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Horace Rackham Hall records

Identifier: 015.HRH


The Horace Rackham Hall records include original floor plans, as well as photographs of Horace Rackham and the decorative tiles in the building. Rackham Hall originally constructed for the Special Education Department, housed the Children's Institute and after much remodeling in 2013, it now houses the Physicians Assistant Program. The collection does not contain information about the building planning process, or specifics of the building.


  • Creation: 1938 - 1938

Conditions Governing Access

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

Historical note

The Special Education department received a building of its own in 1938 with a donation made by the Horace H. and Mary A. Rackham fund of $350,000. The new building met the criteria set by Rackham’s will since it aided the disabled.

Rackham Hall was the first facility in the nation built specifically for teacher training in special education. The new building not only housed the Special Education Department, but also a Laboratory School where teachers learned techniques for educating students with special needs. Student teachers taught classes for the deaf and hard of hearing, blind and partially-sighted, cognitively impaired, and physically handicapped. Architects sited the building so that all the entrances to the building were made from ground level, relieving children, especially the disabled, from climbing steps to enter the building. Inside, Franklin Tiles decorate the areas around water fountains and along walls. Designs include fish, frog, crabs, a cougar, cranes, and leaves. Some of the tile designs are listed in the Franklin design sheets as early as the 1920s. The school could accommodate more than two hundred children. The ground floor contained six classrooms as well as a gymnasium and auditorium.

Today, most of the Special Education classes are housed in the Porter College of Education. Rackham was home to the Children’s Institute until 2011 when it underwent renovations. It now houses the recently established physician assistant program, whose inaugural courses were held in May 2014.


18 Linear Feet (3 flat boxes, 3 oversize folders, 1 object)

Language of Materials


Horace Rackham Hall records
Elizabeth Searls
2014 September 29
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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