First Impressions; or Pride and Appreciation

As the newest staff member at the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, I am on a HUGE learning curve.  I knew, taking this position, that Cranbrook had a deep and rich history, and a long association with famous artists, designers, and architects.  However, my first days here were spent touring campus, witnessing just what those associations created.

My first impressions of the cultural properties I will be working with are “Wow! What?! Cool.”  I hope in the coming months to be able to share some of those moments on the Kitchen Sink, but here are my first three:

Wow: Green Lobby, Kingswood School.

Kingswood School Green Lobby, photographer George W. Hance, 1932. Cranbrook Archives.

Kingswood School Green Lobby, photographer George W. Hance, 1932. Cranbrook Archives.

What: The 319-acre campus was designated a National Historic Landmark on June 29, 1989 for its significant architecture and design – 319-acres full of cultural properties!

Cool: Thornlea – and I get to explore all the rooms.

Leslie S. Mio, Assistant Registrar, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

Historical Menus Reveal Cultural Past

The Henry Scripps Booth Collection of Menus is a fascinating glimpse into another era and the travel exploits of the leisure class. The Cranbrook Archives has digitized a portion of the collection, mainly menu covers, that can be viewed in our digital database. Menus are wonderful cultural documents that reveal economic, dietary, artistic, sometimes geographic and even literary information about an era.

Many of the menu covers have artistic renderings, some of them signed. The 1952 menu for the farewell dinner on the Queen Elizabeth has a reproduction of a painting of the ship, with the name “C.F. Hopkinson” visible in the lower right corner.

Farewell Dinner Menu for R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Farewell Dinner Menu for R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth.
Courtesy Henry Scripps Booth Menu Collection, Cranbrook Archives

Doing a Google search, I found Hopkinson’s name in a blog post, written by the archivist in charge of the Cunard Archives (imagine what a fascinating archive that must be) in the Special Collections & Archives at the University of Liverpool Library. The blog cited C.F. Hopkinson in a discussion about land-based Cunard employees who served during World War I. The Cunard Line Staff Magazine was the source for this information, and the blog emphasized the importance of staff magazines in an archival collection, as company records rarely contain information about individual employees. The little information they presented on C.F. Hopkinson confirmed that he was an artist, even though employed as an accountant by Cunard. Moreover, the blog post elicited a response and additional information from C.F. Hopkinson’s daughter.

Charles Francis Hopkinson completeing bust of Samuel Cunard Courtesy Cunard Archiv, Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool

Charles Francis Hopkinson working on bust of Samuel Cunard.
Courtesy Cunard Archive, Special Collections and Archives at the University of Liverpool

While there’s nothing earthshaking about the tidbit of information I found, it’s always fun to have a bit of serendipity in one’s work and to be reminded of what a small world we live in–and of the power of blogs!

– Cheri Y. Gay, Archvist

Football Friday

The campus is getting ready to welcome students back to school in a couple of weeks. However, many athletic teams, including the Crane football team, have already started practicing and even had a pre-season scrimmage yesterday at the Thompson Oval. Many people might not know that the Detroit Lions held their Training Camp on the Cranbrook campus from 1934-1941 and from 1957-1974.

Newspaper article from 7 Aug 1960.

Article from the Detroit News, 7 Aug 1960.

Note for Sports Fans: the Cranes’ first league game is against Cabrini High School on September 3rd.  The Lions play their first regular season game on September 13th.

A view of the Cranbrook School Athletic field. Photographer Taro Yamasaki, Cranbrook Archives.

A view of the Cranbrook School Athletic field. Photographer Taro Yamasaki, Cranbrook Archives.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Can You Say Lobster Roll?

It feels as though summer is winding down and this week is the final session of Cranbrook Art Museum Summer Camp. We enjoyed a visit from students earlier in the week who were part of the “Costumes and Characters” session. While pulling materials to show the students, we came across this photo of Ralph Russell Calder (1894-1969), an architect and friend of Henry Scripps Booth. He is in a lobster costume made by Loja Saarinen for a “May Party” in 1926.


From the Henry Scripps and Carolyn Farr Booth Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

Calder, born in 1894, was a veteran of World War I and an accomplished musician. He graduated in 1923 from the University of Michigan College of Architecture (he and Henry were classmates). In 1924, he studied in England, France, and Italy as the winner of the George G. Booth Traveling Fellowship in Architecture.

Calder Card007

A card from Ralph Calder & Associates, Inc. with a 1924 sketch by Ralph Calder during his travels in Europe on the Booth Traveling Fellowship.

In 1925, Calder worked for several months as part of U of M’s Near East Research Expedition in Tunisia. The research and objects obtained from this expedition are the basis of the collection at the Francis W. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at U of M. Calder joined the Cranbrook Architectural Office in 1926 and remained there until staff was reduced due to the economic depression. In 1937, he joined the firm of William G. Malcomson and Maurice E. Hammond where he stayed until 1945, when he started his own firm, Ralph Calder and Associates, in Detroit.

Calder worked on the following buildings on the Cranbrook campus: the main academic building (Hoey Hall) at Cranbrook School, Thornlea, and Thornlea Studio. In addition, he was the architect for buildings at Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Hope College, Northern Michigan University, Hillsdale College, Wayne State University, Ferris State University, Western Michigan University, and Lake Superior State University. He enjoyed music as a hobby and was the organist and choirmaster for St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Detroit in the 1940s.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Logical Design: Using Primary Sources

As summer camps are winding down, we wanted to share how campers used the collections in the Archives this week. Earlier in the week, my daughter, who is attending Cranbrook Art Museum’s camp session “Problem Solving by Design,” told me of the industrial design concepts they were learning. I immediately thought of the collection of Design Logic, Inc. Records that we have in the Archives, which contain beautiful color transparencies of 3D projects designed in the 1980s by David Gresham and Martin Thayer. (See Cheri Gay’s post.)

Studying the design drawings for the View Master and the Projector, Aug 2015.

Studying the design drawings for the View Master and the Projector, Aug 2015.

The next morning, I spoke with Kanoa, the camp instructor and a 2015 grad of the Academy of Art, and he agreed the photos would be great to show the kids. We coupled them with a copy of the exhibition catalog Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse, which featured several prototypes by Design Logic, as well as by other designers, many of whom studied under Kathy and Michael McCoy here at Cranbrook in the 1980s. The following day, I took the kids to the Art Museum vault to actually look at some of the objects. Kanoa had them do several sketches from different angles, all the while talking about various design concepts. Then the following day of course I had to show them some of Gresham and Thayer’s own design drawings which are also a part of the collection in the Archives. The kids were able to view conceptual sketches through finished drawings that were then sent to the manufacturer.

Sketching objects in the Cranbrook Art Museum vault, Aug 2015.

Sketching objects in the Cranbrook Art Museum vault, Aug 2015.

All in all, I hope it was a great experience for the kids. It certainly was fun for me to be able to enrich their camp experience with primary source materials from Cranbrook Archives.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

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