University of Michigan scientific research center. Office files relating to the activities of the unit, and to the research divisions that IST administered, notably the Willow Run Laboratories, the Great Lakes and Marine Waters Center, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and others.
The records of the Institute of Science and Technology of the University of Michigan cover the period 1959 to 1987, from the establishment of the unit to the year of its regentally-approved reorganization. Scattered documents prior to 1959 and after 1987 will be found, but not in great quantity.
The record group consists of thirteen series. Except for some modifications and combining of similar materials, these are series that were maintained by the institute office. Types of documents present within these series include memoranda, reports, minutes of meetings, budgetary and financial papers, correspondence, proposal and grant documents, subject files, and photographs. The researcher should note that much material was retained by the IST office at the time of the 1989 transfer of records to the library. Thus, records for expected areas of interest might still be in the possession of IST. Periodic additions to this record group are expected.
Although of obvious value for its documentation of the history and activities of IST, the records of the institute have prime interest for the researcher interested in the study of research at a major educational institution. In particular, the records of IST document the development of the relationship between a university and state and national governments for the purpose of fostering research in areas deemed mutually advantageous. On the national level, especially in the 1960s, this research centered on areas of national defense and environmental study. On the state level, research was intended to improve the economy: to develop the state's technological and industrial base, thereby reducing the debilitating consequences of depression and unemployment that had periodically plagued Michigan's one-industry economy.
Of some value for the study of the content of research undertaken under IST auspices, the records here are of greater importance for the study of the environment required for research programs to be successful. The specifics of research will be found in scientific notebooks, laboratory experiments, and published studies. The IST records document a different story: the need to search out, administer, and balance competing requests for funding, space, equipment, and trained personnel. The IST files, in effect, document the management of research.
Beyond these research possibilities, the records of IST are illustrative of the changing patterns of technological research over the past thirty years. Founded with specific economic goals in mind, IST (with the administrative transfer of Willow Run Laboratories) managed programs having national defense implications. With the completion of these programs, and especially as the university ceased its responsibility for Willow Run, IST turned to areas of new research or areas of special significance to Michigan (perhaps the most notable examples being in the areas of highway safety and water-related research).