Michigan State University

Michigan Writers Collection at Special Collections


The Michigan Writers Collection was established in 1989 to serve as a primary resource for the recognition, study, and appreciation of the literary tradition that exists and continues to evolve in Michigan. It is devoted to collecting and making accessible all the manuscripts and published works of selected writers with important ties to Michigan.  For more information, please view the Michigan Writers Collection online exhibit and Michigan Writers Series Audio Gallery.  Below are links and information to selected Michigan authors' archival collections.

Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr. papers, MSS 260

Writing partners Jim Cash and Jack Epps, jr. have co-authored numerous box office hits over the past 20 years. Their credits include Legal Eagles (1986), Top Gun (1986), The Secret of My Success (1987), Turner & Hooch (1989), Dick Tracy (1990), Anaconda (1997), and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000). 

Cash, a native of Grand Rapids, received his B.A. in English from MSU in 1970 followed by a M.A. in Television and Radio in 1972. For many years he taught writing and film history at MSU and supported a writing award named in his honor. Jim Cash died in 1999.
Epps, who grew up in the Detroit area, received his B.A. in English in 1972. While a student, he worked as a film critic for the State News and founded and directed the path-breaking and critically praised Mid-West Film Festival held in East Lansing in the early 1970s. Today Jack Epps lives with his family in Santa Monica, California, where he continues to write for film and television, and teaches at the USC Film School.
They began their writing relationship while MSU students and wrote their first story together in the MSU Union Grill in 1975. Soon afterward Epps moved to Hollywood, but the separation did not impede their ability to write successful screenplays. Probably one of the most unique writing relationships in the history of Hollywood, Cash lived in East Lansing, Michigan, while Epps live in Santa Monica, California. They collaborated via computer and only saw each other face to face a handful of times. The Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr. papers consist of correspondence and drafts of screenplays.

Dan Gerber papers, MSS 307

Dan Gerber received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Michigan State University in 1962. As part of his journalist profession, Gerber made extensive travels, primarily to Africa. He has served as writer-in-residence at Michigan State University and Grand Valley State UniversityThe Dan Gerber papers contain holographic copies, typescript drafts and published versions of articles, books, essays, galley proofs, personal journals, notebooks, novels, poems and stories. Also included are personal and professional correspondence, research and personal memorabilia, and Gerber's collection of works by other writers and artists.

Thomas McGuane, MSS 209

The Thomas McGuane papers consist of correspondence, interviews, newspaper clippings, reviews, and manuscript drafts of his novels and screenplays.

Diane Wakoski, MSS 304

The Diane Wakoski papers (1958-2011) consists of correspondence, books, magazines/journals, flyers, photographs, and broadsides.

Michigan Writers Symposium collection, MSS 241

The Michigan Writers symposia were sponsored by the Michigan State University Libraries and held at Michigan State University from 1992 to 1998, except 1996. The Michigan Writers Symposium collection contains sound recordings, publicity material, photographs and correspondence.

Jim Daniels papers, MSS 215

Jim Daniels is a professional writer from Warren, MI.  He currently is a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, where he has taught since 1981. Particularly his early poetry focused on working class people within the Detroit auto manufacturing scene.  The Jim Daniels papers (approximately 1976-2015) contain correspondence, clippings, audiovisual material, reviews, promotional material, drafts and published versions of his poetry, prose, and screenplays and journals he edited and contributed to, documenting his professional and artistic work. 

Gary Gildner, MSS 210

Gary Gildner is a contemporary, mid-western, American writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He earned a B.A. and M.A. from Michigan State University. He is an English professor at Drake University in Iowa and has been a visiting professor or writer-in-residence at other educational institutions, including Michigan State University, within the US.  Two of his sabbatical years were spent in Warsaw, Poland and Paris, France. He has won numerous awards, including The 1976 Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest, the 1977 William Carlos Williams Poetry Prize from New Letters, the coveted Pushcart Prize, and two NEA Fellowships. The Gary Gildner papers include manuscript and typescript drafts and final editions of his fiction and poetry, both published and unpublished. His correspondence is categorized into three main areas: letters to colleagues and acquaintances within academia, personal letters to family, friends, and colleagues, and letters exchanged with publishers. Also included is his correspondence with Drake University administrators, his personal memorabilia, conference notifications that featured him, newsprint and published blurbs critiquing his writings, and poster-like flyers, such as announcements of his many readings and workshops across America and Europe.  

Judith Minty papers, MSS 387

The Judith Minty papers (1937-2011) contain the bulk of Minty’s handwritten and typed manuscripts of all published and unpublished writing throughout her adult life including the complete manuscripts to Yellow Dog Journal, Dancing the Fault, Letters to My Daughters, The Mad Painter Poems, and Killing the Bear and partial manuscripts for Lake Songs and Other Fears, In the Presence of Mothers, and Walking with the Bear. The collection also contains correspondence with fellow poets, friends, publishers, universities and other institutions, as well as Minty’s research files, professional files, and some personal business files.

Terri Jewell

Terri Lynn Jewell (1954-1995) was described in the Lansing State Journal obituary as a "radical black lesbian feminist activist, poet, speaker and writer." She was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and was a longtime resident of Lansing, Michigan. She belonged to the League of Lesbian Writers (Louisville, Kentucky branch) and the Kentucky State Poetry Society and was a founder of the Black Lesbian Network and the Pat Parker/James Balwin Society. Her work has been accepted by more than 70 publications including Black Maria, Off Our Backs, Bay Windows, Telewoman, LesCon and Azalea.  The Terri Jewell papers contain notebooks and manuscripts of poetry, correspondence, obituary, and memorial program.

H.C. Branson papers, MSS 319

Henry Clay Branson (1904-1981) grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, and later attended Princeton in 1924. He then spent three years in Paris only to return to Michigan in 1929 to attend the University of Michigan. In Ann Arbor he married, fathered the first of his three daughters in 1934 and eventually graduated from the university in 1937. Branson read Doyle as a boy, followed Philo Vance’s cases in Paris in the pages of Scribner’s Magazine and was one of the most familiar of card-holders at the Ann Arbor Public Library, where he withdrew and consumed hundreds of mystery stories, all contributing to his becoming a mystery writer.

The H. C. Branson papers contain notes, manuscripts, typescripts of the author's mystery stories as well as diaries, sketches for a memoir and correspondence.  

Richard Ford papers, MSS 208

Richard Ford (born February 16, 1944) is a celebrated American novelist and short story writer.  He is perhaps best known for his 1986 novel The Sportswriter and its sequel Independence Day, which won both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 1996 PEN/Faulkner Award.

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Ford attended Michigan State University from 1962-66, graduating with a degree in English. His first novel, A Piece of My Heart, was published in 1976, and since then he has authored a number of other works, including The Sportswriter and its two sequels, Independence Day and Lay of the Land, The Ultimate Good Luck, Wildlife, and a number of short stories, which are collected in Rock Springs and Women With Men.

Ford's writing has received great acclaim. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize for Independence Day, Ford received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1978, and won the Rea Award for the Short Story in 1995.

The Richard Ford papers consist of correspondence, research notes, drafts and published writings, publicity, ephemera and memorabilia and MSU Special Collections has all of his books ever published throughout the world.

Jim Harrison letters, MSS 167

Jim Harrison (b. 1937) is a noted poet, screenwriter, and novelist.  A 1960 Michigan State University alumni, Harrison received NEA grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship early in his career. The Jim Harrison letters are witty, sometimes vulgar, brutally honest letters written early in Harrison's career to Poetry Editor John Ciardi and novelist Thomas Berger. 

Robert VanderMolen, MSS 345

Robert VanderMolen is a writer, born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He completed his BA in advertising from Michigan State University in 1971 and earned an MFA in English from the University of Oregon in 1973. VanderMolen participated in two Fellowships: The MacDowell Colony (1973) and the Ossabaw Island Project (1979). The Robert VanderMolen papers contain personal and professional correspondence (1962-2004), draft and published writings, works of others, ephemera, poetry readings, and grant application materials.

Virgil Scott, MSS 37

The Virgil Scott papers include drafts, galley and page proofs, notes, plot outlines, correspondence, and research subject files related to six of Scott's books, including The Dead Tree Gives No Shelter (1947); The Hickory Stick (1948); The Savage Affair (1958); I, John Mordaunt (1964); The Kruetzman Affair (1974); and Walk-In (1976).

Barbara Dawson Smith papers, MSS 564

Barbara Dawson Smith was born in Detroit, Michigan and earned a B. A. in Journalism from Michigan State University. She sold her first romance novel two weeks after sending it to a publisher and went on to become one of the preeminent writers of romance fiction. She was awarded the 1984 Golden Heart Award for Romance Writers of America for "No Regrets." Since 1989, her books have consistently received a 4+ Exceptional rating from Romantic Times, the leading romance review magazine. The Barbara Dawson Smith papers primarily consist of annotated pre-publication proofs of some of her most popular novels, book covers, book marks, and press reviews. 

Special Collections Archivist-Librarian