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A. Alfred Taubman papers, 1942-2014

220 linear feet (approximate; in 247 boxes) — 3 tubes — 20 oversize volumes — 12 panels — 25.6 GB (online)

A. Alfred Taubman was an entrepreneur, real estate developer and philanthropist. The Taubman collection consists of business and personal records documenting his development of retail and mixed-use real estate projects, his role as a leader in the real estate industry in Michigan and nationally, his transformation of Sotheby's, his investments and business interests, his contributions to the arts, to American educational institutions, and to the city of Detroit.

This collection documents the business and philanthropic activities of A. Alfred Taubman. While this collection is not a comprehensive archive of Taubman's business and personal activities, it offers a rich and abundant resource for researchers interested in the history of commercial real estate development and those interested in Taubman's varied business concerns and philanthropic work. The bulk of the materials date from the early 1960s to the mid-1990s and include both records created by Taubman and a number of staff members of The Taubman Company. The collection is organized into eight series:

  1. Shopping Centers/Commercial Development
  2. Industry Leadership
  3. Detroit Development
  4. Business Investments
  5. University Endowments
  6. Topical
  7. Personal
  8. Athena Azerbaijan and Russia Development Projects

Booker T. Washington Business Association records, 1941-1999 (majority within 1968-1971)

1.5 linear feet

Organization of Detroit African American business and professional men and women; scattered records of the organization including newsletters, directories, and topical files of some of the group’s presidents.

The record group has been arranged into four series: Background/Informational; President's Files; National Business League, and Wallace Williams File. Included are scattered business and membership directories, newsletters, and annual meeting programs; records of organization presidents Homer D. Waterman, Joseph W. Williams, and Wallace Williams; and files relating to its relations with the National Business League, 1968-1970.


Borman Family Papers, 1923-1991 (majority within 1960-1987)

7 linear feet — 1 oversize folder

The Borman Family is a prominent Detroit area Jewish-American family and is best known for opening a string of supermarket chains throughout southeastern Michigan. Farmer Jack Market was the most successful venture, but others before it included Food Fair and Savon. Founded by two Russian-born brothers, Borman's Inc. remained a family-run business until 1987 when Farmer Jack was sold to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P). This collection primarily represents the family business, but also covers the Borman Family's extensive involvement in the Detroit and Jewish-American communities.

The papers of the Borman Family relate primarily to their Detroit area supermarket chains and includes organizational papers related to Borman's Inc. and Farmer Jack. Substantial visual materials are to be found throughout the collection documenting all aspects of the business, but especially public relations activities. This collection also contains materials related to the Borman Family history and the Bormans' lives outside of the supermarket business.


Clippert Family papers, 1863-1962

2.5 linear feet — 1 oversize folder

Clippert family of Detroit, Michigan; family materials include letters and notes of Harrison F. Clippert while serving with the 65th Coast Artillery Corps during World War I; also papers relating to Clippert Brick Company, a family business started by Conrad J. Clippert.

The Clippert papers are divided into nine series, six of which are organized under individual family members. The other three deal with the Clippert Brick Company and various Miscellanea and Photographs.


Ellis B. Merry papers, 1907-1989

2 linear feet — 1 oversize folder

Senior and executive vice president of the National Bank of Detroit, later chairman of the board. The collection concerns business activities, personal interests, and travels. Included are business and personal correspondence, journals, travel materials, and other materials relating in part to his interest in amateur radio.

The Ellis B. Merry Personal Papers were assembled by Merry during his lifetime and include a number of documents from his years spent at the National Bank of Detroit. The collection, as arranged by his stepdaughter, Jean Dodenhoff, focuses primarily on his business activities, personal interests and travels. Materials found here include business and personal correspondence, journals, lists, some legal documents and publications, commendation certificates, travel itineraries, chronologies, reports, and memorabilia. There are a significant number of photographs documenting the boards of directors on which he served as well as the bank-related activities in which he participated. The collection has been arranged into the following series: Business Activities; Personal Activities; Personal Journals; Travel; and Photographs.


Ferry Family (Dexter Ferry) papers, 1758-1989 (majority within 1855-1959)

23.5 linear feet (in 25 boxes) — 7 oversize volumes

A pioneer Detroit, Michigan family, established the Ferry Seed Company and other business enterprises, active in civic and cultural affairs. Papers document the family and its business, cultural, political and philanthropic activities.

The Ferry family papers document the rise to prominence of this family who first gained their fortune as seed merchants. The papers also reveal the workings of other Detroit businesses, the development of the Detroit Institute of Arts, turn-of-the-century Michigan politics, and the suburban development of Grosse Pointe. The papers span the years 1758 to 1989 with the bulk of the materials covering 1855 to 1959. The collection consists of: account books, ledgers, journals, and business reports; blue prints, deeds, titles, abstracts, and mortgages; correspondence (business and personal); appointment books, diaries, scrapbooks, and clippings; receipts and tax returns, photographs, and printed miscellanea. It is important to note that the Michigan Historical Collections does not house all extant Ferry materials. The donor, Dexter M. Ferry, III, retains possession of several early account books, ledgers, and journals related to D.M. Ferry & Co.; he also kept some family correspondence and virtually all photographs.

The Ferry family papers arrived at the Michigan Historical Collections in an order based on when the donor reviewed the materials. In the course of reprocessing, this order was altered, and an arrangement assigning primacy to the generation of Ferry who created the document was followed. This reprocessing has resulted in three series: Historical and Background, materials predating Dexter M. Ferry; Dexter M. Ferry; and Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. The few problems presented by overlap between generations are duly noted in the contents list. Within these generational series the materials are arrayed in business, personal, philanthropic, and political subseries. Given the natures of the family and the family business, the researcher should note that murkiness exists between subseries divisions. In general these dividing principles work well. They preserve Dexter M. Ferry, III's original order at the folder level while facilitating access by independent researchers.

The strengths of the Ferry collection are myriad. The family correspondence provide unique insight into a family which grew wealthy but remained close-knit. Especially interesting are the long runs of correspondence between Dexter M. Ferry and his mother, Lucy Ferry Crippen, and Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. and his mother, Addie Miller Ferry. The former run reveals much about the fluid society of late nineteenth-century Detroit, and the latter reflects the pressures of more rigidly defined social strictures. The correspondence between Ferry, Jr. and his sisters, Blanche Ferry Hooker and Queene Ferry Coonley, are illuminating on the handling of the family business in the changing economic climates of the twentieth century.

Some facets of the development of the Detroit business community are well documented as the family invested heavily in local real estate and business. The strengths of the present collection revolve around the Dexter M. Ferry, Jr. materials relating to business and finance in Detroit from 1920 to 1950, particularly the banking community's reaction to the crisis of the Depression. The links between automobile touring, the good roads movement, and the development of ancillary industries to support the burgeoning automotive industry are fairly well documented by Dexter M. Ferry, Jr.'s papers. Young Ferry's close association with the development of the Detroit Institute of Arts is extremely well documented and these papers provide a case study of twentieth century patronage.

A somewhat refracted view of Michigan politics at the turn of the twentieth century is provided through the scrapbooks and clippings on Dexter Ferry's failed campaign in 1900 for governor of the state. The papers are stronger in their documentation of Dexter Ferry, Jr.'s political involvement with the local governance of Grosse Pointe. Here the details of community control are thoroughly covered by correspondence, reports, and minutes.


Miller, Canfield, Paddock, and Stone records, 1902-1971

71 volumes — 2 folders (in 19 boxes) — 2 oversize volumes

Detroit law firm; minute books of various client businesses and philanthropic organizations; financial records; case logs; title opinions and abstracts.

The record group includes minute books and other records of client businesses and philanthropic organizations. These include land and realty organizations, notably the Palms Realty Co. and the Ernst Kern Co. There are also financial records of the firm, including registers containing billing records and case activity logs; record of hours; and volumes of title opinions and abstracts.


Plaza Land Corporation records, 1955-1962

2.5 linear feet

These records of the Plaza Land Corporation were accumulated and maintained by Edward R. Grace, secretary and member of the corporation's board of directors. The records, including minutes, memoranda, and correspondence, trace the development of what would become the Hotel Pontchartrain in Detroit. Within the records are files for the Corporation's various officers and directors, investors, and those otherwise closely associated with the project, including Detroit Mayor Albert E. Cobo, Conrad Hilton, Fred. C. Matthaei, H. Lynn Pierson, Douglas Roby, and Oscar Webber among others.


Todd Family Papers, 1862-1980 (majority within 1889-1980)

3.4 linear feet — 1 oversize volume

Family of Fred P. Todd and his son, J. Beecher Todd, officers with National Loan and Investment Company in Detroit, Michigan, and its successor institutions, Surety Savings and Loan Association, and Surety Federal Savings and Loan Association. The collection consists of personal papers, files relating to their activities with savings and loan institutions, and photographs.

The Todd Family Papers consist of three series: Personal, Savings and Loan Institutions, and Photographs.


Wallace C. Williams Papers, 1958-1992

1.25 linear feet

Detroit businessman active in numerous minority business affairs and organizations. Williams was director of the Michigan Division of Minority Business Enterprise within the Michigan Department of Commerce, 1959-1978. Biographical information, correspondence, files relating to his activities on behalf of minority business development, especially with the Minority Technology Council of Michigan; also files relating to involvement with Detroit civic and cultural organizations, and photographs.

The Wallace C. Williams Papers document various professional and personal activities and concerns of Wallace C. Williams, most notably those during his career at the Michigan Department of Commerce, Office of Minority Business Enterprise. The collection is comprised of a wide variety of materials documenting Williams' activities in a number of organizations and occupations concerned primarily with minority business affairs. The collection is divided into four series: Biographical/Personal; Correspondence; Michigan Department of Commerce, Office of Economic Expansion, Minority Business Development; and Miscellaneous/Organizations.

Of particular interest is the Michigan Department of Commerce series which documents Williams' activities during his tenure at the Michigan Department of Commerce, Office of Minority Business Enterprise. The material in that series reflects Williams' activities directly associated with his position in that office, and other projects in which Williams was active.