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Robert Clark Kedzie papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-17.109

Scope and Contents

The papers of Robert Clark Kedzie consist primarily of materials relating to his position at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) as a professor of chemistry from 1863 to his death in 1902. They include scrapbooks, lecture notes, correspondence, awards, and biographical material. The three scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, the first pertaining to the Samuel Johnson case in 1889, the second concerning the removal of M.A.C. President Lewis G. Gorton in 1895, and the third consisting of a collection of undated clippings on scientific research. Kedzie's lectures and teaching notes are bound together in eight volumes and reflect the variety of subjects which he taught during his years at M.A.C. The papers also include a number of articles and addresses, many of which relate to agricultural chemistry, written by Kedzie between 1851 and 1901. Other items include correspondence and personal items such as Kedzie's honorary degree from the University of Michigan, his obituary and other items regarding his death, and an early draft of his biography written in the 1950s.


  • Creation: 1851, 1863-1905, circa 1955, 1961


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

Robert Clark Kedzie was born to William and Margaret Kedzie on January 28, 1823, in Delhi, New York, and moved to Michigan in 1826 with his family. Graduating from Oberlin College in 1846, he was in charge of the Rochester Academy, Michigan, for the next two years. After the death of his first wife, Mary J. Knowlton, in 1848, he entered the University of Michigan Medical College, receiving his M.D. in 1851. Now married to Harriet Eliza Fairchild, he practiced medicine in Kalamazoo and Vermontville for eleven years. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Kedzie, an abolitionist, joined the 12th Michigan Infantry as a surgeon. He was captured by the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and was released in poor health a few months later.

This illness led him to abandon his medical practice and to accept the position of professor of chemistry at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) in February 1863, where he taught until his death on November 7, 1902. During his forty years at M.A.C., Kedzie also served as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives (1867), as president of the Michigan Medical Society (1874), the Michigan State Board of Health (1877-1881), the American Public Health Association (1882), and the Society for the Promotion of Agricultural Science (1887-1889), and in other positions as well. In 1898, M.A.C. conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Science while the University of Michigan awarded him a Doctorate of Law in 1901.

Kedzie did much for Michigan through his study of medicine and chemistry. He assisted in securing the passage of an act which established a state food and dairy commission, and he was appointed its first state analyst. He secured the passage of a law providing for the inspection of commercial fertilizers. Upon discovering the hazards of arsenic-laced pigments used in wallpaper and other items, he fought to make such pigments illegal. Kedzie also ascertained that southern Michigan was well adapted for growing sugar beets and thus has been called "the father of the beet sugar industry in Michigan."

Kedzie's wife and two of his sons, William K. and Robert F., died before him. His third son, Frank S., survived him to eventually become president of M.A.C.


2 Cubic Feet (, 3 scrapbooks)

Language of Materials


Series Listing

(1) Lecture Materials. 1863-1902 (2) Writings. 1851-1961 (3) Personal. 1890-1905 (4) Scrapbooks. 1889-1895 (5) Miscellaneous. 1861, 1902

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Robert C. Kedzie Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
October 1988
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