UM-Flint archives preserves Flint history

Luis Martinez, Writer

The UM-Flint archives sit on the second floor of the library as one crosses to the Pavilion parking structure, which holds a wealth of Flint and campus history.

Callum Carr, the library archivist, sits in their office as they state, “A lot of my time is spent in my office because I’m the only one here for processing and access.” However, the archives hold so much value for the UM-Flint community.

The archives were started by Francis Wilson Thompson who wanted a place to hold Flint’s history. Over the years since its creation, the archives have only had three archivists, according to Carr. Carr is handling previous projects that have been carried over by the old archivists as well as starting their own new projects.

The projects highlight the deeply rich and diverse history of Flint, Michigan. Carr mentioned the music project which was carried over from Gifford and was indexed by Carr on the website. This project attracted many enthusiasts and researchers such as the MSU faculty that was behind the documentary “Breed and Bootleg: Legends of Flint Rap Music.”.

The library archives also have projects that are tied to celebrating the social impacts of Black Americans. Olive Beasley was a Flint Civil Rights Activist who “led protests against GM’s racist policies.” Carr explained how Beasley was ingrained into Flint’s civil society as she was involved in school councils and the YMCA.

Edgar Holt is another Flint activist who worked at GM and helped organize labor rights for black workers. Holt was also involved in the political campaigning of  Floyd Mecree’s run for councilman and mayor helping one of America’s first black mayors (University of Michigan-Flint Library Genesee Historical Collections Center.)

Both of these collections can be found on the website of the library archives and have extensive first-hand accounts and sources of their speeches and writings. Other collections include the works of the Urban and Junior Urban League Collection

Carr mentioned the particular development of the archive in that “this archive is so young the idea of black history is already here.”

There are a couple of black history projects that are currently in the works. Carr highlighted the collection of black newspapers that ran in Flint and how UM Ann Arbor is looking to help bring these vast articles for online use. 

The archives are also doing a project on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests of 2020-2021 and are asking if anyone has anything such as posters used in protests in Flint that could be part of the collection.

Carr describes themself as being “humble” in their role as an archivist. What was highlighted in the library archives to Carr was that each has a theme. They stated, “We are a community social group.”

To learn more about the archives and its collections, visit their homepage here.