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Egbert R. Isbell research materials

Identifier: 010.ERI


The Egbert R. Isbell research materials collection are the research files compiled by Dr. Isbell during the process of researching and writing a history of Eastern Michigan University where he served as both a faculty member and administrator from 1937-1967. The book, A History of Eastern Michigan University: 1849-1965 was published posthumously in 1971 by the now defunct Eastern Michigan University Press. The original order of the collection was maintained with series created around large groupings of records, e.g. Faculty, Annual Reports, Administration and Organization, and Alumni. Materials in the collection date from 1849-1965.


  • Creation: 1849 - 1965


Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Biographical Note

Egbert Isbell, a native of Gaines, Michigan, he matriculated at Albion College but left to serve with the Army Medical Corps in France. He attended Detroit Junior College for a year and then transferred to the University of Michigan receiving a A.B., A.M., Ph.D and LL.B. and becoming a member of the "M" Club by virtue of his undefeated record as a 2-mile runner on the track team and as a member of the Big Ten championship cross-country team.

Isbell taught high school history in Detroit and Ann Arbor after graduating from the University of Michigan. He married Florintine Sonnenschmidt (b.1901, d.1957) in 1927 and the couple moved from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti when he joined the faculty at the Michigan State Normal College in 1937 to teach in the history department. Beginning in 1940 he took on the role of Dean of Administration and during a reorganization of administrative offices in 1955 asked to return to faculty effective January 1, 1956. When he returned to the classroom he began the research and writing of A History of Eastern Michigan University: 1849-1965. A Historical Committee was formed in 1960 to oversee the collection of historical records to be transferred to the custody of the library to support Isbell's authorship of the history. In a 1961 Eastern Echo interview, Isbell noted the "lack of strong tradition that should abound on a campus of EMU's age. He believe[d] that the many colorful professors and students that have flourished here, combined with the school's fine athletic tradition, should have led us to a far deeper tradition than now exists." It would appear that this was what drove his interest and desire to write a comprehensive history on the University. In a 1963 letter he requested release time to complete a first draft of the history.

Isbell announced his retirement in May of 1967 and was grated emeritus status by the Board of Regents at their May meeting in the same year. He spent the year after retirement researching and writing the history of the University. He was diagnosed with Leukemia shortly after his retirement and died in October 1968 before completing the history. Isbell was 70 years old and was survived by his second wife, Mary Carter, two daughters and four grandchildren.

A History of Eastern Michigan University: 1849-1965 was published by the now defunct Eastern Michigan University Press posthumously in 1971.


7 Linear Feet (7 record center cartons)

Language of Materials



Egbert R. Isbell research materials
Research materials for A History of Eastern Michigan University: 1849-1965
Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2016 January 14
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197