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Norm Lyon Papers, 1920, 1991, and undated

10 cubic feet (in 12 boxes, 3 Oversized folders)

The papers include photographic materials, and papers about Norm Lyon's personal and family life, his work as an oil field reporter and photographer for the MIchigan Oil and Gas News (MOGN), and his work as a photographer for the Mount Pleasant Daily Times News.

The collection consists of two main types of formats, photographic materials and papers. The photographic materials include: film negatives, strip negatives (multiple images on 35 mm film negatives), single image negatives, photographs, photograph and negative albums, transparencies, and paste-ups (for MOGN publications). The papers include: correspondence, reports, articles, newspaper clippings, obituaries, maps, and other materials.

The collection has materials from 1929-1930, 1933-1956, 1959-1977, 1979-1985, 1987-1989, 1991, and undated materials of this time period. Many undated negatives can be dated to the 1930s by the size and format of the negative material. Other papers in the collection that predate 1929 are in reality either later (ca.1960s) copies of pre-1929 materials or later (ca. 1950-1960s) notes about times prior to 1929.

The smallest part of the collection documents Norm Lyon’s family, mostly in negatives. Documented here are his wife, Phyllis, children, JoAnn and Dick, their pet dog, “Rip”, relatives, friends, and home life. The children are well documented as infants, at Christmas, 1937, 1940-1941, in Halloween costumes, on family vacations, particularly to Niagara Falls, 1941, and Leonidas (Mich.), while camping, playing with little friends and Rip, in the snow, or with their favorite toys. Phyllis is documented with the children, particularly when they were babies and toddlers, with lady friends working on craft projects, on vacation, and in general sitting and knitting. Norm is rarely photographed except for when he broke his leg and a few portrait shots, all undated The whole family is documented on vacations, camping or at Leonidas (Mich.), at Christmas, playing cards, and while visiting with friends and relatives. Most of the images are negatives and date from approximately 1935 to 1945. A few photographs, probably of the Lyon family or their friends and relatives also are included in the collection, notably in weddings, graduations, or anniversary photographs. None of these photographs are identified.

Civic and other organizations in which Norm was active, particularly the Mount Pleasant Kiwanis Club and the Pere Marquette Club, are documented in both negatives and photographs.

Norm’s work with the Mount Pleasant Daily Times recorded life in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding central Michigan area. Most of the images are negatives and include downtown Mount Pleasant parades, Christmas and Halloween decorations, downtown events and sales, politics, juries, veterans, meetings of various boards, the Indian Hall Dedication of July 7, 1940, Isabella County Fairs, 1947-1948 and 1956, the dedication of the new airport, the opening of Island Park swimming pool, paving streets, city offices, police (both state and local), accidents, fires, various clubs and civic groups particularly the Boy and Girl Scouts, American Legion, Archery Club, Elks Club, 4-H and FFA, Jaycees, Kiwanis, and Lions Club, as well as the local schools and sports teams, and the widening of US-127.

Other Michigan localities documented in negatives include the Pre-Edenville Dam, 1941, Reed City, 1940 (?), Ithaca, 1935, 1937, the Arenac Salt Plant, 1940, and Barrier Salt (Armada), 1966.

Central Michigan University (CMU) is documented as well. Negatives of the Cornerstone Ceremony at Rachel Tate Hall, 1956, the Construction of the Arts and Crafts Building, 1947, are included. Other images of note include the College Hop, 1936, Doc. Sweeney’s Gym[nastics] Troupe, 1942, the Football Team, 1934 and ca.1930s, Homecoming, including football players and a parade, 1935, as well as practice session negatives of both men’s baseball and women’s basketball, and the team image of the Men’s Basketball Team, 1942 are included. Photographs of CMU document most notably the Central State Training College Training School Fire of January. 8, 1933, general building images, and people, including the men’s baseball team, undated

Other unidentified negatives, probably documenting Mount Pleasant and the related area, include: suicides, squatters, farmers, agricultural scenes and products, and farm animals, hot air balloons, vehicles, trains, voting polls, buildings (interior and exterior shots), fires in general, and the Wolscheid Fire, 1948, in particular. Related photographs also mostly of the Mount Pleasant area, document children, buildings, the Kiwanis Club, street paving, snow storms, city vehicles, and the Chippewa Centennial Queen and Runner-up, 1967.

The largest group of negatives, as well as some of the photographs, documents oil exploration and production businesses in Michigan, 1930s-1980s.

Within the oil topics, a large number of negatives and photographs, 1930s-1970s, document men, most of whom are in groups wearing suits, usually holding drinks and cigarettes. While most of these men are unidentified, some are partially identified and other photographs or negatives are dated. It is highly likely that they all are attending Association meetings. One particular set of negatives shows men at the Mount Pleasant Country Club, watching a couple of go-go dancers, 1966.

Other negatives show groups of men who were probably connected with the oil industry relaxing, at meetings, playing cards, fishing, golfing, or hunting. A funny negative shows a group of men dressed up as women golfers. Numerous other images show men in groups either working in or visiting oil fields. The negatives of men in groups span 1935 through 1975, and undated. The photographs of men in groups span the 1960s.

There are also a smaller number of negatives of men who are working in fields unrelated to the oil business, such as in general stores.

Lastly, there are a number of negatives, 1930s-1970s, and some photographs, 1960s, of individual men in the Men-Portraits folders, some of which are identified either by surname or date. While a number of the men may be well known in the oil industry, the most famous central Michigan names associated with the Purple Gang are Isaiah Leebove, circa 1937, and Jack Livingston, undated, circa 1930s, both documented in photographs. Another famous Michigander is Spikehorn [John E.] Meyer (d. 1956) of Harrison, Michigan, 1940s, undated (photographed with his pet deer and bear, and people, including children). Spikehorn is documented in negatives and a few photographs.

A few Michigan politicians are also found in the collection, probably while campaigning, and include governors Soapy [G. Mennen] Williams and Kim Sigler (in negatives) and George Romney (in photographs).

The largest and arguably the most important part of the collection documents the oil exploration and production business throughout the state of Michigan, 1930s-1970s. A few images of the oil business in Texas, Florida, Ohio, and Illinois are also included.

The collection documents in detail the entirety of the oil business, from maps, drilling, core samples, construction of rigs, storage tanks, shipping oil, fires and other disaster, to seismology. Changes and developments in field equipment are recorded, from horse-drawn vehicles, wooden derricks, and using tractor-powered vehicles to sink well pipes to diesel-powered equipment and full-scale production refineries.

Major topics related to the oil exploration and production business in Michigan are well documented by negatives in the collection. These topics include the Association meetings, parties, and other outings, usually baseball or golf, 1940-1974, undated, and Buildings and Plants, most of which are identified, including non-Michigan locations. Plants with a large number of images include: Gaylord, 1967-1971; Gulf-Bateson, 1935, 1940-1942, undated, Gulf-Bay City, 1939-1941, undated and Gulf-General, 1941; Hilliard’s in Roscommon County and Vogel Centre, 1941, 1967; Kalkaska, including Shell Oil Co., 1969-1972, 1974; McClure (various locations), 1966, 1969-1971 and 1975; Porter fields, 1933, 1936, 1939-1940, undated; Pure Oil Co., 1930s, 1936, 1939-1940, undated; Reed City (MI), 1941, Roosevelt Refinery, Mount Pleasant, 1940, 1943, 1947, undated; Saginaw, 1937, 1941, 1975, undated; Shell Oil Co., 1970-1974; Sun Oil Co., 1940-1941, 1965-1966; Tekonsha, Michigan,1966-1967, 1969; and Wise Township (Isabella County), 1940-1941, undated.

Other oil business subjects well documented by negatives include Derricks, both identified and dated, 1930s-1970s, and those neither identified nor dated, including rigs blown down, destroyed, off-shore, and tilting. Fires are also well documented, particularly the Roosevelt fire, 1933, Six Lakes fire, 1974, Struble Well fire, 1934, and the Woods Well fire, circa 1930s. Gas and Gas Plants, Gushers, and Land Leases, Sales, and Landsmen are fairly well documented. The Oil Expos[itions] of 1935-1937 are well documented, showing various exhibiters, their equipment, signs, salesmen, and attendees. Oil Scouts, Pipes, Pumps, and Storage Tanks are also documented. Negatives of refineries, mostly undated, which are well documented included McClanahan Refinery, Toledo Pipe Refinery (Ohio), 1935-1936, and Total Refinery (probably located in Alma. Well sites are well documented in Buckeye, 1936-1938, Durbin, 1935, and Sherman Rocks, 1937.

Brine and gas exploration, laying of lines or pipes, plants and gas stations are also documented, mostly by negatives.

The oil business is also documented in photographs, which mostly dated from the 1960s. Buildings and Plants documented here include Bay Refining Co., and Belle River Gas, 1967, Simrall Pipeline Corp., and Durbin Station. Other topics covered include: Core Samples; Derricks, including Hilliard and McCloud for 1961; Fires, 1961-1963, Florida (Orange County), 1965; Gushers; McClure Drilling Co., Equipment on a Ferryboat, 1961, Pumps; Sinkholes, Storage Tanks; and Wells Sites, including Off-Shore sites.

The Transparencies also document the oil business in Michigan. The Slides nearly all document the oil business in the early 1970s, including the Crawford Well Fire, 1976; Derricks; Kalkaska; seismology, rigs, equipment, fires, core samples, pumps, storage tanks, various people, McClure, equipment, etc.

The partial reels of 35 mm film all are labeled in some form. One partial reel found in Box 11 appears to be personal. Otherwise, all the partial reels in Box 12 document an oil hearing, 1971-1973, McClure, Natural Resource Commission, etc.

The Oversized Folders include photographs (2 folders) and paste-ups (1 folder), all related to Norm’s publishing work with the oil industry.

The Papers are a small part of the collection. Found here are articles and reprints of articles about the Michigan oil business; an oil drilling notebook reports, maps, and other oil related materials. Pigeon River, and the blowout at Williamsburg, 1973-1974 are specifically documented here. The rest of the Papers documents Norm Lyons in biographical information, including correspondence, obituaries notices (of Norm and Phyllis), newspaper clippings, notes, and speeches, and information about the Mount Pleasant Kiwanis Club, particularly their 50th Anniversary in 1983. Other people, probably his friends or oil associates are documented briefly in correspondence and newspaper clippings.

Processing Note: This was a challenging collection to process for several reasons. First, it arrived in a state of complete disorder. Many of the images, negatives and positives, were without any form of identification. Secondly, a number of negatives were often in one wax-paper sleeve with either little or no identifying information or a lot of information that did not always seem to apply to the contents. For example one sleeve might have 15 negatives of different men and the names of only two men on it. Norm’s writing was often difficult to read, particularly when he used his own style of abbreviations. Students and Marian tried mightily to identify and read his notations. Also, some of the photographs were identified by Norm as belonging to various years. As we could, we maintained that grouping. That is why there are photographs in a folder 1965-1967 (we do not know which individual photographs date from which year) and other photographs in a folder strictly labeled 1967 only. Simply sleeving the collection took nearly three months while sorting it took longer. Some items were identifiable only using a lightbox and loupe.


Organizational records, 1944-2012, and undated

5 cubic ft. (in 6 boxes, 2 Oversized v., 1 Ov. folder)

The collection documents the history of the MOWA, through meeting minutes, photographs, and scrapbooks.

The collection, 1044-2012, and undated, totals 5 cubic feet (in 6 boxes, 2 Oversized v., 1 Ov. folder), and documents the history of the MOWA, through meeting minutes, photographs, and scrapbooks. Central Michigan University is mentioned in connection with MOWA for helping celebrate the 20th anniversary (see Folder 1964). All the boxes in the collection are .5 cubic foot letter-size boxes. Loose materials in the backs of the scrapbooks were sorted, sleeved, and are in Box #6.

The collection is organized by size and then alphabetically and chronologically.

A history of the organization is separately cataloged.

ALLERGY ALERT: Researchers, please be aware that here is a strong mildew smell throughout the collection. If you suffer from allergies, please take precautions before using the collection.

Processing Note: Two cubic feet of materials were removed from the collection during processing including: duplicates, acidic materials (copies were retained), membership applications, generic correspondence.


Traverse City (Michigan) Photographic collection, 1850, 1969, and undated

7.5 cubic feet (in 15 boxes)

The collection includes photographic materials, papers, photographs, and postcards, mostly of the Traverse City, Michigan, area and other cities, towns, lumber camps, mines, and locks in Michigan.

This collection consists mostly of glass-plate negatives, film negatives, and glass positive slides; arranged in order by format and size. Some papers, photographs, and postcards complete the collection. Ormond S. Danford, a lawyer in Traverse City, Michigan, collected these materials. At least some of the photographs and glass-plate negatives are signed by S. E. Wait. It is possible that some of the unsigned images in the collection were created by Wait, but this cannot be verified. There are also a few items from at least one other unidentified photographer in this collection. In Box 15 a number of people in the photographs of Traverse City and the Traverse City State Hospital folders are identified as members of the Berkwith family. This would indicate that whether or not Wait originally photographed the Berkwiths, the family gave or sold their photograph collection to Danford.

Series I consists of 256 glass-plate negatives, Boxes 1-9 (4.5 cubic feet), and each plate measures 6.5 x 8.5 inches unless otherwise noted. Only one of the images is dated, 1900; the rest probably date from 1850 to 1900, but are undated. Most of these negatives are formal portraits in which the people photographed are dressed in their very best clothes. Plaid dresses were very popular as were lacy scarves for ladies and girls. One little boy is proudly dressed in a kilt and tartan (Glass-plate negative #68). Most of the men are in three piece suits with small ties, and sport beards and mustaches. These portraits were taken in the same studio setting with the same furniture and props. Single portraits of men and of women, and group photographs of family members, children, and women, and one of two men boxing with boxing gloves, are also in the portraits. The few portraits which are exceptions to this show props in the background, are not centered, show partial images of other people in the background or are double portraits. One portrait of a woman (#101) has suffered extreme emulsion damage and loss. A scanned print has been generated for use and the glass-plate negative, while retained in the collection, should not be used by researchers. One portrait is clearly that of Myron E. Haskell (#35), Assistant Postmaster of Traverse City, as shown in Old settlers of the Grand Traverse Region, p.15. Most of the images probably date from the 1860s-1900 based on hair styles and clothing. Five portraits may date from the 1850s because of the earlier hair styles and clothing (#17, 51, and 94, which are portraits of women; and #34 and 46, which are portraits of men).

Five glass-plate negatives in this group are not portraits. These include: #29 Five floral wreaths; one labeled Hose Co. No. 3, one labeled G.A.R.-In Memorium McPherson Post No. 118-Traverse City, 8 x 10 inches; #79 Aerial view of houses, trees, and some industrial buildings. “S. E. Wait Photo” in lower right corner, 5 x 8 inches; #80 Trees in foreground on hills, town in background, 5 x 8 inches; #88 “Traverse City from Bill Org’s heights.” Trees with water in background. Emulsion peeling off right side, some already lost, 5 x 8 inches; and #89 “London Rally Decorations. Aug. 5th, 1900. Cong’l [Congregational] Church, Traverse City, Mich. S. E. Wait, Photo.” Interior view of church from rear with pews, walls and ceiling draped with various flags, 5 x 8 inches. (A positive of the interior of the Congregational Church is in Box 15.)

Most of the glass-plate negatives are in pretty good shape. Some plates suffer from various degrees of emulsion damage, scratches, and/or have edges or sections broken off them. A few have black outlines around the person in the portrait. Many appear to have had paper pasted on their backs at one time. Most group images were photographed with the plate horizontally, while one or two people are usually photographed on the plate vertically.

It would be logical from the assumed date of the images in Series I, 1850-1900, to assume that Wait, probably the only local photographer at the time, photographed and developed these images.

Series II consists of the remainder of the 240 glass-plate negatives and 100 film negatives in Boxes 10-13 (2 cubic feet). The film negatives are mostly undated, but some of the glass-plate negatives are dated between 1891 and 1916. The glass-plate negatives and some of the film were interfiled in the original boxes and so have not been separated into different series. Sizes of glass-plate negatives vary from 6 x 2 inches to 2.75 x 4 inches. The topic matter varies in this series and includes: images of towns, boats, people, horses and buggies, lumbering and logs, a stuffed eagle, cottages, and a wedding, as well as views from boats looking towards shore. Again, most of these are in good condition with minor scratches or emulsion damage to the plates. There are also images of published drawings, poems, and paintings where the published date is 1879-1894; as well as images taken of two stereoscopic view, one of which is identified as the Chicago Fire, 1871, taken by J. H. Abbott, Photographer (in Box 12). Some of the glass-plate negatives are identified by location name, including: Traverse City, Karlin, Hawkins’ Point, Cannon Creek, Old Mission Point, most of which are located near Traverse City, and various places on Mackinaw Island, Fort Mackinaw, Marquette Ore Docks, and two of Lighthouse Point (perhaps at St. Ignace). Many of the glass-plate negatives are not dated, but those with dates range from 1891 to 1916. Some are signed by S. E. Wait.

The 100 film negatives, all undated and all turn of the century 1899/1900, are in Box 13, folders 4-10 and vary in size from 4 x 5 inches to 4 x 4 inches. The negatives came from a set of identified boxes. The first box (Folder 4), identified as Minnie and Frank’s wedding trip, include 18 film negatives all 4 x 5 inches, all undated, mostly of the Soo Locks, Mackinaw Island, Fort Mackinac and buildings. Folders 5 (measuring 4 x 5 inches) and Folder 6 (Measuring 3 x 6 inches) were identified as Bangilt Cottage and Duck Point and include 16 undated, unidentified film negatives mainly of people by cabins and houses in the woods and nature views. Folder 7 includes 4 negatives of various sizes identified as the Onsmore Home and Boat. The same house is in three of the images and may be the Onsmore home. The remaining image is of people in a row boat called the Sea Gull. Folders 8-10 include 60 undated negatives of varying size from the Copper Country Trip box. These negatives are mostly of people and a town, although there are two of mining equipment. The last five images in Folder 10 are images of published photographs including a statue of Fr. Marquette, Lake Linden’s Congregational Church, Hancock’s Congregational Church, and Red Jacket Shaft, C. and H. Mining Co., Calumet.

Box 14 is Series III and includes 37 positive Lumberjack slides. The original box was identified as Lumberjack Slides-S. E. Wait. The slides are made by two pieces of glass held together with black paper, sometimes with tape. Some of the slides are identified, some have “U.S. Department of Agriculture” printed on them, others have handwritten notation, others have published text, including some from Chicago, and some slides are unidentified. Sometimes the slide with the text is reversed and very difficult to read. Some of the slides have ornate detail around the edges indicating that it was purchased rather than created by Wait. It is possible that Wait photographed some of the images while employed by the Agriculture Department, and they were later available for purchase by the public. The slides mostly document lumbermen, ox and horse teams, loads of logs, lumber camps, interiors of buildings, people in and by camps, lumberyards and sawmills, lumber locomotives and trains, machinery in mills, floating logs, log jams, lumber teams, sawyers, a cook house, and a lumberjack bunkhouse. At least one slide (#3 in Box 14) is of a log jam on the St. Croix River, St. Croix Falls, WI, 1886. Identified site locations are: Chorron’s Camp, west of Grayling; near Traverse City; Saginaw; and Queen Dam on Middle Branch of the Cedar [River]. A load of logs is identified as “Fine Norway Pine” and another as “The White Pine King” giving age: 423 years, height: 207 feet, and feet scaled: 29800.

The last box, Box 15 (.5 cubic foot), is Series IV and includes Papers, Photographs, and Postcards mostly documenting Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Fife Lake, Michigan. Dated materials range from pre-1898 through 1969, but most of the materials are undated. Of note here are the Aetna School Board District Meeting Minutes, 1877-1912 (1 volume) of Mecosta County, Michigan; Grand Traverse Historical Society Meeting Minutes, May 20, 1954-March 27, 1969; and photographs of Traverse City and its State Hospital, 1895, and undated, in which members of the Berkwith family are identified.