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Department of Zoology records

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-16.121

Scope and Contents

The series Correspondence (1920-1928), Correspondence (1929-1934), and Correspondence (1941-1946) consist of the correspondence of Harrison R. Hunt, department chair from 1923 to 1953, and Joseph W. Stack, a professor in the department. The letters are from a wide variety of individuals and institutions. Also included are correspondence relating to special interests of Hunt and Stack.

Hunt’s research focused on eugenics from 1920 to 1928. His correspondence during this time includes many exchanges with the Eugenics Committee of the United States of America, the Eugenics Record Office, and the Eugenics Research Association. California businessman C. M. Goethe, also wrote to Hunt, offering his personal views on eugenics and donating funds for research. Hunt also wrote letters of support to John T. Scopes, who was on trial for teaching evolution theory in school, and his attorney, Clarence Darrow.

Stack corresponded with many individuals and organizations interested in birds and conservation, particularly the Michigan Audubon Society, the Inland Bird Banding Association, the Izaak Walton League of America, and the Wilson Ornithological Club. Stack answered inquiries from county agents of the Cooperative Extension Services regarding birds and household farm pests. Stack also corresponded with the State of Michigan Conservation Department regarding various zoological topics. Stack was closely associated with the establishment of the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. He corresponded with John Harvey Kellogg and W. K. Kellogg during its planning stages and later with administrators of the sanctuary.

The records also include interdepartmental correspondence from Frank Kedzie, Kenyon Butterfield, Robert Shaw, and others. The interdepartmental correspondence concerns the administration of the zoology department and the overall administration of MSU.

The Correspondence, 1941-1946 series consists of letters written by World War II enlisted servicemen (students and staff members) to Bernadette “Mac” McCarthy Henderson, a secretary in the zoology department. The series also includes greeting cards and postcards.

The Correspondence, 1941-1947 series contains additional correspondence between enlisted servicemen and Mac. She sent out news bulletins to zoology graduates until WWII censorship barred specific aspects of her newsletter in 1944, due to the revealing nature of its contents. Included within these letters are correspondence of new military placements, life after college, birth announcements, postcards from travels, as well as greeting and holiday cards. Letters from soldiers discuss memories of college life, conditions at camps and bases, wartime experiences, and opinions on the war, censorship, and wartime propaganda. Letters to Professor Stack are also included. This group of letters was found later by the department and some correspondents could overlap between the previous series.

The Correspondence, 1967-1968 series consists of one folder of correspondence concerning research interests.

The Departmental Material series contains inter-departmental documents covering topics such as the research interests of the zoology department, grant proposals, faculty salaries, and course curriculums. Some of the documents were culled from grant proposals that were removed from the collection, and include statistical information about the department, like finances, student counts, laboratory supplies, faculty salaries, et cetera. The series also contains several folders of reports: Director’s Report, Undergraduate Science Education, Progress Reports, Report of Committee on Coordination of Basic and Upper Colleges, and Report of Planning Committee. Charles S. Thornton, who was a department head of the zoology department, is represented by a folder that contains a lab notebook with handwritten notes, correspondence, and other official documentation. This series also houses a copy of Key to Michigan Vertebrates Except Birds, A, by Allen C. Conger. Documents describing lab techniques implemented by the zoology department are another folder in this series. Staff meeting minutes are also a part of this series.

The Facilities series is arranged into two groupings according to building: (1) Laboratory of Experimental Zoology (Animal House) and (2) Natural Science Building. The documentation includes blueprints, correspondence, news articles, plans, and specifications.

The Miscellaneous Reports series includes reports on the Williamston Game Preserve Project, a duck survey in Saginaw Bay, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and Hunt’s research notes on books.

The Annual Reports series consists of published and unpublished annual reports of the department.


  • Creation: 1920 - 2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1989


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Historical Note

The Zoology and Entomology Department was created in 1860. Manly Miles was the first instructor for the department. In 1875, A. J. Cook began his tenure as a zoology instructor, becoming departmental chairman from 1876 until 1893. The department was renamed the Department of Zoology and Physiology in 1894. At that time, ornithologist Walter F. Barrows replaced Cook as chairman for the department and was also named Curator of the Museum.

In 1914, the Zoology Department began a partnership with the Cooperative Extension Service where members of the department began acting as consultants to county agricultural agents. The next year, Joseph W. Stack was hired as a new zoology professor. Stack would later become curator of the Museum. The Zoology Department became part of the Applied Sciences Division in 1922. The following year, Harrison R. Hunt was named Chairman of the Department, following the death of Barrows. The department was renamed the Department of Zoology and Geology.

In cooperation with the Bureau of Biological Survey in Washington, D.C., a biological bird banding station was established at Michigan Agricultural College (now known as Michigan State University) in 1924, with Joseph Stack as its director. The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary (Kellogg Biological Station or KBS) was presented to Michigan State College (now known as Michigan State University) in 1928 by W. K. Kellogg. The station is located in Augusta, Michigan.

The Geology Department was separated from Zoology in 1928. In 1944, the Zoology Department was transferred to the Biological Sciences Division. The department remained there for 18 years, until transferred to the College of Natural Science in 1962.

In 2015, the department changed its name to the Department of Integrative Biology.


3.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Organized into nine series: Correspondence, 1920-1928. Correspondence, 1929-1934. Correspondence, 1941-1946. Correspondence, 1941-1947. Correspondence, 1967-1968. Departmental Material. Facilities. Miscellaneous Reports. Annual Reports.

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.

Department of Zoology Records
4 Published And Cataloged
M. McCauley
September 1987
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