Cranbrook Institute of Science Director’s Office Records
SERIES I: Trustees/Board of Governors (1930-2000) is possibly the best place to get the overall picture of the historical development and continuing functioning of the Cranbrook Institute of Science. This series contains a full run of the Annual Reports and Quarterly Meeting Minutes of the CIS Board of Governors. The Board of Governor’s committee activity is documented, with the heaviest concentration of records being in the 1960s-1980s. The formation and early years of CIS are described in the History section of this series. The CIS Board of Governors early involvement in the formation of the Detroit Science Center can be found in this series.
SERIES II: Operations (1930-1996) documents the administrative end of CIS life, encompassing personnel, budget/finance, admissions, building maintenance, and security. Fundraisers and annual events like the Maple Sugar Festival are documented in the Community Relations subseries. Properties that were owned or donated to CIS, including the Beresford farm and the Ward property at Orchard Lake (site of the Cranbrook Nature Sanctuary) can be found in the Properties subseries.
SERIES III: Exhibits (1940-1998) documents the temporary, permanent, and traveling exhibits. This should not be considered an exhaustive list of exhibits, however, as the majority of exhibits in this series are from the 1970s-1990s. For a more complete picture of the range of exhibits over the years, the user should consult the Annual Reports located in the Trustees/Board of Governors series.
SERIES IV: Education (1933-1997) documents CIS’ emphasis on educational programming. Within this series, the user can find class brochures from 1933-1996, field trips, summer camps, educational programming collaboration with area schools and universities, and the funding sources for these programs. Users are also encouraged to consult the Annual Reports located in the Trustees/Board of Governors series for additional information on CIS educational programming.
SERIES V: Research (1930-1994) documents research conducted by CIS directors, staff members, and visiting scholars. The material is primarily in the format of compiled data and subsequent reports. Involvement in inland lakes and Great Lakes research is documented, as is the research holdings in the CIS Library. Drainage and vegetation studies of Kingswood Lake (called Cranbrook Lake during some studies) are in this series, as are manuscripts and published works of directors and staff members. A large section of algae drawings by Stanley Cain can be found. These pencil drawings were intended for publication and are a good example of how scientific research from that era was conducted.
SERIES VI: Renovation and Expansion (1945-1995) documents several building expansions and improvements that have taken place. Materials in this series describe the preparation and planning that accompanied these improvements. Most of the materials in this series cover the major expansion project that spanned the 1980s-1990s. Additional documentation of the building of Edison House, the Woodward entrance, and the Arrival Feature can also be found within the series. See the Oversized Materials series for additional renovation and expansion information.
SERIES VII: Correspondence (1930-1991) spans the 1920s through the 1990s, pre-CIS through present day. Important correspondents in this series include: all CIS Directors, George G. Booth, Henry S. Booth, Robert McMath, Henry Hulbert, Gustavus Pope, members of the Beresford family, Stanley Cain, Lee Dice, Cecil Billington, and Arthur Wittliff. Materials are arranged alphabetically and chronologically. The relationship between CIS and the other Cranbrook institutions can be found in this series.
SERIES VIII: Oversized Materials (1984) contains a facility program report compiled by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) in preparation for the 1980s-1990s CIS expansion project.
CIS Directors in Chronological Order
- Victor Cahalane
- Lee Dice (acting)
- Robert Hatt
- Warren Wittry
- Robert Bowen (acting)
- Robert Bowen
- Kathleen Roth (acting)
- Dennis Wint
- Kathleen Roth (acting)
- Robert West
- Ellen Jacobowitz (acting)
- Daniel Appleman
- Elaine Heumann Gurian (acting)
- Talbert Spence
- 1920 - 1990
- Cranbrook Institute of Science (Organization)
Access to the collection is unrestricted, with the exception of restricted material, Box 19.
Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.
Cranbrook Institute of Science is a nationally recognized natural history and science museum primarily serving Michigan and the Great Lakes region. It seeks to interest and educate people of all ages about nature, science and humankind through its exhibits, education, collection, research, and public programs. The Institute is a division of Cranbrook Educational Community.
The Institute of Science began, as do all Cranbrook institutions, with the vision and generosity of George Gough Booth. In 1926, when Cranbrook School was nearing completion, a plan developed to have astronomy as part of the school curriculum, and to mount a telescope in the school’s tower, now part of Hoey Hall. Following much experimentation, this tower was found to be an unfit observatory, as moist air rising in the tower caused condensation and, in the winter, ice-formation. Plans for the astronomy curriculum were put on hold and the lenses were placed in storage. During this period, Mr. and Mrs. George Booth were traveling in the West, where they purchased a collection of 277 mineral specimens for Cranbrook School from a dealer, Pohndorf’s, of Denver, Colorado. This was soon to be followed by the purchase of a substantial mineral collection from Levi P. Rowland of Detroit, also for use in the planned Cranbrook School museum. These two purchases formed what would become one of the first and most important collections of the soon-to-be-created Cranbrook Institute of Science.
Recognizing a need, on May 13, 1930, the Trustees of The Cranbrook Foundation authorized the construction of “suitable buildings”, and a committee was appointed “to select a name for the proposed institution and organize a board of directors to develop and manage it”.2 The Institute was to be built on “Sunset Hill”, the highest point on Cranbrook property. The name “The Cranbrook Institute of Science” was proposed to the Trustees on June 26, 1930. The first meeting of the Institute’s Board of Trustees took place on July 1, 1930, and Henry S. Hulbert was appointed its first Chairman. The institution was a department or an activity of the Foundation, not to be re-constituted as separate and independent under a trust indenture until February 10, 1932.
The first Institute, as designed by George Booth and built in 1930, was a one-story, wood-shingled, cinder-block building built around a square court. Almost immediately, George Booth had Eliel Saarinen began to prepare a master plan for growth, building and expanding from the current structure. This culminated in the “Grand Plan”, submitted in 1932 [not built]. Revised Saarinen plans were approved, and the new Institute was dedicated in May 1938. The Institute of Science experienced several more expansions, including the McMath Planetarium in 1955, the Skillman Wing in 1962, Edison House in 1966, and the Nature Center in 1969. The Cranbrook Nature Sanctuary, near Orchard Lake, was established on land donated to CIS from Harold Lee Ward. Architect Steven Holl designed the most recent expansion, completed in 1999. Exhibit space was greatly expanded, nearly doubling the size of the Institute.
From the beginning, the staff was selected to encompass the interests of both research and education. Museum exhibits were soon accepted as a principal education tool. The first employee of the Institute was W. Bryant Tyrrell, a naturalist and taxidermist who had previously served on the staff of the Children’s Museum [of] Detroit. The staff list in the first Annual Report shows nineteen named posts filled by eight employees and four Trustees. Victor H. Cahalane was selected by the Board as Curator of the Institute, beginning on January 1, 1931. In April 1931 his title was changed to Director. Please see the chronological list of CIS Directors below for a complete list of Mr. Cahalane’s successors.
In 1930, CIS began as a small museum providing science education for students at Cranbrook Schools. Throughout the years, the Institute has maintained its commitment to education, research, and outreach. It is now the largest science museum in Michigan, with annual attendance at more than 200,000 visitors.
CIS Directors in Chronological Order:
1930-1934: Victor Cahalane
1934-1935: Lee Dice (acting)
1935-1967: Robert Hatt
1967-1972: Warren Wittry
1972-1973: Robert Bowen (acting)
1973-1980: Robert Bowen
1981-1982: Kathleen Roth (acting)
1982-1986: Dennis Wint
1986-1987: Kathleen Roth (acting)
1987-1991: Robert West
1992-1993: Ellen Jacobowitz (acting)
1993-1998: Daniel Appleman
1998-1999: Elaine Heumann Gurian (acting)
1999-2002: Talbert Spence
21.7 Linear Feet (17 SB, 1 MS)
Language of Materials
Cranbrook Institute of Science is a nationally recognized natural history and science museum primarily serving Michigan and the Great Lakes region. It seeks to interest and educate people of all ages about nature, science and humankind through its exhibits, education, collection, research, and public programs. The Institute is a division of Cranbrook Educational Community, beginning, as do all Cranbrook institutions, with the vision and generosity of George Gough Booth. Originally conceived to support astronomy curriculum and a natural history museum for students at Cranbrook School, in 1930 the Trustees of The Cranbrook Foundation supported building of the Institute as we know it today. From the beginning, the staff was selected to encompass the interests of both research and education. Museum exhibits were soon accepted as a principal education tool. The collection documents the historical development and continuing functioning of the Cranbrook Institute of Science as well as the formation of the Detroit Science Center through governance and administrative records. Fundraisers, annual events, exhibits, educational programming, research is well documented throughout. Property records and renovation and expansion documents cover land owned, used, and built upon to support activities of the Institute, including the building of Edison House, the Woodward entrance, and the Arrival Feature.
The collection is divided into eight series: Trustees/Board of Governors (boxes 1-5), Operations (boxes 6-8), Exhibits (boxes 9-10), Education (box 10), Research (boxes 11-14), Renovation and Expansion (box 14),
Correspondence (boxes 15-17), and Oversized Materials (box 18).
Series II: Operations is divided further into 9 subseries: Administration, Admissions, Awards, Budget/Finance, Community Relations, Maintenance, Personnel, Properties, and Publications.
Series V: Research is divided futher into 6 subseries: Arboretum Development, Divisions, Lake Research (includes Sub-subseries: Great Lakes Research Group ), Library, Visiting Scholars Program, and Cain, Stanley Iconography.
Folders in each series are arranged in alphabetical/chronological order, and each folder’s contents are arranged in chronological order.
This collection is a compilation of several record transfers from the Institute of Science.
Photographic materials removed to Photo Collection Files.
Inventory, Peggy Appleman. Research series and creation of finding aid, Veronica Bielat. Processing bulk of collection and creation of finding aid, Amy James, June 2000.
- Appleman, Daniel E. (1931-1998)
- Booth, George G. (George Gough), 1864-1949
- Booth, Henry Scripps, 1897-1988
- Booth, James Scripps, 1888-1954
- Buckberrough, John
- Cain, Stanley A. (Stanley Adair), 1902-1995
- Carmel, James H., 1919-2016
- Christ Church Cranbrook (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
- Colburn, William
- Cranbrook Academy of Art
- Cranbrook Foundation
- Dansereau, Pierre, 1911-2011
- Eames, Charles
- Earth Science
- Foucault’s pendulum
- Goodall, Jane, 1934-
- Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum
- Hulbert, Harold S. (Harold Stacey), 1887-1949
- Kirtland’s warbler
- Lawrence Technological University
- Levin, Carl, 1934-2021
- McCoy, Katherine, 1945-
- McCoy, Michael (1944)
- McMath, Robert R. (Robert Raynolds), 1891-1962
- Michigan State University
- Mitchell, Wallace, 1911-1977
- Nickell, Walter P.
- Oakland Community College
- Pallasmaa, Juhani
- Saarinen, Eliel, 1873-1950
- Science museums
- Sepeshy, Zoltan, 1898-1974
- Skillman Foundation
- Slade, Roy
- Swanson, Jons Robert Ferdinand
- Thompson, Paul W. (Paul Woodard), 1909-1994
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- Wayne State University
- Wild flowers
- Guide to the Cranbrook Institute of Science Director’s Office Records
- Research series and creation of finding aid, Veronica Bielat.
- June 2000
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Edition statement
- Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.
- June 2000: Processing bulk of collection and creation of finding aid, Amy James.
Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository