Housed at the Zhang Legacy Collections Center, our archives and regional history collections contain items that document the history of southwest Michigan and Western Michigan University.
Print and manuscript collections
This collection consists of letters, diaries, business records, organizational records, photographs, publications, newspapers and other materials documenting the social, business, political and institutional history of southwest Michigan. Publications include an extensive genealogy library and cover the Midwest and beyond. Records on deposit from the Archives of Michigan include the public records of 12 counties in southwest Michigan: Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Joseph and Van Buren. Holdings for each county vary and may include tax records, court records and township minutes.
Search for materials in this collection using our Library Search. For descriptive inventories of items in our Regional History collection, see our finding aids in ArchivesSpace.
Documenting the history of WMU, this collection includes yearbooks, catalogs, alumni publications, scrapbooks and issues of the Western Herald. It also includes many of the historical records of WMU. Some departmental records require permission from the originating department to access.
See Records Management to learn more about how WMU collects, preserves and provides access to the official records of the University.
Regional History Image Collections
Zhang Legacy Collection Center is home to several large photographic collections with images depicting individuals and the social, institutional and business activities of the region from the 1860s to the 1990s. This includes the work of Ward Morgan (Kalamazoo), Adolf Haan (Berrien County), Grace Weeks (Van Buren County), Schiavone Studio (Kalamazoo) and John Lacko (Kalamazoo).
Ward Morgan Photography Collection
Featuring nearly 27,000 black and white photographic negatives, this collection contains images from 1939 to 1980. These photographs reflect the people, industries, built environment and commercial activities of the Kalamazoo area.
You can also view a selection of Ward Morgan photographs online.
WMU Archives Photograph Collection
This collection contains images from WMU’s history including views of the campus from the construction phase of the original campus in 1904 through the present, campus athletics, buildings, some faculty and staff, and the 250,000 plus image collection of photographs of the Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications.
You can also view a selection of WMU archives photographs online.
These collections depict the history of southwest Michigan and includes the Caroline Bartlett Crane Everyman’s House Collection, “Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress” book, South Haven Lighthouse Logs, United States Civil War Collection and more.
Digital copies of past issues of the Western Herald, Focus, Focus News, Kalamazoo News and Augustinian newspapers can be found in this collection.
These collections document WMU’s history and include digital versions of yearbooks, music performances, oral histories, the Western Herald newspapers and WMU-related websites.
Faculty, instructors and community groups are invited to bring students for a hands-on experience using the books, manuscripts and other materials in these collections. We can help you create an educational opportunity for your students that will encourage them to think critically about sources and ask new questions. To schedule a class visit, fill out our Class Visit Request form.