Title Reviewed:
A Guide to the State Archives of Michigan: State Records.

Author Reviewed:
Valerie Gerrard Browne; David Jerome Johnson

Mary B. Calhoun


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 381-381

Article Type:
Book Review

Download Source:

A Guide to the State Archives of Michigan: State Records. By Valerie Gerrard Browne and David Jerome Johnson. ([Lansing]: Michigan History Division, Michigan Department of State, 1977. Pp. xx, 401. Illustrations, appendixes, index. $14.95.)

This guide, published as a bicentennial project, describes all records accessioned by the Michigan State Archives up to January 1, 1975, a total of ten thousand cubic feet. The introduction gives a history of the state government organization and instructions on how to use the guide. Other sections explain how record series are described and the rules and hours of the library. Administrative histories describe the creation, functions, and changes in authority, name, or structure of all state agencies. There are four appendixes, which list the governors and the federal records, census schedules, and individual finding aids in the archives. Finally, there is a detailed index.

The book contains four main sections—the executive and legislative branches, the state supreme court, and "Defunct, Miscellaneous, Superceded or Transferred Agencies." Each agency constitutes one record group. In 1966 the executive branch was consolidated into nineteen agencies. If the records of an agency were sent to the archives before the reorganization, they are listed in the "Defunct, etc." section under the agency's old name. Otherwise, all records appear under the names of the new umbrella agencies. If a bureau or division moves to a different agency, the archives lists its records with the agency which actually deposits the records. When the name of an agency changes, but the responsibilities do not, all its records are listed under the latest name. All this requires the reader to use the administrative histories, "See Also's," and index very carefully to follow a particular governmental function as it moves around the governmental structure, appearing in different record groups under different names. A cross-reference listing all current and defunct agencies by function would have been helpful.

On the whole, the guide is very well done. The series have distinct titles and comprehensive descriptions, pinpointing the nature of the records available.

Mary B. Calhoun, Indiana State Archives, Indianapolis

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.