Artists and Authors

These collections document the lives and works of painters, musicians, and authors. Materials may be accessed by request in the Reading Room in Seidman House. Contact Leigh Rupinski at (616) 331-8726 or rupinskl@gvsu.edu to schedule a research appointment.

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Mathias Alten Papers (RHC-28)

Mathias Alten was an American impressionist painter and German native who came to Grand Rapids as a youth. Alten is a celebrated American regionalist, often referred to as the Dean of Michigan Painters. The photographs and papers document his family life and career and support the collection of Alten paintings owned by Grand Valley State University. The collection includes biographical information, business records, exhibit catalogs, and newspaper clippings collected by family members.  

View the Mathias Alten Papers Finding Aid 


D.J. Angus Photograph and Film Collection (RHC-04)

Donald James Angus (1887-1966) was a self-educated electrical engineer specializing in electrical measuring and recording devices. He was part-owner of the Esterline-Angus Company of Indianapolis, where he lived in a rented room at the YMCA for forty years. His interests included amateur radio, travel, and photography. His photographs document his adventurous spirit, and are a lasting record of the country during the late 1920s – mid 1930s. The D.J. Angus photograph and film collection is comprised of approximately 10,000 unique images. The majority of the images were taken by Angus at home in Indianapolis and Grand Haven and on month-long camping trips and family vacations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

View the D.J. Angus Collection Finding Aid

View the D.J. Angus Photographs Digital Collection

View the D.J. Angus Moving Pictures Digital Collection


Jim Harrison Papers (RHC-16)

Acquired through a donation to GVSU from the Meijer Foundation in 2005, the Jim Harrison Papers document the life and work of Michigan-born writer. Harrison published books in several genres throughout his career, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and children’s literature. Widely recognized as a master of the novella, his critically acclaimed trilogy Legends of the Fall reinvigorated the form in America. The collection includes handwritten drafts and typescripts of published and unpublished works by Harrison in all genres, interviews, reviews and writings about his life, and work by others. It also contains extensive correspondence to Harrison from friends, family, and fellow writers, and submissions to Sumac, a journal he co-edited with fellow poet and friend Dan Gerber in the 1960s. Related collections compiled by Harrison's sister, Mary Harrison Dumsch, his biographer Robert DeMott, and former sister-in-law Rebecca Newth Harrison are also in the holdings. 

View the Jim Harrison Papers Finding Aid


Historic Photography Collection (RHC-123)

Collection contains examples of historic photographic processes, collected by Special Collections and University Archives for teaching history of photography. Dates range from the 1850s to the 1920s. Photographs include cased photos such as daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, tintypes, cyanotypes, authochromes, albumen prints and cartes-de-visite. 

View the Historic Photography Collection Finding Aid


Issue Press Collection (RHC-145)

Issue Press is an independent publisher of artist publications, multiples, posters, and other printed matter in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Issue Press was founded by George Wietor in 2011, and produces all of its publications using the Risograph printing process. This collection contains the books, posters, and ephemera produced by Issue Press from 2011 to 2018.

View the Issue Press Collection Finding Aid

Cyril Lixenberg Papers (RHC-79)

Cyril Lixenberg was born in London’s East End on July 5, 1932 and attended the London Central School of Arts & Crafts where he studied painting and graphic arts. He traveled throughout Europe and settled in Amsterdam in 1958. Commissions to create art for buildings led to a focus on outdoor public art. Grand Valley State University produced a retrospective of his work and, through a major donation, the University received the distinction of owning the largest collection of Lixenberg’s work in the world. The collection of his papers consists primarily of photographs of the artist and his work, programs, catalogs, news clippings, and correspondence with galleries.

View the Cyril Lixenberg Papers Finding Aid


Mike McDonnell Papers (RHC-120)

Michael E. McDonnell (1937-2010) was born in Muskegon Michigan. As a professional painter, McDonnell was primarily noteworthy for his watercolor still life and architectural paintings. Mike McDonnell continued his painting well into his late sixties, and by the time he passed on April 3, 2010, he had over a thousand works in public and private collections across the United States. This collection contains materials documenting aspects of Mike McDonnell’s professional and personal life as an artist spanning from 1959 to 2010. The collection includes typed narratives and handwritten biographies; typed lists of awards, achievements, and praises from various sources; correspondence to and from Mike McDonnell through letters and emails; gallery rejection letters to Mike McDonnell from over 72 different galleries; magazines and newspaper clippings featuring McDonnell and his work; tools and sketchbooks of Mike McDonnell’s; extensive records of his gallery exhibits from over 70 different galleries around the Michigan and the United States; receipts and transactions of Mike McDonnell’s sold works; and over 140 photographs of Mike McDonnell, his work, and snapshots of his everyday life. The collection also includes about 1,145 slide transparencies of McDonnell's paintings.

View the Mike McDonnell Papers Finding Aid


Margaret Willey Papers (RHC-02)

Margaret Willey is a Michigan-based writer of novels for young adults. She published her first novel, The Bigger Book of Lydia, in 1983. The Margaret Willey papers consist of the typescript, page proofs/mock-up, camera ready past-up, and galleys.

View the Margaret Willey Papers Finding Aid


Stan Krohmer Photographs (RHC-97)

Stanley Krohmer is a painter and photographer and Affiliate Faculty in the GVSU Liberal Studies Department. The collection contains Krohmer's photographs, negatives, and digital files from two photography projects: the 2003-2007 Ravines Revisited exhibit he with DeMas Henke and Tony Thompson, and the The Jim Harrison project from 2007-2009. Ravines Revisited studied the ravines and natural areas surrounding the Grand Valley State University Campus, and the Jim Harrison Project captured the Michigan-born author in places significant to him in Michigan.

View the Stan Krohmer Photographs Finding Aid

Robert Shechtman Musical Scores (RHC-73)

Robert Shechtman was a member of the faculty in the Music Department at Grand Valley State University from 1971 until 2002. Prior to coming to Grand Valley, Shechtman was an award winning jazz trombonist. The collection contains music scores featuring various instrumentations. Many of the compositions in this collection were commissioned by Arend D. Lubbers, president of Grand Valley, for various people and events at the university. 

View the Robert Shechtman Music Scores Finding Aid


La Grande Vitesse Installation Film (RHC-64)

The documentary film produced by William Lawson, La Grande Vitesse: The Work of Alexander Calder, which was erected in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. The film follows the unloading of the stabile pieces in Detroit where it was shipped after being created by Calder in Paris, its construction in downtown Grand Rapids, Calder’s arrival in the city, and several interview pieces on Calder’s life and work. The collection contains 16mm film reels, an audio CD of interview and lecture material from Klaus Perls and Sweeney, and a DVD of the completed documentary. 

View La Grande Vitesse Film Finding Aid


Elizabeth Cecil Papers (RHC-21)

Elizabeth Cecil was a writer from Baltimore, Maryland who wrote under the pseudonym Clarence Conway. The collection contains her correspondence with acquaintances and publishers document her efforts to publish her work. Writings include short stories, plays, poems, songs, short essays and scenarios for movies. Materials in the collection span the dates 1891-1929.

View the Elizabeth Cecil Papers Finding Aid


19th and 20th Century Literary Correspondence (RHC-46)

This is an artificial collection, compiled by a collector, of personal and routine business correspondence primarily to and from 19th and early 20th century American writers.

View the 19th and 20th Century Literary Correspondence Collection Finding Aid


Early 20th Century Sheet Music

Collection contains approximately 89 pieces of popular sheet music, spanning from the very late 19th century to the early 20th century, roughly from 1885 to 1951.

View the Early 20th Century Sheet Music Finding Aid