Office of the President. Edwin Willits Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Creator -
Willits, Mr., (Edwin), 1830-1896
Edwin Willits papers
Date [inclusive]
0.33 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Following the resignation of T. C. Abbot in 1885, a noted educator, politician and lawyer, Edwin Willits, was selected as the president of Michigan Agricultural College. During his four year tenure, Willits obtained $60,000 from the State Legislature for the construction of nine new buildings including a much needed mechanical arts building.

Willits' career had well prepared him for the presidency. Born on April 24, 1830 in Otto, Cattaragus County, New York, his family moved to Michigan. Willits received an A.B. degree from the University of Michigan in 1855. Later he also received an A.M. degree from the same university. In 1857 he was admitted to the Michigan Bar. Living in Adrian, Michigan, Mr. Willits practiced law and taught school. He was the prosecutor of Monroe County from 1860-1868. From 1861 to 1873 he served on the State Board of Education. He also served as Postmaster of Monroe County from 1863-1866. In 1873 he was selected as a member of the State Constitutional Convention and was a Representative to the U.S. Congress from Southeastern Michigan from 1877 to 1883. In 1882 he became the principal of the State Normal School. Following his four year tenure at M.A.C., he was the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture in the Grover Cleveland Administration.

Willits was married to Jane Ingersoll and they had one son, George S. Willits. Edwin Willits died on October 24, 1896 in Washington, D.C.

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Scope and Content

The Edwin Willits papers consist of correspondence, financial records, Willits' inaugural address at Michigan Agricultural College, and various education-related materials, primarily concerning natural science.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections February 1979

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

  April 1999

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status note

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Michigan Agricultural College.


  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Speeches, addresses, etc.

Personal Name(s)

  • Kuhn, Madison


  • College presidents -- Michigan
  • Education -- Michigan
  • Natural history -- Study and teaching

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Collection Inventory


Box Folder


868H 1


868H 2


868H 3


868H 4


868H 5

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Box Folder

Financial Records 1884-1888 

868H 6

Inaugural Address 1885 

868H 7

Michigan Teacher's Directory 1887-1888 

868H 8

Curriculum 1887 

868H 9

"The Place and Value of Natural Science in the Public Schools" by W.W. Remington 1886 

868H 10

"Euteric Diseases of the Horse" by T.D. Hinebaugh 1887 

868H 11