhn collection

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-17.107

Scope and Contents

The Madison Kuhn collection consists of materials accumulated by Kuhn during his tenure as University Historian. This collection, which was drawn from his reference files, constitutes only a small portion of the total documentation which he donated to the Archives. A large number of manuscript materials have been transferred, based on their provenance, to other University Archives collections. This collection deals largely, but not exclusively, with the history of Michigan State University. Most of the records document the period 1855 to 1955. The bulk of the collection was originally organized in a single alphabetical subject file. To facilitate reference, the records have been divided into fourteen series relating to the following topics: University Activities, Non-University Activities, University Organizations, Non-University Organizations, Faculty and Staff, Alumni, Non-University People, University Buildings and Facilities, University Publications, Miscellaneous University-Related Records, Miscellaneous Non-University-Related Records, and Student Term Papers. In most cases, Kuhn's subject headings have been retained. Record types are indicated in the container listing only when one or two types predominate in a folder. His research notes and bibliography remain in their original order while the correspondence, scrapbook, and manuscript map series have been arranged chronologically. The series relating to "activities" consists of materials dealing with specific events not expressly identified with a particular organization. Generally, they include programs and/or brochures for both social and academic functions (for example, concerts, dances, dinners, lectures, special courses and extension work). The subject files relating to "organizations" may contain bylaws, reports, meeting minutes, newsletters, pamphlets, and membership lists. The university organizations consist largely of student run clubs involved in extracurricular activities, but also include faculty committees and service organizations of the university. Of particular interest in the "non-University organizations" series is an extensive collection of material relating to the MSC (Michigan State College) Post of the American Legion covering the years 1945 to 1950. Records primarily documenting the activities of individuals are found in the three subject files concerning "faculty and staff," "alumni," and "people not directly connected with the University." These files may consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications, and biographical information. "Faculty and staff" include individuals who taught and/or served in an administrative capacity at Michigan State; "alumni," people who attended the university for any length of time, regardless of whether they eventually graduated. Materials in both series focus on the individuals' experiences at Michigan State and/or later accomplishments. Of particular significance in the files relating to non-university people are photocopies of the correspondence of several Michigan governors which discuss appropriations, agriculture, and other issues relating to Michigan State University. The "buildings and facilities" records document the planning, construction, and utilization of various university buildings. Two East Lansing buildings, People's Church and the city's oldest house, are also included. The correspondence, research notes, and bibliographic files are the only records in the collection which Kuhn himself created. His correspondence consists of exchanges with alumni, faculty, and staff which relate to research for his book on the history of the university, as well as contacts for the acquisition of materials relating to Michigan State. The research notes are of special value since they refer to the information on the university found in many different periodicals and newspapers. A listing of Kuhn's subject headings is given in the inventory. The extensive bibliographic file is divided into books, newspapers and periodicals and includes a year-by-year file of the Lansing Republican covering the period 1870 to 1893. Series 16 consists of twelve manuscript maps. Eight of the maps deal with a series of land grants in the Lansing area offered to the Executive Committee of the Michigan Agricultural Society in 1855. A 1940 map of the Lansing area shows the specific location of each grant. The remaining maps are of land owned by the university: the college lands, college farm, college swamp land and a survey of the college lawn. Series 17 contains 18 scrapbooks. Most were compiled by MAC (Michigan Agricultural College, now Michigan State) students and depict campus life and activities from 1870 to 1948. Five scrapbooks of newspaper clippings relate to the Samuel Johnson case, an 1889 dispute between Johnson, a professor of agriculture, and his students over problems of discipline. One documents the activities of the Natural History Society for the years 1876 to 1886.

Series 18 consists of volumes that primarily relate to the early history of the university. There are various account books and ledgers, faculty meeting minutes, inventories, student examinations, and copybooks of faculty correspondence. The volume series also contains membership lists and records of the Michigan State Agricultural Society and the Michigan Farmers Institutes. Series 19 consists of photographs including an oversize volume of campus photographs given to Franklin Wells in 1894. There is also a carte de visite of the Class of 1876 and senior photographs used in yearbooks for 1936, 1937 and 1940. There are also prints and corresponding negatives of Michigan State College from 1946 to 1947. Images include student activities and clubs including Student Veterans Wives League, Winged Spartans, and Spartan Wives, International Club activities as well as water carnival, dances, and ROTC. There also photographs of buildings including the canoe shelter, temporary classroom, interiors of Quonset huts, barrack apartment housing, and the sculptor working on the Physics and Astronomy building exterior artwork. Other topics include drama/ theater productions, human ecology activities, arrival of the Pershing tank, homecoming, and short courses.


  • Creation: 1827 - 1966


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Grades are restricted and noted in finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical Note

Madison Kuhn received his A.B. degree from Park College (Parkville, Missouri) in 1931. His A.M. and Ph.D. degrees were both completed at the University of Chicago in 1934 and 1940 respectively. Kuhn began his work at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) in 1937 as an assistant professor of history. In 1943, he was appointed to the post of University Historian. While serving in this position, Kuhn performed a valuable service by collecting a large amount of university records. Through his efforts much of the historical record of the university, such as presidential papers and State Board of Agriculture papers, was preserved. Another noteworthy achievement of Kuhn's was his centennial history of the university, Michigan State: The First Hundred Years, published in 1955. In 1967, Kuhn became the Graduate Chairman of the College of Arts and Letters, a position which he held until his retirement as a professor emeritus on July 1, 1979.


14.2 Cubic Feet (, 57 volumes on shelf)

Language of Materials


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.

Madison Kuhn Collection
4 Published And Cataloged
Wm. McDaid
June 1980
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