Kinney Family Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Kinney family, (Edward Porter Kinney, 1867-1955)
Kinney family papers
Date [inclusive]
0.25 Cubic feet , 9 folders

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

Daniel Bishop Kinney (1803-1879) moved from Cornwall, Vermont, to Oberlin, Ohio in 1834, purchasing forty acres of land. He married Betsy Mathews and they had four children, Rosetta (Rose), Sarah Elizabeth, Henry P., and Edward Cornelius.

Edward Cornelius Kinney (1844-1910) was a surveyor engineer for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad Company in the 1860's, and he served as commander of the Grand Army of the Republic in Montana around the turn of the century.

Edward Porter Kinney (1867-1955), a son of Henry P. Kinney, was born in St. Clair, Michigan. In 1869 his family moved to White Cloud, Kansas by covered wagon. From White Cloud, they moved to Hamlin, and then to Manhattan, Kansas. In Manhattan, Kinney attended classes at Kansas State College and received his teacher's certificate in 1885. Two years later, at the age of 20, Kinney went West to do survey and electrical work on the railways. In 1893, Kinney moved to Detroit and worked for Detroit Motor Company and two years later, he and his family moved to Lansing where he organized the Capitol Electric Supply and National Coil Co. (the name was later changed to Capitol Electric Engineering Co.). As proprietor and president of this company, Kinney supervised many electrical engineering jobs throughout the Lansing area including work on the Capitol and on the Michigan Agricultural College campus. E.P. Kinney married Wilhelmina Sarah Graham and they had eight children, of which the eldest was Edward Everett Kinney, a professor of Electrical Engineering at Michigan State University (See UA 17.29 Edward E. Kinney Papers).

Harry Allen Kinney (1862-1939) was an older brother of Edward Porter Kinney.

Frank F. Kinney (1869-1952), younger brother of Edward P. Kinney, received his degree in Electrical Engineering from Lewis Institute of Technology in Chicago. He became head of the testing department of the Chicago Edison Co.

Ernest A. Kinney (1898-), a son of Edward P. Kinney, graduated from Michigan State College with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1932.

Sarah Moffett Graham (1863-1908) was the mother-in-law of Edward Porter Kinney.

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Scope and Contents note

The Kinney family papers cover three generations, and family members were located in Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, and Ohio. Edward Porter Kinney's papers comprise a large portion of the collection. Since E. P. Kinney lived and worked in the Lansing area, much of the material in this collection pertains to East Lansing and Lansing, Michigan. Also, a majority of the material included in the family papers pertains to electricity and electrical engineering as many of the family members worked in this profession. The Kinney "family tree" is included in the genealogical files. The tree is extensive, dates back to the 1500s, and includes some narrative family history and three newspaper articles featuring Kinney family homes in East Lansing, Michigan.

Daniel Kinney's papers consist of a speech he delivered to the Lorian County Agricultural Society at Oberlin College in 1848, expounding on agricultural economics and the benefits of the use of technology in agriculture. The original, handwritten copy of the speech, and two typewritten copies with marginal notes are included.

Edward Cornelius Kinney's papers consist of a letter that he wrote in 1908 to his sisters, Rose and Sarah. The letter discusses a G.A.R. National Encampment that Kinney attended in Toledo that year and an old family home in Oberlin.

The E. P. Kinney business papers (1888-1930) include a history of the installation of electricity in the Capitol building; drafts of correspondence to the editor of the State Journal and to Senator H. G. Hittle discussing the introduction of electricity in Lansing; a pamphlet explaining the Edison System of incandescent lighting; and a letter written by E. Ewing & Son outlining a contract for painting the Farmer's Market in Lansing (1930). E. P. Kinney's personal papers (1890-1954) consist of items relating to the Kinney family history including newspaper articles, business cards, photographs, and the "Kinney Saga", written by E. P. Kinney. Also included are letters he wrote to a CBS-affiliated radio program in Renfro Valley, Kentucky describing life in Kansas in the late 19th Century; and magazine clippings which depict the type of ox-drawn covered wagon used by the Kinney family when they migrated to Kansas in 1869.

Harry Allen Kinney's papers consist of a patent (1915) for improvements in electric accumulators. His invention made it possible to clean or replace the electrolyte of a battery without disconnecting the connecting straps from the plates.

The Frank F. Kinney papers consist of a published interview (1948) in which he recalled an assignment he was given in 1907 to photograph ice formations at Niagara Falls. The article also includes biographical information on Frank Kinney and the Kinney family.

Ernest A. Kinney's papers include a resume and other records related to his professional career.

Sarah Moffett Graham's papers consist of several pages from her autograph book, 1861-1884.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections February 1989

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

Revision Description

  July 2000

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

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.

Custodial History

Gift of Edward E. Kinney.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials

See also Edward E. Kinney papers (UA 17.29) at the University Archives & Historical Collection, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

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Controlled Access Headings


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

Personal Name(s)

  • Graham, Sarah Moffet, 1863-1908
  • Kinney, Daniel Bishop, 1803-1879
  • Kinney, Edward Cornelius, 1844-1910
  • Kinney, Edward Porter, 1867-1955
  • Kinney, Ernest A., 1898-
  • Kinney, Frank F., 1869-1952
  • Kinney, Harry Allen, 1862-1939


  • Agriculture -- Economic aspects
  • Electrical engineering
  • Electricity
  • Genealogy

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Collection Inventory


Kinney Family. Genealogy 1556-1970 


Kinney, Daniel Bishop. Speech. Delivered to Lorian County Agricultural Society 1848 


Kinney, Edward Cornelius. Correspondence October 6, 1908 


Kinney, Edward Porter. Family Related Materials 1881-1930 


Kinney, Edward Porter. Business Related Materials 1881-1930 


Kinney, Harry A. Patent. Electric Accumulator January 5, 1915 


Kinney, Frank F. "Falls Were Frozen Over in Sub-Zero Wave 40 Years Ago". State Journal February 8, 1948 


Kinney, Ernest A. Career Related Records 1923-1963 


Graham, Sarah Moffett. Autograph Book 1861-1884