Archive for April 2009

Wayne County Probate Records post-1901

April 24, 2009

I have a final answer on the post 1901 case files from Wayne County Probate.  In talking with the probate registrar, Jeanne Takenaga, (313) 224-5725, Wayne County retains possession of all post 1901 case files and is not interested in transferring at this time.

To requests post 1901 files, researchers need to go  to and click on the “forms” link and select *Fax Request to Review Files (WCPC29)

They need to fill this out and fax to the register.  Jeanne said the turn-around time is about a week.


Archives of Michigan History

April 1, 2009

1828 – Historical Society of Michigan founded by Lewis Cass as a private corporation. It operated until 1861. (Valerie Gerrard Browne and David Jerome Johnson, A Guide to the State Archives of Michigan: State Archives, pg. 296. “Historical Society of Michigan” by Elizabeth S. Adams – found in Library of Michigan vertical file on “Historical Society of Michigan.”)

1874 – Historical Society of Michigan re-formed as Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. Private, but received some support from the state. (Browne and Johnson, pg. 296)

1911 – Chase Osborn vetoes appropriations for the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. He argues that the state shouldn’t fund a private organization. (Michigan History, vol. 48, pg. 97)

1913 – Courts ruled that the Legislature could not appropriate state funds to a private agency. As a result, the Michigan Historical Commission was formed later that year. The Commission officially sponsored the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, which then became fully funded by the state. The Society and the Commission worked together until 1963, when the Society became a separate entity. (Browne and Johnson, pp. 296-297; Michigan History, vol. 48, pg. 97.).

1914 – George Fuller appointed “archivist and assistant editor.” Fuller was also Executive Secretary of the Commission from 1914-1946. (Martha Mitchell Bigelow, “A History of the State Archives in Michigan,” in The Role of Archives in the Community They Serve, pg. 41)

1917 – Floyd Streeter appointed archivist, at a salary of $1,000. (Bigelow, pg. 43. On pg. 44, Bigelow calls Streeter “first archivist.” Not sure why it’s Streeter and not Fuller. Streeter is the first one specifically cited as an archivist in the Michigan Manual.)

1926 – Floyd Streeter leaves. (Bigelow, pg. 44. Dates also correspond with Streeter’s name in the Michigan Manuals.)

Apparently, no designated archivists between 1926-1951 (None mentioned by Bigelow, anyway.)

1947 – Archives moved onto mezzanine floor of State Office Building. It had previously been stored on the fifth floor, which Bigelow calls “more fireproof.” (Bigelow, pg. 48).

February 1951 – State Office Building Fire.

1951 – “Trained archivist hired.” (Michigan History, vol. 41, 1957, pg. 433) This person is not specifically named in Michigan History or by Martha Bigelow. It may be either Phil Mason or Vernon Beal. Mason writes two “Reports from the State Archives” in Volume 39 (1955) of Michigan History. Bigelow notes that the new position is prompted by the State Office Building fire. (Bigelow, pg. 49.)

1953 – “Second trained archivist hired.” (Michigan History, vol. 41, 1957, pg. 433.) Once again, the person is not named. It may perhaps be George S. May, Vernon Beal or Phil Mason. All were apparently on staff by 1958 (See Michigan History, vol. 43, pg. 479.)

1953- State begins construction of records center. Archives is then moved into that building – Bigelow, pg. 50. (I haven’t found mention of the year of the move.)

1955 – Phil Mason hires Geneva Kebler to work in the State Archives.  Geneva came to the Archives  from the State Library, where she worked from 1946-1955. (Per oral history interview with Geneva Kebler Wiskemann.)

1958 – “The Archival Assistant, Miss Geneva Kebler, assumed the responsibilities formerly performed by Dr. Philip Mason, except for the examination of state records in the office of origin, which work, as has been said, was taken over by Mr. Vernon Beal… Miss Kebler is assisted in the internal administration of the archives by Mrs. Elizabeth Rademacher, accessions clerk, and Mrs. Aleta Johnson, stenographer.” (Michigan History, vol. 43, pg. 486). George S. May is also listed as a “research archivist” (ibid, pp. 484-485.

1959 – The following are listed among Historical Commission staff: “Vernon Beal, archivist; George May, research archivist; Geneva Kebler, archives executive.” (Michigan History 44, pg. 405)

1961 – Bruce C. Harding replaces Vernon Beal as archivist (Michigan History, vol. 45, pg. 168)

1962 – Western Michigan University becomes the first regional depository. (Bigelow, pg. 53.)

1963 – Michigan Historical Society becomes a separate entity from Michigan Historical Commisssion

1965 – Regional depository agreements signed with Michigan Technological University, Central Michigan University and Oakland University. (Bigelow, pg. 53.)

1966 – Department of State’s Division of History created as a result of the Executive Reorganization Act of 1965 (The Act was in turn prompted by requirements under the new state constitution.). State Archives transferred to the new Division of History. Michigan Historical Commission becomes an advisory body to the Division. (Michigan History, vol. 49, pg. 370; Bigelow, pg. 53)

1966 – Dennis R. Bodem appointed first official State Archivist. Margaret Evans Gray appointed assistant archivist. (Michigan History, vol. 50, pg. 383)

1967 – Margaret Evans Gray replaced by Steven Zamiara. (Michigan History, vol. 51, pg. 276.)

1973 – Geneva Kebler Wiskeman retires after twenty-seven years of service with the State. Dennis Bodem transferred from Archives to Museum. Steven Zamiara “took a leave of absence to accept an unclassified government position with another department.” A new State Archivist appointed (Presumably, David Olson, although he is not named.). David Johnson appointed “assistant state archivist for state records.” (Michigan History, vol. 57, pg. 25 and vol. 58, pg. 90)

1974 – Martin McLaughlin appointed “Archives local records specialist.” (Michigan History 58, pg. 90). Per Leroy Barnett (conversation of 10/17/2006): Leroy Bartnett starts work in Archives Feb. 15, 1974. He told me that David Olson and David Johnson were already here, and he believes that they both started working here the previous month.

1982 – David Johnson appointed State Archivist. (Open Entry: Newsletter of the Michigan Archival Association. Volume 33, no. 2 [Fall, 2005], pg. 8. This date is consistent with listings in the State telephone directories.)

1988 – move from Record Center to new Michigan Library and Historical Center.

1989 – Archives opens in new location at Michigan Library and Historical Center.

1996 – Martin McLaughlin dies of lung cancer.

1997 – Leroy Barnett and John Curry retire (This information, per various conversations with staff.)

2001 – Department of History, Arts and Libraries created by Governor John Engler. The Michigan Historical Center, including the Archives, is moved to the new Department.

2005 – David Johnson retires. Mark Harvey appointed State Archivist.

2006 – Name changed from “State Archives of Michigan” to “Archives of Michigan.”

-Bob Garrett