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Lee A. White Papers

Identifier: 1979-02

Collection Scope

SERIES I: Cranbrook School (1927-1955) contains the bulk of the material, which contains five sub-series: Administration, Alumni Association, Facilities, Financial and Publicity. This series contains correspondence relating to the Board of Directors, Headmasters, Personnel and the Alumni Association. In addition, there is information relating to school buildings and equipment, publicity, and financial matters including budgets, taxes and insurance, scholarships, and the revised Cranbrook School Trust Indenture.

Of particular note is the correspondence regarding the first headmaster of Cranbrook School, William O. Stevens, and the correspondence with Board Director, Morris Tilley. Both sets of correspondence reflect personal viewpoints of the three men regarding a variety of “sensitive” subjects relative to Cranbrook School. In addition, in 1931, Headmaster Stevens sent the faculty a questionnaire regarding their viewpoints on possible changes at Cranbrook School. The answers provide fascinating insight to areas of concern and interest to the faculty. In the mid 1930s, a program was in place to increase enrollment in the school and reports of “scouting trips” are also of interest.

SERIES II: Kingswood School (1930-1951) is divided into two subseries – Administration and Topical. The Administration subseries is primarily dedicated to materials relating to the Board of Directors, the Headmistresses and various faculty members. The topical subseries primarily deals with financial materials, but includes correspondence relating to facilities, publicity and alumni.

SERIES III: Cranbrook Foundation (1929-1962) relates primarily to publications, such as the Foundation Booklet, and the formation of the Cranbrook Central Committee. Of particular interest in this series is the discussion between Lee White and William Frayer regarding Adolph Hitler.

SERIES IV: Topical (1931-1967) contains items relating to Lee White’s personal life, including his receiving the Founders Medal in 1958. It also contains a small amount of correspondence relating to Christ Church Cranbrook, the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the Cranbrook Schools in England and Australia.

SERIES V: Personal (1924-1930) was added in 2005 with the addition of new materials regarding Lee White’s children: W. Stoddard and Elizabeth. The material consists primarily of newspapers created by them as children.


  • 1926 - 1958



Access to the collection is unrestricted.


Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.


Born 23 Nov 1886 in Flint, Lee A White graduated from the University of Michigan in 1910, and received a Master of Arts in 1911. White began a career in journalism in Ann Arbor as managing editor of the Michigan Daily, and was founder of a student magazine called the Gargoyle. Following graduation, White began as a reporter for the Detroit News, and eventually worked as a feature writer, copyreader and editor. From 1914-1917, White moved to the west coast where he was an associate professor and chairman of the journalism department at the University of Washington. In 1918, White returned to Michigan and the Detroit News, where he worked until his retirement in 1952. He developed a close relationship with president George G. Booth, serving as his editorial secretary. From 1936, he also served as chief librarian for the newspaper, and was its first director of public relations.

When the Booths established Cranbrook as a cultural center, White became active in its affairs. He served as director of Cranbrook school for 20 years (1926-1946), chairman of the board of Kingswood School, and as a trustee of the Academy of Art. In 1952, White was responsible for surveying the “needs and desires in the area of community relations” for the Cranbrook Institutions. The results of this survey led to the establishment of a public relations office, of which White became director in 1953.

White moved his family from Detroit to Birmingham in 1919, and served on the village commission in the 1920s and 1930s. White’s first marriage was to Florence Baker (? – 1943) in 1912, and they had two children, Stoddard and Elizabeth. He married second, Hazel Benjamin Reavis, in 1945. In September 1971, White suffered a heart attack and died at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac.


1.7 Linear Feet (4 MS)

Language of Materials



Lee A White was a journalist, working for the Detroit News from 1911 until his retirement in 1952, except between 1914-1917, when he was an associate professor and chairman of the journalism department at the University of Washington. He developed a close relationship with George G. Booth, serving as his Editorial Secretary and, from 1936, he also served as Chief Librarian for the newspaper, and became its first Director of Public Relations. He served as Director of Cranbrook School for 20 years (1926-1946), Chairman of the board of Kingswood School, and as a Trustee of the Academy of Art. In 1952, White contributed to the establishment of a public relations office, of which White became Director in 1953. The collection consists primarily of correspondence relating to Cranbrook and its institutions, but also includes some news clippings.


In 1979, the collection had been inventoried by White’s folder headings, some of which remained intact. However, additional materials had been organized under the broad heading of “general correspondence” even though some items were clearly marked for White’s own filing system. In January 2003, the collection was reorganized into series reflecting the various institutions and governance at Cranbrook following White’s original order as he noted on some of the correspondence.

The collection is organized into five series: Cranbrook School (Box 1-3), Kingswood School (Box 3), Cranbrook Foundation (Box 3-4), Topical (Box 4), and Personal (Box 4).

Custodial History

The collection was donated to Henry S. Booth by Elizabeth L. White in June 1974, and transferred to the Archives in 1979.


The collection was transferred from Henry S. Booth in 1979.

Related Materials

Cranbrook Foundation Office Records, 1981-05

Cranbrook School Records, 1979-06

Henry Scripps Booth and Carolyn Farr Booth Papers, 1982-05

Kingswood School Records, 1980-01

William O. Stevens Papers, 1995-90


The photographs were removed and filed in the Archives’ photograph collection.

Processing History

Inventoried by Bev Hoffman in April 1979. Processed in January 2003 by Leslie S. Edwards. Finding Aid updated in August 2005 by Jill Griffiths.

Guide to the Lee A. White Papers
Leslie S. Edwards
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Revision Statements

  • August 2005: Revised by Jill Griffiths.

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository