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Washtenaw County Historic Preservation Program surveys

Identifier: 018.WCHPP

Scope and Contents

The survey materials in this collection are generally organized alphabetically by township with separate folders for townships without parcel numbers, and township survey notes. The “township” designation folder contains survey materials that were marked with Washtenaw County property parcel numbers and identified by the eWashtenaw HistWeb project. The “township, no parcel #” folders contain survey materials that were not incorporated into the HistWeb database because a parcel numbers were not identified. The “township, survey notes” folder designates materials that supplemented the survey cards and includes original charts, maps, and collection notes.

The organizational method employed here reflects the same organization that was present in the original rural building survey (by township) with further folder distinctions to show the organization system employed by eWashtnaw (parcel number, no parcel number). Some descriptive titles have been assigned to materials with no apparent title, such as subsequent student surveys.

Survey materials primarily consist of one of two different survey cards, either handwritten or typed, that aimed to collect primary information about the structures on a property. Most are affixed with a small reference black and white photo. Some have larger color photos. Many have sketched site plans. Additional surveys that were conducted as student projects are held in separate folders along with the relevant student papers, charts, and maps.

The collection is a strong record of pre-1930 rural vernacular buildings in Washtenaw County as extant in early 1980s. Not all townships were equally covered in the original or subsequent surveys. Excluded from the original survey were Webster Township and the southern half of Lima Township. Missing from the current collection is a good representation of Lodi and Bridgewater Township. Freedom Township is only represented as a subsequent student project. Well represented in additional student surveys are several neighborhoods of downtown Ann Arbor, which was not the focus of the original, rural survey.

Most folders are identified by the geographic designation of township, or other defined area as common practice within Washtenaw County, such as a CDP (census designated place). Folders that contain reports, individual papers, or additional survey efforts are designated by their tittle. Where a paper or project included survey cards, those cards have been left in the folder with the paper, rather than removed to a folder of geographic/township location. An example of this is the Freedom Township materials which are in the folder “Student Paper, Mickulka, Patricia, A Survey of Freedom Township.” In several cases subsequent survey materials had no accompanying report, and have been filed in their own folder based on geographic location or theme. The folder of survey cards for Ann Arbor (not the township) at the beginning of the collection, and the folder of Fast Food Establishments at the end are respectively examples.


  • 1980 - 1999
  • Majority of material found within 1981 - 1982


Conditions Governing Access

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

Historical Note

The surveys in this collection are primarily the result of two years effort by the Historic Preservation Office of the Department of Geography & Geology at Eastern Michigan University to produce a complete rural building survey of historic properties in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Because the original survey was of rural buildings, only the undeveloped township areas were originally covered; as opposed to city, towns, villages, or other home rule municipalities. Additionally, not all townships were covered in the first survey effort, with 18½ of the 20 townships originally being surveyed.

Funded in part through a grant from the US Department of the Interior’s Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service (under provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966) through the Michigan Department of State, the surveys were conducted primarily by graduate students in the “GEO 636” class at Eastern Michigan University. Started in 1981, the survey project was led by Dr. Marshall McLennan, then head of the Historic Preservation Program, as well as Andrew Nazzaro, and Robert Haswell, and graduate assistants Karen Bean and Katherine Moberg. The survey was conducted as a “windshield” type survey. A complete history of the project is outlined in McLennan’s draft completion report, “Washtenaw County Rural Building Survey,” included in this collection [Box 8, Folder 3].

The rural building survey ultimately filled the need of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (MI-SHPO) and the Washtenaw County Historic District Commission for a broad reconnaissance survey of historic properties in Washtenaw County. According to Dr. McLennan a copy was sent to the Michigan State Archive, as well as the MI-SHPO. Since 1982, survey standards for historic properties in the State of Michigan have developed considerably. While these surveys were conducted to professional preservation standards, they do not reflect later, official standards and were incorporated into future databases differently. It is worth noting that this survey was created to be input into a database program before the State of Michigan developed such a database. Several additional surveys in Washtenaw County were also executed by graduate students as both class and final projects. These additional surveys often used the same survey cards of the original rural building survey and were ultimately included with the original materials.

Washtenaw County acquired this extended collection of surveys from the Historic Preservation Program in the late 1990s when they were in danger of being lost due to storage space concerns. The County incorporated the surveys into a cutting edge project by eWashtenaw called The Historic Resource Database (HistWeb). A list of people who worked on the project follows: Project Coordinator: Marnie Paulus GIS Coordinator: Kim Wraight ITS Programmer: Jack Overhiser SHPO Partners: Teresa Goforth, Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock GIS Consultants: Keith Croteau, Jim Bennett WCHDC Consultants: Marshall McLennan, Ted Ligibel, Mary Culver, Sally Bund and Ina Hanel WCHDC Technicians: Anne Kreykes, Kathy Holtz, Michelle Cyrus and Barry Wauldron ITS Consultants: Jim Burkey, Sheryl Stefanski, Shawn Stemen, Yang Meng, Nancy Pearlman, Marian Thurman, David Mote, Lois Merit Web Content Coordinator: Charley Wolfe Volunteers: Bob Kellum, Don Riddering, Jasper Pennington, Janet Cowling, Kathy Duquette, Karl Williams, Louisa Pieper, Marsha Ticknor GIS Interns: Nate Arnold, Josh Goldstein, Todd Bootz, Patty Fries

In March of 2012 the survey materials were transferred back to the Eastern Michigan University Archive's Historic Preservation Special Collection for permanent storage. Additional survey materials and accompanying student reports covering Washtenaw County were transferred from the Historic Preservation Program; and while they were outside of the original project they were included with the materials given to eWashtnaw, and are therefore included in this collection.


3.2 Linear Feet (8 archive boxes)

Language of Materials



The Washtenaw County Historic Preservation Program surveys is a collection of rural building surveys conducted by students enrolled in “GEO 636” under the direction of Dr. Marshall McLennan in 1981. Surveys are arranged by township, with materials missing from Bridgewater and Lodi townships and some townships left incomplete due to time and course restraints. All of these details are in Dr. McLennan's report [Box 8/ Folder 3], additionally several areas are represented as subsequent student papers or projects, including neighborhoods in Ann Arbor.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copies of the surveys contained in the Washtenaw County Historic Preservation Program survey collection can be found at

They are organized by year of authorship and then alphabetically.



Washtenaw County Historic Preservation Program surveys
Amara Jayne Frontczak
2012 May 31
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