Marquette, Michigan businessman, Democratic state senator, and Republican regent of the University of Michigan. Letterbooks and correspondence relating to activities in the Democratic Party in Michigan, particularly in the Upper Peninsula, to his service within the state legislature, and to state and national elections, 1876-1896; also correspondence and other records concerning his extensive business interests that include Northern Michigan iron, insurance, banking, and general investments.
The collection documents the development of the economy of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from the perspective of one of its pioneer entrepreneurs. Through correspondence and other business records, there is documentation of White's extensive business interests in Northern Michigan iron, insurance, and banking. Other portions of the collection concern his service in the state legislature and his involvement in state and national elections, 1876-1896.
Peter White's correspondence, the largest portion of the collection, has been divided into two series: correspondence/business papers and insurance correspondence. The papers for 1850-1853 deal with White's activities as clerk for Robert Graveraet. Also discussed in this early period are legal matters with some material on his work as postmaster and various family matters. The correspondence for 1854-1862 deals with early mining companies with whom he had association and provides some information about the financial aspect of various organizations. White acted as a marketing agent for several companies and this aspect is covered well. The term served by White in the state legislature is covered very sparsely.
Beginning in 1863 White activities expand to encompass insurance and banking concerns. While the iron interest is well represent in the papers for 1863-1873, insurance and banking occupy an increasingly important place. After 1874, White's insurance business is heavily represented in the correspondence. Banking also continues to occupy an important place but the iron companies are far less frequently a subject of discussion. Local politics is also discussed in the correspondence for 1874-1891. As someone who had been actively engaged in politics and public service, White commented on state and national election campaigns from the 1870s to the 1890s. Most notable are letters exchanged pertaining to the campaign of Williams Jennings Bryan in the presidential election of1896. Beginning in 1902, the insurance correspondence decrease and the investment phase of White's career make itself evident. After 1900 correspondence with the University of Michigan and its history department becomes more important.
The remainder of the collection consists of Business Records, divided between folder records and bound records. Each of these series includes records of specific companies with whom Peter White was associated. These include the Phenix Iron Mining Company, the Michigan God Company, the Manhard-Jopling Company, the Lake Superior Leather Company, and the Schoolcraft Iron Company.