University Archives acquires comprehensive land use collection

Grand Valley has a new collection at University Archives in the Seidman House. Urban planner Mark Wyckoff donated master plans, zoning ordinances, maps and other documents that he collected throughout his life. 

Annie Benefiel, archivist and digital collections librarian, said staff members digitized and preserved these artifacts for public use.

Mark Wyckoff is a lifelong urban planner who graduated from Michigan State University and frequently returns there as a visiting professor. He directed MSU's Planning and Zoning Center for 24 years until it recently closed. After the center closed, Wyckoff donated most of the work to GVSU, according to Benefiel. 

vertical boxes of zoning materials at University Archives
Mark Wyckoff donated master plans, zoning ordinances, maps and other documents to Grand Valley's University Archives.
Image credit - Macayla Cramer

“The materials really document the history of land use across the state of Michigan in the 20th century,” said Benefiel, adding Jim Penn, professor of geography and sustainable planning, was instrumental in making a connection between GVSU and Wyckoff.

The archivists see the collection being of use for many areas of study. Benefiel said there is no other collection like this in Michigan. 

“The Michigan portion was quite comprehensive,” said Benefiel. “There were only two counties in the whole state of Michigan that didn’t have any planning or zoning documentation in the collection.”

The collection was acquired in June 2022. Benefiel said it has only recently been processed due to its size — 65 linear feet of material. The collection covers subjects such as local government, zoning and city planning.

book, economic development plan for Detroit
University archivists say the collection is the most comprehensive of its kind in the state.
Image credit - Macayla Cramer
folders of planning materials from municipalities
After the MSU center closed, Mark Wyckoff donated most of the work to GVSU.
Image credit - Macayla Cramer

Processing archivist Andrea Howard said, “I could see this being used in a variety of settings.”

The community has access to most of the collection online through the University Archives website, but the staff encourage community members to see the collection in person.

Howard said, “In addition to our lovely study space overlooking the Ravines, we also house the special collections and rare books.”

Faculty members can make arrangements to bring their classes to the Seidman House for presentations by the archivists.

Samantha Drougel is a student writer for University Communications. Drougel is from Monroe and is a double major in film and video production, and journalism, broadcasting and digital media.


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.