About University Archives and Historical Collections

University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC) cares for more than 160 years of Michigan State University's history. UAHC was established in 1969 to collect, preserve, and make accessible MSU's records of enduring historical and administrative value as detailed in the collecting policy. All materials must be used in the MSU Libraries Reading Room to protect and preserve them for use today and in the future.


From Michigan State University’s earliest years, university records have been collected and preserved on an informal basis by esteemed faculty, staff, and former presidents. These individuals felt that the history of the university was important to maintain, even if there was no office officially responsible for that duty. These college historians included T. C. Abbot, William James Beal, Robert Clarke Kedzie, Frank Kedzie, Madison Kuhn, and Elida Yakeley.

William H. Combs had a distinguished career at the university, which included serving as a professor of history, assistant to President John Hannah, and later as Dean of University Services. During his time at MSU, Combs developed an abiding interest in preserving the historical records of the university. In 1968, the MSU Board of Trustees appointed Combs first Director of Archives.

On November 21, 1969, the Board formally established University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC) with responsibility for collecting and preserving inactive records for all units in the university that have legal, administrative, fiscal, or historical value. This resolution affirms that all records of the official activities of university officers and offices are the property of Michigan State University, that such property cannot be destroyed without the approval of the Director of Archives, and that UAHC “shall be the depository for University records which are no longer administratively useful […] but which have historical or other value.” The resolution states UAHC “may also receive personal papers of officials, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others.”

The Historical Collections represent material that are not directly related to MSU but serve as valuable research materials for people interested in agriculture, Michigan history, or other topics relevant to land-grant institutions. The program has roots dating back to 1950 when the MSU Museum expanded its acquisition policy to include historical artifacts and manuscript materials relating to rural life.

The Museum established a curatorship of historical artifacts and manuscripts and later established the program in Land-Grant Research. The objective of this program was to collect research materials on the origins and development of the land-grant philosophy in education.

In July 1967, the Historical Collections and the program in Land-Grant Research were detached from the Museum and made a separate unit in the administrative structure of the university under the supervision of the Provost. On September 1, 1970, the Board of Trustees administratively joined the Historical Collections with Archives under the title University Archives & Historical Collections, with the provision that the Land-Grant Research program be a part of the Historical Collections.

Research Initiatives

The University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC) initiates and participates in research projects that further knowledge in the the archives and records management professions.