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Harold E. Sponberg papers

Identifier: 02.HES

Scope and Contents

The Harold E. Sponberg papers are a near complete record of an Eastern Michigan University president who during his tenure oversaw major expansion of the University both physically and academically in addition to a great deal of unrest with the student body who were protesting racial discrimination and the conflict in Vietnam. His files reflect these issues along with the work he was doing off campus as it related to national higher education organizations and international education.

The materials in this collection are organized into five series: Inauguration, Office Files, Personal Files, Photographs, and Recognition Dinner. Materials in the Inauguration, and Recognition Dinner series are related to the planning and execution of the events that welcomed Sponberg to campus and bid farewell upon his retirement from the University.

The Office Files series offers the most research value to understanding Sponberg and his presidency. Originally organized alphabetically by his office, in these files researchers will find evidence of meetings with administrators, faculty and student groups to discuss program expansion, enrollment, building expansion and issues surrounding social justice.

The Personal Files contains correspondence (personal notes to and from colleagues, condolence letters sent to his wife Grace after his death in 1975, and letters sent on behalf of his children) and record of his military service. There is a Photographs series which primarily contains images taken at University Sponsored events and are arranged by type of image and format, e.g. headshots and slides.

Researchers interested in what was happening at Eastern Michigan University between 1965 and 1974 will want to view this collection.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1965 - 1974
  • Creation: 1940 - 1978


Conditions Governing Access

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

Biographical note

Harold Eugene Sponberg was born September 26, 1918, in New Richland, Minnesota; he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1940 from Gustavus Adolphus College, Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota, 1941, and his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1952. He married Grace Miller of Orange City, Florida, and together they had five children.

Prior to becoming the President of Eastern Michigan University, Sponberg was an elementary and high school teacher; Assistant Professor, Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Educational Placement, and Professor of Education at Michigan State University between 1946-1953; Executive Secretary, National 4-H Foundation, 1953-1954; Director of University Extension, Michigan State University, 1954-1956; Vice President of Academic Affairs, Northern Michigan University, 1956-1961; President of Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas, 1961-1965.

On October 2, 1965, President Sponberg was inaugurated as the 15th President of EMU. When Sponberg took the reins of EMU the student population was approximately 10,188 students and the University maintained an image of a teacher-training institution. Sponberg undertook the college boom as a challenge and oversaw a major expansion of buildings on campus which included: Pray-Harrold; Porter (which served as a new University Library); Mark Jefferson Science Complex; Rynearson Football Stadium; Ostrike Baseball Stadium, and a majority of the dormitories.

President Sponberg also established the first office of a full time Director of Alumni Relations; the University Archives and converted the old office of publications and news services into the Office of Information Services. Harold Sponberg resigned his position as University President on March 20, 1974. After suffering a heart attack in his home, Harold Sponberg died April 26, 1975.


23 Linear Feet (21 record center cartons, 1 slide box, 1 halfsize archive box, 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials



The Harold E. Sponberg papers documents the tenure of Eastern Michigan University President Harold E. Sponberg, 1965-74. Included in this collection are records documenting his Inauguration, Retirement, Office and Personal files. Of particular note are his alphabetically organized office files documenting policy changes on campus in the late 1960s, expansion of campus buildings and course offerings.

Related Materials

Additional collections related to Sponberg's tenure include:

Bruce K. Nelson papers [02.BKN]:

Campus Demonstration records [04.CD]:

Harold E. Sponberg papers
Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2018 June 19
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