Robert C. Kedzie Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Kedzie, R. C., (Robert Clark), 1823-1902
Robert Clark Kedzie papers
1851, 1863-1905, circa 1955, 1961
2.0 Cubic feet , 3 scrapbooks

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

Robert Clark Kedzie was born to William and Margaret Kedzie on January 28, 1823, in Delhi, New York, and moved to Michigan in 1826 with his family. Graduating from Oberlin College in 1846, he was in charge of the Rochester Academy, Michigan, for the next two years. After the death of his first wife, Mary J. Knowlton, in 1848, he entered the University of Michigan Medical College, receiving his M.D. in 1851. Now married to Harriet Eliza Fairchild, he practiced medicine in Kalamazoo and Vermontville for eleven years. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Kedzie, an abolitionist, joined the 12th Michigan Infantry as a surgeon. He was captured by the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and was released in poor health a few months later.

This illness led him to abandon his medical practice and to accept the position of professor of chemistry at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) in February 1863, where he taught until his death on November 7, 1902. During his forty years at M.A.C., Kedzie also served as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives (1867), as president of the Michigan Medical Society (1874), the Michigan State Board of Health (1877-1881), the American Public Health Association (1882), and the Society for the Promotion of Agricultural Science (1887-1889), and in other positions as well. In 1898, M.A.C. conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Science while the University of Michigan awarded him a Doctorate of Law in 1901.

Kedzie did much for Michigan through his study of medicine and chemistry. He assisted in securing the passage of an act which established a state food and dairy commission, and he was appointed its first state analyst. He secured the passage of a law providing for the inspection of commercial fertilizers. Upon discovering the hazards of arsenic-laced pigments used in wallpaper and other items, he fought to make such pigments illegal. Kedzie also ascertained that southern Michigan was well adapted for growing sugar beets and thus has been called "the father of the beet sugar industry in Michigan."

Kedzie's wife and two of his sons, William K. and Robert F., died before him. His third son, Frank S., survived him to eventually become president of M.A.C.

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Scope and Contents note

The papers of Robert Clark Kedzie consist primarily of materials relating to his position at Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) as a professor of chemistry from 1863 to his death in 1902. They include scrapbooks, lecture notes, correspondence, awards, and biographical material. The three scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, the first pertaining to the Samuel Johnson case in 1889, the second concerning the removal of M.A.C. President Lewis G. Gorton in 1895, and the third consisting of a collection of undated clippings on scientific research. Kedzie's lectures and teaching notes are bound together in eight volumes and reflect the variety of subjects which he taught during his years at M.A.C. The papers also include a number of articles and addresses, many of which relate to agricultural chemistry, written by Kedzie between 1851 and 1901. Other items include correspondence and personal items such as Kedzie's honorary degree from the University of Michigan, his obituary and other items regarding his death, and an early draft of his biography written in the 1950s.

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Series Listing

(1) Lecture Materials. 1863-1902 (2) Writings. 1851-1961 (3) Personal. 1890-1905 (4) Scrapbooks. 1889-1895 (5) Miscellaneous. 1861, 1902

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections October 1988

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

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.


  • Manuscripts
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Speeches

Personal Name(s)

  • Dutton, Frederic B.
  • Gorton, Lewis Griffin, 1859-1933
  • Johnson, Samuel, 1839-1916
  • Kedzie, R. C., (Robert Clark), 1823-1902
  • Kuhn, Madison, 1910-1985
  • Waring, Mary Grace, Sister


  • Agricultural chemistry
  • Agricultural colleges
  • Agriculture -- Research
  • Chemistry -- Study and teaching
  • Chemistry, Organic
  • Cholera -- Michigan -- Kalamazoo
  • Education, Higher -- Michigan
  • Meteorology

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Collection Inventory

Lecture Materials 1863-1902 


Vol. 1 Agricultural Chemistry 1879-1901 


Vol. 2 Agricultural Chemistry Special Undated 


Vol. 3 Class Records 1876-1890 


Vol. 4 Domestic Chemistry 1897 


Vol. 5 Elementary Chemistry 1868-1898 


Vol. 6 Meteorology 1876-1902 


Vol. 1 Organic Chemistry 1891-1900 


Vol. 2 Popular Lectures, Vol. 1 1868-1890 


Vol. 3 Popular Lectures, Vol. 2 1863-1880 

Box Folder

Lectures and Exam Questions 1870-1900 

1044 1

Scientific Observation Notes 1863-1892 

1044 2

Class Records 1893-1902 

1044 20

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Box Folder

Letter to Kedzie about athletic field day 1861 

1044 19

Notes about football 1902 

1044 19

Writings 1851-1961 

Box Folder

Manuscript (photocopy). "The Cholera in Kalamazoo" 1851 

1044 3

The Cholera in Kalamazoo 1961 

1044 4

Address to Livingston County Agricultural Society 1867 

1044 5

Textbook. Handbook of Qualitative Chemical Analysis 1869 

1044 6

Manuscript. "Looking Backward" 1890 

1044 7

Speech. Alchemy 1891 

1044 8

Methods for Analysis of Soils and Ashes 1891 

1044 9

Speech. Methods of Inspecting Kerosene Oil 1891 

1044 10

Management of Swamps: Muck and Marl 1894 

1044 11

Manuscript. "A Reservoir of Power" 1898 

1044 12

Speech. A Great Battle 1901 

1044 13

Biography (draft). "Men of the Priestley Centennial - Robert Clark Kedzie, Michigan Pioneer" Circa 1955 

1044 14

Soil Analysis Notes 

1044 21

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Personal 1890-1905 

Box Folder

Correspondence 1890-1905 

1044 15

Obituary and Memorial Service 1902 

1044 16

Anecdotes about Kedzie Undated 

1044 17

Honorary Degree from University of Michigan 1901 


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Scrapbooks 1889-1895 


Scrapbook 78: Johnson Case 1889 


Scrapbook 79: "Modern Ethics or How to Run a College" (Gorton Case) 1895 


Scrapbook 80: Science Undated 

Box Object

Scrapbook 81: Proceedings at the Centennial of Chemistry August 1, 1874 

1044 81

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8 daugerreotypes of unidentified people (6 men and two women) 


Carte de visite book with 7 unidentified people (Five men and two women)