Dr. Lewis G. Vander Velde, 1935 - 1960
Dr. Vander Velde, a meticulous scholar and an outstanding teacher, was also a leader in preserving Michigan's historical heritage. His best-known endeavor was the founding of the archival agency later known as the Michigan Historical Collections. The collection's purpose was to document and preserve the history of the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan.
Professor Vander Velde was born in Grandville, Michigan on October 17, 1890. He enrolled in Hope College in 1908. Transferring to the University of Michigan in 1910, he earned his B.A. in 1913 and a M.A degree in 1921. Harvard awarded him a Ph.D in 1936. In 1928, Vander Velde came to the University of Michigan as an instructor in American history, becoming an assistant professor in 1931, and an associate professor in 1936, and a full professor in 1940. Though his specialty was American constitutional history, he introduced the study of Michigan history into the curriculum of the History Department at the University of Michigan.
In 1935, Professor Vander Velde received a $700 research grant to collect primary source material relating to the history of Michigan. Three years later the Regents, impressed with the growth of his endeavors, renamed this project the Michigan Historical Collections and named Vander Velde its first director, a post he held until his retirement in 1961. Under his leadership, the Michigan Historical Collections (MHC) developed a professional staff, built sound acquisition policies, and acquired materials documenting the history of the state. Dr. Vander Velde died in 1975 in Albion, Michigan.
Dr. F. Clever Bald, 1960 - 1966
F. Clever Bald, second director of the Michigan Historical Collections, professor of history and University War Historian at the University at Michigan, was born in Baltimore, Maryland on August 12, 1897. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1920 from the University of Michigan, his Master of Arts in 1937 from Wayne University, and his Doctor of Philosophy in 1943 from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Bald joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1943 as an instructor in the Department of History. He became assistant director of the Michigan Historical Collections in 1947 and director in 1960 serving until his retirement in 1966. He was promoted to full professor in 1960. He authored many books, articles, and brochures on Michigan history, including Detroit's First American Decade, 1796-1805 (1948) and Michigan in Four Centuries (1954). F. Clever Bald died December 12, 1970.
Dr. Robert M. Warner, 1966 - 1980
Archivist, historian and professor, Robert Mark Warner was born on June 28, 1927 in Montrose, Colorado. Warner completed his undergraduate work in history at Muskingum College in 1949. He continued his education at the University of Michigan, where he earned an M.A. in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1958 in history. After completing his doctorate, Warner joined the faculty of the History Department of the University of Michigan where he taught Michigan history. In 1974 he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Library Science where he developed the archival studies program.
Warner's association with the Michigan Historical Collections (MHC) began during his early years as a graduate student, when he used the collections for his research. Eventually, he came on staff as a research assistant, field representative, and then curator of manuscripts. In 1966 Warner became director of the MHC. Dr. Warner oversaw the fundraising for and construction of the building of the Bentley Historical Library from 1966-1974.
Dr. Warner was appointed Archivist of the United States in 1980. Warner's major accomplishment as Archivist was to secure the independence of the National Archives from the General Services Administration (GSA). With the support of several key figures in Washington, the National Archives and Administration Act of 1983 was introduced in the Senate and in the House. As the bill made its way through congress, Warner worked behind the scenes, generating support and attention from such organizations as the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the American Historical Association and such notable figures as Barbara Tuchman, Alex Haley and Ed Meese. President Reagan signed the Act on October 19, 1984, creating the independent National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), effective April 1, 1985.
Warner stayed on at the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) until April 1985, after which he took up his new position as Dean of the School of Information and Library Studies (SILS) at the University of Michigan. From 1988 to 1991, Warner also served as acting director of the University of Michigan Library. He retired from the deanship in 1992, and was succeeded by Daniel Atkins. Dr. Warner died on April 24, 2007.
Dr. Francis X. Blouin, Jr., 1981 - August 2013
Francis X. Blouin, Jr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 29, 1946. He earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1967, and his M.A. in 1969 and his Ph.D. in 1978 in history from the University of Minnesota. He came to the Michigan Historical Collections in 1974 as acting assistant director. In 1975 Blouin became a lecturer in the History Department, and in 1978 assistant professor in the School of Library Science. On July 1, 1981 Dr. Blouin became the director of the Bentley Historical Library. He was promoted to a full professor in both History and Library Science in July 1986.
Dr. Blouin, the longest-serving director in the history of the Michigan Historical Collections/Bentley Historical Library, has worked hard to keep the library in the forefront of the archival field. Under his direction the Bentley Historical Library is developing a program for archiving digital records, including audiovisuals, email, and websites, while continuing to work with paper records. Under Blouin's leadership the staff of the Bentley Historical Library has been involved in exchange programs with Russia, France, China and Denmark. From 1984 to 2004 he led a project to do a complete inventory of the historical documents in the Vatican archival institutions. In 2000-2001 he led, with History Department colleague William Rosenberg, a Sawyer Seminar on Archives, Documentation, and Institutions of Social Memory.
Additionally, the staff of the Bentley Historical Library are involved in state, regional, national, and international archival organizations such as the Michigan Archival Association, the Midwest Archives Conference, the Society of American Archivists, and the International Council on Archives. In addition to developing policies and programs at the Bentley Historical Library, Dr. Blouin has worked to expand the physical footprint of the library with the construction of the new wing, completed in 2004, with expanded stack space, conservation, and office space.