The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting author and postcard collector Stephen Terry 7 p.m., Thursday, October 23 at Capital Area District Library, 401 South Capitol as he unveils his book “Michigan Agricultural College: Campus Life 1900-1925”.
Terry will take the audience on a postcard tour of the campus with postcards drawn from his remarkable collection of postcards showcasing MSU’s early campus.
The postcards, often one-of-a-kind real photo postcards, depict everything from early sports teams to buildings long lost to the wrecking ball and fire. Included are Abbot Hall, the Women’s Building, Chemistry, Engineering, Dairy and off-campus housing. One real photo card shows the Engineering Building in 1916 engulfed in flames.
Terry writes in his book how the rebuilding of the Engineering complex was in doubt until auto pioneer Ransom E. Olds provided a gift of $100,000 to rebuild the complex. The building still stands today.
More obscure cards show scenes from the infamous underground tunnels, Lover’s Lane, athletic fields, the MAC Band and the various smokestacks and bridges that once adorned campus.
Terry, who has more than 1000 postcards in his personal collection, also has added many of the verbatim stories on the reverse of the cards.
One showing Wells Hall in 1911 has the message: “Dear Miss C-Hope you had a good time at the “Creek”. A visitor upon arriving in East Lansing in 1919 writes: “East Lansing is a beautiful city and I love it here.”
Valerie Marvin, president of the Historical Society, said “The book is much more than just a look back in time – it is a tremendous cultural history told through postcards that are, in many cases, more than 100 years old.”
“Some of our more treasured memories are recalled through an iconic postcard,” she said.
“Postcards were the perfect way for students to write to their parents – they were cheap, and allowed them to show their parents the sites on campus, in an era when many parents probably infrequently, if ever, visited campus themselves,” Marvin said.
In addition to his own collection of MSU postcards, the book also contains made available from local collectors Dennis Hansen and Jeffrey Kacos.
The book published by Thunder Bay Press will be available for sale ($20) and signing.
The author is a 1960 graduate of MSU and worked on campus for 32 years until his retirement in 1998. During that time he rose to the University’ Senior Financial Officer.