First Female Graduates

We recently had a query in the Archives about who the first woman was to receive an MFA at the Academy of Art. Actually, there were two – both in Ceramics. Edna Vogel’s bio can be found in a previous blog post. The other woman was Florence Kee Chang, a Chinese-American from Hawaii. Born in 1915 in Wahiawa on Oahu Island, Chang attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California after high school, where she received her B.A. in Art Education in 1942. She immediately applied to Cranbrook, where she studied ceramics with Maija Grotell, weaving with Marianne Strengell, and took a course in Metals with Harry Bertoia.


Chang’s bowl and vase acquired by Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1943 as part of the Acquisitions Honors. On the right is Chang’s mark.

In May 1943, Chang was part of the first class of MFA graduates at the newly accredited Academy of Art. She and Vogel were the only two women to receive degrees that inaugural year. In addition, the Academy purchased two of her pieces of pottery, for which she received an “Acquisitions Honor.”


Although she was from Hawaii, Chang adapted well to winter in Michigan! Courtesy Margueritte Kimball Papers.

Very little is known about Chang after she graduated. In 1955, she traveled to Japan, where she worked for two years as an arts and crafts director for the U.S. Army as part of what became known as The Army Crafts Program. Chang returned to Hawaii where she passed away in 2001.


Chang’s 1942 Christmas card reflects the Academy Art’s sculpture and architecture.

If you have any further information about Florence Kee Chang, please contact us!

– Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

By the Numbers: Cranbrook Center 2016

As this year comes to a close, the Center for Collections and Research has done some number crunching on 2016. Below, you’ll find information on visitors and events supported by the Center throughout the year. While we’re proud of our overall growth as a division of the Cranbrook Educational Community, we like to keep in mind that each number counted represents an individual person who’s had the opportunity to explore Cranbrook’s architecture or collections in depth and hopefully engage in meaningful ways with our history and legacy.

It’s been a fantastic year for the Center, and we’re excited about what’s on the drawing board for 2017. We hope to see you at future events (make sure you’re on our email list by contacting us) and hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year!


›› Responded to 803 unique requests from national and international users, including 439 email and 42 phone inquiries, 181 researchers in the Reading Room, and 141 group visitors
›› Responded to 578 unique requests from Cranbrook faculty and staff


Friends of the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives tour Cranbrook Archives, Sept. 2016


›› Offered 103 public Saarinen House Tours (in collaboration with Cranbrook Art Museum) to 584 visitors (April through October 2016) and provided 27 private tours for 124 visitors
›› Gave 48 public tours (20 sold out) to 387 visitors (April through October 2016) and provided 12 private tours for 132 visitors to the Frank Lloyd Wright Smith House (in collaboration with the Towbes Foundation)
›› Crafted custom campus tours for 392 visitors (April through October 2016)
›› Welcomed national and international conference attendees with groups sponsored by LaFargeHolcim Company, Switzerland; A4LE; the Congress for New Urbanism; and DoCoMoMo-US Day Away Tours
›› Led two sold-out Pewabic Pottery focused tours to Detroit (May and June
›› Led an Albert Kahn-themed tour to the University of Michigan (October 2016)
›› Engaged 195 guests Pewabic Pottery Walking Tours of the Cranbrook Campus

pewabic tour.JPG

Pewabic Pottery Walking Tour preparing to enter Saarinen House, Aug. 2016


›› Presented Designs of the Times: 100 Years of Posters at Cranbrook (December 2015 through March 2016)
›› Organized Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery in collaboration with Cranbrook Art Museum (December 2015 through August 2016)
›› Engaged 192 people at the opening and 18,827 people during the run of the Pewabic exhibition


Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes in the lower level of the Cranbrook Art Museum, Dec.-Aug. 2016

Lectures & Events

›› Two historians and two artists, including Roberto Lugo from Vermont, spoke about the legacy of Pewabic Pottery to 65 people (February 2016)
›› Kendall Brown spoke about Japanese style gardens in America to 186 people (April 2016)
›› Crafted an “Edible Landscape” dinner for 63 guests with Gold Cash Gold that celebrated the centennial of the first performance in Cranbrook’s Greek Theatre (June 2016)
›› Premiered PBS’ newest American Master’s film Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future to 219 guests in deSalle Auditorium
›› 11 experts presented the Preserving Michigan Modern lecture series, in collaboration with the State Historic Preservation Office, to a total of 375 people (October and November 2016)
›› Celebrated the North American launch of the book Millesgården: The Home and Art of Carl Milles with a violin and piano concert of works by Beethoven, attracting 60 guests on a very snowy Sunday (December 2016)


The red carpet and searchlights for the film premiere of Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, Sept. 2016

-Jody Helme-Day, Administrative Assistant and Kevin Adkisson, Center Collections Fellow

Photo Friday: Field Trip!

Today the staff from the Center for Collections and Research hopped into a fancy van and headed off to Lansing to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Archives of Michigan. We really enjoyed our visit with State Archivist, Mark Harvey, and his staff. Here are few photos from our day away.

A view of just one of the storage areas at the Archives of Michigan.

A view of just one of the storage areas at the Archives of Michigan. Photographs courtesy of Leslie Edwards.

State Archivist, Mark Harvey, talks with our staff about processes at the Archives of Michigan.

State Archivist, Mark Harvey, talks with our staff about processes at the Archives of Michigan.

The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. One example is the prison record of the notorious "Gypsy Bob."

The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. One example is the prison record of the notorious “Gypsy Bob.”

Captivating "log marks" from early logging days in Michigan.

Captivating “log marks” from early logging days in Michigan.

Gina Tecos, Archivist




Phenomenologically Speaking

Ok, so I have to admit, I had no idea what the term “phenomenological” meant until yesterday when the Archives was host to a group of architecture students from Lawrence Technological Institute. Phenomenology was defined by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl as the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. So how does this fit in with architecture? Well, the idea that we experience architecture with all of our senses does seem perfectly logical and of course Cranbrook is a perfect example of that.

The two buildings the students focused on were the Cranbrook School Dining Hall and the Natatorium. If you have ever walked into either of those spaces, you can absolutely understand the phenomenological experience – the dining hall with its’ high vaulted ceilings, the Orrefors glass pendant light fixtures, and the 12 foot leaded glass windows that line the walls and throw patterns of light across the room – all of these contribute to both our visual and non-visual senses as we experience the space.


Head Archivist, Leslie Edwards, discusses drawings with LTU students.

The Natatorium illustrates this concept even more dynamically. The complex use of materials – glazed exterior and interior brick, concrete block interior walls, the gray stone pool deck, the hand-glazed tiles in the locker rooms, and the use of mahogany for the walls, railing, and vertical louver panels – all contribute to the total sensation of the space. Add to that the windows that look out to the woods and the ceiling oculi that open up to the sky and you definitely experience phenomenology.

So thanks LTU students for teaching me something new when you came to the Archives to look at the architectural drawings. Days like this are another one of the perks of being a Cranbrook archivist.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Lions and Tigers and Mastodons, oh MI!

Don’t worry (or sorry!) if you thought this post was going to be about sports teams in the Detroit area. Today’s post is purely about scientific discovery and serendipity right here in Southeast Michigan! Last month local news services reported that the remains of a wooly mammoth had been discovered in Lima Township (Washtenaw County). This prompted me to do some research about these super-cool prehistoric elephant ancestors. According to the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology, mammoths and mastodons disappeared from this area about 11,700 years ago. Since that time, the remains of about 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths have been found in Michigan.

In 1934, a WPA project was underway when workers discovered bones while using a steam shovel in Bloomfield Hills. The remains, believed to be dinosaur bones by the workers, were brought to Cranbrook Institute of Science for identification. The bones were determined to be those of a mastodon – now known as “The Bloomfield Hills Mastodon.”

Excavation site of the Bloomfield Hills Mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

Excavation site of the Bloomfield Hills mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

Only the skull with a few vertebrae and ribs were recovered during the excavation of a small pond, which was deepened to form an artificial lake. The bones were uncovered in a residential district about a quarter of a mile east of Woodward Avenue near Charing Cross Road.

Jaw bone from Bloomfield Hills mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

Jaw bone from Bloomfield Hills mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

In 1972 a large bone was discovered by a Cranbrook grounds crewman during the process of cleaning up a dump. Warren Wittry, anthropologist and then-CIS director, identified the bone as the central portion of the right scapula of an adult Ice Age mastodon. A”dig” crew was gathered to search for additional bones, but alas only a few additional fragments were found.

Late in 1977, the Institute received an early Christmas present when a partial skull and section of tusk from a young mastodon were discovered by two high school students near Seymour Lake Road in Brandon Township in northern Oakland County. The Institute was very excited about the donation of the bones, which were in an excellent state of preservation. There have been several more mastodon discoveries in Michigan since the 1970s. Personally, I find these stories more interesting to follow than the local sports scene.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Photo Friday: Autumn Traditions

With foliage nearing its peak color, there are many reminders of fall here on campus. The image below is yet another tribute to the season—the Kingswood School Autumn Festival. The first Athletic Association Carnival was held in December, 1932, and was the precursor to the Autumn Festival. By 1934 the annual event had been renamed by Headmistress Margaret Augur.

Themes varied, for example, the 1936 festival was fashioned after “modern” America and included an Apache dance and a skyscraper dance by the juniors with the sidewalks of New York as the background set. The 1939 theme was the Old South and ended with a rousing version of “Dixie” as the grand finale. The November 1939 Clarion reports, “Cranbrook as usual was well represented. After their hectic day of soccer, football, tea-dance, etc., we managed to wear them out, so that it was finally decided that bed at eleven was necessary for all. Thus ended the autumn festival.”

Autumn Festival, Oct 1944.

Autumn Festival, Oct 1944.

The 1944 theme (as shown above) simulated South America. Entertainment included costumed students singing “Down Argentina Way” and “Besame Mucho.” In addition to rumba and samba dancing, the night ended with a lively conga to “Cui Cui .” Wouldn’t it be fun if we could revive this tradition?

Gina Tecos, Archivist

The Story of a Sweater: 1930-1953

As fall fast approaches and the nights are cooler, all Michiganders are pulling out their jackets and sweaters. Cranbrook School for Boys (as it was once known) had, over the years a variety of sweaters made for the boys to wear, particularly if they were involved in athletics. Although Cranbrook Archives primary collects manuscript collections and institutional records, sometimes we are lucky enough to acquire objects that relate to our past, particularly that of the schools. The Cranbrook Sweater is one such object.

First featured in a team photo for the 1930-31 basketball team, it was a signature uniform for the basketball team photo for the next 22 years. Throughout Cranbrook School’s sports history, athletes on the basketball team, golf team, wrestling team, hockey team, football team, and baseball team all wore the sweater.  Beginning in the 1934-35 season, members of the golf team wore the sweater.

As time passed, the sweater gained increasing momentum in its popularity and peaked among the athletes in the 1940s. However, aside from the basketball team and golf team photos (where the sweater was worn by the entire team), most of the other team photos show only one or two members wearing the sweater for the team photo.  This could be due to the fact that the sweater is made of 100% wool!

Gradually, the sweater lost popularity and by the end of the 1953 school year, it faded out altogether. We are lucky to be caretakers of such a great piece of history, and the type of object that current school students love to see on their visits to the Archives.

Donald Leighton (far left in the photo below) is shown wearing the sweater in our collection.

Golf team 1935-36.

Golf team 1935-36.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Welcoming Our Two Archives Assistants!

Prior to volunteering at Cranbrook Archives, I had been studying history and had become aware of the importance of primary sources for historiography, and the value of preserving heritage for the wider community. I began volunteering in 2012 which helped me decide to pursue a career in archives, and I began studying for the MA Archive Administration with Aberystwyth University in Wales (distance learning) in 2013. As part of a university assignment, I processed the HUB (Horizons-Upward Bound) Records, and am currently researching George Gough Booth’s interest in tapestries, which he purchased and commissioned for Cranbrook institutions and family members. I am interested in Booth’s involvement in the Arts and Crafts Movement, and the way in which the movement used medieval themes and techniques as a response to the social experience of the time. The Edgewater Looms, Herter Looms, and Morris & Co. tapestries are an ideal focus for exploring these ideas. I am looking forward to learning more about scanning/digitisation/digital preservation/cataloguing. The university modules emphasize access as the flip-side of preservation. I tend to have the latter foremost in my mind, so it will be great to see how the archive is used.

Laura MacNewman, Archives Assistant

Correspondence, George Gough Booth Papers, box 16, folder 11.

Correspondence, George Gough Booth Papers, box 16, folder 11.

As a graduate student mid-way through the Library and Information Science master’s program at Wayne State University, I’ve been given a healthy dose of libraries, archives, and the world of information over the past year. My interest in archives administration began while I was volunteering at the Cranbrook Archives last fall (2014). Here, I was introduced to the process of digitizing manuscripts, taking inventory of donated artist materials, and sifting through photographic negatives for future digital preservation and storage. I’ve also been working on the Cranbrook Archives’ Oral History Project. Much of my work at Cranbrook corresponds to my studies at Wayne State. In fact, this past week Head Archivist Leslie Edwards spoke about Cranbrook Archives’ oral history project in my oral histories course. As a new employee, I am keen to expand the number of digital images available online, help preserve the negative photograph collection, and understand what it really means to be an archivist.

Danae Dracht, Archives Assistant

From left: Carleton McClain, Henry S. Booth and Margaret Russell interviewing former Cranbrook School Headmaster, Harry Hoey at his home, 1964.

From left: Carleton McClain, Henry S. Booth and Margaret Russell interviewing former Cranbrook School Headmaster, Harry Hoey at his home, 1964.

Both Laura and Danae are working for us as part-time Archives Assistants, an entry-level archival position for graduate students. They will be working on a variety of projects during the coming year while gaining experience to propel them in their careers. Look for future blog posts from them in the upcoming months!

Friday in the Reading Room

As part of outreach and education here in the Archives, today we hosted graduate students who are taking a course called, “Modern Michigan” at the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. The course covers the work of various architects between 1900-1960 and throughout the semester the class visits landmark sites in the area, including the GM Tech Center, the Packard Plant, Herman Miller, and Cranbrook (among others). We pulled a variety of architectural drawings and sketches from our collection for the students to view and ask questions. As a relatively new member of the Archives staff, I find these visits very rewarding. The students and instructors bring new perspectives and additional information that adds a new dimension to my knowledge of our collections.

University of Michigan graduate students from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning look at drawings in the reading room.

University of Michigan graduate students from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning look at drawings in the reading room.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Photo Friday: Reporting the News in Style

Archivists never know what we might run across during the course of our daily work, which is, of course, part of the allure of the job! Today it was a photo of W Stoddard White (1913-1972) from the Lee A White Papers. (No typo – neither man used a period after his initial!)  Lee White (Stoddard’s father) was a personal friend and confidante of George Booth’s from the Detroit News. White followed Booth to Cranbrook once Cranbrook School was opened and was on the Board of Directors, later becoming head of the public relations department for the community. Clearly Stoddard followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a news reporter after his graduation from UM in 1935. (Interestingly, while at UM, he was in Sigma Chi along with Edgar Guest Jr.)

Stoddard White, Detroit News Employee, Oct 1935. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Lee A White Papers.

Stoddard White, Detroit News Employee, Oct 1935. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Lee A White Papers.

This photo caught my attention because of the content – what a great image of young Stoddard, as a Detroit News reporter, seated at his typewriter in what was likely the Detroit News Lockheed Vega airplane. Just one more reason I love my job!

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: