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Wesley Fishel papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-17.95

Series Description

(1) BIOGRAPHICAL FILES. 1940-1948, 1955-1977, undated. 0.2 cubic feet This series provides a broad overview of Wesley R. Fishel's professional life. Included are resumes, academic appointment papers and award certifications received by the scholar. Materials in the first nine folders reflect the beginnings of Fishel's early academic career, such as his appointment as an instructor of political science at UCLA. This series is arranged chronologically by subject.

(2) CORRESPONDENCE. 1941-1975, undated. 0.5 cubic feet

This series contains significant documentation of correspondence, specifically communications between Fishel and Ngo Dinh Diem, John Hannah and Gilbert Jonas. Also included are other letters of direct relevance to the Vietnam Project, such as Hannah's letters to President Kennedy regarding the deteriorating political situation in Vietnam during 1962. Other interesting topics include the Golden Pavilion Temple, the International Reserve Committee, and the Vietnam Delegation visit to MSU. The correspondence found here charts significant movements in Fishel's career and provides insight into the relationships between Fishel, other public officials and the media. The general correspondence is arranged chronologically, while the specific material is arranged alphabetically by correspondent's name.

(3) RESEARCH PROJECTS. 1921, 1930, 1943-1976, undated. 1.5 cubic feet Found in this series are various research projects with which Fishel was involved, or of which he followed and kept information on. This series consists of three major projects: Atrocity Study; Operations Research Office: Korean Language Study; and the Vietnam Political Elite Study. Following these three are miscellaneous smaller research projects and notes on projects.

The Atrocity Study (1930-1970) is a collection of specific research projects from Fishel's collection which document and categorize various forms of political and physical persecution. The Korean Language Study (1951-1959) follows a series of documents discussing Korean Language School, language surveys, and reports of language problems in Korean. The Vietnam Political Elite Study (1956-1973) contains specific documentation on Vietnamese Political Elite, analyses and reports concerning political maneuvers and parties. Also included in this group is some information on the "MSU All-University Research Grant."

This series is arranged alphabetically by each major study with miscellaneous projects and notes following.

(4) CONFERENCES AND SEMINARS. 1953, 1957, 1959, 1964-1976. 1.0 cubic feet

This series is a collection of conferences and seminars that Fishel was involved with either in planning or participation, both at MSU and beyond. Two such events with which Fishel was involved in planning were the Winds of Change and International Politics Study Seminars, both held at MSU. These conferences and seminars expressly dealt with the issues of revolution and social change in world politics and were organized to stimulate student interest and involvement in the field of international relations.

Non-MSU conferences and seminars found here were ones that Fishel either had a part in presenting, had an interest in, or papers that were sent to him of general academic courtesy. Many of the items deal specifically with the discourse surrounding Southeast Asia and the Vietnam War. Much of the collection sets up an early and late dialogue of possible and immediate problems with the U.S. presence in Vietnam.

This series is arranged chronologically within each box.

(5) SPEECHES. 1960, 1964-1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, undated. 0.3 cubic feet

This series holds mostly a collection of speeches delivered by Fishel, primarily over the later course of his career, particularly following the demise of the Diem regime and the subsequent death of the Vietnamese President in 1963. In some speeches Fishel addresses contemporary political issues relating to Vietnam. His speech to the National War College, "Internal Problems of the Southeast Asian Countries", defends the character of Diem, but criticizes the "personalized" rule of the Diem regime. Also included is Fishel's testimony regarding the refugee problem in Vietnam given before the U.S. Senate's "Subcommittee on Refugees and Escapees." The series also incorporates some of the correspondence exchanged concerning these speeches. In addition to the Fishel given speeches is a short group of speeches given by others, the transcripts of which were kept by Fishel. Fishel's speeches are arranged chronologically, additional materials are arranged alphabetically by name of the speech giver or speech title.

(6) PUBLICATIONS. 1933, 1941, 1945-1975, 1977, undated. 2.35 cubic feet

The first part of the series (box 1200, folders 68-86) collates the significant publications of Fishel. The broad time span covered by the collection provides temporal progression in Fishel's academic and political positioning, specifically in relation to Vietnam. Included is his 1959 publication, "Vietnam's Democratic One-Man Rule," in which the professor upholds Diem as a democratic leader. Also of significance is the tempe-set manuscript of the 1968 anthology edited by Fishel, Vietnam: Anatomy of a Conflict. This exhaustive anthology comprises of various articles, including several written by Fishel which analyze the political climate in Vietnam. Each section of the volume is introduced with a commentary by Fishel. The first portion of the series also incorporates correspondence, reviews and opinion cards, and thus provides an overview of the critical reception surrounding Anatomy.

The second portion of this series (box 1185) contains both Fishel authored and edited publications, as well as those collected and annotated by him and used for his work.

The first section is arranged chronologically, while the second section is arranged alphabetically.

(7) ORGANIZATIONS. 1949-1976, undated. 3.6 cubic feet

Various organizations either from MSU or outside the University that Fishel had an active interest in are located in this series. Included in these materials are notes, publication, newsletters, pamphlets, statistics, conference papers, and meeting minutes from various organizations, as well as various correspondence with or about them. The MSU related organizations found here emphasized student participation in international relations, including fundraising for charitable concerns in Southeast Asia and Africa. Certain groups, such as the International Relations Club, encouraged scholarly debate among students on international and political issues. Organizations outside the University include those both national and international, and Fishel served as an executive committee member for several of these groups. Notably, he served as the Chairman of the Board for the American Friends of Vietnam. Also of interest here are various selected and annotated bibliographies, concerning the political climate of Vietnam, compiled by the American Friends of Vietnam.

This series is arranged alphabetically by organization name.

(8) VIETNAM PROJECT/MSU ADVISORY GROUP (MSUG). 1955-1962, 1967. 2.0 cubic feet

This series provides extremely significant information pertaining to the project in Vietnam carried out by the MSUG. Fishel was a major figure in the administration of this project and he served as its Chief Advisor from 1956 to 1958. This project was established under contract through the Vietnamese Government and the U.S. Operations Mission. The materials incorporated include documentation outlining the initial goals of the special mission from MSU and a statement of philosophy. The series charts the progress of the project with semi-annual reports regarding the organization of police services, public administration and administrative services in South Vietnam. Also located in this collection are correspondence, monthly reports, budgets, articles, pamphlets, as well as the final report which provides an overview of the entire duration of the project.

This series includes much of the early information of Fishel working with Diem and MSU to start the friendly intellectual exchange. It includes many reports of early field trips to Vietnam, budgets, bibliographies, and correspondence regarding this project. Because essentially the project was the reason the U.S. was in Vietnam in the years before the war, along with all the agricultural information, the famous Ramparts article, "University on the Make" is reprinted, along with reviews concerning U.S. presence in Vietnam after the war broke out.

Arranged largely chronologically, with an end section arranged alphabetically.

(9) VIETNAM COLLECTION. 1942-1963, 1966, 1968-1971. 1.0 cubic feet

An introduction to the Vietnam Collection - subject files series. The papers within the Vietnam Collection deal specifically with the region and the Vietnam conflict, including activities during the war itself, as well as historical, social and economic background of the region and its people. Covered in this series are Indochina and North Vietnam. Materials include articles published by Vietnamese and U.S. experts on Vietnam, such as Douglas Pike's "Life in North Vietnam," and excerpts from Hoang Van Chi's Communist Dictatorship Establishment. Publications issued by the U.S. Department of State relating to the political climate of Vietnam are also located in this series. Further materials include: individual profiles on significant political figures in North Vietnam; materials relating to Ho Chi Minh and his political status; documents relating to the industrial and economic development of North Vietnam; information on the country's cultural conditions.

This series is arranged alphabetically by country and folder title.

(10) VIETNAM COLLECTION – SUBJECT FILES. 1937, 1939, 1942-1977, undated. 9.6 cubic feet

General subject files of materials concerning the conflict in Vietnam. They cover a wide range of topics including the history of the region and its people, as well as the subjects of the Vietnamese economy, education system, government, industry and legal system. Featured are biographical files on major Vietnamese political and project players, and materials on the civic programs. Various publications are also located here such as the Saigon Daily News Roundup and the Public Administration Bulletin for Vietnam.

This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

(11) VIETNAM COLLECTION – VIETNAM WAR. 1954-1978, undated. 1.5 cubic feet

This series incorporates materials relating to the Vietnam War and specifically the Viet Cong movement. Content primarily comprises of articles published by U.S. experts on Vietnam, as well as the Department of State. Further materials include: transcripts of broadcasts transmitted by the National Liberation Front (NLF) on the Liberation Radio frequency; Viet Cong propaganda; U.S. government pamphlets outlining the organization and leadership of the Viet Cong; documentation relating to Viet Cong terrorism; and correspondence and notes of Fishel's which directly refer to Viet Cong activity.

This series is arranged largely alphabetically by subject with a section of bibliographies at the end.

(12) VIETNAM COLLECTION – PUBLICATIONS. 1951-1961, 1963-1964. 1.0 cubic feet

This series contains publications produced in Vietnam and grouped under the subject title "surveys, propaganda and atrocities." Included here are numerous issues of a few publications, including Bulletin du Vietnam and Viet-Nam Presse: Agence D'Information Telegraphique.

This series is arranged alphabetically by publication title.

(13) VIETNAM COLLECTION – NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. 1947-1976, undated. 7.5 cubic feet

This series is a grouping of newspaper and magazine articles published by foreign and American presses and distributed in Vietnam. They cover a wide range of topics and subjects.

This series is arranged alphabetically by subject per box, with some box of materials arranged chronologically.

(14) U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT. 1946, 1948-1950, 1960-1961, 1963-1964, 1966-1967, 1970. 0.2 cubic feet

This series provides background information for the U.S. State Department's involvement in the project. This is a rather small series, though more State Department materials are scattered throughout the collection.

This series is arranged alphabetically by box.

(15) U.S. OPERATIONS MISSION (USOM). 1948-1972, 1976, undated. 3.9 cubic feet

This major series related to the activities of the USOM. This group was affiliated as a field service for the main foreign aid agency of the U.S. federal government (the Agency for International Development [AID]). Prior to 1961, AID was known as the International Cooperation Administration (ICA). This collection incorporates documentation of major significance in any research concerning U.S. involvement with Vietnam and the time period covered by these materials is extensive. Included in this series are various reports and records which document political activity in Vietnam, specifically the period spanning 1954 to 1973. Materials include: Activity Reports of the USOM to Vietnam; fiscal reports; statistical bulletins; speeches; interviews; documents pertaining to USOM's involvement with the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO) and the U.S. Information Services (USIS); Debriefing Reports from the Asia Training Center; issues of the Public Administration Bulletin for Vietnam; editions of the Saigon Daily News Roundup; and the USOM publication Documents and Research Notes, which provides information of U.S. military presence in Vietnam.

This series is arranged by subject.

(16) SUBJECT FILES – GENERAL. 1945-1977, undated. 4.8 cubic feet

A series of general subject files arranged alphabetically by folder title. This series covers a broad range of topics from racism to U.S. dealings in international affairs. Of note are the sections dedicated to the United Arranged alphabetically by subject, with CENTO and United Nations papers in sub-series blocks.

(17) SUBJECT FILES – NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. 1947-1976, 1978, undated. 14.4 cubic feet

A series of general subject files arranged alphabetically by subject. Box 1186 contains clippings that have been processed, or transferred to acid free paper. The remainder of the boxes contain clippings considered not fully processed. They have been arranged by either date or subject (then alphabetically), but they have yet to be transferred to acid free paper. They are this way at present so they may be open for public access. All clippings in this series were kept by Fishel on various topics, or in date order to follow the chronology of specific events.

This series is arranged alphabetically by subject title, some portions chronologically.

(18) FOREIGN AFFAIRS. 1931, 1947-1975, undated. 1.5 cubic feet

Subject files pertaining to foreign affairs and kept by Fishel for use in his work as an educator.

This series is arranged largely alphabetically.

(19) JAPANESE REPARATIONS. 1951-1966, undated. 2.0 cubic feet

Materials pertaining to Japanese reparations acts following World War II. This series includes information on various Asian countries including Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, and their relations with Japan.

This series is arranged by subject and country, then largely alphabetical.

(20) GEOGRAPHICAL SUBJECT FILES. 1940-1977, undated. 20.3 cubic feet

A general information series with folders containing materials relating to various countries, their cities, people, economies, histories and geographical neighbors. Emphasis is placed on Asian countries. Included are African, European and American countries. Types of materials include correspondence, articles, reports, studies, statistics and pamphlets.

This series is arranged alphabetically by country.

(21)GEOGRAPHICAL SUBJECT FILES – NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS. 1960-1970, undated. 1.5 cubic feet

Similar to the Geographical Subject Files series, but with newspaper clippings as the source of materials.

This series is arranged alphabetically.


A collection of maps, posters, newspapers, charts and architectural drawings. Subjects range from Vietnam to the first moon landing and the John F. Kennedy assassination.

(23) SUBJECT FILES – PEOPLE. 1953, 1955, 1957-1960, 1962, 1965-1970, 1974, undated. 0.6 cubic feet A general subject file containing various information, mainly correspondence, speeches and articles, written about or by the individuals listed.

This series is arranged alphabetically.

(24) FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILES. 1945-1946, 1952-1969, 1971, 1973, undated. 1.7 cubic feet

A general subject files series for predominately untranslated materials in French, Vietnamese, German and Japanese.

This series is arranged alphabetically by language and then largely alphabetical by title within.

(25) SUBJECT FILES – STUDENT PAPERS. 1940, 1948, 1951-1952, 1954, 1959-1961,1963, 1965-1966, 1969, 1973, undated. 1.0 cubic feet. RESTRICTED

Papers written by his students which were kept by Fishel. All pertain to foreign affairs. A few of Fishel's own papers are scattered within this series.

This series is arranged alphabetically by student's last name. Student papers are restricted.

(26) ACADEMIC PAPERS. 1941, 1946-1951, undated. 0.2 cubic feet

Relating to the series of Biographical files and Student Papers, this series contains Fishel's early academic papers and other faculty papers of his and others. It also includes the mock trial of him at Southern Illinois by SDS and the poster of Fishel indicting him with crimes against humanity.

This series is arranged chronologically.

(27) EPHERMERA/MISCELLANEOUS. 0.5 cubic feet

Miscellaneous materials including VIP letters, envelopes, books and a photo album/scrapbook of a preliminary meeting on Public Administration in Saigon.


This series consists of five oversized boxes filled with whole and partial issues of various publications, many in foreign languages, ranging from Ahahi Evening News to The Times of Vietnam and The Yomiuri.

This series is arranged alphabetically by publication title, then chronologically.


Items separated from the general body of the collection and placed In the Archives' audio recording, postcard and photograph collections. The lists contained in this series are labeled in these categories for easy patron access. The audio recording is Judy Rice's translation of "La Couter" (the life of Ho Chi Minh). The postcards were sets obtained by Fishel through his travels. The photograph collection feature key players in the MSU Vietnam Project as well as document the activities set up by the group.


  • Creation: 1921 - 1977
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1939 - 1977


Language of Materials

Some of the materials are in French, German, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Series (25) SUBJECT FILES – STUDENT PAPERS is restricted access.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical Note

Wesley R. Fishel (1919-1977) joined the faculty of Michigan State University in 1951, teaching political science in the College of Social Science and James Madison College until his death in 1977. Regarded as an expert on Southeast Asia affairs, he served as a close friend and consultant to Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam in the 1950's. Fishel was best known for his role in the Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group (MSUG) technical assistance program (1955-1961), serving as its Chief Advisor from 1956 to 1958.

Wesley R. Fishel was born September 8, 1919 to Clarence and Lillian Pierson Fishel, in Cleveland, Ohio. He married Jane Brudno, and had four children, Carolyn, Barbara, Michael, and Laurence.

Fishel graduated from Heights High School (Cleveland) in 1937, and began college at Georgetown University. In 1939 he transferred to Northwestern University, majoring in international relations, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1941. Fishel returned to college from 1946 to 1948, and obtained his doctorate in international relations at the University of Chicago.

During World War II Fishel worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence (1941-1942). Fishel served in the Army from 1942 to 1945, working as a Japanese intelligence analyst and language officer. He was with the 3rd Marine Division when it invaded Iwo Jima, and received a letter of commendation for his efforts. Fishel was discharged with the rank of First Lieutenant.

Fishel's teaching career began in 1948 at the University of California (Los Angeles) as a political science instructor. In 1951, he came to Michigan State University as an associate professor in the political science department. In 1952, he was named assistant director of the Government Research Bureau which conducted research in problems of political behavior and public administration. (Today the Bureau is called the Social Science Research Bureau, encompassing all of the departments in the College of Social Science and conducts interdisciplinary research projects.) In 1957 Fishel became a full professor while serving as the chief advisor for MSUG in Saigon. He was also a professor in the James Madison College (1967-1977), and was named an adjunct professor in aerospace studies in 1972. Fishel's primary teaching included international relations, comparative politics (with an emphasis on Japan and Southeast Asia), and problems of developing areas.

Fishel was involved in many student activities during his academic career. He served as academic advisor for the International Relations Club, as well as for the "Winds of Change" program, which conducted annual seminars on topics of vital concern to the students of the 1960s. Fishel also advised the MSU People-to-People Association, whose purpose was to raise money for self-help projects in selected villages in underdeveloped countries.

Fishel served in numerous administrative and editorial roles. He served as chairman of the Board of the American Friends of Vietnam; editor-in-chief of Southeast Asia, an international quarterly; and chairman of the Committee on Institutional Relationships, Asian Studies Center at MSU. In addition, he was active in many professional organizations, including the Council on Foreign Relations, Association for Asian Studies, and American Society of International law. Fishel was a founding member of the International House of Japan.

During his career Fishel conducted field research in many East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Burma. He conducted research on language problems faced by the U.S. Military during the Korean War, and on the germ warfare atrocity charges published in communist propaganda. Fishel also conducted a continuing study of the composition of South Vietnam's political elite from 1956 to 1971. Prior to his death, he was working on two areas of research: "The Great Shift: American Editorial Opinion on Foreign Affairs, 1966" and "How We Conquered the South: the Official Memoir of General Van Tien Dung, People's Army of North Vietnam." Both studies were to be published in 1977.

Fishel's most significant publication was a collection of essays entitled Vietnam: Anatomy of a Conflict. As editor and co-author of the 1968 publication, Fishel attempted a detailed study of the fundamental history of Vietnam and the ramifications of its internal and external conflict. Though considered a sophisticated analysis with quality contributions, the book was criticized for being unbalanced since only two of the essays were written by critics of the Vietnam War. The other published work which received national attention was Fishel's doctorate dissertation The End of Extraterritoriality in China, published in 1952. This book focused on extraterritoriality developments and American policy between 1919 and 1923. The publication was criticized for not using any Chinese sources. Fishel wrote numerous other books and monographs, as well as articles published in such journals as The New Leader, Yale Review, and Asian Survey. The Washington Post and New York Times also published many articles by Fishel. He was a contributing writer and editor of Southeast Asia and Soviet Union entries for many encyclopedia publishers.

Fishel received many honors throughout his professional career. He was awarded the Kim Kinh Decoration ("Medal of Honor", first class) in 1966 by the Government of South Vietnam for his "humanitarian contributions." He was named "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" by Excalibur, the senior men's honorary at MSU, in 1955. In 1961, Fishel received a Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct research in Japan and Southeast Asia.

As an expert on Southeast Asia, Fishel served as a consultant and advisor to many academic, professional, and governmental organizations. Fishel served as a consultant to the Operations Office at John Hopkins University (1952-1961); the Government Reorganization in Vietnam; the Foreign Operations Administration (1951-1955), the International Cooperation Administration (1955, 1959) and the Special Operations Research Office at American University (1958-1961). During the declining years of the Diem regime and the beginning of the war, Fishel served as a consultant for the U.S. Department of State (1963 to 1964).

Fishel's most notable role was that of friend and advisor to Ngo Dihn Diem, as well as being the chief advisor of the MSUG. Fishel met Diem in Tokyo through mutual Japanese and Vietnamese friends. The two men quickly became friends and corresponded regularly. In 1953, Fishel made Diem a consultant on Southeast Asia to the MSU Government Research Bureau.

In 1954 Diem was named Prime Minister of South Vietnam, under Bao Dai. Diem promptly hired Fishel as his advisor. While in Saigon, Fishel also worked with the United States Operations Mission (USOM), which channeled all U.S. aid to South Vietnam. The Prime Minister also asked that Michigan State University be allowed to provide technical assistance to the country, but the French government (who still actually controlled Vietnam) objected. However, France soon lost its power in Vietnam, and MSU proceeded to set up a technical assistance program.

MSU President John Hannah sent four professors to Saigon to survey the situation and make suggestions for the assistance program, which would be underwritten by the U.S. Foreign Operations Administration (USFOA). These professors, Arthur Brandstatter (Police Administration), James Dennison (Public Relations), Edward Weidner (Political Science), and Charles Killingworth (Economics) recommended four programs to provide technical assistance: public administration, police administration programs, and help to establish a Constituent Assembly and write a Constitution. With the help of Fishel, contract negotiations were finally agreed upon in 1955, and thirty people from MSU were authorized to work on the project.

Meanwhile, Diem easily beat Bao Dai in an October 1955 election. Diem assumed the title of president, and established the New Republic of South Vietnam. The United States backed Diem's government in hopes of keeping out communist control.

Fishel took over the role as chief advisor of MSUG from Ralph Smuckler in 1956. The project was carried out in three phases. Phase I (1955-1957) was mainly concerned with helping establish police services and setting up resettlement programs for refugees who had fled communist North Vietnam. The police operations became so important during this short time that the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) authorized fourteen additional MSU personnel to work as police advisors.

Phase II (1957-1959) undertook the task of developing modern, responsive political and administrative institutions for the new South Vietnam government. Emphasis was placed on training teachers and preparing instruction manuals and other training materials. During this period MSU began to shift away from direct instruction of police personnel, and also from direct involvement with the operating agencies.

The final phase (1959-1961) concentrated on academics. Conflicts arose between the MSU advisors, operating missions, and Diem. When the police project began to develop along military lines MSU removed itself from the civil guard training, which trained and equipped police at province and village levels to help maintain internal security. By 1960, USOM took over the entire police project.

By 1962, other conflicts between MSU and Ngo Dihn Diem became apparent. When MSU's contract ended in June of 1962, the University said it would remain in South Vietnam only under two conditions: the MSU staff would be limited to five people, all from East Lansing; and the Group would devote its full time to the National Institute of Administration, which trained students and civil servants to work for the South Vietnamese government. However, Diem was angered by critical articles about himself and Vietnam, which were written by professors who participated in the Project and published in New Republic and Nation. MSU said it would try to select instructors who would write scholarly, scientific articles, and forbid the faculty from disclosing genuinely secret materials. Diem was not satisfied with this offer and denied renewal of the MSU contract. Fishel returned to Vietnam to talk with Diem about the contract with no success. In a letter to President Hannah, which was forwarded to president John F. Kennedy, Fishel revealed that for the first time he felt pessimistic about the fate of Vietnam. He said that unless changes were implemented by Diem, Chinese and Viet Cong terrorists would infiltrate the cities, panicking the population and weakening Diem's government; Fishel added that the "evil influences" (particularly Diem's brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and his wife, Madame Nhu) needed to be removed from government. Fishel concluded, “unless the situation can be changed for the better, we are in for a very bad period in Vietnam."

Fishel and the University gained nationwide attention for MSU's role in Vietnam when an article appeared in Ramparts magazine in April 1966 about the project. The article, entitled "The University on the Make [or how MSU helped Madame Nhu]" described Fishel as an ordinary professor who was "making it" and was the "biggest operator of them all." The magazine described the MSU professors' lifestyle in Vietnam as living "the easy ways of former French colonial masters." Fishel called the expose "pure fantasy." He, as well as Hannah, denied charges that MSUG was a front for a CIA unit, or that MSU bought guns and ammunition and trained secret police.

While Fishel was a visiting professor at Southern Illinois University in 1970, a group of students held a mock trial in which Fishel was accused of "crimes against humanity." A student stand-in for Fishel was pelted with pies, cakes, and whipped cream; six students were arrested.

When Fishel returned to the MSU in 1971, he was met with posters spread across campus reading, "Wanted: Wesley Fishel For Exploitation, Racism, Murder." Students who opposed Fishel and did not believe he should teach at MSU signed up for his course, Political Institutions and Behavior in Southeast Asia. Early in the course a student stood in the back of the room waving a Viet Cong flag. Campus security officers escorted Fishel around campus until the turmoil subsided.

Fishel remained at MSU until his death. He died in 1977 after suffering a stroke.


83.5 Cubic Feet

Custodial History

The papers are a gift of Jane Fishel.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Note from the Archivist

It should be known to the researcher and reference archivist that the processing history of this collection spans over a decade. The processing of this collection, at times, reflects the gaps and shifts in staff who worked on this collection. Several people over the course of the years were involved in the processing of this project, including several archivists, graduate assistants, and student aides. Those involved are too numerous to be listed here. It can be noticed, at the end of each series in the container listings, at times a break in the order of the bulk of the arrangement for that series. This is because these "end items" were materials left stray by the project as a whole, and the last archivist, responsible for tying all the materials together, "forced" these items into series order, and mainly arranged them alphabetically to note the imposed order.

To the archivist, the unprocessed news clippings should be transferred to acid free paper as they are used, and/or as time permits.

Wesley R. Fishel Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
J. Mazak
January 1998
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