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Wayne State University Department of English Records

Identifier: WSR000451

Scope and Content

Series 1: Administrative 1: Policies and Procedures, 1943-1973 (Boxes 1-2). Series 2: Research Projects, Institutes, Awards, 1940-1975 (Boxes 2-3). Series 3: Students: Courses and Curriculum, Majors, Testing, 1937-1973 (Boxes 3-5). Series 4: Administrative 2: Policies and Procedures, 1924-1974 (Boxes 5-8). Series 5: Faculty: Personnel Materials, 1931-1987 (Boxes 8-16).


  • 1924 - 1987
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1970


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


The origins of the WSU English Department are part of the historical development of Wayne University from the Detroit Normal Training School, the Detroit Teachers College and Detroit Junior College. English has always been a standard part of a college liberal arts curriculum. The course list of the Detroit Junior College from 1917-1918 included English courses in Rhetoric and Composition, Public Speaking and Oratory, Literature, and English for Foreigners. Later the College of the City of Detroit included courses in English among the credits required in four general fields for graduation. Into the 1950s, there was an emphasis on the training of teachers of English, spurred by the close relationship between Wayne University and the Detroit Public Schools. Over the decades of the 20th century, the English curriculum expanded to include modern literature, film and media studies, technical and professional writing, as well as focusing on literature of previously unrecognized groups, on the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition to curriculum and teaching, department activities have included visiting lecturers, publications by faculty, departmental newsletters, awards, involvement in local and national professional organizations and an active alumni group. Prominent faculty in the department have included: Frank G. Tompkins, an English professor at Detroit Junior College and Central High School. His name appears on the earliest faculty roster (1918-1919), and he was department head from 1917 to 1939. Leslie Hanawalt came to Wayne University in 1929 and served as department chair from 1945 to 1955. Two English Department faculty members, Clarence B. Hilberry and William Keast, went on to become University presidents. Other notable faculty included in this collection are Robert W. Babcock, Emelyn Gardner, Leo Kirschbaum, Orville F. Linck, Donald J. Lloyd, William Mockler, John Wilcox, and Daniel Keyes, author of "Flowers for Algernon."


15.5 Linear Feet (15 SB, 1 MB)


These records of the WSU English Department represent material accrued in three accession dates: 1978, 1979, and 1988. The arrangement of folders reflects these different accessions, so that similar subjects may appear in multiple places in the collection. The records include deliberations of major committees on policy, personnel and curriculum, as well as student requirements and activities on the undergraduate and graduate level. With these records, researchers could track changes in curriculum and standard literature over the decades. The material also reflects faculty and graduate student research and grant proposals, as well as participation in local, state and national professional organizations. Many requisitions for supplies and building/office repairs were included in the records. These have been sampled and the bulk of them discarded. Also discarded are inquiries and applications from potential faculty members over several decades. Approximately half the records (Series 5) are folders of faculty correspondence and employment information dating from the 1940s to 1980s. This includes material of many prominent faculty mentioned in the history note, records of Professor Ellen J. Stekert, one of the founders of the WSU Folklore Archive, and some examples of publications by various faculty. Among interesting trends that could be researched are the status of women faculty (particularly regarding marital status and pregnancy), records of a very few African-American faculty during this period, and dealings with the Selective Service regarding the status of young faculty members during the Vietnam War era.


Arranged in 5 series. Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Boxes 2-3), Series 3 (3-5), Series 4 (Boxes 5-8), Series 5 (Boxes 8-16). Folders are arranged predominantly in original order, so subjects may be dispersed throughout several boxes.


Acquired from the WSU English Department in 1978 and 1979. One box acquired in 1988.

Related Materials

Wayne University Department of English Records, WSR000027. Wayne State University Student and Departmental Publications, WSR002874, particularly Boxes 42 and 43. Leslie L. Hanawalt Papers, WSP000250. Frank G. Tompkins Papers, WSP00153. Orville F. Linck Papers, WSP000152. Other collections in the Wayne State University Archives.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Aimee Ergas on December 4, 2019
Guide to the Wayne State University Department of English Records
Processed by Aimee Ergas.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA