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Democratic Party of Michigan records, 1932-2008 (majority within 1950-1994)

97 linear feet (in 99 boxes) — 1 film reel — 18.4 GB (online)

Files of state chairs, Neil Staebler, John J. Collins, Zolton Ferency, Sander Levin, James McNeely, Morley Winograd, Olivia Maynard, Richard Wiener, F. Thomas LeWand, and Gary Corbin; files of deputy state chair, Billie S. Farnum, vice chairs Adelaide Hart and Olivia Maynard, and vice chair Robert Mitchell; files relating to state constitutional convention, and to state and national political campaigns, since 1950; sound recordings and visual materials.

The records of the Democratic Party of Michigan have come to the library in several accessions beginning in 1967 and periodically thereafter. The record group is comprised of files mainly from the Lansing office of the Democratic Party of Michigan. The files are of the officers of the party: state chair, vice chair, deputy chair, and secretary among others. As might be expected, the records relate to the day-to-day operation of the party, the management of political campaigns (i.e. selecting candidates, defining issues, raising funds, getting out the vote, etc.). In addition, much of the records concern the state organization's relationship with the National Democratic Party and its participation in the national convention to select a presidential nominee. Because of inconsistencies in how files were maintained and used, the files of one party officer might also include materials of his / her predecessor. Thus the researcher should be examine the entire finding aid for material on any given topic or time period.

The records of the Democratic Party of Michigan has been arranged into the following series: (1) Earlier records, prior to 1965; (2) State Chair, Democratic State Central Committee files; (3) Other Party Officers; (4) Headquarters files; (5) Detroit Office Files; (6) Topical Files; (7) State Central Committee Meeting Minutes; (8) State and National Convention files; (9) Appeals Committee; (10) Publications and miscellaneous; (11) Visual Materials; (12) Sound Recordings.


G. Mennen Williams papers, 1883-1988 (majority within 1958-1980)

843 linear feet — 42 oversize volumes — 147 audiotapes (3 3/4 - 7 1/2 ips; 5-10 inches; reel-to-reel tapes) — 46 audiocassettes — 30 phonograph records — 42.1 GB (online)

Governor of Michigan 1949 to 1960, under-secretary of state for African Affairs from 1961 to 1965, and Michigan Supreme Court justice from 1970 to 1986 and leader in state and national Democratic Party. Papers document his public career and aspects of his personal and family life and include correspondence, subject files, staff files, speeches, press releases and news clippings, photographs, sound recordings, films and videotapes.

The G. Mennen Williams Papers consist of official and personal files arranged into six subgroups: 1) Gubernatorial papers, 1949-1960 (681 linear ft.); 2) Non-gubernatorial papers, 1883-1948 and 1958-1988 (107 linear ft.); 3) Visual materials, ca. 1911-1988 (ca. 25 linear ft.); 4) sound recordings, 1950-ca. 1988 (5 linear ft.) Scrapbooks, 1948-1987 (43 vols.) and State Department Microfilm, 1961-1966 (23 reels).

As part of its own control system, the governor's office maintained a card index to the correspondents in many of the subgroups and series within the gubernatorial papers. This card file is located in the library's reading room. In addition, Nancy Williams and her staff compiled an extensive and detailed run of scrapbooks covering the Williams years. There is a separate inventory to these scrapbooks in a separately bound volume.

Strategy for Use of the Gubernatorial Papers: Although the Williams gubernatorial collection consists of hundreds of linear feet of material, the file arrangement created by the governor's staff is a fairly simple one to understand and to use.

The bulk of the collection falls within specific functional groupings, corresponding to the various activities and responsibilities that Williams performed as governor. Thus, if the researcher is uncertain of what portions of the collection might be relevant to his/her research, he/she is advised to think in terms of gubernatorial function. Does the proposed research concern the workings or area responsibility of a state board? If so, the Boards and Commissions series would be the most likely place in which to find material. The election of 1954? Then Democratic Party/Campaign Papers should be first choice. The passage of a specific piece of legislation? Here, Legislative Files is an obvious choice. The possible choices (called subgroups and series) that the researcher has are listed in the Organization of the Collection section. A description of the contents of each of these subgroups/series is provided below.

If, at first, unsuccessful in finding material on any given topic, the researcher might consider these additional strategies:

1. Refer to the Williams card index (located in the library's reading room). Sometimes, the name of an individual associated with a subject provides the easiest point of access into the collection. This file is arranged alphabetically and lists the dates of letters between an individual and the governor's office. This file only indexes the larger series and subgroups in the collection. It does not index the staff files, or parts of the Democratic Party/Campaign subgroup. Nevertheless it is an invaluable tool, and can uncover important material otherwise buried.

2. Refer to the various series of staff papers. Staff members were often closely involved in a specific subject areas (Jordan Popkin and aging, for example) and thus their files are frequently rich in source material.

3. If only partially successful in locating desired material, the researcher should think of an alternative subgroup or series. The governor's office, for a variety of reasons, often filed related material in different locations depending upon the source of a document. Thus, information relating to a strike might be filed both under the Labor Mediation Board in Boards and Commissions, and Strikes in General Subjects. Furthermore, if the strike influenced a specific piece of legislation, there could be material in the Legislative Files.


John B. Swainson Papers, 1943-1975 (majority within 1960-1962)

71.5 linear feet (in 73 boxes) — 1 oversize folder — 1 oversize volume — 7.77 GB (online)

Democratic governor of Michigan, 1961-1963; gubernatorial office files, campaign files, papers from his career as state senator and lieutenant governor.

The John B. Swainson collection consists of four subgroups of files: pre-gubernatorial (covering the period of 1943 to 1960), gubernatorial (covering his one-term, two-year tenure as the state's chief executive), post-gubernatorial (covering the years since he left the governor's office, 1963 to 1975), and visual materials.

The great bulk of the collection is the gubernatorial subgroup documenting the last months of Swainson's term as lieutenant governor under Governor G. Mennen Williams, the 1960 campaign for governor, his gubernatorial administration, and his unsuccessful campaign for re-election. The importance of the collection, as with all gubernatorial records, is its documentation of public policy issues of the early 1960s and the relationship of the governor to the legislature, to the heads of the state's various boards and commissions, to the federal government, and to the citizens of Michigan.


Lynn M. Bartlett papers, 1925-1971 (majority within 1955-1969)

7 linear feet — 4 microfilms — 1 oversize folder

Educational administrator, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1957-1965, and official with the Johnson administration. Correspondence, reports, and newspaper clippings concerning his public career, political campaigns for state office, work in the constitutional convention, and interest in educational topics.

The Lynn M. Bartlett papers have been arranged into six series. The first three series were accumulated in his capacity as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Education, and Assistant Secretary for Education within the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The researcher should note that although these series have been designated with the title of the office that Bartlett held, these series do not include the official files from those agencies. Records for the state office will be found in the Michigan State Archives; and records for the two federal positions held either reside within the agency itself or have been transferred to the National Archives. These three series consist of personal materials, such as speeches, personal letters (e.g., letters of congratulation, and thank yous), and other files not deemed to be part of the agency's files.

The final three series consist of Biographical/Personal, the papers of Bartlett's wife Josephine, and Collected Material.


Margaret Bayne Price Papers, 1918-1969 (majority within 1947-1968)

25 linear feet

Democratic National Committeewoman from Michigan, Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee and Director of Women's Affairs of the Democratic Party. Extensive correspondence, speeches, press releases, political campaign materials, newspaper clippings, agendas, and assorted printed material relating to her work in the Democratic Party; material concerning Democratic politics, 1948-1967, and the activities of the Democratic National Committee and the Michigan State Central Committee.

The collection includes extensive correspondence, speeches, press releases, political campaign materials, newspaper clippings, agendas, and assorted printed material relating to her work in the Democratic Party; material concerning state and national Democratic politics, 1948-1967, and materials accumulated from her service with the Democratic National Committee and the Michigan State Central Committee.

The collection has been arranged into the following series: Correspondence; Press Materials; Speeches; Miscellaneous Materials; Organizational Activities; State and Local Politics; National Politics; Printed Materials; and Photographs.


Neil Staebler papers, 1944-1992

319.5 linear feet — 2 oversize volumes — 12.4 GB (online)

Ann Arbor, Michigan, businessman and attorney, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee, U. S. Congressman-at-large, 1963-1964, gubernatorial candidate in 1964, member of the U. S. Federal Election Commission, 1975-1978. Chronological, congressional and topical files relating to political and personal activities; include political files detailing state election campaigns 1948-1964, particularly the campaigns of G. Mennen Williams and John B. Swainson; also photographs and transcript of oral interview, 1979.

Neil Staebler first began donating his files to the Michigan Historical Collections of the University of Michigan in 1961 following his eleven year tenure as chairman of the Democratic Party State Central Committee. Periodically thereafter and continuing into the 1970s, Staebler continued to add to his collection with Congressional papers (1963-1964), campaign files when he ran for governor in 1964, topical records created from his years of service with the Democratic National Committee (see attached vita), and records from his term as commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (1975-1978).

This collection comprised of twelve series documents Staebler's career and the course of Democratic politics since World War II. Since Staebler was principally an organizer of campaigns, a behind-the-scenes manager who preferred to handle the details of an election rather than to step into the candidate's spotlight himself, the collection concerns all phases of a successful campaign not just the posturings of the party's candidates. There is, for example, much information relating to the day-to-day operations of the party, i.e. fund-raising activities, the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, the formulation of the party's platform and related resolutions at the Spring and Fall conventions, and the activities of party-related special interest organizations.


Richard C. Van Dusen Papers, 1954-1972

9 linear feet

State Republican politician, aide and political advisor to George Romney, legal advisor to the governor and later undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development. Material concerning his campaign for the state attorney general's office in 1956, the elections of 1960, 1962, 1964, and 1968, and the state constitutional convention, 1961-1963; and files detailing his career in Washington at HUD.

The papers of Richard Van Dusen reflect his public career and his close involvement with George Romney. The papers divide themselves into two series. Political and Legislative Files relates to his own political career and to his association with state Republican party politics and his relationship with Governor George Romney. The other series concerns his work with Romney within the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Rollo G. Conlin Papers, 1948-1966

5 linear feet

Republican state representative from Tipton, Michigan, 1945-1967; member of the House Ways and Means Committee; chairman of the Committee on General Taxation; the State Tax Study Commission, 1957-1959; and the Joint House and Senate Committee on Constitutional Implementation. Correspondence, reports, subject files, sound recordings, and other papers largely relating to problems of state taxation in the administrations of G. Mennen Williams and John B. Swainson.

The collections has been arranged into the following series: Correspondence; Speeches and press releases; Taxation Legislation and related background information; Other Legislative Matters; Committee on Statutory Implementation of the Constitution; Visual Materials; and Sound Recordings.


Theodore Souris papers, 1946-1968 (majority within 1960-1968)

34 linear feet

Michigan Supreme Court justice; court files, 1960-1968, clippings, 1960 campaign materials, audio-tapes, and photographs; also University of Michigan student notebooks on courses in history and economics taught by Dwight L. Dumond, Howard M. Ehrmann, William Haber, Lewis G. Vander Velde, and William B. Willcox.

The Souris papers, except for a few volumes of student notebooks from his classes at the University of Michigan, consist of files maintained as a Michigan Supreme Court Justice. As the collection only recently opened to research, there is at present only box level control of the contents of the collection.


Wilber M. Brucker Papers, 1877-1968

54 linear feet — 2 oversize folders — 22 GB (online)

Prosecuting attorney of Saginaw County, Michigan, attorney general of Michigan, 1929-1931, governor, 1931-1932, general counsel to the Department of Defense during the Army-McCarthy Hearing, 1954-1955, and Secretary of the Army, 1955-1961. Correspondence, speeches, tapes, appointment books, scrapbooks, photograph albums, newspaper clippings, and other materials concerning his political career.

The Wilber M. Brucker Collection consists of correspondence, subject files, scrapbooks, tape recordings, visual materials, political ephemera, and other materials from a lifelong career in public service. The collection provides significant, though not always extensive, material on his activities as state attorney general, governor, and secretary of the army. In addition, the papers include documentation from Brucker's private career: his law practice, his involvement in the preparation of a plan for the reapportionment of the Michigan Legislature, his devotion to Republican Party causes, his activities with the Knights Templar of Michigan, and as a member of the World War I Rainbow Division. With some exceptions, the early phases of Brucker's life are not as well represented as one might hope. There is really no body of Brucker gubernatorial materials extant. What remains are scattered items, largely concerning the election campaigns of 1930 and 1932.

The collection has been arranged into twelve series: Biographical; Correspondence; Family Papers; Subject Files; Knights Templar; Rainbow Division; Appointment Books; Speeches; Secretary of the Army; Newspaper Clippings; Personal: Albums, Scrapbooks, etc.; and Visual Materials.