Name of the collection: Robert Grayson Schafer
Inclusive years: 1940 (bulk 1952-)-1989
Quantity: 4 linear feet
Acquisition: The collection (donor number 001) was donated to the Genesee Historical Collections in five accessions between 1979 and 1989.
Access: There are no restrictions on access to this collection.
Photographs: 166 positive prints, approximately 250 slides, and 68 negatives were removed from the collection and cataloged separately.
Processed by: Paul Gifford, October 1990.


Robert Grayson Schafer was born on April 15, 1923, in Wenatchee, Washington. After graduation from Wenatchee High School, he served in the U. S. Army Air Force. He entered the University of Washington, graduating with a B. A. in history in 1947, and then attended the University of California-Berkeley, where he received his M. A., in 1950, and his Ph. D. in 1954. His field of study in graduate school was British history.

Schafer began his professional career as a lecturer in history at California Institute of Technology, from 1953 to 1954. He then taught at Stanford University in the 1955-1956 academic year. He accepted the position of assistant professor of history at the Flint College of the University of Michigan in 1956, the year the senior college was founded. He and Dorothea Wyatt taught all courses offered by the history department until 1965. Dr. Schafer was named associate professor in 1962 and professor in 1967. He retired in 1989 as professor emeritus and moved to San Clemente, California.

He was involved in all facets of university life. In addition to teaching, he served on numerous university committees, including the Executive Committee, and three times as chairman of the history department. During the school's early years, especially, he was an advisor to several student groups. One of his chief efforts was to bring speakers to talk about international understanding and foreign cultures. Towards the end of his career he organized the archives of the school and, in a large degree, was responsible for its funding.

His scholarly interests included the politics and industry of 17th-century England, roughly from the early 1950s to about 1973; computer-aided instruction, during the 1970s; and the history of Flint and Genesee County, from the late 1970s to about 1990. He spent several summers in England researching the career of James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, and the history of the Foley ironworks, an important early industrial enterprise. He was also interested in East Asian history and was a guest lecturer at Hunan Normal University in April, 1985.

His most important community activity was his involvement with the International Institute of Flint. He served on its board of directors and as its president (1960-1962; 1971-1973), and on the board of directors of the American Council for Nationalities Service, from 1975 to 1981. He was an active member of the Genesee County Historical Society, the Sister Cities-Flint Committee, and the Flint Area Health Foundation.


The papers of Robert G. Schafer have been divided into ten series: personal; research; University of Michigan-Flint; conferences and programs; International Institute; American Council for Nationalities Service; other organizations and activities; newspaper clippings; unpublished papers; and publications.

Under the personal series are included vitae and other items of relevance to his appointment; general correspondence, both in-coming and out-going, on a variety of topics which may or may not concern topics in the other series; and material relating to various community talks and presentations.

The research series covers discrete topics he investigated. There is a typescript transcript of the voluminous journal of James Brydges, later Duke of Chandos, from 1697 to 1702, the original of which is in the Huntington Library. Much of the material on computer-assisted instruction, which developed from a project to transfer the records of the Foley ironworks to machine-readable format, consists of grant applications and correspondence and conference programs. There is also some documentation on the computer programs, which were developed for undergraduates as exercises for history classes. The remainder of the series deals with topics in the history of Flint and Genesee County. Most of the research resulted in the publications of the University of Michigan-Flint Archives series, including Schafer's Michael A. Gorman: Flint's Super Booster (1982); Charles Stewart Mott of Applewood: A Memoir (1984); J. Dallas Dort: Citizen Compleat (1986); and Producing a Human Mosaic: Immigration and Economic Change in the Development of Genesee County's Population, 1820-1987 (1989). Some of the files contain interviews with and correspondence from individuals who knew the some of the subjects well, including Arthur G. Bishop (1851-1944), the leading banker of Flint in his day, and J. Dallas Dort, the automobile manufacturer. Thus there is material useful for future researchers interested in those individuals.

Most of the general University of Michigan-Flint memoranda, committee minutes and reports, etc., which originally belonged to Schafer's records have been removed and integrated into the archives of the University. Those that remain relate to those official, largely individual, activities in which Schafer took a leading role or concerned him personally. Besides the files containing material on his many sabbaticals and trips abroad (primarily to England), the files relating to the establishment of the archives loom largest. Also of interest are the faculty and staff responses to questionnaires he circulated about 1978, which offer pointed opinions on the school's strengths and weaknesses as the faculty and staff felt them to be at that time.

The conferences and programs series has material concerning meetings he organized. These include several on international topics (United Nations Week, India Republic Day, the Middle East in Crisis) and several annual historic preservation conferences.

The International Institute series is particular useful for in documenting the activities of this organization, which existed to serve immigrants in the Flint area, in the 1960s and 1970s. Dr. Schafer first became associated with the Institute in 1957, but he collected its annual reports and certain other records from as early as 1940. There is considerable material concerning the fundraising and construction of a new building for the Institute. The American Council for Nationalities Service files consist of memoranda from the national office. This organization was an umbrella group and lobbying organization for International Institutes and other similar organizations around the country.

The remainder of the collection contains files from his activities in other organizations, newspaper clippings, unpublished papers and articles (some of which were later revised for publication), and offprints of journal articles.

Material which was removed from the collection includes duplicates; first drafts; letters of recommendation; letters concerning grades; current budget reports; and most routing slips. Dr. Schafer's university records form the basis of many of the archives' university records and are not treated as his personal papers. The records of the University of Michigan-Flint History Department are a closely related collection.



    Vitae and other personnel concerns, 1961-1989
        About publications, 1968-1989
        Laro, Joseph, 1982
    Talks and presentations, 1957-1989
    James Brydges. Journal, 1697-1702 (typescript copy, with introduction)
    Foley iron works
        Administrative and grant applications, 1966-1973
    Computer-assisted instruction
        Manuals, description, paper
        Correspondence, 1972-1989
        Grant applications
            National Endowment for the Humanities, 1979-1980
            American Historical Association
            Madison, Wisconsin, 1976
            Community College Social Science Association, 1979
    Flint-Genesee County history
        Bishop, Arthur G.
            (1 of 2)
            (2 of 2)
            Stock gift, 1941
        Dort, Dallas
            Notes and correspondence
                (1 of 2)
                (2 of 2)
            Durant-Dort Carriage Company minutes, 1910-1922
        Gorman, Michael
            Interviews and correspondence, 1978-1979
            Finding aid of papers at Sloan Museum
        Immigration to Genesee County
                (1 of 2)
                (2 of 2)
        Mott, Charles Stewart
            Correspondence and interviews
        Miscellaneous, 1980-1982

    Memoranda, 1970-1988
    Loving Fund, 1962
    Gilkey Gulch Review, 1964
    Students for Black Action, 1969
    Oral history transcripts, 1975, and faculty and staff questionnaires, 1978
    Study abroad and sabbaticals
        England, 1966
        Proposals, 1966-1967
        England, 1967
        Sabbatical, 1969-1970
        Sabbatical, 1977
        Extension class: "Travelling in England," 1981
        England, 1981
        Sabbatical - China, 1983-1984
        Japan Center for Michigan Universities, 1989
    Library and Archives
        Crapo historical marker dedication, 1979, and Crapo Room, 1982
        Brownell Fund, 1980-1989
        Copeman exhibit/Archives opening, 1984
        Stockton gift and reception, 1983-1988

    Chinese visitors
        Lin Zengping, 1985-1989
        Shaobo Xie, 1986-1987
    Receptions, miscellaneous, 1984-1988
    Dorothea Wyatt Award, 1989

    United Nations Week, 1959
    Anglo-American Conference of Historians, 1963
    India Republic Day, 1965
    Michigan International Week, 1971-1972
    "Victoria's World" (exhibit), 1972-1974
    Conference on Preservation and Restoration, 1983
    Carriage Town workshop, 1983
    Conference on Preservation and Restoration, 1984     
    Flint Historic Preservation Conference, 1985
    The Middle East in Crisis, 1986

    Constitution and bylaws
    Board of Directors - minutes and agenda, 1960-1976
    Annual reports
    Annual meetings, 1959-1978
        General, 1959-1985
        Red Feather Fund, 1960-1971
    Programs, bulletins, brochures, 1962-1989
    Operating statements, 1949-1975
    Friends of the International Institute, 1980-1981
    Building fund campaign, 1971-1976
    Auction, 1974-1975
    Board and committee membership rosters, 1957-1977
    Committees, 1961-1986
    Council of Social Agencies Workshop Committee, 1964

    Correspondence, 1960-1976
    American Association of University Professors, 1972
    Flint Area Health Foundation, 1978-1979
    Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning, 1978-1979
    Genesee County Historical Society
        General, 1981-1986
        Clarence H. Young Memorial Essay Contest, 1981-1985
    Whaley Historical House, 1980-1981
    Sister Cities-Flint, 1988-1989
    Personal, 1966-1989
    General, 1976-1989
    In Search of Power: the Early Political Career of James Brydges, Duke of Chandos
        (1 of 2)
        (2 of 2)
    Colonel Stewart's Silver
    Michael Gorman: Flint's Super Booster
    The Man Who Made the Wheels Turn [about Arthur G. Bishop]
    The University of Michigan-Flint, 1971-1980
    "A By-Election in a Rotten Borough," Huntington Library Quarterly 17 (August 1954): 397-405
    "The Making of a Tory," Huntington Library Quarterly 22 (February 1960): 123-144
    "Cannons no Canon: Pope's Epistle to Burlington," Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters 45 (1960): 403-410
    "Mrs. Tofts Goes Abroad," Huntington Library Quarterly 25 (November 1961): 69-70
    "The Parliamentary Influence of the First Duke of Chandos," English Historical Review 77 (April 1962): 318-320     
    "A Visit to Cannons," Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club of Herefordshire 38 (1965), pt. 2: 151
    "Robert Harley and the Weobley By-Election of 1691," Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club 39 (1969), pt. 3: 456-462
    "Genesis and Structure of the Foley `Ironworks in Partnership' of 1692," Business History 13 (January 1971): 19-38
    "Development of a Question Processing Subsystem," On-Line 5, no. 4 (July 1976): 4-6 (with T. W. Hertzog)
    "Michael A. Gorman: Flint's Super Booster," Forward (Flint Area Chamber of Commerce Publication), vol. 3, no. 3