The Museums was comprised of the Museums of Anthropology, Zoology, and Paleontology, the Herbarium, and the Museum of Natural History (formerly, the Exhibit Museum). The record group consists of committee files; records related to the construction of the Museums building, including correspondence with architect Albert Kahn; topical files of directors including Alexander Ruthven and Carl Guthe; and topical files of Irving G. Reimann, prefect of exhibits.
The records of the University of Michigan Museums measure four linear feet (and one oversize folder) and date from 1863 to 1976. The great majority of the material, however, falls between 1930 and 1970. The files have been arranged alphabetically.
The bulk of the material consists of files created from two sources: various committees involved in the Museums' governance or Irving Reimann. The committee records are detailed and are particularly complete for the Operating Committee (1945-1956). This committee's documentation is supplemented by various other committee records.
Most of the records created by Reimann relate to the planning or construction of exhibits, as well as the public role of the Museums. This material makes up the bulk of the non-committee files, supplemented by an extensive run of reports (1935-1969). A few records created before Reimann's appointment also exist. These are generally items authored by either Guthe or Ruthven. Of particular interest from Ruthven's era are files (located under "Building") discussing the construction of the Museums building between 1925 and 1928. Records include substantive correspondence between Ruthven and the building's architect, Albert Kahn. Guthe is represented by the Works Progress Administration's Michigan Museum project (located under "Works Progress Administration, Statewide Museum Project").