WMU News

Massie's centennial history of WMU now available

Oct. 7, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Noted Michigan historian Larry Massie, recipient of three Western Michigan University degrees, is the author of a book that traces his alma mater's first 100 years.

"Brown and Golden Memories: Western Michigan University's First Century" was published in late September by WMU and is now available in bookstores. The 276-page book includes more than 250 historical photos. They illustrate the events that shaped the school and depict the people who played a major role in its development from a tiny teachers college on a Kalamazoo hilltop to one of the nation's top-100 public research universities.

Publication of the book is part of the University's centennial celebration, marking the school's founding in 1903 as the final Michigan normal school authorized by the Legislature. The selection of Massie to write the work was a natural choice, since he's been intimately familiar with the area's history and has been collecting WMU lore for years. "Brown and Golden Memories" is Massie's 17th book on Michigan history.

"In the two and a half years I spent researching and writing this book, I delved into just about every corner of this University and its archives looking for textual materials and photographs," says Massie, who worked for eight years in WMU's archives before launching his own business in 1983. "I found so many fascinating tidbits about our tradition and history. Writing this book has deepened my appreciation for Western Michigan University as a remarkable place where one can really get a first-class education.

"One of the things I was pleased to find was the constant and close interaction between Western and the Kalamazoo community. WMU would never have come to Kalamazoo if the community had not really fought to get it here. Today, it looks like what was done a century ago in securing the University may now help secure the future of Kalamazoo--for the next 100 years."

The book is divided into six chapters. Massie uses his skills as a storyteller to weave together tales of student life with profiles of both legendary and little known figures in the school's past. Oral histories collected over the years play a major part in each chapter, as the story of WMU is told through the words of track stars and presidents, faculty members and their spouses and students from a variety of eras.

In the book's foreword, WMU's sixth president, Dr. Diether H. Haenicke, calls the work a "readable, sweeping account of our past" and reports it is "chockfull of fascinating facts and certain to induce nostalgia."

The book is available at Kalamazoo-area bookstores. It also can be purchased online for $35 at <www.ur.wmich.edu/centennial/merchandise.html>. The price includes tax and shipping.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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