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Charles McKenny Union records

Identifier: 015.CMKU

Scope and Contents

Charles McKenny Union was constructed between 1930-31 as a student union. While the building continues to serve a social function it is no longer the primary student union. It houses offices, classrooms, space for special events and meetings.

The Charles McKenny Union records have been arranged into eight series that includes Administration, History and Programs, Building and Renovations, Conferences and Training, Events, Publicity and Outreach, Student Organizations, Visual Materials and finally Memorabilia. Materials within each series are arranged alphabetically by record type and administrative function.

The Administration, History and Programs series documents the administration of the building as a place for special events, meetings, presentations and other special events. Included in this series are the administrative documents collection through the course of typical business, including contract information, employee and volunteer schedules, evaluations, reports and planning documents. The Building and Renovations series contains materials related to the construction and facilities maintenance with a subseries dedicated to documenting Renovations and Expansions of the buildings in the 1960s and 1990s. ; this series includes materials pertaining to the planning, construction, and renovation of the building over the years. Also included in the records are news releases, correspondence, clippings, brochures, and event materials.

The Conferences and Training and Events series are arranged alphabetically by the title of the conferences, training and special events that have taken place in McKenny over the years. Included in the Events series of materials are subseries specific to Logistics and Planning, FUNTRUST, Homecoming, LeaderShape and the Student Leadership Institute. The materials traditionally found in a Publicity and Outreach series can be found in the files of the previous two series, but the files in this series pertain to more general topics related to student support. The Student Organizations series includes some files of specific student groups, as well as general information and forms for student groups. Included in this series are two subseries dedicated to Revoked Organizations and Student Government. They are not complete records of either.

The Visual Materials includes original drawings, photographs, scrapbooks, and slides. This is a comprehensive collection of the McKenny building, but in no ways a compelete collection. Memorabilia includes materials used in the daily activities of the Union including cafateria trays, plates and cups, and bowling pins to name a few.


  • 1930 - 2012

Conditions Governing Access

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

Administrative History

The idea for a student union on the campus of Michigan State Normal College was proposed in 1924 by then University President Charles McKenny. The Alumni Association raised $500,000 for the project, and by 1928 the school had secured additional pledges of $350,000. However, because of the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the construction plan was adjusted to decrease overall costs. Construction began in 1931 and due to difficulties in paying bonds on the building lead the state to take control in 1937, drawing the cost of the debts from the student programming fees. The building was named for Charles M. McKenny, President of EMU 1912-1933.

The building was designed by architect Frank Eurich, Jr. of Burrough and Eurich, based in Detroit, Michigan, and the style of the building combines the Art Deco influences popular in the 1920s and 1930s with the Collegiate Gothic style, seen across many college campuses at the time.

During the 1950s, the third floor and basement of the Union were used as student housing because of a lack of appropriate student housing on campus. In 1963, the building was renovated and modernized, and was reponed in 1966. Another renovation followed in 1992. Charles McKenny Union was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. In 2007 the buildings purpose changed from a student union to office building when the new student union was built on the north side of campus.


32.2 Linear Feet (3 record center cartons, 16 archive boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 2 objects, and 9 oversized folders)

Language of Materials



Originally built in the early 1930s as a student union through funds raised by alumni, the Charles McKenny building now houses various administrative offices, student services, and classrooms on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. Construction began in 1930 and the building was dedicated in 1931. The Charles McKenny Union records pertain largely to the original planning and construction of the building and the several renovation projects that took place in the 1960s and 1990s to modernized the building, but also contains information on events and conferences that have taken place in the building, publicity and student organizations. Materials in the collection date from 1930 to 2013.

Related Materials

For related materials, see the following collections:

University Building Photograph collection [015.B]

Inactive Student Organizations records [04.ISO]

Charles McKenny Union records
Natalie Morath, Elizabeth Searls, Chloe Pare
2012 November 14
Description rules
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