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James Henry Denison papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-17.62

Scope and Contents

The James Denison papers include materials that were accumulated throughout Denison’s life. Denison’s personal papers consist primarily of correspondence, diaries, and newspaper clippings about himself. Also included are articles, stories, and poems written by Denison. Among the articles are several drafts of a piece he wrote about Mackinac Island, Michigan. The bulk of the papers center around Denison’s professional career and in particular his career with the Michigan Office of Civilian Defense, the United States Army, the Office of the Governor of Michigan, and Michigan State University. The materials collected while working for the Michigan Office of Civilian Defense contain correspondence, reports, and publications including the Operational Plan for a Local Control Center.

The papers relating to Denison’s military service consist of correspondence, materials from the Provost Marshal General’s Officer School, Fort Custer, Michigan and Denison’s order books. Materials on the Army Reserves and Denison’s appointment to the Michigan National Coast Guard Reserves are contained in the papers. Numerous publications dealing with World War II, including French and German newspapers, make up part of these papers. A number of United States Army publications are also present. The papers concerning Denison’s career with the governor’s office in Lansing, Michigan contain a reorganization plan for the National Guard and some copies of speeches made by Governors Harry Kelly and Kim Sigler.

The Subcommittee On Migratory Labor contains materials related to Land Grant Universities, hearing witnesses and statements made at hearings. The Michigan State University materials consist of primarily of papers dealing with MSU’s participation in the Rose Bowl football games of 1954, 1956, and 1966. There are also programs of the football games and the Tournament of Roses Parades along with newspaper clippings on the games. Also included are publications dealing with Michigan State University’s centennial in 1955 and other aspects of the university as well. The final section of the collection contains a program from the National Conference of International Economic and Social Development (1952), general publications, and some personal papers of Denison’s daughter, Jane.


  • Creation: 1925 - 1970


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.

Biographical Note

James H. Denison (born January 8, 1907, Mount Sterling, Ohio; died March 6, 1975) graduated in 1928 from Defiance College, Defiance, Ohio with a major in English. Following graduation Denison began a journalism career that lasted about thirteen years. Denison began his career with the Toledo Times in Toledo, Ohio. The major portion of Denison’s career as a journalist, however, was spent with the Detroit Free Press. Denison later became the news editor of this prominent Detroit paper. After being laid off the Detroit Free Press in 1940, Denison continued his career by working as a correspondent for Business Week ; this job lasted only a few months.

In June, 1941 Denison was appointed Director of Information for the Michigan War Council. This position signaled the end of his journalism career and the beginning of a life-long involvement in the field of public relations. The Michigan War Council remained Denison’s employer until he entered active duty with the United State Army in September 1943. After completing officer training, he was assigned to the European Theater as an information and public relations officer. Following the war, Denison continued to perform public relations functions in his new position as an administrative assistant to Harry F. Kelly, Governor of Michigan. He not only prepared speeches for Kelly but he also directed a public relations and information program that led the adoption of a post war building program at Michigan universities and hospitals. He was also responsible for the planning and directing of a program inaugurating the post-war Michigan National Guard. The public relations career of Denison took yet another turn in 1947 when he accepted an appointment as an administrative assistant to the president of Michigan State College (now Michigan State University). As an administrative assistant, he advised the president and the Board of Agriculture (later the Board of Trustees) on policy statements. The Public Relations Department at Michigan State was also directed by Denison. This department was in charge of the Agriculture Extension Information Services and was responsible for publicizing all college events. In addition, Denison directed the operation of the Michigan State College press and the college-owned radio station, WKAR. After his retirement in 1969, he served as a consultant to the MSU Archives, a position he held until his death in 1975. Denison was married to Mary Kendrew and they had a daughter, Jane.


3 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Related Archival Materials

See also Vice President for University Relations records (UA 8.0) which contain papers related to Denison’s time in that department.

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.

James H. Denison Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
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