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David Clements photographs and ephemera

Identifier: MSS 689

Scope and Contents

The David Clements papers document the career and creative interests of Royce David Clements (1948-) who has spent more than 50 years involved in the cultural life of Detroit and southwest Michigan. In particular, the arts community in Detroit in the 1990s and 2000s is very well represented by postcards and flyers for gallery openings, museum exhibits, book signings, music festivals, and similar events.

The collection includes abundant examples of Clements’ own photography work, centering on the folk art of signage and billboards for small businesses; local architectural landmarks; and musical events such as gospel concerts and jazz festivals.

Clements has an interest in letterpress work, especially the Alternative Press (Detroit and Grindstone City, Michigan) and the collection includes an unusual broadside printed on aluminum foil by Clements himself. He also collects vintage ephemera, and the collection has numerous examples of packaging and labels for early 20c chewing tobacco.


  • Creation: 1920s-2010s, bulk 1985-2005

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

The material is stored off site. Please request 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

Royce David Clements was born in Muncie, Indiana, in 1948 and raised in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1966, spent two years at Lake Michigan Community College, and transferred to Wayne State University where he earned a B.S. in Education in 1970 and an M.Ed. in 1972.

Clements was a founding member of the Detroit Children’s School, an alternative to public education, and later worked in the Detroit Public School system as an adult education teacher.

At the same time, Clements was a member of the film collective Cass City Cinema, which ran screenings at the Detroit Cultural Center. In 1981, he began working in cable television, first in sales, then quickly moving to producing and directing video productions. In 1992, he established the multimedia company David Clements Productions, which still exists in 2023. Services include location scouting and management, commercial photography, and television production.

Clements married Karin Klue in 1985.

Throughout his life Clements has been an urban photographer. His work has been exhibited in one solo exhibition and dozens of group exhibitions, and featured in several magazine articles. His photography is the basis for "Talking Shops: Detroit Commercial Folk Art" (Wayne State University Press, 2005) and is featured in "Art in Detroit Public Places" 2nd and 3rd editions (Wayne State University Press, 1999 and 2008.)


11 Linear Feet (10 containers: 4 legal-size manuscript boxes, 1 legal-size half-manuscript box, 2 hat boxes, 2 newspaper boxes, 1 extra large flat box. Five items separated out for individual catalog records.)

Language of Materials



The collection has been arranged into the following series: Documentation of Clements' photography career and interests; Letterpress and related items; Ephemera and realia representing the cultural life of Detroit and the greater Michigan area; Vintage ephemera and packaging examples.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

David Clements has donated material to Murray-Hong Special Collections in numerous installments, with an initial large installment in May 2019 (on the occasion of a visit to his home by Peter Berg, Tad Boehmer, and Ruth Ann Jones) and many small accessions over the following years. The initial installment was inventoried by Ruth Ann Jones in June 2019.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by David Clements in 2019, with additional accruals.

Separated Materials

Sherman House Chicago room service menu removed and cataloged for Cookery and Foodways collection. "You always wanted to believe, but you needed proof. Now you have it. Santa exposed" removed and cataloged for Zines collection. "Sweet and Low" (sheet music) removed and cataloged for Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection. "Stupor: The Neighbors Issue" removed and cataloged for Zines collection. "Extra: Weegee at Wolf" (reproductions of documentary photography) removed and cataloged for Rare Books collection.

Processing Information

Ruth Ann Jones processed this collection in 2024.

  • Large quantities of event flyers, promotional postcards, and copies of photographs.
Finding Aid for David Clements photographs and ephemera
3 Ready For Cataloging
Ruth Ann Jones
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
  • Correspondence with MSU Special Collections staff and MSU Libraries Development Office staff.

Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA