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William H. Combs Papers

Identifier: UA-17.116

Scope and Contents

The papers are organized into five series: Tennessee Papers, Michigan Papers, Michigan State University Papers, Volumes, and Photographs.

Included in the Tennessee papers are his book Tennessee: A Political Study, published in 1940 in collaboration with William E. Cole, preliminary drafts of chapters and correspondence relating to subjects in the book. Other materials include a "Biennial Report of the University of Tennessee (1936-1938)," correspondence and reports of the Tennessee Taxpayers Association (1938-1939), annual meeting programs of the American Political Science Association (1935, 1940), and articles on county organization and the jury, judicial and criminal prosecution systems in Tennessee (1938-1939).

The papers relating to Michigan consist mainly of correspondence and staff or committee reports from the Commission on Reform and Modernization in Government (1938-1939), The Michigan Constitutional Revision Study Commission (1942), and The Michigan Joint Legislative Committee on Reorganization of State Government (1950) of which he was the project director. Also included are two articles entitled "Shaping the Political State for Tomorrow's Children" (circa 1940) and "Emerging Trends in American Politics: The Domestic Field-State Centralization."

The Michigan State University papers generally pertain to committees and campus events but also include some work with the Society of American Archivisits and biographical information.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1979


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

William H. Combs began his career as a teacher in the Indian Public Schools where he taught from 1914 to 1925. From 1928 to 1930, he was an associate professor at Berea College in Kentucky and then an instructor (1931-1938) at the University of Tennessee. He also served as a consultant to the Tennessee State Department of Public Welfare. In 1938, he joined the faculty at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) in the history and political science departments. Combs served as the head of the Department of Public Administration from 1938 to 1949. In 1949, Combs became administrative assistant to the president in charge of academic affairs and Dean of the All-College Division, positions he held until 1956. From 1956 to 1967, Combs was the Dean of University Services, and from 1959 to 1967 he was the Secretary of the Faculties. In 1967, Combs was awarded dean emeritus status. He served as Assistant Dean for Continuing Education, College of Arts and Letters, and Director of the University Archives and Historical Collections. Combs was named the first University Archivist in July 1968. On February 28, 1979, Combs stepped down from the directorship of the archives to become a consultant to the archives and continuing education service. Combs died April 6, 1979.


2 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Organized into five series: 1. Tennessee Papers. 2. Michigan Papers. 3. Michigan State University Papers. 4. Volumes. 5. Photographs.

Related Archival Materials

See also Michigan Constitutional Convention papers (collection 00068).

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.

William H. Combs Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
February 1977
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