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Michigan State University

MSU Campus Plants Research Guide: History

A guide to the literature and web sites about the MAC/MSU campus plants through its history.


The Michigan Agricultural College campus was once Michigan wilderness. The college founders designed the campus to have a park-like feel, and soon established campus buildings and structures connected by winding roads, not straight, unnatural streets. Plants, trees, and velds remained on the campus grounds and served as living laboratories to the flora and fauna of the region. This guide is to help locate the many resources that identify and track the plant life of the MAC/MSU campus. Listed below are works that describe the campus in general, including its initial designers and layout to how it appears in recent history.

Beal, William James. History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors. East Lansing, Agricultural College, 1915.
Call no. LD3245.M28 B4 [Google link - full book] [Google link to: The Campus and Buildings, Chapter XIX]

James, L.M. 1953. Fifty Years of Forestry at Michigan State College. East Lansing: Michigan State College. 32 p.
Call no. SD254 .M5A4  [Electronic Copy]

Kuhn, Madison. Michigan State: The first hundred years, 1855-1955. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1955.
Call no. LD3245.M28 K8

Lautner, Harold William. From an oak opening: A record of the development of the campus park of Michigan State University, 1855-1969. East Lansing: Michigan State University, 1978.
MSU REFERENCE, 1 CENTER - LD3245.M28 L385  v.1 & 2
Reprinted - Two vols bound as one: MSU MAIN LIBRARY - LD3245.M28 L385 1984

Moore, Ted. 2009. Creating an Idyllic Space: Nature, Technology, and Campus Planning at the Michigan Agricultural College, 1850 to 1975. Michigan Historical Review. 35.2:1-25.

President Abbot. 1884. The Michigan Agricultural College. The Earlier History of the College up to its Reorganization in 1861.  Pioneer collections by Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, Vol. 6. pp. 115-136. 
Call no.: F561 .M47 v. 6
Google books link:
Note - this is an article by Theophilus Capen Abbot [President from 1862-1885]. It does not describe the campus and plants per se, but does describe the early history of the establishment of the college, classes, students, faculty and staff. Page 124 begins the section "Site Selection" for the new college.

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