Skip to main content

Eugene B. Elliott papers

Identifier: 02.EE

Scope and Contents

The Eugene B. Elliott papers, 1939-1972 documents Elliott's role as president of the Michigan State Normal College, Eastern Michigan College and finally Eastern Michigan University a role he held from 1948-1965. It also includes materials related to his role at the State Superintendent for the State of Michigan. The collection is orgnized 6 series: Personal Papers, State Superintendent, Michigan State Normal College Presidency, Clippings, Collected Publications and Wilma Elliot Materials. There is an additional file pertaining to the research of Paul E. Stellema whose research interest included the departure of Elliott from EMU.

The Personal Papers series contains biographical and genealogical materials, Elliott's diary from WWI, his WWI bond purchase, and invitations and programs of honors bestowed upon him. The State Superintendent series includes campaign literature and other election materials, and a financial report of his campaign expenses. The series Michigan State Normal College Presidency includes materials from his inaguration, an extensive correspondence collection that was and is arranged alphabetically by topic or person of interest, articles and speeches, certificates and awards, his date books and programs that he attended. In particular the correspondence subseries is a rich collection of information pertaining to the administration of a higher education institution.

The Clippings series contains newspaper articles related to Elliotts work in the classroom, in the State Superintendent's office, and the presidency at the Michigan State Normal College. Given the length of Elliott's tenure and the change that took place at the University during his time in office this series is an illustration of his standing on campus and the greater Ypsilanti community.

The Collected Publications are titles from Elliott's personal library, many include instriptions from the authors who either worked for or with Elliott and were inspired by his leadership. This are arranged alphabetically by title.

Finally, the Wilma Elliot materials includes correspondence to and from Ms. Elliott, including a substantial collection of sympathy cards collected after Elliott's death in 1971.


  • 1941 - 1975


Conditions Governing Access

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

Biographical Note

Eugene Bradshaw Elliot was born in Pontiac, Michigan April 6, 1896 to John and Anna (Hyde) Elliott and received his undergraduate degree from Albion College, and additional degrees from Michigan State University and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War I and was married to Wilma A. Gardner (1898-1972). Prior to his election to the post of State Superintendent of Public Instruction (a post he held for thirteen years) he spent seven years teaching and in school administration.

Elliott was appointed to the post of President of Michigan State Normal College effective July 1st at the State Board of Education Meeting held on March 23, 1948. Despite their request to be involved in the input process of selecting new leadership for the College, faculty requests were ignored. His first administrative changes on campus was to create the office of Controller and appointment of Benjamin L. Klager as business manager. During his tenure, Elliott saw enrollment rise from 2,000 in his first year to 8,000 when he retired in 1965. The size of the campus, the number of buildings and funds received from the state of Michigan increased as well. He is responsible for spearheading the effort in the State Legislature to change the name of the institution from Michigan State Normal College to Eastern Michigan College, a change that occurred in 1956 and then in 1959 the name changed again from College to University. In response to a 1960 report on issues of teaching load for faculty, Vice-President for Instruction, Bruce K. Nelson with support from Elliott adopted the reports recommendation for a reduction in classroom teaching to 12 hours per week.

In 1963, the State Board of Education called for Elliott's immediate resignation, to which Elliott refused and the Board ordered that his tenure terminate a year later. The State Board was disbanded before this could take place when a new State Constitution was approved January 1, 1964. The new constitution provided for a separate board of control for each of the baccalaureate degree-granting institutions to be composed of eight members, appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Elliott retired July 1, 1965 and moved to Adrian, Michigan. He died September 25, 1971 and is buried at the Adrian Center Cemetery, Adrian, MI.


20.8 Linear Feet (14 record center cartons, 5 legal archive boxes, 1 halfsize archive boxes, 1 oversize boxes, 1 clamshell box, 1 oversize folder )

Language of Materials



The Eugene B. Elliott papers, 1941-1975 documents the professional career of Eugene B. Elliott who served as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Michigan and then as President of the Michigan State Normal College, Eastern Michigan College and Eastern Michigan University. While the collection documents Elliott's professional work prior to his inaguration as the President of the Michigan State Normal College in 1948 the bulk of the collection documents his tenure as President (1948-1965). Materials in the collection are arranged based on his professional chronology and within each series alphabetically. Of particular note is the extensive correspondence collection that was and is arranged alphabetically by topic and/or person of interest as well as articles and speeches. Also included in the collection is a small collection of his wife's papers and a small research file given to the family by Paul E. Stellema who was writing his dissertation on Elliott's leadership of the Normal College.

Related Materials

Researchers interested the administration of the College and University during the 1950s and 1960s might also be interested in the Bruce K. Nelson papers [02.BKN] which documents his career as the Vice President of Instruction for the University from 1954-1975.

Eugene B. Elliott papers
Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2016 May 17
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

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