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Michigan State University

Michigan State University: History of MSU

A guide to locating information about MSU and its history

General Histories of MSU

On the Banks of the Red Cedar is a website that provides online access to documents, images, film, and audio materials related to the history of Michigan State University. Additional primary sources can be found in the University Archives & Historical Collections. Finding aids to the collections are available online and keyword searchable. 

The MSU Libraries have published histories, many of which can be found in the MSU Collection, located in the southwest part of 1 East in the Main Library, along with yearbooks, sports histories, salary lists, etc.

Histories available in the MSU Libraries:

A century of service : an historical analysis of the service function of the state university / Lowell R. Eklund.   Thesis (Ph.D.)--Syracuse University, 1956. Eklund's thesis is a case study of MSU leadership in service, especially to agriculture.

College to university : the Hannah years at Michigan State, 1935-1969 / Paul L. Dressel.  East Lansing, Mich. : Michigan State University, University Publications, c1987.

From an oak opening : a record of the development of the campus  park of Michigan State University, 1855-1969 / Harold W.  Lautner. [East Lansing] : Michigan State University, 1978.  and Ann Arbor, MI. : Michigan State University 1984.

The great experiment [DVD] : Michigan State University : the pioneer land-grant university / a production of WKAR.  [East Lansing, Mich.] : WKAR : Michigan State University, c2008.

History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors, by W. J. Beal. East Lansing, Agricultural college, 1915. Also available online.

Michigan Agricultural College : the evolution of a land-grant philosophy, 1855-1925 /  Keith R. Widder.  East Lansing, Mich. : Michigan State University Press, c2005.

Michigan State College, 1855-1955 / [Burton Gerber, editor.]  [East Lansing, Mich. : The College, 1955?]

Michigan State College:  John Hannah and the creation of a world university 1926-1969 / David A. Thomas.  East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, 2008.

Michigan State: the first hundred years, 1855-1955 / Madison Kuhn.  [East Lansing] : Michigan State University Press, [1955]. Also available online.

The Michigan State University experience / written and compiled by Robert Bao ; artwork by Carolyn Scott Risk. Indianapolis : College Days Press, c2001.

Michigan State University: on the banks of the Red Cedar / edited by Larry Bielat. Philadelphia : Courage Books, 1998. Chiefly photographs, including aerial shots from near the date of publication.  There are a few historic photos.

Michigan State University : the rise of a research university and the new millennium, 1970-2005 / Douglas A. Noverr. East Lansing, Michigan : Michigan State University Press, [2015].

Michigan State's first one hundred : a series of paintings depicting significant events.  [East Lansing? : s.n., 1955].

The pioneer land-grant college; the formative years of Michigan State University as revealed by excerpts from issues of The Michigan farmer, January 1, 1845-June 1864. East Lansing, Mich., 1965.

Semi-centennial celebration of Michigan State Agricultural College: May twenty-sixth, twenty-ninth, thirtieth and thirty-first, nineteen hundred seven / Ed. by Thomas C. Blaisdell, PH.D. Published by the college. Also available online.

A short history of Michigan State / by Lyle Blair and Madison Kuhn.  East Lansing, Mich. : Michigan State University Press, 1990. Reprint: Item was originally published: East Lansing : Michigan State College Press, 1955. Also available online.

The spirit of Michigan State / J. Bruce McCristal.  Bloomfield Hills, Mich. : J. Bruce McCristal, 2004. Written in honor of the sesquicentennial, this a chronological overview with emphasis on people and programs.

Tales from the archives. Volume One : Campus and traditions / edited by Ed Busch, Hillary Gatlin, Megan Badgley Malone, Susan O'Brien, and Jennie Russell.

Tales from the archives. Volume Two: Sacred spaces / edited by Jennie Rankin, Susan O'Brien, Megan Badgley Malone, Sarah Roberts, Whitney Miller, and Ed Busch. 

Specialized Histories

The African-American presence at Michigan State University : pioneers, groundbreakers, and leaders, 1900-1970. East Lansing, MI : Michigan State University University Archives & Historical Collections. Online.

The controversy over the location of Michigan Agricultural College / by John P. McGoff.  1956.  

Dissertations and Theses about Michigan State University Lib Guide

Michigan Agricultural College campus life 1900-1925: a postcard tour / Stephen Terry.

MSU Campus Archeology: research publications  Includes site reports; books; theses and dissertations; and presentations and posters.

MSU Campus - Buildings, places, spaces: Architecture and the campus park of Michigan State University / by Linda O. Stanford and C. Kurt Dewhurst.

A pictorial rendu of Michigan State, pioneer land grant university founded 1855 at East Lansing / [by] Carl D. Johnson. East Lansing, Mich. : Design Associates, c1955.

The rock: layered in MSU tradition / edited by Bill Beekman, Jane M. Miller, and Clare Worthington.

Student activism at Michigan State University during the decade of the 1960's / by Katherine Elizabeth White. Available online here

They came before us : a story of women at Michigan State University 1870-1895 / by Christy A. Weber, 2004. Available online here

Twelve twenty-five: the life and times of a steam locomotive / Kevin P. Keefe. Available online here.

General Histories Related to East Lansing

1995 Report on Co-op History in East Lansing.

At the campus gate : a history of East Lansing / Justin L. Kestenbaum, editor ; Edna M. Anderson, Cynthia A. McCarty,  editorial associates. East Lansing, Mich. : East Lansing Bicentennial Committee, 1976.  This book contains a large number of photographs as well as narrative.

East Lansing : Collegeville revisited /  Whitney Miller.  Chicago : Arcadia, 2002.

A historic walking tour of City of East Lansing Mich. / Historic District Study Committee, 1987.

History of the city of East Lansing. / by James D. Towar, 1933. Also available online.

Mid-Michigan modern: from Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie / Susan J. Bandes.

Remembering Lantern Hill 1950-1952 / Alan P. Grimes, 1999.

MSU Department Histories

50 years of computing / producers, Katherine Ball, Richard Wiggins ; script, Richard Wiggins.

100 years of kinesiology : history. research, and reflections / by John L. Haubenstricker, Deborah L. Feltz, editors. East Lansing, Mich. : Michigan State University, Dept. of Kinesiology, c1999.

The Basic College of Michigan State / [by] Paul D. Bagwell [and other] Edited by Thomas H. Hamilton and Edward Blackman.

Beyond the box : the history of the School of Packaging Michigan State University 1952-2017 / prepared by Diana Twede, Ph.D.

A Brief History of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Michigan State University / by Irving W. Knobloch, 1989.

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, 1961-2011 / by Clarence Suelter.

Evaluation in the Basic College at Michigan State University / by Paul L. Dressel.

Fiftieth anniversary, School of Home Economics, 1896-1946.

Fifty years of forestry at Michigan State College. [East Lansing] 1953.  Also available Online.

The first 50 years : a history of the University Club of Michigan State University, 1929-1979 / by Karl T. Wright, editor-in-chief ; Ron Karle, editor.

The first three decades of home economics at Michigan State College [1896-1926] / Pub. by the School of Home Economics as a part of the Observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of home economics at Michigan State College.

From a single window : Michigan State University and its press, 1947-1997 / by Maurice Hungiville. East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, c1998.

From home economics to human ecology: a history digest / by Jeanette A. Lee, Katherine M. Hart and Rosalind B. Mentzer. Illus. by Robert L. Brent.

From the ground up : 75 years of progress in the Agricultural Engineering Department at Michigan State University, 1906-1981.

From seed to fruit : 150 years of horticulture at Michigan State, 1855-2005 / by F.G. Dennis, Jr., G.M. Kessler and H. Davidson. E. Lansing, Mich. : Dept. of Horticulture, Michigan State University, circa 2007.

History and development highlights of the Michigan Cooperative Extension Service[East Lansing] 1964. 

History of agricultural economics at Michigan State College, 1910 on / by W.O. Hedrick. 1945. 


History of the Agricultural Engineering Department, Michigan State University, 1906-1964 / by Neil Franklin Meador


A history of the College of Natural Science, Michigan State University, 1855-2005 / by Clarence H. Suelter.


A history of the development of the home management idea at Michigan State University / by Manette McKinney Smith.


The history of the journalism program at Michigan State University / Jerry Lee Morton. 1991. Also available online.  

A history of the pre-school program in the College of Home Economics at Michigan State University / by Violet Charlotte Fee.

A history of the School of Music at Michigan State University / by Jean H. Fickett  2003. 

Home economics to human ecology : 100 years at Michigan State University / by Margaret M. Bubolz ; contributing authors--Dorothy Mitstifer, Stephanie Perentesis. East Lansing, Mich. : College of Human Ecology, Michigan State University, circa 1996.

The legacy of the leader : celebrating 75 years of leadership : the School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University, 1927-2002/ by Dan Hager, editor/writer.  East Lansing, Mich. : School of Hospitality Business Alumni Association, Michigan State University, circa 2002.

Michigan State University Civil & Environmental Engineering, 1909-2009 : 100 years of excellence.

Michigan State University the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University 1935-1963 / Wilbur Lewis Rykert. 1985.

The Michigan State University Soil Science Department, 1909-1969: a historical narrative / by L.S. Robertson ...etal. [East Lansing, Mich. : s.n.], 1988.

Nursing at Michigan State University / Isabelle Payne. [East Lansing, Mich.? : Michigan State University College of Nursing?], circa 1994. "On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the first graduating class from the School of Nursing, Dr. Isabelle Payne, Dean Emeritus, shares some of her memories and insights into the rich history of Nursing at Michigan State University."

Obstacles and opportunities : home economics at Michigan State University in the postwar era / by Susan Stein-Roggenbuck

Plus two score : the Cooperative Extension Service in Michigan, 1940 to 1980 / Einer Olstrom, Howard Miller.

The preparation of teachers at Michigan State University / [by] Victor H. Noll.

Pursuing what is best for the world : 150 years of teaching, research and extension-- stories of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources / Kenneth VerBurg and Raymond D. Vlasin. 

Recollections of early microbiology at Michigan State University / by W. L. Mallmann.  East Lansing, Dept. of Microbiology and Public Health, Michigan State University, 1974.

A rendezvous with MSU / Ron Flinn.

Seventy-five years of performing arts at Michigan State University / [editor: Arthur R. Luedders].


Then & now, 1906-1972: a pictorial history of agricultural economics at Michigan State University / by Elton B. Hills.

Veterinary medicine in Michigan : an illustrated history / By Charles Cleon Morrill.


W.K. Kellogg and his Gull Lake home: from eroded cornfield to estate to biological station / by Linda Oliphant Stanford.


Years of achievement : a short history of the College of Education at Michigan State University / Victor Inzunza.  [East Lansing, Mich.] : Michigan State University, College of Education, 2002.