WSU English Department Records Now Open

Publications by various WSU English Department faculty

Recently processed and made available to researchers is the collection Wayne State University English Department Records, with documents dating from the late 1920s to the 1980s. The processing of this collection was made possible in part through the generosity of Leslie Keyes and Hillary Keyes, daughters of former WSU faculty member Daniel Keyes. Keyes was best known as the author of “Flowers for Algernon,” an award-winning short story (1959) and subsequent novel (1966) that was often taught in high-school English classes and was the basis for a 1968 Oscar-winning movie.

The records include deliberations of major committees on policy, personnel and curriculum, as well as student requirements and activities on the undergraduate and graduate level. With these records, researchers could track changes in curriculum and standard literature over the decades. The material also reflects faculty and graduate student research and grant proposals, as well as participation in local, state and national professional organizations.

Approximately half the records are faculty correspondence and employment information dating from the 1940s to 1980s. This includes material of many prominent faculty including Frank G. Tompkins, who was department head from 1917 to 1939. Leslie L. Hanawalt came to Wayne University in 1929 and served as department chair from 1945 to 1939. English faculty members, Clarence B. Hilberry and William Rea Keast went on to become University presidents. Other notable faculty included in this collection are Robert W. Babcock, Emelyn Gardner, Leo Kirschbaum, Orville F. Linck, Donald J. Lloyd, William Mockler and John Wilcox. Some documents and publications of Professor Ellen J. Stekert, one of the founders of the WSU Folklore Archive, are also included. Among interesting trends that researchers could pursue in this collection are the status of women faculty (particularly regarding marital status and pregnancy), records of a very few African-American faculty during this period, and dealings with the Selective Service regarding the status of young faculty members during the Vietnam War era.
The newly released collection joins a previous collection at the Reuther Library, Wayne University Department of English Records, which includes personal papers of Frank G. Tompkins, gradebooks of Clarence Hilberry, and general material from the English Department office, dated 1920 to 1955.