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Robert P. Stephenson papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-10.3.197

Scope and Contents

The papers of Robert P. Stephenson consist of alphabetically arranged subject files about the dairy industry. The company files contain product brochures information from specific vendors. Some company files contain correspondence relating to quotes on equipment costs. The class notes files contain notes Stephenson made and handouts from his time as a student at Michigan State University. Also included are class materials from other universities. Because Stephenson was an alumnus of Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) many of the items in the papers are related to MSU, including reports authored by MSU faculty and Cooperative Extension materials. There is a limited amount of information related to Grocers’ Dairy. Included are articles that feature Grocers’ Dairy or Stephenson. Most of the information is related to the automation of the Grocers’ Dairy plants or bulk milk. Also included is “Robert’s Legacy a Scrapbook of Remembrances Employment with Grocers’ Dairy” giving an autobiographical account of Stephenson’s time at Grocers’ Dairy. Stephenson’s papers contain very little personal information. However, his resume gives information on his education, career, and medical history. Also included in the collection is the video “The Bulk Tank Story in Western Michigan” by Robert P. Stephenson. The video is home movies shot by Stephenson and Bob Jones and put on a video cassette tape. The movies are in color and have no sound. The sections of the movies are roughly identified in “Robert's Legacy: A Scrapbook of Remembrances Employment with Grocers’ Dairy.” The movies show bulk tank systems on farms including barns, tanks, and pipes systems; farmers working; milking; milk trucks; cleaning; and a milk truck picking up milk from a farm. There is also a section of a tank being installed; a MSU display warning against dirty vacuum lines; and exterior shots of commercial dairy plants. In addition, there are non-dairy related parts including a fishing trip to Canada and scenes from unidentified cities. There is also a segment of Atlantic City showing old hotels such as the Breakers and the Traymore, as well as the boardwalk.


  • Creation: 1890 - 1994


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.


Robert Poe Stephenson was born on February 15, 1913 to Louvisa [sic] and Delbert Stephenson. He had five siblings. During his childhood he worked in his father’s dairy, Stephenson’s Dairy, in Constantine, Michigan. From 1932 to 1933, he attended Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) and took liberal arts courses. From 1935 to 1936 he took dairy Short Courses at MSC. His courses included Market Milk with Dr. Malcolm Trout, Butter Making with Dr. Ira Gould, and Ice Cream with Professor Paul Lucas. From 1936 to 1939 he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dairy Manufacturing with a minor in Bacteriology. In 1939, he received his license to test milk for butter fat. From 1939 to 1941 he worked for Producers Cooperative Creamery in Marion, Indiana. He was in charge of quality control and the laboratory. From 1941 to 1942, he worked for SMA Corp./American Home Products Co./Wyeth, Inc(currently known as General Foods of Mason, Michigan) as a dairy chemist. From 1942 to 1944 he worked as a steel chemist for Nash-Kelvinator in Lansing, Michigan, which manufactures airplane propellers. From 1944 to 1946, he served at Amchitka, Aleutian Islands, Alaska as a communications officer. Stephenson worked for Grocers’ Dairy Company (currently called Country Fresh, Inc.) in Grand Rapids, Michigan as production manager from 1946 to 1961. He oversaw both the Garden Street and Buchanan Street plants and kept the company in compliance with federal and state regulations. Additionally, he served as the department head for quality and milk procurement, department head for conversion to bulk handling of milk, and farm bulk tank installer. At the Buchanan Street plant, he was also the general contractor for completing the processing plant, and supervised the move of the ice cream department in 1958, and supervised the trial run for the new plant.

From 1961 to 1963 Stephenson returned to Michigan State University as a special student and took Accounting, Financial Management, Food Engineering, Automation of Food Plant Engineering, Dairy and Processing Machinery, Condensed and Dry Milk Products, and Ice Cream. He spent two years (1963-1964) working as an administrator and bookkeeper for Springbrook Nursing Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From 1964 to 1978 he was office manager and producer of payroll for Independent Cooperative Milk Producers Association. Stephenson retired in 1978. He passed away on January 12, 2003. Stephenson was married twice, first to Doris Duncan in 1942 and then Hilda Mae MacGregor in 1979. He had four children, Connie Lou, Barbara Jo, Mary Lynn, and David Duncan, and one grandchild. Stephenson was active in the Western Michigan Technology Society and the Masons.


5.8 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University.

Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Robert P. Stephenson Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
S. Roberts
October 2003
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